10 Best Chloë Sevigny Movies, Ranked


As a child growing up in the affluent neighborhood of Darien, Connecticut, Chlöe Sevigny was raised in a household some might label ‘Bohemian.’ In 1992, after ditching school and taking the train to New York City, a 17-year-old Sevigny was approached by the fashion editor of Sassy Magazine, who was impressed by her style. She modeled for the magazine, which led to a fashion connection with the Beastie Boys and Sonic Youth. By 19, Sevigny was the subject of a New Yorker article dubbing her one of « the coolest girls in the world. »

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Sevigny’s ‘cool factor’ opened doors to star in music videos, and in 1993, her friend Harmony Korine cast her in the risqué indie classic Kids. Sevigny’s impressive debut led to a steady flow of acting credits. A role in The Last Days of Disco caught the attention of director Kimberly Peirce, who cast Sevigny in what became her breakthrough performance in Boys Don’t Cry. Known for her daring choices in film and television, Sevigny is in the company of other indie queens like Parker Posey and Natasha Leonne, inextricably linked to the origins of independent cinema.

10 ‘American Psycho’ (2000)

Director: Mary Harron

image via Lions Gate

American Psycho was released in 2000 and was adapted from Bret Easton Ellis‘ 1991 book. The movie was a mix of horror and black comedy, satirizing 80s culture with an emphasis on Huey Lewis and the News. The premise centers around New York City yuppie Patrick Bateman (a sinister Christian Bale), who gives into homicidal impulses. Jean (Sevigny), Bateman’s secretary, narrowly escapes murder via nail gun, while private investigator Donald Kimball (Willem Dafoe) inches closer to the truth. Uncertainty plagued audiences and the movie’s unreliable narrator by the end of the bloodbath, unsure if anything was as it seemed.

Critics and audiences were split, but the movie was considered a hit, grossing $34 million at the box office. An initial Rotten Tomatoes score of 68% didn’t reflect the film’s cult following, which continued to grow long after its release. Directors David Cronenberg and Oliver Stone were interested in directing, but Ellis’ Bateman was ultimately told from a female perspective, with Roger Ebert praising Harron’s vision. Sevigny’s character, Jean, is played with an earnest naïveté, as she’s romantically interested in Bateman, which makes her one of the few redeemable characters in the film– an impressive feat considering the world she inhabits.

American Psycho poster

American Psycho
Release Date
April 13, 2000

Director
Mary Harron

Runtime
102

Main Genre
Crime

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9 ‘Lean on Pete’ (2017)

Director: Andrew Haigh

Chloë Sevigny and Charlie Plummer as Bonnie and Charley walking and talking in Lean on Pete
Image via A24

Lean on Pete is a coming-of-age tale of a young boy repeatedly met with difficult life lessons requiring him to grow up acceleratedly. The film’s young lead, Charley (Charlie Plummer), tackles poverty, friendship, loss, and inevitable maturity with an ease relegated to seasoned thespians. During Charley’s rocky road to adulthood, he meets and falls in love with Lean on Pete, a racehorse at the end of his career. The people in Pete’s orbit, owner Del (Steve Buschemi) and horse jockey Bonnie (Sevigny), are less affected by the threat of the horse’s imminent fate, forcing Charley to make his own plan. Charley’s adventure is reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn or that of Odysseus in a remarkably vulnerable yet saccharine-free saga.

This movie includes a horse as a central character, so anyone with illusions of the animal not incurring an unfortunate fate hasn’t seen War Horse or the Tony Soprano storyline featuring Pie-O-My. However, the movie isn’t unbearable to witness; it doesn’t resemble Artex giving in to the sadness of the swamps in The Neverending Story. Instead, the supporting cast is folded in like butter into a recipe, offering flavor and nourishment, advancing the story forward. Critics loved the film and raved about the nuanced performance by young Charlie Plummer. Bonnie has a few sage morsels for the impressionable youth in a brief appearance by Sevigny, but she manages to make an impact in a moving illustration of a child allowed to slip through the cracks.

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8 ‘Zodiac’ (2007)

Director: David Fincher

Chloe Sevigny and Jake Gyllenhaal in a phone booth in Zodiac.
image via Paramount Pictures

In 2007, David Fincher handcrafted an atmospheric thriller chronicling the Zodiac Killer and those attempts made to find and capture him. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith, the cartoonist working for the San Francisco Chronicle who becomes entrenched in his search to unmask the elusive killer. Crime reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and police inspectors Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and Bill Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) can’t collaborate in an official capacity. Still, Graysmith tirelessly works to decipher puzzles sent by the killer, obsessing for over 13 years and writing two books on the subject.

