In the modern media world, woman must compete with men to stand out. Actresses, specifically, can make or break their career in the movie industry and fall into the same roles over, and over again. One actress who has managed to break the mold and climb her way to the top is Hollywood icon Angelina Jolie. She has expanded her roles past the point of expectation and taken the film industry by storm with over 45 films under her belt, 30 awards –including an Oscar, a Saturn Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards - and another 62 nominations along with them. As one half of the power-couple Brangelina, a famous actress, a devout humanitarian, a mother of six, Jolie has taken on a variety of roles that allow her to show her true acting abilities, sexiness, and kick-butt nature. Named by Forbes as 2009’s highest paid actress and by several lists and magazines as the “most beautiful” or “sexiest woman” in the world, while spending a third of her income on charity and refugee projects, the 38-year-old deserves praise both on and off the big screen. For our purely theatrical purposes however, here is my countdown of Jolie’s top 10 movies of her career.
10. Taking Lives (2004)
In this suspenseful serial killer movie, Jolie plays FBI profiler and Special Agent Illeana Scott, working a Montreal murder investigation. She puts together the pieces of the puzzle as she realizes the murderer is taking on the identities of his victims. This eccentric role, capturing the psychological process of this investigator and how she gets inside the head of the serial killer she is chasing, is certainly one of Jolie’s most interesting.
9. Shark Tale (2004)
Before any objections, take into consideration that in animated films, an actress has nothing to rely on except the characterization of her voice. Jolie absolutely understood this Shark Tale and came across with just as much sex appeal as a fish (Lola) as in real life, solely by acting through her voice.
8. The Bone Collector (1999)
In one of Jolie’s most intense films, she works opposite Denzel Washington, as the partner of a quadriplegic homicide detective, new to the job but ready to roll. She shows her compassion, bravery, and intellect as the cop duo tracks down their perpetrator.
7. Girl Interrupted (1999)
As a sociopath named Lisa, Jolie made a difficult part look easy to play in this story of mental afflictions and treatment alongside co-stars Winona Ryder, Brittany Murphy, Vanessa Redgrave, and Whoopi Goldberg. She truly showed her versatility in this performance, winning the 1999 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and standing out among the rest.
6. A Mighty Heart (2007)
Though it was a low grossing film, and critics shied away from the post 9/11 flick, this film did great justice to the tale of, Mariane Pearl on her journey to find her journalist husband, Daniel, after he is captured and tortured in Pakistan in 2002. One critic of the film is that Mariane’s biracial heritage is not portrayed by Jolie in the movie, but it was Mariane herself who chose Jolie to play her. Her performance in this film was not only captivating, but also hard to digest in a good way as she portrayed the truth.
5. Salt (2010)
In this action-packed spy thriller, Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent who is called out as rogue Russian spy attempting an assassination. The movie is fast-paced and mind-blowing, and Jolie keeps the audience guessing and on the edge of their seat with her mental tricks and extreme physical stunts.
4. Changeling (2008)
Jolie plays the grief-stricken mother, Christine Collins, in this Clint Eastwood direct film. What makes this film so special is that it is a true story set in 1928, as unbelievable as it is, and performed exquisitely by Jolie. In the extremely challenging role of a woman faced to deal with her child’s disappearance, the search to find him, an uncooperative police department, institutionalization, multiple lawsuits, and one of the most intriguing and disturbing law-enforcement cover-ups in history she absolutely delivers. Her encounters, including reuniting with her imposter son, and exposing the dark truths about the treatment of women all establish the serious, emotional, and heart-wrenching performance by Jolie.
3. Mr. and Mrs.Smith (2005)
This is one of Jolie’s movie that almost has it all; action, comedy, drama, romance, you name it. Jolie plays Jane Smith, an assassin sent to take out her own husband, the scrumptious John Smith -Brad Pitt- who believes she is a happily married businesswoman. The twist? He is secretly an assassin too, also ordered to take her out. The chemistry between the two is what makes this film so great. The actors’ passion and awesome stunts are killer, literally. If nothing else, I mean, come on, Mr. and Mrs. Smith gave us Brangelina.
2. Lara Croft Tomb Raider (2001)
This is one of Jolie’s best films because it marked her true transition into the action genre. In it Jolie plays the kick-butt Lara Croft, a wealthy woman who takes down every job, every secret, and every man’s heart who falls for her. She made the transition of video game to movie flawless and pulled off amazing action stunts and a great character, while adding sexiness and fun to the film.
1. Gia (1998)
Jolie plays the role of the world’s first real supermodel, Gia Marie Carangi in what many consider to be her first break out film. She captures the 1970’s model with dedication, grace, and brutal honesty in her story of immense fame, love, insecurities, happiness, and drug addiction. Jolie delivers an emotional and riveting performance in the biographical and dramatic film.