(Photo by Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)
All Viola Davis Movies, Ranked by Tomatometer
After a decade of bit parts, many of them within the gainful employ of Steven Soderbergh’s production company, Viola Davis broke into the mainstream with a movie-stealing turn – and from Meryl Streep! – in 2008’s Catholic Church child abuse drama Doubt. Davis has all of 10 minutes of screen time in Doubt but earned an Oscar nomination for her work, joining the likes of Ruby Dee for American Gangster or Ned Beatty for Network of Oscar nominees who made the most out of their single-scene appearances. Yet, Davis forms Doubt’s emotional pillar, powerfully delivering social and cultural history that further obfuscates the film’s central mystery.
Davis has been releasing multiple movies a year ever since, frequently playing women of power or high up in their professions, in the likes of Law Abiding Citizen, Knight & Day, Ender’s Game, and Suicide Squad, as Amanda Waller, one of that movie’s rare bright spots. And Davis has frequently reached the same heights as Doubt in Certified Fresh films like Widows, The Help (receiving a Lead Actress nomination), and Fences, for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. Davis got another Lead Actress nom for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and she returned as Waler for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. And now, we’re ranking all Viola Davis movies by Tomatometer!
Adjusted Score: 31361%
Critics Consensus: Unnecessarily violent and unflinchingly absurd, Law Abiding Citizen is plagued by subpar acting and a story that defies reason.
Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is an honorable family man, until the day his wife and daughter are murdered in a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 50741%
Critics Consensus: Suicide Squad boasts a talented cast and a little more humor than previous DCEU efforts, but they aren't enough to save the disappointing end result from a muddled plot, thinly written characters, and choppy directing.
Figuring they're all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret... [More]
Adjusted Score: 29363%
Critics Consensus: Divided between sincere melodrama and populist comedy, Madea Goes to Jail fails to provide enough laughs -- or screen time -- for its titular heroine.
After a high-speed car chase, Madea (Tyler Perry) winds up behind bars because her quick temper gets the best of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 35053%
Critics Consensus: Derivative and schmaltzy, Nicholas Sparks' Nights in Rodanthe is strongly mottled by contrivances that even the charisma of stars Diane Lane and Richard Gere can't repair.
When Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) arrives at the coastal town of Rodanthe, N.C., her life is in chaos. There, she... [More]
Adjusted Score: 39551%
Critics Consensus: Thematically timely but dramatically inert, Blackhat strands Chris Hemsworth in a muddled misfire from director Michael Mann.
After a Hong Kong nuclear plant and the Mercantile Trade Exchange in Chicago are hacked by unknown perpetrators, a federal... [More]
Adjusted Score: 37987%
Critics Consensus: Despite the best efforts of its talented leads, Won't Back Down fails to lend sufficient dramatic heft or sophistication to the hot-button issue of education reform.
Jamie Fitzpatrick (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and Nona Alberts (Viola Davis) are two women from opposites sides of the social and economic... [More]
Adjusted Score: 43841%
Critics Consensus: The scenery is nice to look at, and Julia Roberts is as luminous as ever, but without the spiritual and emotional weight of the book that inspired it, Eat Pray Love is too shallow to resonate.
Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) thought she had everything she wanted in life: a home, a husband and a successful career.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 40791%
Critics Consensus: Lila & Eve gets some mileage out of its formidable stars, with Viola Davis in particular proving that she will commandingly commit to any material, but this is a revenge flick served stale due to a lackluster script.
After the senseless murder of her son (Aml Ameen), a grief-stricken mother (Viola Davis) joins forces with another woman (Jennifer... [More]
Adjusted Score: 52939%
Critics Consensus: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a story worth telling, but it deserves better than the treacly and pretentious treatment director Stephen Daldry gives it.
Oskar (Thomas Horn), who lost his father (Tom Hanks) in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, is convinced... [More]
Adjusted Score: 54239%
Critics Consensus: Charming romantic leads and esteemed supporting cast aside, Beautiful Creatures is a plodding YA novel adaptation that feels watered down for the Twilight set.
In the small town of Gatlin, S.C., teenage Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) sees his static world shaken by the arrival... [More]
Adjusted Score: 59861%
Critics Consensus: It's pure formula, but thanks to its breezy pace and a pair of charming performances from Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, Knight and Day offers some agreeably middle-of-the-road summer action.
June Havens (Cameron Diaz) chats up her charming seatmate on a flight out of Kansas, but she doesn't realize that... [More]
Adjusted Score: 61902%
Critics Consensus: It's amiable, and it does a surprisingly good job of sidestepping psych ward comedy cliches, but given its talented cast and directors, It's Kind of a Funny Story should be more than just mildly entertaining.