Some audiences found the movie to be overly long and devoid of gratuitous violence and gore befitting a serial killer of this renowned. However, Fincher’s fans are legion, and critics praised the film for capturing the tone and frustration surrounding the Bay Area during the serial killers’ active reign. The movie remained on critics’ top 10 lists and scored 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Sevigny’s contribution to the film is essential in communicating the gradual deterioration of Goldsmith’s marriage. Through Sevigny, audiences witness a wife slowly losing her husband to obsession, played with an impressive graduation from annoyance to resignation.

Zodiac
Release Date
March 2, 2007

Runtime
157 minutes

Main Genre
Crime

Watch on Hulu

7 ‘Dogville’ (2003)

Director: Lars von Trier

Chloe Sevigny smirks in Dogville.
image via Lionsgate

Director Lars von Trier‘s experimental film Dogville unfurls over nine chapters. In the prologue, an interloper named Grace Mulligan (Nicole Kidman) is on the run from mobsters and arrives in Dogville, a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains. She meets Tom (Paul Bettany), who insists the mountains are too arduous to pass, thus leading her to meet Dogville’s inhabitants. Without food, money, or shelter, Grace is at the mercy of the residents and becomes the town’s source of ire, spiraling horribly until the mobsters hunting Grace reappear with a revelation.

Some critics celebrated the film and its barely furnished staged set design; others cited the sprawling allegory as ‘challenging.’ However brutal the treatment of Grace becomes, audiences receive von Trier’s message — evil can arise anywhere as long as the situation is right. The cast, Lauren Bacall, Stellan Skarsgard, Patricia Clarkson, and James Caan, work together to make a town outlined in chalk seem three-dimensional. Sevigny stars as Liz, a devoted member of Dogville committed to inflicting love or hate depending on the collective vote of the people. Her time with Grace is brief but lasting as she toes a merciless chalked line.

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6 ‘Shattered Glass’ (2003)

Director: Billy Ray

Caitlyn Avey and Amy Brand sitting next to each other and looking in the same direction in Shattered Glass

Shattered Glass is a biopic detailing the rise and fall of journalist Stephen Glass during his time at The New Republic. Hayden Christensen portrays Glass, a young associate editor who fabricates news stories and sources to advance his career. The newly appointed senior editor of the magazine, Charles Lane (Peter Sarsgaard), discovers Glass’s falsified sources, ultimately uncovering 27 incidents of published fabrications. The drama featured supporting cast members Melanie Lynskey, Hank Azaria, and Sevigny as Caitlin Avey, a cinematic amalgamation of two of Glass’s friends and allies, Hanna Rosin and Johnathan Chait.

While Roger Ebert compared the movie to All the President’s Men, others criticized the director for glorifying Glass, offering further notoriety to someone who deserves none. Still, the film was received favorably, with Rotten Tomatoes awarding the movie an impressive 92% fresh score. Though Sarsgaard and Christensen enjoyed the most screen time, supporting players like Sevigny and Lynskey deserve credit for providing depth to a layered story. Sevigny carefully navigated Caitlin through uncertainty as she struggled to reconcile deceit from a trusted friend in an inspired performance.

Shattered Glass
Release Date
November 14, 2003

Director
Billy Ray

Runtime
94

Main Genre
Drama

Watch on Amazon

5 ‘The Last Days of Disco’ (1998)

Director: Whit Stillman

Chloe Sevigny in kitchen in The Last Days of Disco.
image via Gramercy Pictures

Based on Whit Stillman‘s experiences in New York City, the movie is about a group of recent Ivy League graduates relishing the fading disco scene in the early 80s. In reality, Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale), Alice (Sevigny), Jimmy (Mackenzie Astin), Tom (Robert Sean Leonard), and Des (Christopher Eigeman) are clinging to the remaining slivers of a chapter in their lives rapidly slipping away; their youth. As Alice, Charlotte, and crew wax poetic while analyzing animated Disney classics, their self-important authoritative arguments reveal hidden insecurities.

Hal Hartley, Aaron Sorkin, and Whit Stillman have a common forte: dialogue-dominant writing so intelligent and witty that a movie can have little else going on and still be immensely entertaining. Popular coming-of-age movies and 90s television shows like Friends offer something similar: nothing really happens, but viewers wouldn’t mind if nothing ever did. The dynamic between Charlotte and Alice isn’t precisely nurturing, but the two leads possess an unmistakable chemistry. The actors embody someone with values and someone who wants to be valued, respectively.

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4 ‘Broken Flowers’ (2005)

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Chloe Sevigny in her office in Broken Flowers.
image via Focus Features

An aging Casanova, Don Johnston (Bill Murray), is trying to retire in peace when a pink letter arrives one day, informing him of a mysterious 19-year-old son. The letter is sent anonymously, so Don must decide which of his former lovers might’ve written it. Don’s encouraging neighbor, Wilson (Jeffrey Wright), locates four possible women, Penny (Tilda Swinton), Laura (Sharon Stone), Carmen (Jessica Lange), and Dora (Frances Conroy), and sends Don on a road trip of nostalgia and discovery. Each visit is an independent vignette, delineating moments in Don’s lifetime.

