Charlize Theron turns 45 today. As an actor and producer, the Oscar-winner’s films have made billions worldwide.
To wish the South African-born actress a happy birthday, we’ll share our 10 favorite films of hers.
Read our picks (and honorable mentions) below:
10. The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
A successful Florida lawyer (Keanu Reeves) is offered a job at a high-end New York City law firm with a high-end boss, who turns out to be the Devil himself. Theron stars as Reeves’ skeptical wife, and while their Southern accents are…well, not great…this silly thriller is just too wacky (and fun) to dismiss. If it’s on cable, you’re probably watching it.
A covert team of immortal mercenaries are suddenly exposed and must now fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered. Theron carries this slick action flick from talented director Gina Prince-Bythewood (”Love & Basketball”), pairing her physicality seen in lesser action effort slike “Aeon Flux” with a clever (and violent) spin on the superhero genre.
7. The Cider House Rules (1999)
A young man (Tobey Maguire), raised in an orphanage and trained to be a doctor there, decides to leave to see the world alongside Theron and her pilot boyfriend (the ageless wonder Paul Rudd). Theron has strong chemistry with Maguire in this tender drama from director Lasse Hallström. Nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture.
6. Atomic Blonde (2017)
Theron stars as an undercover MI6 agent sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents in “John Wick” director David Leitch’s spy thriller. While violent and hard-edged at times, it’s also airy and quite stylish, complete with a nifty ’80s pop soundtrack. Reinforces Theron’s capability in the genre and our interest in seeing more female-led action movies (starring Theron, if possible).
5. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past in this breathtaking animated adventure from Laika. Theron voices a spider monkey leading the boy on his quest to take on his mother’s sisters and evil grandfather Raiden the Moon King. She pulls double duty, playing Kubo’s late mother, adding emotional depth to this animated tale through nuanced voice work.
4. Tully (2018)
Too few talk about Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody’s quiet dramedy about post-partum depression about the friendship between a mother of three and her nanny. Theron delivers a wonderful lead performance, and the realities of the stress parenthood brings will make young parents’ skin crawl. But the film does a tremendous service in calling attention to a difficult experience so many moms endure.
3. Monster (2003)
Theron’s physical transformation deserves all the praise it gets, but Theron truly transforms in Patty Jenkins’ unsettling true crime portrait of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former street prostitute who murdered seven of her male clients. Hailed by many as Theron’s best overall performance, she won the Oscar for best actress and inspired others to take on similarly challenging roles.
George Miller’s beloved entry into his own franchise finds Tom Hardy in the starring role instead of Mel Gibson, wandering the desolate Wasteland alone, before he is swept up by a group of rebels led by Imperator Furiosa (Theron) escaping a warlord and his gangs in a high-octane road war. Truly unlike anything you’ve ever really seen from an action movie. Hardy took over for Mel Gibson in the title role, but Theron’s work as the determined and battle-tested Furiosa won the movie, even inspiring her own spin-off film (in which Theron will reportedly not star; boo).
1. Young Adult (2011)
Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her happily married ex-boyfriend. Theron gives an amazing performance, thanks in large part to Diablo Cody’s razor-sharp script, as the embittered Mavis Gary, a person with her own secrets and vulnerabilities, which might help to redeem her uglier tendencies if only she would let them.
Honorable Mentions: Celebrity (1998), North Country (2005), Long Shot (2019), Bombshell (2019)