Stressed by adolescence, 16-year-old Craig Gilner (Keir Gilchrist) checks himself into a mental-health clinic. Unfortunately, the youth wing is closed,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 71075%
Critics Consensus: If it isn't quite as thought-provoking as the book, Ender's Game still manages to offer a commendable number of well-acted, solidly written sci-fi thrills.
When hostile aliens called the Formics attack Earth, only the legendary heroics of Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) manage to attain... [More]
Adjusted Score: 68370%
Critics Consensus: Led by strong performances from Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a hauntingly original rumination on love and loss.
Following the death of their child, a woman (Jessica Chastain) leaves her husband (James McAvoy) and flees to the suburban... [More]
Adjusted Score: 70821%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a charming cast and infectious energy, Troop Zero is more than the sum of its instantly familiar parts.
Misfit Birdie Scouts enter a national competition.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84908%
Critics Consensus: Though it fails to fully engage with its racial themes, The Help rises on the strength of its cast -- particularly Viola Davis, whose performance is powerful enough to carry the film on its own.
In 1960s Mississippi, Southern society girl Skeeter (Emma Stone) returns from college with dreams of being a writer. She turns... [More]
Adjusted Score: 79843%
Critics Consensus: Director David Schwimmer gets some gut-wrenching performances out of his actors but he still lacks the chops to fully ratchet up story tension.
A man (Clive Owen) has difficulty coping with the knowledge that his 14-year-daughter (Liana Liberato) was assaulted by a sexual... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87864%
Critics Consensus: Doubt succeeds on the strength of its top-notch cast, who successfully guide the film through the occasional narrative lull.
In 1964 the winds of change are sweeping through Sister Aloysius' (Meryl Streep) St. Nicholas school. Father Flynn (Philip Seymour... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87130%
Critics Consensus: With an unforgettable Chadwick Boseman in the starring role, Get On Up offers the Godfather of Soul a fittingly dynamic homage.
James Brown (Chadwick Boseman) was born in extreme poverty in 1933 South Carolina and survived abandonment, abuse and jail to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90373%
Critics Consensus: Prisoners has an emotional complexity and a sense of dread that makes for absorbing (and disturbing) viewing.
Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) faces a parent's worst nightmare when his 6-year-old daughter, Anna, and her friend go missing. The... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92861%
Critics Consensus: A taut, well-acted political thriller, State of Play overcomes some unsubtle plot twists with an intelligent script and swift direction.
Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is a rising star in Washington; handsome, unflappable and seemingly honorable, he's seen as his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110307%
Critics Consensus: Enlivened by writer-director James Gunn's singularly skewed vision, The Suicide Squad marks a funny, fast-paced rebound that plays to the source material's violent, anarchic strengths.
Welcome to hell--a.k.a. Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the US of A. Where the worst... [More]
Adjusted Score: 116985%
Critics Consensus: Widows rounds up a stellar ensemble for a heist thriller that mixes popcorn entertainment with a message - and marks another artistic leap for director Steve McQueen.
A police shootout leaves four thieves dead during an explosive armed robbery attempt in Chicago. Their widows -- Veronica, Linda,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107959%
Critics Consensus: From its reunited Broadway stars to its screenplay, the solidly crafted Fences finds its Pulitzer-winning source material fundamentally unchanged -- and still just as powerful.
Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) makes his living as a sanitation worker in 1950s Pittsburgh. Maxson once dreamed of becoming a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 118330%
Critics Consensus: Framed by a pair of powerhouse performances, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom pays affectionate tribute to a blues legend -- and Black culture at large.
Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians... [More]
(Photo by Chiabella James/Paramount Pictures)
All Tom Cruise Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer
From his teen idol days in the early ’80s to his status as a marquee-lighting leading man today, Tom Cruise has consistently done it all for decades — he’s completed impossible missions, learned about Wapner time in Rain Man, driven the highway to the danger zone in Top Gun, and done wonders for Bob Seger’s royalty statements in Risky Business, to offer just a few examples. Mr. Cruise is one of the few honest-to-goodness film stars left in the Hollywood firmament, so whether you’re a hardcore fan or just interested in a refresher course on his filmography, we’re here to take a fond look back at a truly impressive career and rank all Tom Cruise movies by Tomatometer.
Adjusted Score: 8939%
Critics Consensus: There are no surprises in Cocktail, a shallow, dramatically inert romance that squanders Tom Cruise's talents in what amounts to a naive barkeep's banal fantasy.
Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) wants a high-paying marketing job, but needs a business degree first. Working as a bartender to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 38654%
Critics Consensus: Lacking the campy fun of the franchise's most recent entries and failing to deliver many monster-movie thrills, The Mummy suggests a speedy unraveling for the Dark Universe.
