Movies + TV

Birthday Tribute: Winona Ryder

(One day early.)

Dear Winona,

Happy birthday to the teen-angst queen of my heart! I never write love letters to animate objects—writing letters to dresses is much easier for me, people are weird with their FEELINGS (gross!!!) and they scare me, but for you I will make an exception. For you are like the big goth sister I never had. Your bored, eye-rolling portrayals of teenage discontent were my silver-screen salvation. I was always a cheerfully morbid child. I enjoyed decapitating my Barbie dolls more than I ever did dressing them—so naturally, I felt a kinship with Beetlejuice.

I could pretty much talk about Beetlejuice all day, but this dance scene is what I reenacted for like two years after every successful math test. DAYLIGHT COME AND ME WAN’ GO HOME.

Two years later, Winona’s role in Mermaids was a perfect embodiment of teen girlz feelings—one minute we hate everyone and we move into the mountains and stew in our resentment and superiority; and then the next minute we wanna touch boys or girls (or whatever floats your boat) and we can’t stop thinking about sex and seriously consider careers in escort services. No one showed these things properly except Winona, and she did it in Peter Pan collars and the most perfect ’90s bobbed hair. Can. We. Discuss. The. Greatness?

Also, Heathers: the original Mean Girls. No, that does a disservice to Heathers. It is the BETTER Mean Girls, because there is WINONA RYDER IN IT and also CHAINSAW JOKES. Dark comedy is the best comedy!!! I used to suffer the delusion that I was popular, and then suddenly when my more popular girlfriends in middle school wrote up a list of ways in which I could improve, I turned to this movie as a means to fantasize about exacting my revenge. Also, Christian Slater. He was hot, if psychotic.

We should also touch upon the madness Noni depicted in Black Swan, but even thinking about how bone-chillingly scary she was for her few moments onscreen gives me chills because she was THAT GREAT.

Icing on the cupcake—nay, the five-sheet chocolate cake that is Winona Ryder’s excellence—was her early-’90s relationship with the equally dreamy Johnny Depp, simply because they were both the coolest people ever. Hearts for eyes, my nostalgia for them will never die, OK? See, that was going to rhyme but I didn’t want it to because that would be trying too hard so I sabotaged it.

In conclusion: Happy birthday, Winona! Your teen angst and its body count made me feel totally at home with my own angst, and also I heart your face. ♦


  • jessejames October 28th, 2011 7:12 PM

    You forgot ‘Girl, Interrupted’…. Perfection. I loved the letter (:

  • oriGINAlity95 October 28th, 2011 7:29 PM

    THIS. IS. BY. FAR. MY. FAVORITE. ROOKIE-POST. EVER. Heathers is kajg;lvbkjl;gknbalkngbjnakjgnbkjagbkjagkbjakljgb < That is really all I can say. Sigh.

    • Arabelle November 1st, 2011 9:24 AM

      Yay! makin’ me feel all special.

  • missblack October 28th, 2011 7:48 PM



  • Joseph October 28th, 2011 7:52 PM

    Then there’s Age of Innocence, a fabulous performance where she really rides a razor edge of “how much does she know or suspect?”

  • Paloma October 28th, 2011 10:52 PM

    Yes to everything! She’s so in tune with her dark side. WINONA AND JOHNNY. I thought she was so fantastic in Black Swan, her performance literally sent shivers down my spine. I can’t wait to see what she does next (also excited that she’ll be voicing a part in Frankenweenie. Reunion with Timmy B!)

  • Abby October 28th, 2011 11:08 PM

    AND The Crucible!!!!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE that movie (and the plays!).

  • fizzingwhizbees October 28th, 2011 11:38 PM

    I absolutely MUST see Mermaids now because that Peter Pan collar is to die for!

  • timelady October 29th, 2011 5:39 AM

    I love Mermaids. Cher was Winona Ryder’s mom, and I think the little sister was Christina Ricci (another creepy child, hello Wednesday Adams).

    I think I love Heathers the most. Maybe I’m just morbid, but I liked the extracting revenge idea. “I’ll have to send my SAT scores to San Quentin instead of Stanford”. Thank you, Veronica. You made high school so much more bearable. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater were great (despite Slater sounding like Jack Nicholson).

  • dangerpaws October 29th, 2011 11:58 AM

    Yeah! Happy Birthday Noni! Don’t forget ‘Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael’ too, in which her character’s name was Dinky, and she lived on a boat with a bunch of animals and ate a lot of candy bars.

  • I.ila October 29th, 2011 12:14 PM


    I love that movie to death.

  • flamingocupcake October 29th, 2011 3:02 PM

    beetlejuice is still one of my top 5 favorite movies to this day…

    ‘she’s sleeping with prince valium tonight..’

  • chelzilla October 30th, 2011 11:59 AM

    winona por vida

  • rhymeswithorange October 30th, 2011 1:52 PM

    Like a month ago my Spanish class had to write a letter to an actor we admired, and I picked Winona :) awesome post!

  • Naomi Morris October 30th, 2011 4:44 PM

    i don’t know how you can watch heathers and NOT fall in love with winona

  • raptorpr1ncess October 30th, 2011 10:48 PM

    I loved her in Little Women! She was like goddess of all things feminism and awesome in that movie. She was intelligent, creative, beautiful. I love Winona!!

  • Elizabeth October 31st, 2011 2:34 AM

    Pretty sure this is the only place where my Winona worshipping can be shared. BEETLEJUICEEDWARDSCISSORHANDSHEATHERSREALITYBITESGIRLINTERRUPTEDcanijustwakeupandbeyoupleasepleaseplease?

  • Elizabeth October 31st, 2011 2:35 AM

    And when I was watching Black Swan and realized she was in it, I about died, while my friends just didn’t understand why this was a HUGE DEAL.

  • Eleanor October 31st, 2011 4:58 PM

    oh winona!! she is in so many of my favourite films. i literally just watched beetlejuice then turned on the computer to find this article. i am impresssssed

  • cancercowboy November 1st, 2011 11:27 AM

    sigh, some old crushes die hard