Oscar season is upon us, and it would be nothing without a good biopic to sink our candy-cane covered teeth into. Enter Jackie, the sad, elegant, and beautiful film about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s time in the White House shortly before and after her husband’s horrific 1963 assassination. Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín directed this ambitious undertaking, and his work is paying off. The film has already taken awards at the Venice Film Festival, garnered a 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes with critical acclaim, and has serious Oscar buzz.
Natalie Portman, who portrays Kennedy, has been lauded for her “astonishing” and “never better” performance (David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter), that is “impossible to separate from the woman she embodies” (April Wolfe, Village Voice). It makes sense that the haunting glimpse into her life is such a hit. America’s unending fascination with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, as she became when she married Aristotle Onassis in 1968, extends beyond her fashion and her connection to one of the most heartbreaking moments in U.S. history. Her approachability combined with her mystique, her strength, her intelligence, and our unending comparisons to Michelle Obama all keep our obsession with Jackie O alive.
While there have been numerous portrayals of Jackie, there are so many other fascinating First Ladies who deserve their own film. (For more FLOTUS research, I highly recommend Secret Lives of First Ladies, which sparked my own interest in the insane lives of First Ladies.) A few notable mentions before we begin: We’re due for an Eleanor Roosevelt biopic (Hyde Park on Hudson and the numerous TV movies just ain’t cuttin’ it), and LadyBird Johnson was an incredible First Lady who, though lacking much conflict, protected our National Parks. Of course, we’re also in need of a Hillary biopic, but we’ll have to wait until the dust settles. Until then, I recommend watching Primary Colors. Now that that is out of the way, keep reading to see why the following five First Ladies would make perfect feature film subjects.