Nick Morton is a soldier of fortune who plunders ancient sites for timeless artifacts and sells them to the highest... [More]
Adjusted Score: 8529%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
A teenager (Tom Cruise) and his buddies drive to '60s Tijuana with a woman (Shelley Long) looking for a quick... [More]
Adjusted Score: 34852%
Critics Consensus: Despite its powerhouse cast, Lions for Lambs feels like a disjointed series of lectures, rather than a sharp narrative, and ends up falling flat.
Inspired by their idealistic professor, Dr. Mallery (Robert Redford), to do something meaningful with their lives, Arian (Derek Luke) and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 52030%
Critics Consensus: Monotonously formulaic, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is one action thriller sequel whose title also serves as a warning.
Investigator Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) springs into action after the arrest of Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), an Army major accused... [More]
Adjusted Score: 42193%
Critics Consensus: Not even Ridley Scott's gorgeously realized set pieces can save Legend from its own tawdry tale -- though it may be serviceable for those simply looking for fantasy eye candy.
Darkness (Tim Curry) seeks to create eternal night by destroying the last of the unicorns. Jack (Tom Cruise) and his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 42654%
Critics Consensus: Days of Thunder has Tom Cruise and plenty of flash going for it, but they aren't enough to compensate for the stock plot, two-dimensional characters, and poorly written dialogue.
In the fast-paced world of NASCAR, a rivalry brews between rookie hotshot Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise) and veteran racer Rowdy... [More]
Adjusted Score: 48761%
Critics Consensus: An ambitious mix of genres, Vanilla Sky collapses into an incoherent jumble. Cruise's performance lacks depth, and it's hard to feel sympathy for his narcissistic character.
Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe reunite after "Jerry Maguire" for "Vanilla Sky," the story of a young New York City... [More]
Adjusted Score: 51868%
Critics Consensus: Its exuberant silliness is almost enough to make up for its utter inconsequentiality, but Rock of Ages is ultimately too bland and overlong to justify its trip to the big screen.
The songs of Journey, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and other artists underscore a tale of big dreams in Hollywood. Soon... [More]
Adjusted Score: 50614%
Critics Consensus: Handsome and simplistic, Far and Away has the beauty of an American epic without the breadth.
Joseph (Tom Cruise) and his landlord's daughter, Shannon (Nicole Kidman), travel from Ireland to America in hopes of claiming free... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63512%
Critics Consensus: All the Right Moves is an uncommonly grim coming-of-age drama that overcomes numerous clichés with its realistic approach to its characters and setting.
Stefan Djordjevic (Tom Cruise), the star player of his high school football team, is desperately hoping that his football talents... [More]
Adjusted Score: 59861%
Critics Consensus: It's pure formula, but thanks to its breezy pace and a pair of charming performances from Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, Knight and Day offers some agreeably middle-of-the-road summer action.
June Havens (Cameron Diaz) chats up her charming seatmate on a flight out of Kansas, but she doesn't realize that... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63508%
Critics Consensus: Visually striking but thinly scripted, Oblivion benefits greatly from its strong production values and an excellent performance from Tom Cruise.
In the year 2077, Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) works as a security repairman on an Earth left empty and devastated... [More]
Adjusted Score: 64619%
Critics Consensus: Though it features some of the most memorable and electrifying aereial footage shot with an expert eye for action, Top Gun offers too little for non-adolescent viewers to chew on when its characters aren't in the air.
The Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School is where the best of the best train to refine their elite flying... [More]
Adjusted Score: 62824%
Critics Consensus: Your cranium may crave more substance, but your eyes will feast on the amazing action sequences.
Tom Cruise returns to his role as Ethan Hunt in the second installment of "Mission: Impossible." This time Ethan Hunt... [More]
Adjusted Score: 68922%
Critics Consensus: Given the subject matter, Valkyrie could have been an outstanding historical thriller, but settles for being a mildly entertaining, but disposable yarn.
Col. Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) serves Germany with loyalty and pride but fears that Hitler will destroy his country... [More]
Adjusted Score: 71978%
Critics Consensus: The cracks continue to show in Coppola's directorial style, but The Outsiders remains a blustery, weird, and fun adaptation of the classic novel.
A teen gang in rural Oklahoma, the Greasers are perpetually at odds with the Socials, a rival group. When Greasers... [More]
Adjusted Score: 67434%
Critics Consensus: Despite lacking some of the book's subtler shadings, and suffering from some clumsy casting, Interview with a Vampire benefits from Neil Jordan's atmospheric direction and a surfeit of gothic thrills.
Born as an 18th-century lord, Louis is now a bicentennial vampire, telling his story to an eager biographer. Suicidal after... [More]
Adjusted Score: 70610%
Critics Consensus: Jack Reacher is an above-average crime thriller with a smoothly charismatic performance from Tom Cruise.
