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The 8 Ball 6.03.14 Top 8 Angelina Jolie Roles
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 06.03.2014

Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Movie Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, we will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!

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Top 8 Angelina Jolie Roles

Welcome back to the 411 Movie Zone 8 Ball, ladies and gentlemen! Jeremy Thomas here as always, and this week it's all about Angeline Jolie. Jolie's new film Maleficent opened this past weekend to an impressively strong $70 million domestically and $170 million worldwide. I thought it was an okay film at best, made that much by Jolie's performances. This got me thinking about the actress' impressive filmography; Jolie is one of the rare A-List actresses who has been able to successfully juggle blockbuster roles with serious dramatic work. With that in mind, this week we're going to look at the best roles in her career.

Caveat: As with my previous lists looking at an actor or actress' roles, I considered all of Jolie's fictional narrative performances for this role, with the exceptions of roles where she played herself. Obviously cameo and supporting performances got much less weight than leading roles and that's why for the most part they're not here.

Just Missing The Cut

Amelia Donaghy - The Bone Collector (1999)
Francesca "Franky" Cook - Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Grendel's Mother - Beowulf
Evelyn Salt - Salt
Jane Smith - Mr. & Mrs. Smith

#8: Kate "Acid Burn" Libby - Hackers

One of the things that Angelina Jolie excels at his rising above the quality of the scripts that she is working with. This is not a patch on Hackers as an overall film, which was actually a pretty damned cool for its time and one I enjoy rewatching. But let's face it; the film's language around hacking is laughable at best and any technology-related film is going to seem quaint in pretty short order. The performances of the young cast are what makes Hackers as good as it is, along with some breezy direction from Iain Softley. The best of the characters in Hackers is definitely Jolie's Kate, who goes by the still-cool handle of Acid Burn. This isn't really an action movie, but this is in large part where we first saw the Angeline Jolie action heroine persona. She exudes that confidence which adds to her sex appeal and the "screw you men, I'm just as good as you" attitude that is hard to deny. Jolie established some great chemistry with Jonny Lee Miller as well and while there are some elements of the film that make me cringe these days, Jolie's work is top-notch and showed us what a star she was destined to be.

#7: Lara Croft - Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Franchise

Speaking of film franchises that Jolie rose above. I am not at all a fan of either of the Tomb Raider films. Most people already give Cradle of Life the disdain it deserves but I don't consider the first film all that much better. Simon West is generally a hack as a director and while he made Con Air fun, he sucked all the potential fun out of this video game franchise with terrible quick-cut action editing and a terrible sense of pacing. One thing I've never had a problem with in either film is Jolie. I never saw her as the perfect person to play Eidos' iconic heroine but she certainly made me into a believer. Jolie just sinks herself into the role and plays it with all of the confidence that Lara requires, along with just enough campiness to make the performance work. This is one where I would be happy to push it higher if the writing of her character had been a bit stronger but Jolie delivered what she needed to in order to make the role one of her most memorable in a good way, to the point that when the franchise crashed and burned she came out largely unscathed. I'm glad we didn't see a third film in the series but it's still sad we never saw Jolie take on the role one last time.

#6: Mariane Pearl - A Mighty Heart

Like most megastars who are generally considered to be good actors, Jolie has gone through her periods where she's taken roles in what others describe as "Oscar bait"...in other words, films put together specifically in order to attain Academy Awards rather than for the purposes of the story or blockbuster status or whatnot. I've always taken a bit of issue with the idea of Oscar bait but there are certainly roles that some actors and actresses take with gold statuettes in their eyes, and Jolie is no exception. I would say that if she has an "Oscar bait" role on her resume, it would be that of Mariane Pearl in A Mighty Heart. It had all the proper elements--fact-based story, politically relevant, tragic, lots of opportunities for emoting. And yet whatever her reasons for taking the role, you can't deny just how stunning she is in it. Jolie carries this film on her shoulders and truly does something that is difficult for such recognizable people to do; she sinks into the role and becomes Mariane Pearl. Not through makeup or similarity in looks--in fact, Pearl is mixed-race and Jolie even received some criticism for taking the role due to that--but emotionally. This was one of those films where Jolie wasn't just a star; she was an actress and you believe her every step of the way.

