WCW: Annette Bening


I don’t know what role or movie really stands out to me as Annette Bening’s best or why I wanted to do a WCW on her. But I like watching her onscreen perhaps because she always strikes me as a grown-ass woman of an actress. She’s not one of those ingenues who slowly mature into their careers. She jumped out fully formed, like Athena, into the movies, giving us great characterizations. As Bening said herself:

“I didn’t do a movie until I was almost 30. I’m grateful for that because it gave me a chance to be an adult in the world and do work in the regional theater that very few people cared about. I loved it and I wanted to do that stuff.”

Let’s admire the frock flick side of her film work!



Merteuil in Valmont (1989)

Valmont (1989)

A lighter, more scheming version than Glenn Close’s Merteuil. A whole different character!

1989 Valmont

Can’t blame Annette Bening for the costumes.


Ruth Merrill in Guilty by Suspicion (1991)

Annette Bening, Guilty by Suspicion (1991)

Something about McCarthyism in 1950s Hollywood. Bening works the mid-century angles well.


Virginia Hill in Bugsy (1991)

Annette Bening, Bugsy (1991)

Co-starring with Warren Beatty (who she later married) in this biopic of gangster Bugsy Siegel.

Annette Bening, Bugsy (1991)

Serving 1940s GLAM!


Queen Elizabeth in Richard III (1995)

Richard III (1995)

In Ian McKellen’s 1930s version of the Shakespeare classic.

Richard III (1995)


Julia Lambert in Being Julia (2004)

Annette Bening, Being Julia (2004)

Bening was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for this performance.

Annette Bening, Being Julia (2004)

She portrays a discontented 1930s actress. With STUNNING hats!


Bella in Ginger & Rosa (2012)

Annette Bening, Ginger & Rosa (2012)

Playing a beatnik-y mom in 1960s London.


Lucy Mabrey in Rules Don’t Apply (2016)

Annette Bening, Rules Don't Apply (2016)

A small role in a movie set in 1950s Hollywood.


Irina in The Seagull (2018)

The Seagull (2018)

She’s sharp & bitter in this film based on the Chekhov play. The 1900s-era costumes are quite nice too.

Annette Bening, The Seagull (2018)

But the rest of the cast can’t hold up their end of the bargain, alas.


Euphemia Bouc in Death on the Nile (2022)

Annette Bening, Death on the Nile (2022)

She got her own promo!

Annette Bening, Death on the Nile (2022)

She’s artsy!



What’s your favorite historical costume movie role of Annette Bening’s?

17 Responses

  1. Boxermom

    Love Richard III ! There was much made of the casting of Annette Bening and Robert Downey Jr. because they were names recognizable to American audiences, but I feel they both held their own very nicely. :)

    • SarahV


      Also, Benning’s American-born Queen Elizabeth brought a dash of Wallis Simpson glamor to the piece.

  2. Roxana

    There is no Euphemia Bouc in Christie’s Death on the Nile. Another new character?

    • Boxermom

      From IMDB: “Many of the characters are combinations or alterations of characters from the novel, to make for a smaller cast and a less confusing plot.” Now, the 1978 version did that too,but for some reason it didn’t bother me.

      • Gray

        It didn’t bother you because the ‘78 version is a good movie and Branagh’s version is too serious, no fun and awful.

      • Roxana

        In my experience the changes made by adaptors makes a more confusing plot!

  3. Gray

    I love Chekhov… but it’s hard to get it to work in film because it’s all about words, not action or pictures.
    Bening is good though, even in not so good films.
    The ‘30s Richard III is yummy and great evil fun, especially if you’re familiar with the traditional staging.

  4. SarahV

    I have to say, she is one woman who aged so perfectly. She looks just like her beautiful self only like someone should in her 60’s.

    • M.E. Lawrence

      Agreed. I hate to see once-beautiful and distinctive performers become unrecognizable. A.B. is still her own cool self.

  5. Lily Rose

    I know it’s not a popular opinion around here, but (despite the costuming!) I love Valmont and vastly prefer it to Dangerous Liaisons, probably mostly because of Annette Benning.

    • SarahV

      Never forget Colin Firth was the louche seducer, as opposed to John Malkovich (not the world’s most renowned panty dropper).

      Also Fairuza Balk was the literal young virgin Cecile (the Uma Thurman role), and …. looks so much more juvenile and childish it makes the whole thing vastly more squicky.

  6. Kersten

    Oooh I love the costumes in Being Julia. It’s a very underrated movie. Lucy Punch, Juliet Stevenson, and Miriam Margolyes are hilarious in it, too.

    • SarahV

      This movie is delightful, particularly if you like revenge served with OODLES of drama!

      (also Bruce Greenwood looking so very suave and dapper)

  7. Lily Lotus Rose

    Totally agree with you that she’s always seemed like a grown-ass woman. Also appreciate it seems like she’s allowed herself to age naturally. In interviews and even on screen in her various characters, she exudes self-confidence. I think that quality is even more attractive than her looks. Of the films listed above that I’ve seen, she’s always down a great job. So, it’s hard to answer your question. I’ll choose Bugsy as my favorite. She was also EXCELLENT in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool as Oscar-winner Gloria Grahame. The bulk of the movie takes place near the end of Grahame’s life in 1981 (after FF’s cut off date), but there are some flashbacks in which Bening stars (instead of a younger actress). I don’t know the years of the flashbacks, but they might qualify for FF. Anyway, it’s a very intriguing movie and Bening, as usual, was great–so was the rest of the esteemed cast. Great WCW choice!