One morning in an ordinary town, five people are shot dead in a seemingly random attack. All evidence points to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69439%
Critics Consensus: Full of special effects, Brian DePalma's update of Mission: Impossible has a lot of sweeping spectacle, but the plot is sometimes convoluted.
When U.S. government operative Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his mentor, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), go on a covert assignment... [More]
Adjusted Score: 72757%
Critics Consensus: With high production values and thrilling battle scenes, The Last Samurai is a satisfying epic.
Capt. Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is an American military officer hired by the Emperor of Japan to train the country's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69391%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Bunker Hill Military Academy has been targeted by real estate developers for demolition. The students, outraged at the thought of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 79671%
Critics Consensus: Fast-paced, with eye-popping stunts and special effects, the latest Mission: Impossible installment delivers everything an action fan could ask for. A thrilling summer popcorn flick.
Retired from active duty, and training recruits for the Impossible Mission Force, agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) faces the toughest... [More]
Adjusted Score: 79525%
Critics Consensus: The Firm is a big studio thriller that amusingly tears apart the last of 1980s boardroom culture and the false securities it represented.
A young lawyer joins a small but prestigious law firm only to find out that most of their clients are... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82234%
Critics Consensus: Kubrick's intense study of the human psyche yields an impressive cinematic work.
After Dr. Bill Hartford's (Tom Cruise) wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), admits to having sexual fantasies about a man she met,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85839%
Critics Consensus: Steven Spielberg's adaptation of War of the Worlds delivers on the thrill and paranoia of H.G. Wells' classic novel while impressively updating the action and effects for modern audiences.
Dockworker Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) struggles to build a positive relationship with his two children, Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and Robbie... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91388%
Critics Consensus: With biting satire, plenty of subversive humor, and an unforgettable turn by Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder is a triumphant late Summer comedy.
Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), pampered action superstar, sets out for Southeast Asia to take part in the biggest, most-expensive war... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89300%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by dazzling performances from Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Renée Zellweger, as well as Cameron Crowe's tender direction, Jerry Maguire meshes romance and sports with panache.
When slick sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) has a crisis of conscience, he pens a heartfelt company-wide memo that... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89661%
Critics Consensus: Magnolia is an ambitious, lengthy work that ultimately succeeds due to interesting stories and excellent ensemble performances.
On one random day in the San Fernando Valley, a dying father, a young wife, a male caretaker, a famous... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88397%
Critics Consensus: An old-fashioned courtroom drama with a contemporary edge, A Few Good Men succeeds on the strength of its stars, with Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and especially Jack Nicholson delivering powerful performances that more than compensate for the predictable plot.
Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is a military lawyer defending two U.S. Marines charged with killing a fellow Marine at... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88658%
Critics Consensus: Led by an unforgettable performance from Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of July finds director Oliver Stone tackling thought-provoking subject matter with ambitious élan.
In the mid 1960s, suburban New York teenager Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise) enlists in the Marines, fulfilling what he sees... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94839%
Critics Consensus: Driven by director Michael Mann's trademark visuals and a lean, villainous performance from Tom Cruise, Collateral is a stylish and compelling noir thriller.
A cab driver realizes his current fare is a hit man that has been having him drive around from mark... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105276%
Critics Consensus: American Made's fast-and-loose attitude with its real-life story mirrors the cavalier -- and delightfully watchable -- energy Tom Cruise gives off in the leading role.
Barry Seal, a TWA pilot, is recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the burgeoning communist threat in Central... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93097%
Critics Consensus: That it's inferior to the original goes without saying, but Paul Newman and Tom Cruise are a joy to watch, and Martin Scorsese's direction is typically superb.
Former pool hustler "Fast Eddie" Felson (Paul Newman) decides he wants to return to the game by taking a pupil.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94161%
Critics Consensus: This road-trip movie about an autistic savant and his callow brother is far from seamless, but Barry Levinson's direction is impressive, and strong performances from Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman add to its appeal.
When car dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) learns that his estranged father has died, he returns home to Cincinnati, where... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97558%
Critics Consensus: Thought-provoking and visceral, Steven Spielberg successfully combines high concept ideas and high octane action in this fast and febrile sci-fi thriller.
Based on a story by famed science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, "Minority Report" is an action-detective thriller set in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104369%
Critics Consensus: Gripping, well-acted, funny, and clever, Edge of Tomorrow offers entertaining proof that Tom Cruise is still more than capable of shouldering the weight of a blockbuster action thriller.
When Earth falls under attack from invincible aliens, no military unit in the world is able to beat them. Maj.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95190%
Critics Consensus: Featuring one of Tom Cruise's best early performances, Risky Business is a sharp, funny examination of teen angst that doesn't stop short of exploring dark themes.
