If you only know Jennifer Aniston, our beloved Rachel Green from Friends, from her v lucrative work as a TV actor, I have great news for you. She’s got a pretty fun and varied film career, too. And, IMO, she absolutely nails it in everything she’s in, but this list has some underrated gems you might not have caught the first time around.
We’ve got the very underrated The Good Girl, which is probably one of the most complex characters she’s ever played, the washed-up pageant queen (Dumplin’), the horny and inappropriate boss (Horrible Bosses), as well as the thousands of times she’s been typecast as the sweet-but-uptight romantic interest/voice of reason. She brings sweetness and sharpness to each character, so even when she’s asked to be a “shrew” (ugh), she gives it 110 percent. Should she have had a bigger film career? I’m not not saying that.
So here are all the best movies she’s been in, in no particular order. (I’m not really counting the Fast Times at Ridgemont High Table Read, even if she and Brad Pitt had the hottest chemistry ever.) (Also, I’m totally lying. My fave films of hers are ranked at the top, and you can probably skip some of the ones farther down this list. My girl’s been in a lot of movies! Some of them are less good, and that’s fine!) Great news: A couple of these you can watch free on YouTube, including The Iron Giant and Leprechaun.
This is Jennifer’s second-highest-rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes (we’ll get to #1 in a sec), but it’s first in my heart as it’s my favorite character. Rosie is a former pageant winner and queen bee in her little town, so much so she neglects her real daughter “Dumplin’.” Don’t worry, though, cuz this is a feel-good film.
It might have been tough to stand out in an ensemble comedy about the sh*ttiness of an office job (if you’ve ever worked in a corporate environment, you will relate), but Jennifer does just that as the GF of the protagonist in a bad work environment of her own. Spoiler: Watching her quit and give her boss the finger is as deeply satisfying as I’m making it sound.
On the totally opposite end of the spectrum, here she’s one of the three titular bad bosses—and boy is she really, really terrible. It’s a fun look at how raunchy she can play it as a dentist outright harassing her poor assistant; She is having so much fun that now I want to see her play this type all the time. (The sequel isn’t as good, but she goes just as hard.)
The Iron Giant
Yup, this is prob the most well-known (and certainly highest-rated) film on this list. Jen takes on a small supporting role as the little boy’s mom, but her gorgeous voice is the perfect casting to play a sweet and comforting matriarch. Luckiest little boy ever??
The Good Girl
If you’re most familiar with Mike White’s work from The White Lotus, do yourself a favor and watch one of his earlier works. Jennifer is the kind of unlikeable but kind of sweet protagonist who has a whole messed up life—dealing with a dead-end job, cheating on her husband with Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, and just trying to figure herself out. It’s dramatic, too.
This didn’t totally go over well with critics, but everyone basically agreed that Jennifer totally nailed it as a woman with chronic pain who’s dependent on prescription pain medication. IMO, she never really got the praise she should have as a versatile actor, and this basically proves it.
Friends: The Reunion
Lol, okay, so this is technically a documentary and not a fictional film. But as much as fans were conflicted about the quality and depth of the reunion, just seeing Jennifer revisit the role that everyone knows her for, and reminisce with the co-stars who made Friends a cultural behemoth, was lovely.
Please, do yourself a favor and watch this terrible film, which was also Jennifer’s big movie breakthrough. She plays a delightfully vapid teen who also turns into a gun-wielding final girl by the end. You can absolutely see how she’d become America’s Sweetheart even while playing against a tiny green demon.
Jim Carrey is, obv, doing his trademark OTT thing here as a guy who accidentally gets God’s powers. But Jennifer—who’s playing it straight as his skeptical GF—is still so sweet as to totally draw focus. She’s a big part of the reason for Bruce’s redemption, and if she weren’t such a good actor, you wouldn’t believe it as much as you do.
Friends With Money
This underrated com-dram is about one woman with no money (Jennifer) and all her pals with tons of money—and all the conflict that ensues. Don’t ever sleep on Jennifer as a fantastic actor because she absolutely shines onscreen next to GOATs like Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, and Joan Cusack.
Office Christmas Party
Yes, this is kind of an eye roll of a movie about a debaucherous holiday party, but even when Jennifer has to play a stick in the mud who starts the movie as anti-fun, she brings such personality to the character that (no surprise) you still love her most of all by the end.
Life of Crime
In this underrated and mostly overlooked movie, Jen’s a rich housewife who gets kidnapped by a bunch of incompetent criminals—oh, and he husband’s having an affair and doesn’t want her back anyways. It’s an ensemble cast, but Jen (of course) steals every scene.
It’s pretty common knowledge that Jen didn’t get along with co-lead Jay Mohr, but she’s still giving it her all in this typical ’90s rom-com. She’s also basically doing Rachel Green 2.0, but hey—it’s still cute, so the film’s absolutely watchable.
We’re the Millers
This “criminal road trip with a fake family” concept sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. But Jennifer gets a chance to play slightly against type as a stripper hired to play a buttoned-up matriarch. As usual, she does so much that it almost makes you forget how uneven the movie is. Almost.
Marley and Me
This is a corny concept, but it was a box office hit about the world’s most untrained golden retriever and his family (per ushe, Jennifer plays the wife/mom/voice of reason/unnecessary secondary conflict, but is sweet and lovely and all the things you want.) Just, uh, grab several boxes of tissues and be in the mood to cry if you do watch, kay?
The Object of My Affection
A woman has a gay best friend—groundbreaking! (He’s played by Paul Rudd, who maybe dated Jen IRL!) Then, in a twist on the cliche, she falls in love with said gay BFF. This goes about as deep as you’d expect for a ’90s comedy (which is to say…not much and not well), but the two have delicious chemistry.
Execs obviously agreed, because here we get a reprise of the two—actually as romantic interests this time. A Manhattan power couple loses it all and ends up at a hippie commune (…sure). Some of the lines are funny! Jennifer is endlessly relatable, as usual! And fun fact: It also stars her ex, Justin Theroux.
If you’re not familiar with Jen’s full dating history, she and Vince Vaughn were a couple right around the time they made this movie. Funny, because it’s a film about two people breaking up for a looooong time. Be in the right mood to watch this because it gets…really nasty. Nastier than you’re expecting.
She’s Funny That Way
Oh, look! It’s Jennifer Aniston playing an uptight therapist! There are a lot of funny people in this, but it’s not quite as funny as it could be. Jen’s terrible wig and fun delivery make her smaller part enjoyable, though.
She’s the One
A frustrated wife who just wants an intimate relationship with her cheating husband—Jennifer’s in kind of a thankless role here, but she gives it her all anyways because she’s awesome. At least she ends the movie happy?
Jennifer is—what else—a supportive GF who gets fed up with the increasingly wild lifestyle of her rock star boyfriend (Mark Wahlberg). But she gets to play sweeter than she often does, and her chemistry with Mark is actually quite cute.
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