Mary Stuart Masterson’s 10 Best Movies, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes


Mary Stuart Masterson began her acting career at a young age with her first appearance in The Stepford Wives in 1975. Masterson’s career would become defined by her roles in such films as Benny & Joon and Fried Green Tomatoes. Still active with over 50 credits to her name, Masterson’s recent career shows the actor not slowing down, including a part in the upcoming horror film Friday Night at Freddy’s.

From child actor to leading lady, we look at Mary Stuart Masterson’s best movies, ranked by Rotten Tomatoes by critics’ score.

10 Gardens of Stone – 44%

Anjelica Huston & Mary Stuart Masterson Gardens of Stone
Tri-Star Pictures

Francis Ford Coppola is a prolific director known for such hits as Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, Lost in Translation, and American Graffiti, to name a few. Yet, not all of his films were met to praise among the director’s exhaustive filmography, with Gardens of Stone being one of the director’s lowest-scored films on the site.

However, the drama that explored the Vietnam War’s repercussions and the handling of the death of soldiers on the home front offered a memorable cast, including James Caan, Anjelica Huston, James Earl Jones, Dean Stockwell, and Mary Stuart Masterson, which helped elevate an otherwise flawed movie. In the film, Masterson plays Rachel Feld, who marries the protagonist Jackie Willow, played by D.B. Sweeney.

9 Mr. North – 50%

Anthony Edwards Mr North
The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Following a young, enigmatic heartthrob that comes to a small, wealthy Rhode Island town and gains a reputation for healing its inhabitants, Mr. North is an underrated ’80s comedy that barely hit rotten on the Tomatometer. While this is off on eight critical reviews, and the audience score is even lower, one should take this with a grain of salt, as the film has a positive 5.9 on IMDB with 1.6k user ratings.

Related: 10 Quintessential Comedy Movies from the 80s You Have to Watch at Least Once

However, the one consensus across the board is that Mary Stuart Masterson’s role in the film was well handled for the young actor. In Mr. North, Masterson plays Elspeth Skeel, a young woman who becomes enamored with Mr. North after he cures her migraines. This leads to many endearing reactions between her and lead actor Anthony Edwards.

Immediate Family Poster
Columbia Pictures

This early performance from Masterson marked her first award-winning performance, winning the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Lucy, a pregnant teen who has regrets after offering up her unborn baby for adoption. The film also saw her act across two big names, Glenn Close and James Woods.

Immediate Family explores the complexities of the adoption process and teenage pregnancy. While the fan and critical response to the film was mixed, the sincerity in approaching complex themes and memorable performances from Masterson and Kevin Dillon as two young teens struggling with the idea of giving up their children make Immediate Family worthy of its fresh score.

7 Chances Are – 65%

Mary Stuart Masterson & Robert Downey Jr Chances Are
Tri-Star Pictures

Robert Downey Jr. gets a second chance at life in the rom-com Chances Are. The film follows Downey’s character Alex Finch, who, after being reincarnated, falls for his daughter… Yikes! However, soon after learning about the familial relationship, Alex tries to break off the relationship before angels wipe his memory, and he is stuck in a romantic affair with his daughter, Miranda.

Despite the precarious scenario that could have veered into the uncomfortable, the movie was praised as one of the better body-swap comedies of the ’80s. Masterson, who played Miranda, also saw a fair amount of praise for her role. Washington Post stated her performance was “pensively provocative.” Overall, the movie is a lovely light comedy backed by a sharp script and great performances, giving it a fresh score among critics and audiences.

6 As You Are – 68%

Cast of As You Are
Votiv Films/Heretical Reason Productions/Buffalo 8 Productions

A teen drama steeped in melancholy and disillusionment, As You Are explores ’90s teenage angst through a trio of friends, Jack, Sarah, and Mark. The movie also introduces mystery and crime elements, with an ongoing investigation hovering over the town where the three reside.

The film saw praise for debuting director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte’s ability to craft a timeless portrayal of youth. This is one of the few films in the list where Masterson plays only a minor role as Karen, Jack’s mother.