Ecstatic when his parents leave on vacation for a few days, high school senior Joel Goodsen (Tom Cruise) cuts loose... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106595%
Critics Consensus: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation continues the franchise's thrilling resurgence -- and proves that Tom Cruise remains an action star without equal.
With the IMF now disbanded and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) out in the cold, a new threat -- called the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102856%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, fast-paced, and loaded with gripping set pieces, the fourth Mission: Impossible is big-budget popcorn entertainment that really works.
Blamed for a terrorist attack on the Kremlin, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the entire IMF agency are disavowed by... [More]
Adjusted Score: 124078%
Critics Consensus: Fast, sleek, and fun, Mission: Impossible - Fallout lives up to the "impossible" part of its name by setting yet another high mark for insane set pieces in a franchise full of them.
Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions.... [More]
From the moment she made Jim Carrey’s eyes pop out of his skull in The Mask, it was clear Cameron Diaz was a star in the making — and she immediately started making good on that promise, building a diverse filmography that boasts an impressive number of box office hits. Along the way, Cameron has also accumulated a fair bit of critical acclaim — and since she’s returning to theaters this week with Jason Segel in director Jake Kasdan’s Sex Tape, we thought it was high time to take a look back at some of her proudest moments. That’s right, film fans — it’s time to Total Recall!
Matt Atchity breaks down this week’s list.
Witty equal-opportunity political humor has become something of a lost art on the big screen over the last decade or so, but thing’s weren’t always this way. For proof, simply look to 1995’s The Last Supper, an ensemble indie comedy about a group of young liberals (including Cameron Diaz, Ron Eldard, and Annabeth Gish) who begin poisoning conservative dinner guests as part of a misguided campaign to save the world. While the murder victims aren’t terribly sympathetic, their murderers aren’t especially likable either — so by the time they cross paths with a Limbaugh-esque conservative pundit (played by Ron Perlman), loyalties to either ideological extreme have been tested. “In today’s divisive political climate, where compromise is a dirty word,” observed Leslie Rigoulot of Film Scouts, “The Last Supper raises not only timely questions but moral dilemmas as well.”
Charlie’s Angels was one of the most popular television series of the 1970s, thanks in no small part to its genius lowbrow blend of runway-ready jiggle and consequence-free violence — so when Drew Barrymore set about producing a big-screen adaptation of the show, she wisely included heaping helpings of both ingredients, enlisting Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz to join her for 98 minutes of skin-tight blockbuster action. As the Ph.D.-sporting test pilot/model/P.I. Natalie Cook, Diaz was able to give a kung fu twist to the bubbly, air-headed persona that Hollywood has foisted on blondes for generations, mixing tongue-in-cheek cheesecake with glossy action set pieces — and as it had in the 1970s, this proved a thoroughly successful combination, blasting through almost $265 million at the box office and impressing critics such as Kirk Honeycutt of the Hollywood Reporter, who wrote, “The good-natured humor of its three stars, who appear to be having a gas playing these ridiculous figures, goes a long way in overcoming the bad jokes and even worse plot twists.”
In the years immediately following The Mask, Cameron Diaz tended to appear in movies that either didn’t live up to expectations (Feeling Minnesota, She’s the One) or vanished without a trace (Head Above Water, Keys to Tulsa). Her luck changed, however, with My Best Friend’s Wedding, a romantic comedy which put Dermot Mulroney in the middle of a romantic tug-of-war between his longtime restaurant critic pal (played by Julia Roberts) and his 20-year-old fiancee (played by Diaz, natch). Nothing groundbreaking, obviously, but Wedding gave Diaz a chance to show off her gift for goofy comedy after a few darker films — and its $299 million gross didn’t hurt her bankability, either. Unusually for a romantic comedy, it was also praised by many critics, among them the Globe and Mail’s Rick Groen, who wrote, “Every once in a long while, along comes a refreshing change like My Best Friend’s Wedding, a movie whose appeal rests largely on its knack for defying our expectations by riffing off, even undermining, a familiar genre.”
