The 7 Best Catherine Zeta-Jones Movies
Catherine Zeta-Jones is an iconic actor. Since her breakout role in The Mask of Zorro, she has drawn audiences. Even her less-than-stellar film Entrapment made more than $200 million and her performance continues to be referenced into the 2010s with comedies like Workaholics. She is equally equipped for dark dramas as she is exciting comedies. Though she has worked with Steven Spielberg as well as Joel and Ethan Coen, Steven Soderbergh remains one of her most frequent collaborators. Rightfully so, the two have done some truly great work together. Here are her seven best films.
At the 2001 Academy Awards, Steven Soderbergh took home the Best Director Award for Traffic, beating out — among others — himself, as director of Erin Brockovich. The film tells a sprawling story of disparate groups of people impacted by the drug trafficking trade in the United States and Mexico. One tells of cops and corruption in Mexico, another of a government official with a daughter with an addiction. Zeta-Jones, for her part, plays the unwitting wife of a drug lord. Though the film balances a lot of stories and clocks in at more than two and a half hours, it was a commercial success as well as a critical one. It earned Soderbergh as well as Zeta-Jones, Benicio del Toro, Michael Douglas, and Don Cheadle much-deserved attention.
Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
Intolerable Cruelty may not be one of Joel and Ethan Coens’ best films — but only because they have produced such a massive amount of great work over the years. Zeta-Jones plays Marylin Rexroth, a woman who feels slighted by slick divorce lawyer Miles Massey (George Clooney). Her intention to exact revenge becomes something more closely resembling a romance as their tete-a-tete provides some excitement in both of their monotonous lives. Both Clooney and Zeta-Jones’ parts are wonderfully acted in this thoroughly watchable romantic comedy.
Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
How does one follow up one of the best heist movies of the modern era? If your name is Steven Soderbergh, you do so with a disaster film. Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) wants revenge for what Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and company did to his casinos in Ocean’s Eleven. Either they pay him back — with interest — or face the grave consequences. With too high a profile in the United States, the crew takes their talents to Europe to lie, cheat and steal their way out of this jam. Zeta-Jones plays Isabel Lahiri, a Europol investigator from Danny’s perennial number two man Rusty (Brad Pitt)’s past who also has it out for them too. Though it cannot quite reach the highs of the previous film, Ocean’s Twelve is a satisfying second act.
The Mask of Zorro (1998)
Zeta-Jones’ breakout film The Mask of Zorro was widely lauded for being a fun and engaging blockbuster. Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins), also known as Zorro, the masked freedom fighter seeks to exact revenge on the corrupt governor who ruined his life by throwing him in jail and murdering his wife. To do so, he trains a local thief named Alejandro Murietta (Antonio Banderas) to succeed him and don the title of Zorro himself. Alejandro also finds himself enamored by Diego’s estranged daughter Elena (Zeta-Jones). In all, the director of GoldenEye and Casino Royale delivers another sturdy popcorn flick.
Side Effects (2013)
Side Effects is one of Steven Soderbergh’s most gripping dramas to date. White collar ex-convict Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) returns to his wife Emily (Rooney Mara), but things aren’t the same. Emily is deeply depressed, even attempting suicide. As a result, her psychiatrists (Zeta-Jones and Jude Law) prescribe her an experimental new treatment which ends up having shocking and dangerous side effects. But things are not always as they appear.
The Terminal (2004)
Steven Spielberg’s dramedy The Terminal is perhaps his most saccharine film to date. Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) is a citizen of the fictional eastern European nation Krakozhia visiting New York City. The audience finds him in the John F. Kennedy International Airport when a civil war breaks out in his home country and his passport is revoked as a result. Viktor is now stranded in JFK, unable to go into the city or fly home. While there, he subsists on the kindness of the airport employees he befriends. He becomes enamored by one of these new friends, flight attendant Amelia Warren (Zeta-Jones). As alluded to before, it is aggressively sentimental but will ultimately win you over.
Zeta-Jones returned to her stage acting roots with the unique film adaptation of the musical Chicago. It cuts between dark, realistic settings and minimalist stage sets to great effect. In 1924, a media circus occurs around hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) and his two controversial defendants. One, Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones) is an established jazz singer imprisoned for killing her husband and sister, who were having an affair. The other, Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) is a housewife who dreams of stardom, incarcerated for murdering her lying paramour. Egged on by the trio, sensational journalism runs rampant. With toe-tapping music and exciting choreography, Chicago is worthwhile for any musical film fan.
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