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« Oscar Quandaries: Original OR Adapted? | Main | If We Had Oscar Ballots... a 1941 Extra »
Friday
May302014

Posterized: Angelina Jolie

A huge movie star in search of movies big enough to hold her - that's Angelina Jolie (currently gliding through Maleficent in her cape) though she doesn't actually search. The actress shot to global fame in the late 90s when the one-two punch of a Gia and Girl, Interrupted won her plentiful nominations and trophies and admirers of all kinds both for her sizzling sexuality, oversized screen presence, and cartoon-like beauty. But the filmography isn't so hot. It's filled with hit movies but an inarguable lack of classics; she's always bigger than the movie. 

How many have you seen?

The Beginnings (1982 & 1995-1996)
Kicking it off with a Hal Ashby (Lookin' to Get Out)? Not bad. Of course she was only 7 years old and having a significant movie star for a father helps. Her true debut is at 20 and she never stopped working for those next few years. It's really difficult to find retro posters from this period that don't retcon for DVD and pretend that she was already top billed. Usually she was further down the castlist like Without Evidence (1995) in which she was billed below two male leads who I've never heard of and Anna Gunn (still many years away from Breaking Bad)

Starlet On Fire (1997-1999)
Or roughly: The Breakthrough. I normally don't include TV movies in these posterized surveys but there's no disputing that Gia (1998) was hugely influential in Jolie going supernova. Isn't it hilarious now to look back on Playing God (when Timothy Hutton and David Duchovny were more bankable than Jolie!) or Playing By Heart and realize that Ryan Phillipe was paired with her as the "edgy" youngsters of the ensembles. Ryan Phillipe. Edgy.

The Movie Star (1999-2004)
After winning the Oscar for a film meant to return Winona Ryder to the top (Jolie would later be added to the poster in different ways) she is a pure headliner alternating big spectacle action films (which immediately became her forte) with attempts at other genres that didn't pay off as well. Romantic Comedy? Nope. Due to the nature of the 3 wide Posterized grid I couldn't end this section with both films but it's telling and fitting that she ended 2004 with two supporting roles and/or glorified cameos (Alexander & Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) that coasted on the sheer size of her presence rather than her gifts... as if she finally admitted that, yes, I'm basically the world's fleshiest most awesome cartoon even though no artist could have ever dreamt me up.

From here and ever onward she will remain a mega star but she gets significantly less prolific and her attention is obviously elsewhere. In 2004 she is single again (after divorcing second husband Billy Bob Thornton), a newish mother (she adopted her first born Maddox in 2002). Enter Brad Pitt, the complete trading in of her wild woman persona for humanitarianism superstar and a growing family.

The Intermittent Now (2005-2014)
A full decade in which Angelina only appears in 8 movies (most of them for bank to support her offscreen life) but I included Beowulf since she was doing more than just voicework and does (sort of) appear in it. Huge gaps inbetween films.

The Future
Her directorial feature debut In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011) got one of those buried Oscar-qualifying releases (it didn't take) but her sophomore effort Unbroken (2014) looks to be the one to give us the full sense of whether or not she'll become a significant director once she gives up acting (in 3...2...1...)

HOW MANY OF THESE 31 FILMS HAVE YOU SEEN?

Is it easy to choose a favorite?

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Reader Comments (41)

I think I've seen eleven, but I'm honestly not sure about most of her filmography before 2004. That's kinda sad.

Favorites: with Gia and Girl a given, the others would be Salt, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Bone Collector and Pushing Tin. (Although none of these are indispensable movies, there's a lot to enjoy in them.) I did find her extremely compelling in A Mighty Heart as well.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I've seen only 7 so far. *lol*
Including The Tourist. I understand people were pretty upset the Globes nominated the film 3 times, including BP C/M, but overall it was actually quite entertaining.
Gia was great and I love Playing by Heart very much, though more due to my first celebrity crush ever: Gillian "Scully" Anderson. <3

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

I've seen 2 - Gia and Girl - and there's nothing else here I have the slightest desire to see.