5 Some Kind of Wonderful – 76%

1987's romantic drama Some Kind of Wonderful
Paramount Pictures

Writer John Hughes defined the ’80s perhaps more so than anyone other scriptwriter at the time, having projects such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Breakfast Club, and Weird Science becoming synonyms with the decade. These films are still revered to this day, and while Some Kind of Wonderful falls slightly short of the infamy of the previously mentioned films, it is still some of the sharpest and most entertaining writing to come from Hughes.

Related: Best Movie Casts of the 80s, Ranked

Masterson plays the character of Watts, a street-wise teenager who is friends with the main protagonist Keith (Eric Stoltz). Her role has been praised by many, and her cool, crass personality is peek ’80s perfection.

4 Fried Green Tomatoes – 76%

Mary Stuart Masterson Friend Green Tomatoes
Universal Pictures

While Masterson’s role in Friend Green Tomatoes did not result in the same fanfare as Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy, her role as Imogene “Idgie” Threadgoode was iconic in its own right. Considered ahead of her time for her portrayal of a strong and proud tomboy and lesbian, Masterson’s character also drew praise for her strong will and business savvy.

While the sentiments and terminology of the LGBTQ community have changed since the release of Fried Green Tomatoes in 1992, Masterson drew a lot of praise for her bravery in taking on a role that challenged conventional norms of the time. It is a defining performance from Masterson, and not surprising that the film was met with critical acclaim.

3 Benny & Joon – 76%

Benny and Joon

For fans of Masterson, Benny & Joon is, arguably, the defining performance of her career. Masterson plays Juniper “Joon” Pearl, a mentally ill artist whose struggles cause her brother Benny (Aidan Quinn) great worry and even consideration about finding her housing where people can help her. However, Joon’s life starts to change when an eccentric man named Sam (Johnny Depp) comes to live with the siblings and begins to build a romantic relationship with Joon.

The role was considered challenging for Masterson, as conveying the mentally ill with sincerity is no easy feat for even the most talented actors. Still, under her abilities, she was able to turn the movie into a whimsical rom-com about mental illness, family, and new-found love. Depp’s character portrayal also sparked praise, with much of the positive critical reception focusing on the performances of one or both actors.

2 Daniel Isn’t Real – 84%

Daniel Isn't Real Poster
Samuel Goldwyn Films

This indie horror movie from the mind of Adam Egypt Mortimer was more loved by critics than audiences, sitting at 84% from critics and 59% from the audience. Still, films that take an experimental approach are always more likely to see a more divisive rating. Daniel Isn’t Real is an intriguing tale of madness where a man finds himself controlled by an imaginary friend he brought back to help him deal with trauma.

Mary Stuart Masterson plays the role of Claire in the film. Claire is the mother to protagonist Luke (Miles Robbins), who becomes a target of Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger) as his jealousy of all of Luke’s friends and family increases. Claire is a troubled character, dealing with mental health issues contributing to Luke’s problems in adulthood. The part is minor, steeped in tragedy, but it is still integral to the film and well executed by Masterson.

1 At Close Range – 86%

Mary Stuart Masterson & Sean Penn At Close Range
Orion Pictures

Mary Stuart Masterson’s most critically acclaimed film may come as somewhat of a surprise for many. While At Close Range has a romance story at the heart of it, with Brad Jr. (Sean Penn) falling in love with Terry (Masterson), this neo-noir crime thriller is more about the struggles of dealing with the ‘sins of the family.’ Notably, Brad Jr. decides to go against his father’s wishes, played by Christopher Walken, which leads to a violent confrontation at the movie’s crux.

The film is lesser known since it was a flop at the box office. Still, the film gained buzz among critics for its uncompromising and violent examination of a troubled family backed by a strong script and performances.

​​​​​​​It may not be as iconic a role as Fried Green Tomatoes or Benny & Joon, but it is the highest-ranked film on Rotten Tomatoes for Mary Stuart Masterson.

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