Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith)
Decades before she turned up at Hogwarts as shape-shifting Professor Minerva McGonagall, Maggie Smith won her first Oscar as Jean Brodie, molder of young girls’ minds in 1930s Edinburgh. A woman of strong opinions and convictions – and a misplaced romantic attachment to fascism — she’s probably doing her girls more harm than good. (“Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life,” is her chilling motto.) She picks favorites, and she manipulates her girls into sometimes-disastrous life choices. Some learn her lessons (that you can get what you want via strong will and manipulation) a little too well.
As portrayed by the irrepressible Smith, Jean Brodie almost seems like a free-spirited anti-heroine made for the late 1960s (when the film was released), especially since her enemies, the bluenoses in the school administration, are so odious and hidebound. That they’re ultimately right about her and manage to get her fired despite her tenure does not diminish her victory; after all, her alumnae are, as she said, hers for life.