Author Jennifer Weiner has been lumped into the “chick lit” subgenre, but you can say this much for her second novel, 2002’s In Her Shoes: It translates well to the screen. Directed by Curtis Hanson and led by a cast that included Diaz, Toni Collette, and Shirley MacLaine, Shoes follows the tale of two sisters: Dowdy lawyer Rose (Collette) and flighty, unemployed Maggie (Diaz). Thrown out by the sisters’ stepmother, Maggie moves into Rose’s apartment, where she quickly demonstrates that she hasn’t changed any of the thoughtless behavior that drove a wedge between them, and leaves Rose little choice but to send her packing. Maggie flees to Florida, where she hunts down their estranged grandmother in search of some easy money…and ends up learning a thing or two about herself in the process. Yes, it’s sort of a hackneyed storyline arc with plenty of familiar ingredients, but Susannah Grant’s screenplay reflects the empathy Weiner has for her characters — and Hanson knows how to get the most from his actors. For Diaz, Shoes represented an opportunity to show a breadth and depth uncommon to many mainstream “women’s movies.” As Tom Long wrote for the Detroit News, “It’s a chick flick for non-chicks too, one of those movies that makes you laugh and cry and leaves you feeling satisfied and drained and vaguely embarrassed for having such a good time.”
When Martin Scorsese decided to dramatize the violent political struggles that took place in 19th century New York, he didn’t skimp on his cast, hiring Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, John C. Reilly, and Liam Neeson to bring his vision to life. Pretty terrific company for Diaz, who co-starred as Jenny Everdeane, the morally ambiguous con artist whose beauty adds a hormonal component to the long tug-of-war between Amsterdam Vallon (DiCaprio), Bill “The Butcher” Cutting (Day-Lewis), and Johnny Sirocco (Henry Thomas). While not the most substantial role, playing Jenny gave Diaz the opportunity to act alongside some of the biggest names in the business — and earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the bargain. One of the biggest award-winners of the year, Gangs of New York enjoyed praise from critics like the New York Post’s Jonathan Foreman, who wrote, “It vividly and energetically evokes a fascinating time and place that has never before been the subject of film, and presents a powerful if imperfectly coherent vision of urban politics at their most primal.”
It wasn’t the largest or most demanding role — in fact, if things had worked out a little differently, it could have doomed her to a career of playing blowsy dames in tight dresses — but Cameron Diaz could hardly have asked for a more memorable introduction to audiences than the part of Tina Carlyle, the vivacious gangster’s moll whose appearance reduced Jim Carrey (and not a few filmgoers) to a leering Tex Avery cartoon. Diaz was so new to acting that she didn’t even start taking lessons until after she was cast in The Mask, but she took to the discipline quickly, and spent the next few years working her way through roles in smaller films that didn’t have the same big-budget sparkle (or co-stars as marquee-hogging as Carrey) as she honed her craft. She quickly developed some star power of her own, and ceased being an afterthought for critics like the Washington Post’s Joe Brown, who wrote, “Even without the state-of-the-art, boundary-busting computerized effects from Industrial Light & Magic, Carrey’s a human cartoon, and his spontaneous, Avery-esque, anything-for-a-laugh outrageousness makes this otherwise blank Mask a must-see.”
Filmgoers were already familiar with Cameron Diaz in 1998, but There’s Something About Mary still counts as her true cinematic coming out party — it was this $369 million smash hit, after all, that proved Diaz had sharp enough comic timing to hold her own against Ben Stiller and Chris Elliott — and that her brilliant smile could help make even the filthiest gags seem almost wholesome. Though it was ostensibly Stiller’s movie, it was Diaz who made us believe that there really was something about Mary — something that would make her senior prom date (played by Stiller) hunt her down years after the painful zipper incident that cost them their big night out, and drive the other men in her life to contemplate leaving their wives, duck out on the Green Bay Packers, or even adopt entire fake personalities. And along the way she carried the most notorious hair gel joke in the history of modern man, helping send an unapologetically lowbrow comedy all the way up to 83 percent on the Tomatometer. What was Mary‘s appeal for ordinarily stuffy critic types? In the words of Roger Ebert, “What a blessed relief is laughter.”
Cartoons and fairy tales have gone together for decades, leaving DreamWorks with plenty of rich tradition to spoof with their inaugural adaptation of William Steig’s popular book about the misadventures of a hideous ogre (voiced by Mike Myers). In fact, the studio added a few elements not present in the book, such as Shrek‘s ceaseless, quick-fire pop culture references, a number of satirical, fairy tale-derived characters, and a Smash Mouth song on the soundtrack. Also new and improved: The storyline arc for Cameron Diaz’s character, Princess Fiona, who went from an ordinary ogress to the unwilling, secretly cursed royal fiancee of the loathsome Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow), and picked up a few action hero moves in the process. While it wasn’t strictly faithful to the source material, Shrek was lots of fun for critics and audiences alike; it grossed nearly $485 million worldwide, nabbed the first Best Animated Feature Academy Award, and earned the admiration of scribes such as the New York Observer’s Andrew Sarris, who applauded, “What gives Shrek its special artistic distinction is its witty and knowingly sassy dialogue, delivered by vocally charismatic performers whose voices remind us of their stellar screen personae in live-action movies.”
