Sally Field movies: 16 greatest films ranked from worst to best

As she said when she collected her second Oscar for Best Actress, Sally Field hasn’t had an orthodox career. Plucked out of a drama class when she was barely out of high school Field was cast as the perky surfer girl Gidget for one season on TV. She then did three seasons in the preposterous series “The Flying Nun.” Not exactly the kind of work that would portend a serious new actress had arrived. In fact at the age of 24, Field found herself to be somewhat of an industry joke.

While many sitcom stars who fell into obscurity, Field managed to turn her career around. She began working with famed acting teacher Lee Strasberg and slowly things started to change for her. She found work in a series of well regarded TV movies and won an Emmy for the miniseries “Sybil” about a child abuse victim that developed 16 different personalities in order to cope with her childhood trauma.

In the 1970s actors didn’t move as freely back and forth between film and television as they do today, so even with her acclaim for “Sybil,” Field found obtaining work in movies a bit of a challenge. That all changed when she was cast in the title role of “Norma Rae,” which would launch an impressive film career with her first Academy Award. Her movies since then have included “Places in the Heart” (a second Oscar win), “Absence of Malice,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Lincoln” (a third nomination) and more.

Tour our photo gallery of her 16 greatest film performances, ranked from worst to best.