Four sisters and their mother battle life’s vicissitudes in Civil War-era America after their father leaves to join the conflict.
The March sisters, Jo (Gryffindor), Meg (Ravenclaw), Amy (Slytherin) and Beth (Hufflepuff), spend their days entertaining themselves in their Massachusetts home, living in genteel poverty with a father away at war. Meg is the eldest, and most responsible sister, while Jo is a strong-willed, imaginative writer. Beth, the nice one, likes to stay home and play piano, while Amy, the youngest, is one sassy B who causes her sister Jo a lot of grief. As the March sisters grow from girls to young women, they must learn to overcome all the shit life’s constantly throwing at them (ahem, “battle life’s vicissitudes”) with little more than their unbreakable sisterly bond.
Winona Ryder as Jo
1994 was PEAK Winona Ryder fame. She was at the top of her game, and I don’t think anyone else could’ve played this part any better. TBH, if Little Women wasn’t a total classic, you’d almost think they’d written the part for Winona.
Claire Danes as Beth
When Little Women came out, Claire Danes was basically unknown. Her credits up to that point included roles like “Girl” and “Patient #3,” and we wouldn’t know her as Angela Chase for a few more months. Imagine being a 15-year-old unknown and playing THIS PART OH GOD the pressure. It was the moment the world was introduced to Claire’s ugly cry, and (I like to think) the role that catapulted her to super stardom.
Kirsten Dunst as Young Amy
Fresh off a career-making role as Claudia in Interview With the Vampire (where she shared her first kiss with Brad Pitt at only 10-years-old…yikes), Kirsten was already on her way to major fame when she played the youngest March sister. We only see her in the first half of the film, before another actress is brought in to play Older Amy, but Kirsten is perfect as the bratty younger sister. I love the way she manages to make Jo totally crazy while also inspiring her to be fiercely protective when anyone ELSE tries to mess with Amy.
Susan Sarandon as Marmee
Okay, let’s be real this cast lineup reads like the Oscar guest list. Susan delivers the perfect mix of loving mom and tough-as-nails survivor, and there is a moment in this movie when you literally let out a huge sigh of relief and feel yourself relax when she enters the room.
Christian Bale as Laurie
I mean, he’s done some major stuff (Batman, American Psycho, et al.) but he’ll forever be the boy next door in our hearts…and also the man responsible for one of Hollywood’s most infamous spit strings.
Gabriel Byrne as Professor Bhaer
This dude is PROLIFIC, and it still doesn’t change the fact that 90% of the people who watch this movie were disappointed that Jo picks him (uh…spoiler alert?).
Eric Stoltz as John Brooke
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think he’s been swoony since Some Kind of Wonderful. That said, Eric’s John Brooke is the perfect stick-in-the-mud match for Meg, even when he’s creepily stealing her gloves.
Couch-Sharing Capability: Sister, Sister!
Call up your annoying little sister (or your annoying older sister) for some serious bonding time around the fire. If, like me, you don’t have sisters, call up your book nerd lady friends who, like me, read this story as ~little women~ and will always cherish it. Bonus points if you dress up like the members of the Pickwick Society.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: “I Thought Your Family Were Temperance People.”
I mean sure, if Belle Gardner offers to put you in a corset and the finest silks made in Massachusetts so that you can charm the boys at Sally Moffatt’s coming out party, then BY ALL MEANS, treat yourself to a glass of boozy punch. Just don’t tell Marmee.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Christmas All Year Long
Every Christmas, I dig out my DVD copy of Little Women and watch it to get in the spirit, despite the fact that Little Women isn’t *actually* a Christmas movie. Sure there are a couple of Christmas scenes, but Christmas tends to happen a few times when you’re spanning the course of a few years. Plus, this movie has excellent springtime scenes (Meg’s wedding!) and summer scenes (that rainstorm at the end!) and autumnal scenes (IDK but I’m sure there is one!), so it’s totally appropriate for seasonal viewing all year long – now without the added hassle of digging through your dusty DVD collection!