Three years after Shrek broke the bank for DreamWorks, Cameron Diaz helped prove with Shrek 2 that one good turn as an animated ogre deserves another. After Shrek‘s success, everyone knew a sequel was inevitable, and its May release virtually guaranteed summer blockbuster status; what nobody knew, though, is that critics would like the second Shrek almost as much as the first. Following the rule of sequels, Shrek 2 surrounded the titular ogre (again voiced by Mike Myers) and Princess Fiona (Diaz) with an array of new characters, including the suave Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) — but what sets it apart from other follow-ups is the depth and intelligence of its storyline, which sends Shrek and Fiona to the kingdom of Far Far Away, where they’re summoned to meet Fiona’s human parents (voiced by John Cleese and Julie Andrews), who are horrified that their daughter has taken so thoroughly to the ogre lifestyle. This sets in motion a plot involving Fiona’s fairy godmother (Jennifer Saunders) and her son, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) — as well as a lot of unexpectedly poignant commentary on love and marriage, moving Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek to ask, “Is it going too far out on a beanstalk to say that Shrek 2 is one of the most mature movies about adult relationships ever made?”
She’s been in a number of comedies and dramas, with a dash of action and sci-fi thrown in for good measure, but Being John Malkovich stands alone in Cameron Diaz’s filmography. Then again, it’s safe to say Malkovich is pretty much the only movie of its kind, ever — a dramedy about a miserable puppeteer (John Cusack) whose discovery of a magical portal into the mind of John Malkovich throws his life into turmoil. As Cusack’s wife, the equally unhappy Lotte, Diaz played completely against type, burying her glamor under a frizzy mop of brown hair and following the script into a thoroughly twisted love affair-by-proxy with Catherine Keener — and she was rewarded handsomely for her efforts, picking up a stack of Best Supporting Actress nominations from BAFTA, the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and other organizations. Malkovich wasn’t a huge success at the box office, but it’s acquired a cult over time, and critics certainly appreciated the opportunity to witness art and entertainment intersecting at the cineplex. “Being John Malkovich is more than just the latest cool, smart, funny movie,” wrote Jay Carr for the Boston Globe. “It jumps off the screen with the kind of freshness, originality, and light-handed stranglehold on the Zeitgeist that moves movies forward.”
In case you were wondering, here are Diaz’s top 10 movies according RT users’ scores:
1. Shrek — 90%
2. Being John Malkovich — 87%
3. Gangs of New York — 81%
4. The Holiday — 80%
5. My Best Friend’s Wedding — 74%
6. Any Given Sunday — 74%
7. My Sister’s Keeper — 73%
8. Vanilla Sky — 73%
9. The Last Supper — 70%
10. Shrek 2 — 69%
Take a look through Diaz’s complete filmography, as well as the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for Sex Tape.
Finally, here’s Diaz putting in a plug for Coke:
This weekend Adam Sandler and Tom Cruise hit the multiplexes with their newest summer offerings, but neither was able to topple the 3D animated smash Toy Story 3 which topped the North American box office for a second frame in a row. Sandler won the runner-up spot with a strong debut for his latest comedy Grown Ups while Cruise struggled with his action-comedy Knight and Day which posted only moderate results in third place.
Disney and Pixar easily held onto the box office crown for a second straight weekend as Toy Story 3 captured an estimated $59M in ticket sales in its sophomore frame, according to estimates. The 3D toon’s drop of 47% was large, but was still the lowest of any film in the top ten. The cume to date rose to a stellar $226.6M after just ten days, the best start ever for any Pixar film. With kids out of school for summer vacation and the busy Fourth of July holiday coming up, Toy Story 3 may just surge to the $400M mark making it the one to beat this year for all other blockbusters.
The animation studio’s last film Up, also a 3D pic with extra high ticket prices, soared to $137.2M in its first ten days which accounted for 47% of the eventual $293M domestic total. Ten-day shares for previous June releases from Pixar include 57% for WALL-E , 53% for Ratatouille, and 48% for Cars. For WALL-E and Ratatouille, Independence Day holiday business fell within the first ten days leading to the higher shares. Later this week, Toy Story 3 will surpass the $245.8M of Toy Story 2 and later will fly past the $339.7M of Finding Nemo to become Pixar’s top grosser ever, but is unlikely to match the fish flick’s 56 million tickets sold.
Adam Sandler returned to his safe zone and landed the fourth best opening of his career with the broad comedy Grown Ups which bowed to an estimated $41M. Sony released the PG-13 pic in 3,534 locations and averaged a strong $11,602 per site. The reunion laugher co-starring Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Salma Hayek opened almost exactly like some previous Sandler films that featured little to no extra starpower. The comedian’s only bigger debuts were $47.6M for 2005’s The Longest Yard, $42.2M for 2003’s Anger Management, and $41.5M for Big Daddy which sold about 50% more tickets when it opened this very weekend eleven years ago.