#5: Maleficent - Maleficent

Too soon? Nope, not to me. All in all, I thought that Maleficent was a so-so movie but Jolie makes it worth watching. The actress hadn't been on screen since The Tourist in 2010, focusing her attention on family and her first directorial effort In the Land of Blood and Honey. When she returned it was for a triumphant bow in the just-released live-action adaptation of the iconic Disney villainess. The film has its flaws, but Jolie absolutely inhabits the role of Maleficent in a way that makes you want to like the movie a lot more than you otherwise would just to be swept along with her. Some people aren't fond of Maleficent being portrayed as a morally grey character, preferring the black-hearted monster from the animated film but the way Jolie plays it you can believe it. She establishes chemistry with everyone she is surrounded by even as she acts her way in circles around them, throwing camp in to the point that you might think it will be too much but it never quite tips over the line. Maleficent may not be an all-time great film, but it is an all-time great Jolie role.

#4: Gia Carangi - Gia

This is where it all started for Jolie. Not in terms of her career; she had been acting for sixteen years by the point Gia hit television screens in 1998. But this was where the actress' breakthrough recognition into the star we know today began. It may be hard to remember but in 1998, the term "made-for-cable" didn't have a lot more weight behind it than "straight-to-video." You didn't have Al Pacino and Michael Douglas seeking out roles in HBO's films at the time and so Jolie received an opportunity that may have well gone to a more recognizable star at the time otherwise. With Gia Jolie earned her second Golden Globe and the one for which she's best known on TV, playing the role of real-life model Gia Carangi. With Gia, Jolie had found a role that she could really sink her dramatic teeth into and she really made the most of it. If this had been made exactly the same way but released in theaters first, she would have likely won her first Academy Award a year earlier than she actually did. Jolie shines with energy in this but doesn't shy away from showing off vulnerability as well. It really made Jolie's career and put her on the path to becoming the star she is today.

#3: Fox - Wanted

Scoff all you want, but this is Jolie's best action role to date as far as I'm concerned. Wanted isn't the most beloved of films, but James McAvoy and Jolie make this one well-worth watching and the actress' turn as Fox makes for one of her most enjoyable big-screen roles to date. Jolie has a certain style to her action performances; it's a sense of confidence and poise that stabilizes her films even if everything around her is completely insane. She has never seemed more at ease in a role than she was here, whether she's leaning way out the window of a car with a shotgun or trying to hold in delighted laughter at McAvoy's character telling her to move out of her way. The mentoring scenes work largely because she handles herself like a true pro and there are a few dramatic moments where she gets to shine as well. The film takes a lot of license from the source material, not the least of which is its casting of Jolie but she makes you forget all about those potential landmines and just lets you roll along with the film. Great, great stuff.

#2: Lisa Rowe - Girl, Interrupted

While Gia was the breakthrough performance for Jolie, Girl, Interrupted was the one that turned her into a true star. As the sociopathic Lisa Rowe, Jolie harnessed all of her not-inconsiderable charisma to make for a magnetic foil that Winona Ryder could work against as Susanna and the results are staggering. It's easy to love Lisa because she's the kind of character that makes people want to gravitate to her, but Jolie doesn't try to sand the edges off of the character to make her too likable. Sure, it's flashy work but there is a lot of restraint involved in her performance as well; she gets a few softer moments where she really shines and when she is allowed to cut loose...man, she just goes for broke. Jolie won her first and as-yet only Academy Award for this performance, one that she certainly deserved, and she was put on the stage to A-List stardom from here. It's a lot harder to play a sociopath than it looks and Jolie is one of those reasons that people think it's easy because she truly makes it seem effortless here.

#1: Christine Collins - Changeling

As much as I love Jolie's work as Lisa, if she was only allowed one Oscar than this is the one she should have taken the award home for. Jolie picked up the nomination for the lead role in this Clint Eastwood film about a woman whose nine year-old goes missing, only to have the police return a different child and say that it is hers. Eastwood does a lot of great things in terms of establishing the setting but it is Jolie who makes this work, keeping her performance restrained but never lacking in empathy or pathos. We feel for Christine Collins because Jolie makes is feel for her; she transforms herself into this woman and makes her as sympathetic as the role deserves. Sadly she would go on to lose out to Kate Winslet in The Reader but the performance still stands remarkably tall. For my money it's the best role that we've seen in Jolie's career and I certainly hope that we get an opportunity to see her equal or top it sometime soon, as tall an order as that might be.

Disguise of the Episode

Current Series/Season: Season One (2001 - 2002)
Episodes Watched: 16
Last Serial Completed: The Prophecy - Sydney is tested by the DSR to discover her mysterious link to a chilling 500-year-old picture and prophecy foretold in a Rambaldi manuscript. Meanwhile, after uncovering the identity of the rogue group leader, "The Man," Sloane learns through fellow Alliance of Twelve member Edward Poole that a close friend may be in cahoots with the enemy.
Episodes Remaining: 89

And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.


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