MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midler’s Best Performances – Would You Change Anything?

Best Bette Midler Performances, Ranked
October 22, 2022

<strong><em>MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midlers Best Performances<em><strong>

Mister D: I don’t know who Em Short is and whether Em is male or female, but we have a bona fide BetteHead here. These are some glowing reviews. I’d be interested if you would rank these differently or add or subtract any if we keep it at eight performances. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see one on here. I think you’ll know which one it is. I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s number 6.

Bette Midler is one of the greatest performers ever to live, proven by her Grammys, Emmys, Golden Globes, and Tony Awards. Here, MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midler’s Best Performances

Bette Midler is one of those performers who can do it all. Over her career, which spans five decades, she has won four Golden Globe Awards, three Grammy Awards, three Emmy Awards, two Tony Awards, a Kennedy Center Honor, and two Academy Award nominations.

Midler began her career in the late 1960s on Broadway in Fiddler on the Roof before working in stand-up comedy while building her career as a singer. Her first major role came in 1979 with The Rose, which gained Midler her first Oscar nomination. Since then, Midler has continued to prove why she should be sitting among the greats. These are eight of the best Bette Midler performances.

MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midler's Best Performances - Ruthless People
<strong><em>MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midlers Best Performances<em><strong> <strong><em> Ruthless People<em><strong>

8. Ruthless People

Ruthless People is one of those classic 1980s black comedies directed by the slapstick comedy filmmaking trio David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker (Airplane!, Hot Shots). The 1986 film stars Danny DeVito as fashion tycoon Sam Stone and Midler as his wife Barbara, who is kidnapped by a lower-class couple Stone stole his million-dollar idea from. The film is dark but funny, which is to be expected from comedians like DeVito and Midler, who gives a hilariously nasty performance.

MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midler's Best Performances - Big Business
<strong><em>MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midlers Best Performances Big Business<em><strong>

7. Big Business

Big Business stars Midler and Lily Tomlin as sets of identical twins, mismatched at birth. The film, directed by Jim Abrahams, has its stars playing two roles and features a pretty good green screen for 1988. Midler and Tomlin are both hilarious in this fun watch that is currently streaming on Disney+.

MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midler's Best Performances - Hocus Pocus
<strong><em>MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midlers Best Performances Hocus Pocus<em><strong>

6. Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus is easily one of Bette Midler’s most iconic roles. The classic Halloween film stars Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Nejimy as the hilarious and villainous Sanderson sisters who return to Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween night after 300 years. The 1993 film was directed by Kenny Ortega and continues to be one of the most-watched films during the fall. The sequel, Hocus Pocus 2, was released this month and reunited the original cast as the fan-favorite witches. Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2 are both streaming on Disney+.

MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midler's Best Performances - Gypsy
<strong><em>MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midlers Best Performances Gypsy<em><strong>

5. Gypsy

Gypsy was a made-for-TV movie based on the 1959 stage musical and one of the best adaptations of a Stephen Sondheim musical, as they brought in Bob Mackie to design the costumes and the original production’s choreographer. The play is based on Gypsy Rose Lee’s 1957 autobiography, and Lee’s son was instrumental in getting the 1993 version made.

The author of Gypsy’s stage book, Arthur Laurents, hated the 1962 film version and was the big reason it took so long for this version to get made. Laurents wrote the script for this version of Gypsy, while Emile Ardolino, who died of AIDS three weeks before the film was broadcasted, directed it. Bette Midler outdoes herself as Mama Rose and is considered one of the best actresses to take on the legendary theatrical role.

MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midler's Best Performances - The Rose
<strong><em>MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midlers Best Performances The Rose<em><strong>

4. The Rose

The Rose was almost a biopic about Janis Joplin, but after her family declined the rights to Joplin’s story, it was fictionalized to create The Rose. The 1979 film follows Mary Rose “The Rose” Foster (Midler), a self-destructive rockstar who struggles to cope with the pressure of her career.

Midler is amazing in her screen debut and performed all the songs for the soundtrack, including the title song, which became one of her biggest singles. The Rose was directed by Mark Rydell and was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, including Best Actress in a Leading Role for Midler’s performance, making her another singer nominated for an Oscar.

MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midler's Best Performances - First Wives Club
<strong><em>MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midlers Best Performances Divine Madness<em><strong>

3. Divine Madness

Divine Madness is a concert film starring Midler and the Harlettes. Director Michael Ritchie filmed four concerts during Midler’s 1979 tour and cut them together seamlessly to create the 94-minute film. Midler shows off her talents by mixing different performances, including stand-up comedy, where Mider built a career before becoming a great actor. Divine Madness proves why Midler is a force to be reckoned with.

MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midler's Best Performances - First Wives Club
<strong><em>MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midlers Best Performances First Wives Club<em><strong>

2. The First Wives Club

The First Wives Club is one of the best movies that embrace being single. The 1996 film is directed by Hugh Wilson and is an adaptation of Olivia Goldsmith’s 1992 novel. The First Wives Club stars the incredible Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Midler as divorcées seeking retributions after their husbands left them for younger women. The funny film was nominated for an Academy Award and has become a cult classic. The First Wives Club is currently streaming on HBO Max.

MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midler's Best Performances - Beach
<strong><em>MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midlers Best Performances Beaches<em><strong>

1. Beaches

Beaches is an adaptation of Iris Rainer Dart’s 1985 novel about a friendship between two women from polar opposite worlds. Bette Midler plays C. C. Bloom, an actress and singer who befriends heiress Hillary Whitney (Barbara Hershey) when they meet as kids under the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Although critics did not embrace the 1988 film, it was a box office success and has become a cult classic for depicting pure love between friends and Midler’s performance. Beaches, directed by Garry Marshall, is a guaranteed tear-jerker and is also responsible for Bette Midler’s classic rendition of Wind Beneath My Wings.

