Early next year, Roger Durling‘s Santa Barbara Film Festival will present the 2023 Maltin Modern Master award to Jamie Lee Curtis. Not because of her legendary scream queen rep (recently underlined by her starring role in Halloween Kills) but because of her broad performance as a wackjobby IRS agent in A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Once**.

We all respect the endurance (persistence?) of Curtis’s career, but the truth is that Everything Everywhere aside she hasn’t been in any reasonably good films in over 20 years. I’m not being mean — that’s just factual.

Curtis’s peak years were from the late ’70s to mid ’90s, and principally in the ’80s. Her three finest films, in this order, are Charles Crichton and John Cleese‘s A Fish Called Wanda (’88), John Landis‘s Trading Places (’83) and James Cameron‘s True Lies (’94).

Other noteworthy JLC vehicles, listed sequentially, are Halloween (’78), The Fog (’80), Love Letters (’83), James BridgesPerfect (’85), Diane KurysA Man in Love (’85), Kathryn Bigelow‘s Blue Steel (’90), John Boorman‘s The Tailor of Panama (’01) and Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out (’19).

HE to Durling: The perfect presenter of the actual award would be John Carpenter, to whom Curtis owes her entire breadwinning career.

** The perfect ending aside, I mostly loathed this curiously successful film. but that’s water under the bridge.