Let’s be honest: the best Angelina Jolie movies are not the best movies of all time. Given the combined influence of Mrs. Jolie-Pitt’s herculean humanitarian efforts and the A-list-ness that enshrouds her, you could probably be forgiven for forgetting she’s even an actor at all. But the next time you’re scrolling through movies on Netflix, remind yourself that she acts—quite admirably—when she’s not speaking at the World Economic Forum or helping husband Brad Pitt stock wine stores with his celeb brand. Read on for a run-down of her best movies.
Best Angelina Jolie movies
While Girl, Interrupted is widely regarded as a mediocre film, Jolie’s performance articulates the shallow charm and cold calculation of a clinical sociopath with total aplomb. She received her first (and only) Academy Award for her role as Lisa Rowe, which is credited with launching her into superstardom.
Jolie plays Christine Collins, a character based on a real-life woman of the same name whose nine-year-old son, Walter Collins, went missing without explanation in 1928. Jolie’s moving performance earned her an Academy Award nomination for best actress in this psyche-twinged drama.
It’s the movie that sparked a thousand tabloid stories—which turned out to be true when titular stars Pitt and Jolie wound up becoming Mr. and Mrs. IRL. But the boom-laden action movie is an adventure on its own, as the two assassins on the down low are hired to gun each other down.
This Disney production explores Sleeping Beauty’s evil-queen foil, Maleficent (Jolie). Her backdrop is jawdropping: The CGI additions, like the film itself, are gorgeous and creepy—and often startlingly real. But what really carries the movie is Jolie, who slips into the role of the glamorous antihero seamlessly; Maleficent’s villainous charisma is as intoxicating as her witch-commissioned apples are toxic.
The pseudo-tech plot of this thriller is antiquated to say the least—and that Jolie’s character, Kate, has disastrously cropped hair and goes by the hacker moniker Acid Burn doesn’t help viewers take it any more seriously. But for what it lacks in realism, Hackers brings in aesthetics—it’s a slick, stunning portrayal of ‘90s computer nerds trying to (what else?) save the world.
Jolie’s character, Fox, is a high-ranking member of the Fraternity, a covert cabal of assassins who can, among other things, curve their bullets and shoot at things that are behind other things. Fox mentors the film’s main protagonist, Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), and teaches him to unlock the cutthroat prowess that runs through his blood.
This ‘60s-era spy movie has a compelling femme fatale played by Jolie—she’s a forceful seductress and bends CIA-officer Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) to her whims while he’s a student at Yale. A sultry, secretive series of events follows, and Angelina delivers a laudable performance as Margaret "Clover" Russell Wilson.
Jolie plays Franky Cook, a commander of a Royal Navy aircraft carrier in this diesel-punk film that reimagines 1939 as more technologically advanced than the present but in a way that remains nostalgic for that (actual) era. Confused? Don’t worry—just look into Angelina’s good eye (the other is covered with a patch) and go along for the surreal ride.
This flick is loosely based on a Joyce Carol Oates novel called Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang. It’s a pretty classic coming-of-age story in which a vagabond entrances a clique of cobalt-cool chicks—one being Margaret "Legs" Sadovsky, played by Jolie. The girl gang, inspired by their new acquaintance, explores their own ability to shimmy out of societal restriction. It’s not a great movie (one of the characters actually says, “live dangerously” with no sense of irony), but it’s fun enough.