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15 thoughts on “MovieWeb Ranks Bette Midler’s Best Performances – Would You Change Anything?

  1. Hi Don,

    I would definitely rank my Top 8 differently. For one thing, I wouldn’t include “Divine Madness” because it’s a concert film. Okay, my order:

    8. Then She Found Me
    7. Gypsy
    6. The First Wives Club
    5. Beaches
    4. Outrageous Fortune
    3. Hocus Pocus
    2. For the Boys
    1. The Rose



  2. I love all of her movies, but in this order, #1-The Rose #2-For the Boys, # 3-Beaches, # 4-Stella, #5-Then She found me, #6-Ruthless People, #7-Hocus Pocus, #8-Parental Guidance, I would probably rearrange that to Beaches being #2 & For the Boys at tying with Beaches, and Stella being # 3

  3. Well I j‘adore them all, of course, but Divine madness is one of my favourites films ever ever ever so I’m very pleased to see it here. Also, For The Boys…

    1. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see “Divine Madness” I don’t think a lot of people knew she was nominated as Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes for thst concert movie, It comes closest to The Rose as to how many times I’ve seen a movie.

      1. The TV footage of that year’s “GOLDEN GLOBES” is lost. I’ve looked and looked. I so much wish I could view that particular category in that year’s presentation of the Globes. I did not know until years and years later she had received a nomination for that film. For that matter, I was just in grade school when my parents took me to the Drive In to see “THE ROSE” in the summer of 1980. I became instantly and forever more obsessed. I remember shortly after that experience I had gotten “THE ROSE” soundtrack album. It was not too long after that when I noticed a new Bette Midler soundtrack album was hitting all the stores. “DIVINE MADNESS” soundtrack was showing up everywhere. I realize it was not a huge hit album but it got a lot of placement with all the department stores carrying it. (Compared to the previous Bette Midler album “THIGHS AND WHISPERS” of which I accidentally stumbled upon one copy at my local Woolco.) Anyway, I was thoroughly confused about this new “DIVINE MADNESS” soundtrack because out in Kansas I had seen absolutely no advertisements or references made to this…the 2nd Bette Midler movie? I did not even truly realize it was a concert film…I was so young…but all I know is I waited for years and years and years to finally get to see this mysterious film when one of the local video stores in my town had it in their movie rentals. Even the 1984 Bette Midler biography “THE DIVINE BETTE MIDLER” by James Spada (which I consumed cover to cover) did not mention Bette’s Golden Globe nomination for “DIVINE MADNESS” and only basically gave the film a negative slant about its flaws and being a box office disappointment. (I still had not seen it…) Anyway, when I FINALLY rented it and saw it I loved it…but I did not feel it captured Bette nearly as well as the 1976 HBO special “THE BETTE MIDLER SHOW” which I had also been dying to see and had rented at the video store months before…

  4. Hi don-first off a huge thank you for what you do with this site-it is a thankless job and us Bette fans appreciate it more than you will ever know! I have followed since the beginning and I just love this site!
    O.K. #1 The Rose…she has never been better and what an amazing debut!-I saw it 21 times in the theater
    #2 Beaches…i still get teared up watching it.
    #3 Hocus Pocus
    # 4 For the Boys
    #5 Outrageous Fortune-even though they didn’t get along on set, she and Shelly Long made a hilarious comedy team and I would have loved to have seen them team up again.
    #6 Big Business Comedy magic casting
    #7 Ruthless People-laughed till I cried
    #8 Divine Madness-I saw that tour live at the Majestic Theater on Broadway and waited in line in Nov. in the brutal cold for nine hours to get tickets…it was worth it!!! And I still play the soundtrack to this day!
    #9 First wives Club-great casting with that trio
    #10 Down and out in Beverly Hills-the start of her comeback and it was hysterical with a great cast!

    1. Wow, Stephen, that was a great rank a dank list, but I really want to thank you for what you said about the site. I love it, but I’m slowing down, which pisses me off. I can’t remember to update pages, like awards, movies, etc. and I have in my mind kind of what I want it to all look like when I go to that mansion in the sky. I don’t see how it’s going to be possible, but I’m very stubborn so I may not leave this mortal coil until Im damn ‘well finished. We have the same movies in our list ( you and me), but I’m having trouble with the ranking.

  5. 8. Isn’t She Great (I love her in it, shut up!)
    7. Gypsy
    6. Then She Found Me
    5. Down and Out in BH
    4. Big Business
    3. Beaches
    2. The Rose
    1. For the Boys

  6. “JINXED” would be number 3 on my list after “DIVINE MADNESS” at number 2 and “THE ROSE” at number 1. I loved ”
    “JINXED” and I think it is the funniest comedy Bette MIdler ever made.
    That scene in the insurance office when she finds out Harold “let the policy lapse…he never even made a second payment” is the funniest scene in a Bette MIdler movie I have ever seen.
    “I’m the beneficiary!” “YOU WERE THE BENEFICIARY!”
    “Was he sick?” “HE WAS THE SICKEST!”
    “It must have been a terrible shock to you.” “NOT AS BIG AS IT WAS TO HIM!”
    Yeah I was so excited when “JINXED” aired on HBO! Their tag line for the film was “Tension on the set…laughs on the screen!”

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