What is the best Julia Roberts movie? Her dazzling smile lit up screens throughout various ‘80s movies, ‘90s movies, and even 2000s movies, and even now, at 54 years old, the actor is churning out hit after hit; with her most recent movie, Ticket to Paradise, reuniting her with her Ocean’s Eleven co-star George Clooney.
While Roberts is best known as the undisputed queen of rom-coms, what a lot of people don’t realise is that her acting talent and range goes way beyond the scope of romance movies, with the actor also playing a diverse range of roles across drama movies, adaptations of acclaimed plays, and movies based on a true story.
Across her illustrious career, Roberts has appeared in at least 54 movies, and is highly decorated in terms of accolades. She’s been nominated for four Oscars (winning one for Erin Brockovich), eight Golden Globes (winning three), and three Screen Actors’ Guild Awards (winning one, again, for Brockovich) among many others. But how would you rank the Hollywood royalty’s best performances? We at The Digital Fix gave it a go, so here are our thoughts on the best Julia Roberts movies.
The best Julia Roberts movies
- My Best Friend’s Wedding
- Ocean’s Eleven
- Charlie Wilson’s War
- Mystic Pizza
- Steel Magnolias
- Notting Hill
- Erin Brockovich
- Pretty Woman
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
This fairly contrived and predictable rom-com is nothing to shout about, with Roberts playing the envious bridesmaid dead set on sabotaging the wedding.
Although the hair-brained schemes are a great way of showcasing Roberts’ comedic timing, it’s hard to root for a character who is, fundamentally, very unlikeable — but the good news is that the film did breathe a second life into Roberts’ career, which we should be grateful for.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Ocean’s Eleven is an objectively great film: it’s slick, it’s glamorous, and everything you could possibly want from a heist movie. But if I had to have a complaint, it’s that we simply didn’t see enough of Julia Roberts in this film.
Far from the shrinking violet, Tess Ocean is at the core of a lot of the action in the film, and Roberts’ chemistry with her on-screen husband, George Clooney, is nothing short of electrifying.
Whenever I think about Stepmom, I feel like curling up into a ball, throwing up, and crying. The movie makes you want to tear your own heart out of your chest and eat it.
While Susan Sarandon as Jackie Harrison is phenomenal, Julia Roberts really nails the growth of Isabel Kelly throughout the film as she evolves from a slightly-jealous stepmother to a fierce friend and ally of Jackie to the very end. And when you put Sarandon and Roberts together, it’s simply magic.
What makes Closer great is that it’s one of those rare opportunities where we see Roberts break away from her rom-com mould, instead getting the opportunity to play someone more flawed, raw, and realistic.
Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
Although the execution of Charlie Wilson’s War is flawed, Roberts’ role as the real-life socialite Joanne Herring is rightfully praised because, as well as bringing a lot of Herring’s own mannerisms to the role, she acts as the perfect foil to the less jaded and more naive Rep. Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks).
Mystic Pizza (1988)
Mystic Pizza is widely considered to be Julia Roberts’ breakout role and with good reason. It’s easy for coming-of-age teen movies to be corny and one-dimensional, but as Daisy Arujo, the outspoken waitress in a Connecticut pizzeria, a star was born. I think every person who watched that film at a formative age wished they were as cool as Daisy.
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Another one of Roberts’ earlier breakout roles. Although the film has a powerful ensemble cast of six leading women who connect at the same salon, it is Roberts’ portrayal of Shelby Eatenton-Latcher, a young diabetic woman willing to risk her health for a baby, that acts as the glue holding the film together, and even earned Roberts and Oscar nod.
Notting Hill (1999)
The idea of a super famous Hollywood actor playing the part of a super famous Hollywood actor seems, on paper, like a frivolous exercise in vanity.
Yet, Roberts is able to portray the vulnerability of Anna Scott beautifully in this gentle, sensitive love story of two people from entirely different worlds.
Erin Brockovich (2000)
Erin Brockovich is probably the most down-to-earth and least Julia Roberts-like character that Roberts has ever played. This biographical drama about how a struggling single mother helps uncover one of the biggest legal scandals in history gives Roberts the opportunity to show the world that she’s more than just a pretty face and is one hell of an actor.
Pretty Woman (1990)
There’s a reason Pretty Woman has become synonymous with Julia Roberts. Although its portrayal of sex work hasn’t aged particularly, Roberts’ nuanced portrayal as Vivian Ward is only further elevated by her chemistry with Richard Gere, giving us everything we could want from a rom-com and then some. When it comes to love stories, it’s no stretch to say that Pretty Woman is one of the best movies there is.
I’m just a girl, standing in front of a reader, asking them to love my Julia Roberts movie rankings… Want to hear our thoughts on some more Hollywood legends? Check out our guide to the best Tom Cruise movies. Alternatively, if you want to look more into the future, here’s our guide to some of the best new movies coming out this year.