The movies might be able to hold her if they were, you know, good.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I've seen only five. I never understood why she was popular and I never found her attractive. Maybe it was the 1999 Oscars where she went all Morticia Addams with incestuous overtones, or maybe it's the fact that most of her movies just don't seem all that interesting. Her best performance is probably Changeling but her best movie is Girl, Interrupted. Sky Captain is somewhat fun but she's forgettable. Really the only thing that stands out about that movie is the fact that Laurence Olivier is the villain. I've also seen the original Tomb Raider and Taking Lives, neither of which are good by any stretch of the imagination.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSean Troutman

Sandra Bullock has a better filmography.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I've only seen 3 or 4 (a lot of them are hard to remember - Did I see Gone in 60 Seconds? or The Bone Collector?)
Her look in the Life or Something Like It poster is so weird. I thought she was Bette Midler for a second.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Such a shame there aren't a few more Mighty Hearts (hell, I'll even accept a few more Changelings!) and a few less Tomb Raiders. What a waste of charisma.

And I do hope she doesn't entirely give up acting in favour of directing. I suppose it's a bit early to say but In the Land of Airless Ham-Fisted Cliche just screamed atrocious director.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

15, including Melificent, but not Gia and Girl Interrupted.

Of the ones I have seen, my favorite Jolie performances are in Changeling (she's underrated in an underrated movie), Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Salt.

I think she's terrific in Maleficent, too, and I'm very curious to see what people think of that movie. I was quite taken with it, but I have a feeling I'm going to be off-consensus on this one. Maybe.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Sean Troutman: Really? Changeling? It's the most Oscar friendly, but that's not her at her best. I've seen nine. Best film she was in? Wanted, to be frank. Might see Maleficent at some point. Worst to best (on a performative level):

9. Changeling. (Blatantly constructed to troll for Oscars (even more than A Mighty Heart) even though the script is so bad that I think this would be impossible for even conventional dramatic actresses to elevate it, let alone Jolie's stylized quality)
8 & 7: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (yes, these are more disposable (and even worse made in terms of editing and scripting) but this is the kind of character Jolie can obviously elevate, not Christine Collins)
6. A Mighty Heart (it probably should have been her symbolic single nod (Jolie in A Mighty Heart getting over Blanchett in stupid Elizabeth sequel probably would have killed the Changeling campaign)
5. Beowulf (she does pretty well with what she's got, but it pretty much amounts to a single scene.)
4. Girl, Interrupted (The film, overall, is the worst film I've currently seen from 1999. Jolie's performance is probably the only thing keeping me from giving it a D grade. As is, it gets just a C-.)
3. Salt. YES. No where near a classic, but this is the kind of actor persona and character fusion that makes perfect sense and Jolie sells it.
2. Wanted. Too vulgar and psychotic for the Academy to ever want to touch it and still disposable, but probably the closest thing to a classic she's appeared in, if we limit to live-action.
1. Mr. And Mrs. Smith. (Honestly, the script is really stupid and it shouldn't work at all, but...that chemistry.)

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Gia and Girl really signify that very short period of her being very actressy -- but I don't think she could exist in that headspace due to the issues it was causing in her private life. I know that period was dark for her even though she was ascending at such a rapid rate.

Other films I think she did good work in: Original Sin (sexy/interesting), Playing By Heart and Life or Somrething Like It (surprisingly funny in both)

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

I have seen most of it i have a soft spot for serial killer thrillers so i liked those,i still think she was a bit off in girl/i,amh remains her best.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMARK

Looking forward to a Maleficent review. As a big fan of the character in "Sleeping Beauty" I was heartily disappointed, at the lack of bad-assery in particular.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBD

I've seen 20. Wow, didn't thing I saw that many. Probably 6 or 7 I saw by chance on TV. It is crazy to think that she only had maybe 5 really good roles.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterV

16. And I think "A Mighty Heart" is easily her best performance. Blanchett coasting on screams and stomps in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" took her very deserved spot in 2007. (Then in 2008, Jolie doing uncharacteristically bland work in "Changeling" would take Sally Hawkins's very deserved spot).

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Sandra Bullock has a better filmography.

Lol at that. It's sad, but probably true.