Nominated for the Palme d’Or in 2005, critics loved the movie, and it did well fiscally, grossing over $47 million worldwide. As Don approaches each of the women in their respective lives, audiences join in the mystery, immersed in this Murray-led Scrooged-adjacent revisiting of the past. When he finds Dr. Carmen Markowski, Don is met with Carmen’s ambiguously overprotective assistant (Sevigny), who is brilliant at obfuscating the truth of their dynamic. Though the assistant wasn’t representative of Don’s past, she made a mark on his present, a gift the actor has proven she can deliver with minor roles.

Broken Flowers
Release Date
August 5, 2005

Director
Jim Jarmusch

Runtime
106

Main Genre
Comedy

Rent on Amazon

3 ‘Love and Friendship’ (2016)

Director: Whit Stillman

Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale carriage side in Love and Friendship.
image via Roadside Attractions

Based on Jane Austen’s unpublished posthumous novella, Lady Susan, Love and Friendship reunites costars Beckinsale and Sevigny, this time in period garb. In the comedy, Beckinsale stars as a recent widow, Susan Vernon, who is not particularly bereft but highly irreverent. Susan is on the prowl for a replacement husband, but while she’s at it, she’d like to score one for her daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark). Amid handwritten correspondence and strolls with decorative hats, Susan confides and conspires with her friend, Alicia Johnson (Sevigny). The women participate in hijinks and hysteria worthy of an episode of Seinfeld starring David Copperfield.

Some Austen adaptations are dull, some involve zombies, and then there’s Love and Friendship. Interestingly, Stillman was quoted saying that he relied on Austen’s literary influence but also modeled the movie with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in mind. As Susan, Beckinsale proved she could pull off the machinations of a diabolical debutante, and Sevigny rose to the challenge as a calculated coconspirator. The movie was loved by critics, generating a box office gross of $21 million against a meager $3 million budget. Stillman’s refreshing take on a lesser-known classic will endure, and fans of Sevigny shouldn’t miss this one.

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2 ‘Kids’ (1995)

Director: Larry Clark

Chloe Sevigny rides in a taxi in KIDS.
image via Lionsgate

Kids is a film featuring depictions of teens participating in consensual and non-consensual (or, in some cases, unconscious) drug use, violence, theft, and sex. It follows teens Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick), Casper (Justin Pierce), Jennie (Sevigny), Ruby (Rosario Dawson), and Darcy (Yakira Peguero) as they traverse New York City like feral cats with expendable lives. At one end of the city, the boys boast about their devil-may-care attitude towards sex, while the girls are getting tested with the hope they’ve evaded diseases. Though Kids is a work of fiction, the importance of providing information and tools to children reverberates through the screen.

Kids was highly controversial, earning a rare NC-17 rating. Critics were split, some calling the film gratuitous with no artistic merit. Others, like Roger Ebert, said it was the kind of movie that ‘needed to be talked about’ after viewing. Author and activist bell hooks had plenty to say regarding the film and covered it extensively in the documentary bell hooks: Cultural Criticism and Transformation. One of the most important storylines in the movie revolves around Sevigny’s Jennie, a teenager who learns she is HIV positive. Irrespective of the film’s reception, Sevigny introduced herself to the indie film world, where she remains a fixture.

kids
Release Date
July 28, 1995

Director
Larry Clark

Cast
Leo Fitzpatrick , Sarah Henderson , Justin Pierce , Joseph Chan , Johnathan Staci Kim , Adriane Brown

Runtime
91

Main Genre
Crime

Buy on Amazon

1 ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ (1999)

Director: Kimberly Peirce

Chloe Sevigny and Hillary Swank get closer in Boys Don't Cry.
image via Searchlight Pictures

Based on the real-life story of a slain trans man, Brandon Teena, Boys Don’t Cry is a biographical film co-written and directed by Kimberly Peirce. In the movie, Hilary Swank stars as Brandon, while Sevigny takes on the role of his girlfriend, Lana Tisdel. The story begins with Brandon’s arrival in Nebraska, where he meets Lana and the two men who would later murder him. Released only a year after the hate crime and murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, the movie featured a similar premise: a young man was killed for being himself.

Peirce was determined to provide real-life details and factual transcripts of the case, meeting with Lana and people who knew Brandon. Despite her efforts, however, some friends and family didn’t agree with Peirce’s depiction and sought legal action. Fortunately, the movie was well-received by many audiences and critics, earning over $11 million worldwide, starting with a scrappy $1 million budget. For Sevigny and Swank, accolades poured in, including Academy Award nominations for both, with Swank winning the Oscar for Best Actress. For the actors, the movie marked a turning point in their careers and solidified their status as elite performers.

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Next: 10 Best Truman Capote Movie Adaptations

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