The Best Movie Ever | Best Angelina Jolie Movies List

Angelina Jolie didn’t make her motion picture debut in the 1990s. She actually made her first on camera appearance as a seven-year-old in Lookin’ to Get Out way back in 1982. But when she returned to the silver screen she became not just a superstar, not just a respected actress, not just a sexual icon, but also an indelible cultural hero of the 1990s. At a time when women were starting to earn increasing respect for their emotional, physical, intellectual and sexual strengths, Jolie threw all of those qualities in the audience’s face and forced us to deal with them. Some were threatened, some were impressed, but all of us knew that Jolie was here to stay and we just had to deal with it. 

And so, decades later, we look back on the Angelina Jolie movie career. The star who always was. She’s an Academy Award-winning actress, a respected social activist, a successful director and now she’s also the subject of The Best Movie Ever.

Previously: The Best Movie Ever | James Bond

Nearly four dozen films later, what are the best Angelina Jolie movies ever? We asked Crave’s critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold, and Collider’s Brian Formo, to present their picks for Angelina Jolie’s crowning achievement and as usual, they’ve all picked very different films. So check out what they picked, learn more about their reasons why, and come back every week for an all-new, highly debatable installment of The Best Movie Ever!

Best Angelina Jolie Movies List

Witney Seibold’s Pick: Foxfire (1996)

Angelina Jolie Foxfire

The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Early in her career, back when she was a teen and an early twentysomething, Angelina Jolie was perhaps one of the most exciting new actresses in Hollywood. She had a beautiful face and the poised manner of a “proper” movie starlet (no doubt inherited from her famous father), but seemed to use her beauty and poise as a means to lure you in for a suckerpunch. Once you were looking at her, she would confront you with her bold sexuality, devil-may-care attitude, and refreshing punk rock sensibilities. We don’t go to Angelina Jolie to see a comforting romantic leading lady. We go to her to watch her throw punches. In recent years, she has lamentably mellowed (one can’t be a punk rocker past the age of 35), and she has yet to find her footing as a director, but I’d rather take Jolie’s spark than a hundred bland pretty ingenues. 

In 1996, Jolie starred in a film that exemplified all of her best traits, and can – to this day – stand as a call to arms for repressed teen girls everywhere. It’s also a wondrous nugget of prime ’90s nostalgia for me, so I may be exaggerating without knowing it. I’m referring to Annette Heywood-Carter’s grrl-power polemic Foxfire, based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates. Jolie has appeared in better films, but I would argue that Foxfire is Jolie most clearly defined. In a small town high school, five teenage girls – all of disparate stripes and walks of life –  form a gloriously intense friendship, fostered by a mysterious just-passing-through bad girl named Legs Sadovsky.

The relationship between these girls (Heddy Burress, Jenny Lewis, Jenny Shimizu, and Sarah Rosenberg) is one part feminist defiance, one part Lysistratian sentiment, four parts emotional intensity, and eight parts punk joy. The way the girls interact is believable and real. And, at the head of the pack, Jolie perfectly embodies the kind of girl you always hope you’d meet in high school. Impossibly attractive, eager to help, noble, awesome, capable, tough, and doesn’t give a fuck. You, too, would be willing to give yourself a flame tattoo to join her sisterhood. 

Brian Formo’s Pick: Gia (1998)

Angelina Jolie Gia

HBO

When Angelina Jolie decided to write and direct a film starring herself and her real-life husband struggling through a marriage of fading personal glories on the beautiful French seaside and shot somewhat in the manner of 70s art house film, the knives were going to get out (it’s been 12 years since Gigli happened).

By the Sea is imperfect and loses some major steam by the third act, but it features a great performance from Brad Pitt, shows growth in directorial voice in Jolie, is impeccably shot, delicately paced and was a big risk for her to make (the screams of narcissism would be better directed at Shia LaBeouf today). This week, Jolie plays a woman who surpassed her skill of having a young body. Unable to have her own identity, Vanessa might have a death wish if she wasn’t so medicated. 

Jolie’s first two stages of fame—despite winning an Oscar—were more for her marriages. Due to space, we’ll skip the first. The second, with shared vials of blood and tattooed wedding bands to Billy Bob Thornton, was odd to the onlooker. Gossipers wondered what draws this beauty to the dark side? Her third marriage was to the beautiful Pitt and her persona reappraisal included more work with children than with directors, and the gossipers wondered: how does she do it? That stage of her career is best represented by By the Sea. But what represents the wilder part of her career? Hackers? Girl, Interrupted? No, it’s Gia

The made for cable TV drama charted the brief and beautiful life of fashion model Gia Carangi. Jolie is ferocious, beautiful, carefree, and fragile. To watch Gia is to both love and worry about the actress portraying her because it’s so hard to tell where one begins and one ends. Thankfully, Jolie was able to surpass the skill of having a photogenic body and was able to carve out a third stage career. Something Vanessa and Gia couldn’t do.

William Bibbiani’s Pick: Salt (2010)

Angelina Jolie Salt

Columbia Pictures

When considering which film represents the ne plus ultra of cinema star Angelina Jolie, the temptation is probably to select one of her earliest, most electric performances. Films like GiaHackers and Girl, Interrupted were a promise of great things to come, so what does it say about Angelina Jolie’s career that we still consider those films her crowning achievements? Then again, what if focusing on her initial, ingenue performances says more about us than it does about Jolie?

True, Angelina Jolie – like most actors with a long resumé to their credit – has been in a lot of crap over the years. Sometimes she was fantastic in that crap (there’s even an argument that Maleficent, for all its many flaws, is possibly a distilled interpretation of Jolie’s cultural impact), and sometimes it was just not very memorable. But sometimes she’s wound in spectacular piece of material that played to her strengths, and didn’t rely overly much on the gimmick that she was attractive and confident and the fact that that combination scared us.

So I come around to Salt, a ripping thriller from director Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games) about a CIA agent unexpectedly outed as a Russian spy, and who immediately goes on the run to prove she’s innocent. Because in movies, that’s what people do. We don’t even question it anymore. Meanwhile, in Salt, someone actually points out how ridiculous that whole concept is, and the movie eventually comes around to same conclusion and goes in some truly exciting directions instead. Salt, like Jolie herself, subverts expectations left and right.

And when all the gimmickry fades away, when all the promises are either dashed or kept and our preconceived notions of femininity are either confirmed or denied, all that’s left is Angelina Jolie, saving the day, nailing every scene, and proving that she was, is, and always will be a star.

What do you consider the best Angelina Jolie movies ever? Let us know in the comments!

Top Photos: The Samuel Goldwyn Company / HBO / Columbia Pictures