Kobal Collection

Directed by James Cameron (1986)

In all of action herodom, Sigourney Weaver's Ripley is unique. She's a woman, which makes her part of an elite club. And writer-director James Cameron miraculously found a way to treat her gender as both a nonissue and the core of her character. Ripley isn't a vixen like Lara Croft or Charlie's Angels. Yet Weaver wasn't forced to turn Ripley into a man, either. (Remember Linda Hamilton in T2?) Aliens — a relentless Swiss watch of a war film — is a movie about women, about the matriarchs of two tribes fighting to protect their young.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: ''I certainly don't think Ripley was the first woman who held it together during a crisis. But it edged things further in that direction. Ripley was like a samurai, a warrior. I'm so glad I got to wear actual clothes instead of a tiny little suit or something. And I'm glad I didn't feel I had to be glamorous. You were a person. You didn't have to be a sex symbol.''