I've only seen (gasp) 4 that I am aware of. I haven't even seen Girl, Interrupted. While I understand her appeal, she does nothing for me. I think that if she retires with this filmography, she'll only be remembered as a celebrity.

To redeem myself; I think I've seen Life or Something Like It more times than it's sane to admit. It's on TV quite frequently and I always end up watching it.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

16 counting Maleficent (*sigh, there goes another one of my childhood heroes). You missed out on "George Wallace" where her Emmy/GG streak started if you're gonna count turning points despite being from TV land. Terrific movie star but should really stay away from period films. Her acting style and screen persona is just way too modern. Watch Girl, Interrupted and you get the entire blueprint of an Angelina Jolie performance.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSanty C.

I've seen 9. Honestly, Mr. & Mrs. Smith is the best; A Mighty Heart is very good, Pushing Tin is good and shoulda been better.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

I've seen 12, but a lot of them (Hackers, Pushing Tin) for articles I was writing, or for movies I was reviewing (Beyond Borders).

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErik

OMG those posters for CHANGELING and LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT are downright heinous!!! Who designs these things and thinks, "Hey, that's pretty damn good"

LOL

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

11. For someone at Angelina's star power level, you'd think she was in better films than these. Yikes. I get that she has loftier ambitions now and more important things on her plate than starring in lowly films, no less "quality" ones, but there's no excuses for doing so many of these placeholder films just to be doing them. We love to criticize Meryl's filmography, but this one goes unscathed? I think Angelina's best moments on film have been "Gia" and "Girl, Interrupted." I'll always support her Oscar win. But yeah, more "A Mighty Heart," and far less "Tomb Raider" and "Salt" (though I loved me some "Wanted"). I'll gladly admit that one.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIan

22 for me, team Angie all the way! I'm glad to read some others like Life or Something Like
It... It was my guilty pleasure for a long time.

I think she is great in a lot of these films. My favourites are Mr & Mrs Smith & a Mighty Heart. Drinking game for Changeling... Take a shot every time Angie ends a sentence with the words 'my son!' Then when you're drunk do your best Lisa Rowe in her showdown with Noni.... 'I'm free! I'm free... You don't know what freedom is... I'm free!'

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

Definitely a few movies on there I've never seen. I've got this Angie poster from Girl Interrupted in my room --> http://bit.ly/1nBppi7 Great post :)

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

That terrible Changeling poster with her huge floating head & lips and the little kind in the corner always cracks me up.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan

16 + Maleficent mañana = 17

Favorite: Salt
Most sexy: Lara Croft
Best performance: Gia/ Girl, Interupted
Best chemistry: Mr and Mrs Smith

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

It's quite remarkable that she's such a huge star given her terrible filmography. Love her though.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

I've seen seven in their totality and bits and pieces of three, and even from the titles alone so much of the remainder is forgettable. The only thing that seems like an aberration (for her at least) is "Life or Something Like It" (Jolie and rom com will never be complementary to me). I remember loving her in circa 1998-2001, then being completely turned off starting in the mid 2000s, and now I'm somewhat warming to her again. In my mind Toni Collette is 1999's best supporting actress, but I can't begrudge her win for that otherwise lackluster movie.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

14. I used to be a fan.

Favorite? Gia

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I've seen 10…SALT was epic (I saw a special blu-ray cut of the film where…[spoilers]...there was a scene in which she witnesses her husband drowning…beautifully played, edited and quite devastating...and her strangling of Liev Schreiber was ferocious)…I definitely would've been on board for a BA nomination for Salt…as well as noms for The Good Shepherd in BSA (along with Tammy Blanchard) and another nom in BA for A Mighty Heart.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMB76

I've only seen three - Mr & Mrs Smith, The Good Shepherd and Salt. I boycotted her movies for years because I didn't like her but she has since changed my mind so I've gotta catch up. I really want to see Girl Interrupted, A Mighty Heart and Changeling.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I guess I've seen six. I say "guess" because I'm not really sure if I have seen Salt AND Wanted or if I've only seen one and they both look alike. Honestly, the only thing I remember about either one was a scene where everyone is standing in a circle and they all shoot each other in the head. Does that sound possible or did I dream it?

