Charlize Theron’s 8 Greatest Films, Ranked

Charlize Theron is a woman who can practically do no wrong in our eyes. Her summer blockbuster film Atomic Blonde hit theaters on Friday, July 28, and she’s already receiving loads of critical acclaim for her portrayal of the leather-clad British MI6 assassin Lorraine Broughton. There’s no denying the actress took this role very seriously (trust, she has the seriously mesmerizing martial arts skills to prove it), but this isn’t the first time the South African beauty has wowed us with her versatile acting chops and badassery. From playing an unhinged wife in The Devil’s Advocate to transforming into a terrifying serial killer for her role in Monster, here are Theron’s eight best films.

north country
Warner Bros.

8. ‘north Country' (2005)

This empowering docudrama follows the journey of Josey Aimes (Theron), a mom of two who leaves her abusive husband and lands a job at an iron mine operated by Pearson Taconite and Steel—a male-dominated company. When Aimes grows tired of the relentless sexual harassment, she quits the mine and embarks on a mission to form a class action lawsuit against the company and, in turn, establishes a precedent for sexual harassment and ethics policies in the workplace. Theron earned an Oscar nom for her performance in North Country…and for hella good reason.

Columbia Pictures

7. ‘hancock' (2008)

In Hancock, a superhero dramedy, Theron plays a stay-at-home mom, Mary, who’s married to a PR executive, Ray (Jason Bateman). When Ray attempts to shift the public perception of the infamous superhero John Hancock (Will Smith), he sets off a chain of events that pulls Mary's and Hancock’s pasts into question. One truth that always shines through? Theron is a goddess.

the devil s advocate
Warner Bros.

6. ‘the Devil’s Advocate' (1997)

At the young age of 22, Theron took on the complex role of Mary Ann Lomax in the film adaptation of Andrew Neiderman’s novel The Devil’s Advocate. The story goes: Defense attorney Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) accepts a job offer and relocates to New York City with his new wife, Mary Ann. Kevin spends most of his time at the office and Mary Ann slowly descends into madness, thanks to her husband’s boss, John Milton (Al Pacino). Brace yourself for 144 minutes of OMG, WTF and whyyyy moments.

cider house rules
Miramax Films

5. ‘the Cider House Rules' (1999)

The Cider House Rules was not only nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2000, but it also featured Theron in one of her most emotionally resonating roles to date. In the film, Theron plays Candy Kendall, a neglected housewife who pursues a forbidden love affair with an orphan named Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire). Theron brings a depth to the role that makes us root for her character despite her deep-seated flaws.

snow white and the huntsman
Universal Pictures

4. ‘snow White And The Huntsman' (2012)

Theron flawlessly exudes everything we love to hate about the childhood villainess—the Evil Queen Ravenna—in this reimagined Brothers Grimm tale. The film chronicles Snow White’s (Kristen Stewart) battle to escape the powerful grasp of her evil stepmother, Queen Ravenna, and the Huntsman’s (Chris Hemsworth) mission to rescue her. Theron’s wardrobe paired with her mastery of the sinister stink eye make this one of her most deliciously evil roles.

the italian job
Paramount Pictures

3. ‘the Italian Job' (2003)

The 2003 adaptation of The Italian Job may be jam-packed with Mini Coopers and an all-star cast (Mark Wahlberg, Donald Sutherland and Edward Norton), but Theron is the standout in her role as Stella Bridger, firecracker-cum-safecracker extraordinaire.

mad max fury road
Warner Bros.

2. ‘mad Max: Fury Road' (2015)

Theron flexed her versatility muscles when she starred as Imperator Furiosa in the post-apocalyptic, anxiety-inducing, 120-minute action film Mad Max: Fury Road. When Furiosa decides to escape the strict sovereignty of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), she brings along the five young wives forced to breed with the hideously evil creature. Furiosa embarks on a dangerous journey filled with electric-guitar-playing, fire-shooting Immortan Joe loyalists, which eventually leads her to join forces with mad Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy). Be careful not to stare at Theron and her gorgeous shaved head too long. Side effects include nearly blinding beauty, boatloads of female empowerment and an inexplicable attraction to Tom Hardy. Wait a minute…

Newmarket Films

1. ‘monster' (2003)

If you haven’t seen the critically acclaimed crime-drama Monster, we highly suggest you do so immediately. Theron’s mind-blowing transformation as Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute who kills a john in self-defense, mentally snaps and subsequently embarks on a brutal murder spree, earned the South African goddess the 2004 Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Critics’ Choice Movie Award and SAG Award (catches breath) for best actress. Need we say more?

Greta Heggeness

Senior Editor

Greta Heggeness is a California-based editor at PureWow and has been writing about entertainment since 2015. She covers everything from awards shows to exclusive celebrity...
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