While it would be tough to name the biggest movie star in the world (because there are so many of them), a strong contender would have to be Angelina Jolie. You’d be hard-pressed to find a moviegoer who isn’t familiar with Jolie’s work or hasn’t seen at least one of her movies.
There are a number of reasons for this. She’s talented, compelling, charismatic, likable – and she’s also been in a huge variety of movies, from big-budget video game adaptations to contemplative period dramas directed by Clint Eastwood. To celebrate some of her best work, here are the greatest movies Angelina Jolie has featured in to date, as rated by Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Changeling (61%)
This heartbreaking historical drama stars Angelina Jolie as a woman in the Great Depression whose son goes missing. When the police bring her a kid and tell her they’ve found her son, she realizes it’s not her son; it’s just another child.
When she tries to tell the police that they gave her the wrong kid and her son is still out there, no-one believes her. They just think she’s become delusional and call her an unfit mother. This is a truly tragic tale about a woman who’s already in a bad spot, and whose life just keeps getting worse and worse.
9 Salt (63%)
When the Bourne franchise revitalized the spy movie genre, naturally, a ton of imitators followed. Perhaps the best of those imitators was Salt, a female-led thriller starring Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent.
Salt was originally written for a male lead with Tom Cruise attached, but the producers realized it could set itself apart with a female lead in a typically male-oriented genre. Although the plot was absurdly convoluted and far-fetched, Jolie proved to be compelling enough in the lead role that it was at least watchable. Director Philip Noyce’s deft handling of the action set pieces goes a long way, too.
8 Beowulf (71%)
Having veered in and out of the uncanny valley with his animated family comedies The Polar Express and Monster House, director Robert Zemeckis won over most critics with his third-time-lucky attempt at entirely animated movies featuring motion-capture performances, Beowulf.
Angelina Jolie played Grendel’s mother in the movie; one of the main protagonists along with Grendel himself. Unfortunately, since the 1,000-year-old source material is alien to mainstream audiences and the entirely CGI makeup of the movie skyrocketed the budget to $150 million, Beowulf was a disappointment at the box office, barely recouping its production budget without scratching the equally whopping marketing costs.
7 Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (71%)
Along with films like Sin City, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was one of the first ever movies to utilize visual effects absolutely everywhere. Its title sounds like it was meant to be the start of a long-running franchise, yet you’ve probably never heard of it – put two and two together and you’ve got the story of this dystopian spectacle’s unfortunate failure.
Its visual style can be described as “dieselpunk,” and there would be no other way to achieve this unique look than to use CGI in every scene, so the film-makers are forgiven for that over-reliance on visual effects.
6 Wanted (71%)
Despite its use of ridiculous concepts like “bullet-bending,” Wanted is a pretty entertaining action thriller. It stars James McAvoy as a regular joe who realizes he has innate assassination abilities, making him the perfect recruit for a secret contract-killing organization headed by Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie.
Wanted is nothing too deep, true enough, but it marked a powerful performance from Jolie and is some of the finest escapist fun you'll see in theaters. With its tale of a bored office drone entering into a dark underworld, it feels a lot like Fight Club Lite.
5 A Mighty Heart (79%)
This incredible true story of a tragic Wall Street Journal reporter is a harrowing, spectacular work of cinema. It was directed by the great Michael Winterbottom, adapted from the memoir of the same name written by the reporter’s wife.
Angelina Jolie plays his wife in the movie, and really, since she’s the center of the story, she’s the emotional anchor that keeps the story focused and prevents everything from becoming too heavy.
4 Kung Fu Panda 2 (81%)
All three Kung Fu Panda movies are included on this list, because they’re all great movies. Angelina Jolie played Tigress, one of the badass warriors in the Furious Five, in all three of them.
The second one, released in 2011, revolved around Po’s realization that he was adopted, and his quest to come to terms with being left behind by his biological parents, while also continuing his newfound career as the Dragon Warrior. Kung Fu Panda 2 is arguably the weakest entry in the franchise (it has the least eventful plot and it’s not particularly memorable), but only by a slim margin.
3 Kung Fu Panda (87%)
DreamWorks Animation’s pastiche of martial arts movies, Kung Fu Panda, came as a breath of fresh air in 2008. For starters, it was good – like, Pixar-level good – and it had everything going for it. Visually, it was breathtaking, with an authentic portrayal of Chinese landscapes and architecture.
It has an engaging plot filled with lovable characters played by A-list stars and an important message for kids (it doesn’t matter who you are on the outside, because everyone has what it takes to be great on the inside). Against all odds, all of its slapstick gags land.
2 Kung Fu Panda 3 (87%)
The third and (to date) final movie in the wonderful Kung Fu Panda franchise ended things on a delightfully sweet note. The intimate and heartfelt plot revolved around Po’s search for his biological father, an equally adorably naive panda played by the great Bryan Cranston.
It has all the heart, humor, and spectacle we’ve come to expect from this franchise. Often, the third movie in a franchise is the worst one, but in the case of the Kung Fu Panda trilogy it just might be the best installment yet.
1 Gia (92%)
Angelina Jolie starred in this HBO-mounted biopic based on the life of Gia Marie Carangi, one of America’s first ever supermodels. Carangi’s story is so heartbreaking that it was bound to make a compelling drama: her modeling career went rapidly downhill as she struggled with the glamour of celebritydom, passing away at the tender age of 26.
Gia was one of Jolie’s first ever starring roles, and yet it might still stand as her all-time finest performance. She cashes in all of her chips to give a rounded portrait of a tragic figure. Fun fact: a young Mila Kunis appears as Carangi at age 11.