As usual, reviews were terrible for Grown Ups. However these Sandler vehicles are not made to impress critics, but to give moviegoers interested in low-brow humor a few chuckles as they escape the aggravations of everyday life. Budgeted at under $80M, the film skewed younger and more female despite being centered around men approaching middle age. Studio research showed that 53% of the crowd was female and 52% was under 25. Sandler saw his impressive streak of seven consecutive years with $100M+ blockbusters come to an end last year with his Judd Apatow project Funny People which bombed grossing just $51.9M overall. The funnyman’s summer comedies usually end up tripling their opening weekend figures so Grown Ups should have no problem reaching nine-digit territory.
Coming in third for the weekend were Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz who pulled in an estimated $20.5M for their new secret agent pic Knight and Day. The Fox release averaged a decent but not stellar $6,617 per theater from 3,098 playdates. Since its Wednesday launch, the PG-13 film has grossed $27.8M. Despite today’s higher ticket prices, Knight delivered the second lowest opening for Cruise over the last decade faring better than only the $6.7M of 2007’s Lions For Lambs.
Given that it returned Hollywood’s former most bankable star to the type of action hero role audiences have always liked, and that it boasted additional starpower from the well-liked Diaz who can do action and comedy with the greatest of ease, the turnout was soft. Reviews were mixed but generally not too bad. Still, audience excitement was never too high for this movie. Fox is hoping that good word-of-mouth will carry the film forward since Knight is not a sequel or a franchise pic so it was never expected to have huge upfront demand. The $100M+ budgeted film may have been hurt by following a string of star-driven action-comedies like Killers, The A-Team, Date Night, and The Bounty Hunter. A bad title didn’t help either.
Sony’s hit remake The Karate Kid fell 49% in its third round taking in an estimated $15.4M. The Jaden Smith fight flick has banked an impressive $135.6M and could be headed for the $175M mark beating the $162.6M of the young actor’s debut film The Pursuit of Happyness opposite his father Will Smith.
The A-Team fell 58% in its third weekend to an estimated $6M pushing its 17-day tally to a mediocre $62.8M for Fox. Universal’s comedy Get Him to the Greek grossed an estimated $3M, off 51%, raising Universal’s cume to $54.5M. Close behind with an estimated $2.9M was the 3D sequel Shrek Forever After which dropped 49% for a $229.3M total.
Down 50%, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time took in an estimated $2.8M and lifted its domestic tally to $86.2M. The assassin comedy Killers followed in ninth place with $2M, down a troubling 60%, giving Lionsgate $44M to date. The Warner Bros. megaflop Jonah Hex collapsed by 70% grossing an estimated $1.6M for a lousy $9.1M in ten days.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $154.2M which was down 19% from last year when Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opened in the top spot with $109M; and down 13% from 2008 when WALL-E debuted at number one with $63.1M.
Written by Gitesh Pandya of Box Office Guru.
This week at the movies, we’ve got puerile parenting (Grown Ups, starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock) and rogue romance (Knight and Day, starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz). What do the critics have to say?
On most days, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, and Kevin James are very funny people. Unfortunately, it seems few of those days coincided with the filming of Grown Ups, which critics say is a juvenile, repetitive, lazy comedy. The plot: five friends reunite at the funeral of the high school basketball coach, and decide to spend a raucous Independence Day weekend together — with their wives and kids along for the ride. As it turns out, they haven’t matured much since their younger days. The pundits say Grown Ups looks like it was fun for the cast to make, but it’s largely a string of lowest-common denominator gags with little comic discipline to be found.
Say what you will about Tom Cruise’s oddball public persona, but the guy has charisma to spare. Critics say his presence goes a long way toward enlivening the action/comedy/romance Knight and Day, which is otherwise short on logic and ultimately favors bombast over charm. Cruise stars as a (possibly insane) rogue agent who recruits Cameron Diaz for his latest globe-trotting mission — but is he who he seems? The pundits say Cruise and Diaz are fine, but this implausible (and surprisingly violent) film is undercut by strained plotting. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down Diaz’s best-reviewed films.)
Also opening this week in limited release:
Restrepo, an up-close-and-personal, apolitical look at U.S. troops in Afghanistan, is at 94 percent.
Dogtooth, a dark comedy about a group of isolated teenagers who rebel against their parents, is at 89 percent.
Wild Grass, an eccentric comedy about the difficulties surrounding a lost wallet from French New Wave legend Alain Resnais, is at 76 percent.
South of the Border, Oliver Stone‘s portrait of several much-vilified leaders in the Americas, is at 67 percent.