Anyway, I enjoy Angelina a lot more than her movies. The standout for me is Mr. And Mrs. Smith. I thought it was pretty droll and clever when not being utterly ridiculous.

Eleven. I suppose Salt is my favourite but that shows how little I think of the others.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVaus

"Wanted" and "Salt" are such great entertainments that only a woman of Jolie's stature could pull off.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

The ones I haven't seen in that list are: Lookin' to Get Out (which is a holy grail that I'm looking for since it's a film by Hal Ashby), Without Evidence, Mojave Moon, and Hell's Kitchen.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

I've only seen 9. Every time I see her on screen, I think oh yes, you are my kind of girl definitely, and I just relax. Sometimes I get a Barbara Stanwyck vibe from her.

Like iggy, I've seen one of her films constantly on television. The Tourist - I must have seen it 6 or 7 times. I love her gorgeous outfits and the way she wears them. I love the Italian cast. I look them up every time I see the movie, just to remind myself of who they are. And I love the Venice cinematography. The only thing that becomes more irritating each time is Johnny Depo's hair.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

This was depressing to look at. She's such a star and has so much talent, and it's going to waste on this pile of corporate entertainment.

I liked Sky Captain and Gia and Girl, and I got a little bit of a frisson off of Mr & Mrs Smith, but really, A Mighty Heart is the only worthwhile film amid this pile of forgettable escapist drek.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

I've seen Sky Captain and the World Of Tomorrow, A Mighty Heart, Beowulf, Wanted, Changeling and I'll probably see Maleficent. Funny enough, the best film of the bunch - A Mighty Heart - was the one I didn't see in theaters. Overall, I'm not a fan of hers but I do admit she showed some chops in AMH. Hell, I even thought she was decent-ish in Changeling. Still, sometime about her acting just... repels me.

May 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

I can't believe I've seen 23.
What I really enjoyed from her filmography (and solely):
8. "Mr. and Mrs. Smith"
7. "Salt"
6. "Playing by Heart"
5. "Kung Fu Panda 2"
4. "Foxfire"
3. "Girl, Interrupted"
2. "Gia"
1. "Kung Fu Panda"
The rest I've seen, I'd categorize it from mediocre to downright awful.

Her best performances:
5. "Beyond Borders" (I think it earned her a Razzie nomination, but it's one of her very best... take it as you want)
4. "Changeling" (she's actually better than Kate Winslet in "The Reader" and I prefer this performance to Sally Hawkins in "Happy Go Lucky". With all that said, she's just OK in it)
3. "Playing by Heart" (MVP from the movie)
2. "Girl, Interrupted" (I do believe she deserved the Oscar for this)
1. "Gia"

I don't know how to judge "A Mighty Heart". It's a great performance of hers, but she's in brownface! I know she had good intentions with it, but there's a limit.

May 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

Wow. It's probably because I never thought about it, but her filmography is terrible and forgettable. Wow. How is she such a huge star? Lol. I never would've thought it's so awful.

I haven't seen many. Not even Girl, Interrupted. Only bits and pieces of that and Gia.

I don't know how she missed out on a nomination for A Mighty Heart though. She absolutely broke my heart in that. I wish she'd do more raw, independent films with heart (no pun intended) because she does really well with the material.

Changeling was...interesting. Lol. She wasn't awful, but the movie was. And her performance seemed pretty shrill and one-note from what I remember.

May 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Dave: that's Wanted!

I've seen 11: Playing by Heart, Gia, Pushing Tin, The Bone Collector, Girl Interrupted, 60 Seconds, Tomb Raider, Alexander, Changeling, Wanted, The Tourist ---- I'm surprised I've seen that many since 60% of these have been really bad but I keep going to them because of Angelina. Damn face and star power!

I was looking forward to Maleficent but I've been getting cooler on it now given some reviews.
Gotta say, Playing by Heart has a special place in my ..uhm.. heart. Such good feels from that movie. And Gena Rowlands, duh!

May 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJones

25/31

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRalph

Angelina is one of the most gorgeous celeb of this millenium. Thanks for sharing this post. Its fab.

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEthnic Food

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