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Every Charlize Theron Movie Ranked Worst To Best

Actor and producer Charlize Theron has been working in Hollywood since the late '90s and is easily one of the most recognizable actors working today. She is also one of the most acclaimed, with numerous nominations under her belt, including three Academy Award nods — one of which she won for the 2003 biographical drama film "Monster." Overall, Theron is likely most known for her action films, which include 2003's "The Italian Job," 2015's "Mad Max: Fury Road," and 2017's "Atomic Blonde." However, Theron has acted in a variety of genres throughout her career, from romantic comedies like 2019's "Long Shot" to thrillers such as 2015's "Dark Places" and so on.

With dozens of acting credits under belt, Theron has built up a strong and varied career as an actor, with an array of fans to delve into. Moviegoers likely have strong opinions about which of Theron's films are the best and which can be skipped over. Here, we'll break down every single one of Theron's movies — ranked worst to best.

46. The Last Face

Directed by Sean Penn, 2016's "The Last Face" follows Wren Peterson (Theron), a physician working in West Africa for a charitable organization founded by her later father. She meets and begins an affair with Miguel (Javier Bardem), a surgeon also working to help people in impoverished countries. If the plot sounds a little all over the place, that's because it is. And one look at its Rotten Tomatoes score — under 10% on the Tomatometer — it becomes clear why this film is ranked worst amongst Theron's films.

Critics disliked just about every aspect of the film — the plot, the dialogue, the (lack of) characterization. Additionally, many critics pointed out that including the issues of African people only to have those topics play second fiddle to a torrid romance is a glaring problem. Summing this up, Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "'The Last Face' spends so much time on the on-again, off-again romance between Bardem's Miguel and Theron's Wren, the African victims are all but nameless and faceless backdrops."

45. Aeon Flux

The 2005 sci-fi action film "Aeon Flux" really didn't fare much better than "The Last Face" did — it has a very similar Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes. Set in the 25th century, "Aeon Flux" presents a world population of a mere five million, a result of a deadly virus that wiped out most of humankind 400 years prior. A group of rebels, led by Handler (Frances McDormand), hire Aeon Flux (Theron) to assassinate one of the high-ranking members of the government in order to overthrow the current oppressive system.

Many critics point to the script as the film's biggest problem — mainly, that  it's overly complicated and cheesy. What could be a compelling sci-fi film is instead a hard-to-connect-with convoluted attempt at it. Further, Neil Smith of BBC.com described it as "preposterous, pretentious and surprisingly dull." All in all, "Aeon Flux" is likely not worth your time. 

44. Waking Up in Reno

The 2002 comedy film "Waking Up in Reno" follows two couples, Candy (Theron) and Roy (Patrick Swayze), as well as Earl (Billy Bob Thornton) and Darlene (Natasha Richardson), as they take a cross-country road trip together. However, what seems like an innocent enough couples trip is complicated by the fact that Candy and Earl have been having an affair.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film barely manages to get into double digits when it comes to the critics' consensus. It seems like the critics didn't find the movie funny, nor did they find it charming. Despite the recognizable talent of the four leading actors, Theron included, "Waking Up in Reno" is not a film that has made a positive mark in the world of comedy. However, the audience score is slightly higher, so a possible viewer may find it to fit more into the "so bad it's good"' category.

43. The Astronaut's Wife

1999's "The Astronaut's Wife" is the perfect example of a box office bomb — the film made just about $19.5 million worldwide, which pales in comparison to its budget of $75 million (via Box Office Mojo). Directed by Rand Ravich, "The Astronaut's Wife" focuses on Jillian Armacost (Theron), the wife of astronaut Spencer (Johnny Depp), who notices that her husband seems changed after returning from a mission that almost cost him his life.

Critics had just as little interest in the film as moviegoers did. Joe Leydon of Variety deemed it an "aggressively stylish but dramatically flaccid drama." The review continued, "Top-flight work by professionals on both sides of the camera can't quite disguise the predictability of the formulaic material." The New York Times, meanwhile, noted that Theron and Depp have a "warm rapport that would seem more natural if the film had anything else to offer." Thus, at least, Theron did what was asked of her — it's just too bad it didn't result in a better ranking film.

42. Sweet November

Trying her hand at a romantic drama, Theron starred opposite Keanu Reeves in the 2001 film, "Sweet November," directed by Pat O'Connor. In the film, Nelson Moss (Reeves) and Sara Deever (Theron) meet at the DMV and are instantly taken with one another. Seeing as both of them are a bit afraid of commitment, they agree to spend one month together, then go their separate ways. Naturally, the two end up falling in love.

Despite Theron and Reeves both being incredibly charming and likable as actors, they are unable to make the low-substance plot work. Further, according to some reviews, neither actor can save their character from being nearly unwatchable. Roger Ebert, in a scathing review, called Nelson "the abrupt, insulting ad man" and Sara a "narcissistic martyr." Ebert also wrote that the film "passes off pathological behavior as romantic bliss." Unfortunately for Theron and everyone else involved, "pathological behavior" is far from what makes a good romance film.

41. Head in the Clouds

Set in 1930s Paris, John Duigan's "Head in the Clouds" introduces photographer Gilda Besse (Theron), who shares an apartment with Irish scholar Guy (Stuart Townsend) and Spanish refugee Mia (Penélope Cruz), both of whom have been Gidla's lovers in the past. But when Guy and Mia both decide to leave Paris to help with World War II, Gilda opts to stay in Paris to work on her career — and ultimately feels abandoned by her two companions.

A major issue that critics have pointed out is that the 2004 film fails to fully flesh its characters. Of Theron's Gilda, Variety Dennis Harvey of Variety, "Wild-child offspring of an American socialite and French tycoon, Gilda is ... Sally Bowles, Isadora Duncan and Daisy Buchanan rolled into one. She is, in short, a quasi-literary concept even this able, beautiful performer can't quite render flesh-and-blood."

Of course, it may be fun to watch Theron in a "Daisy Buchanan" type role, but it unfortunately does not make the film worthy of a higher placement on this list.

40. Trapped

In the 2002 thriller "Trapped," directed by Luis Mandoki, couple Will (Stuart Townsend) and Karen (Theron) find themselves facing off against a mysterious couple, Joe (Kevin Bacon) and Cheryl (Courtney Love), who have kidnapped their daughter and are demanding a ransom. The premise may seem to have the potential for an exciting experience, but ultimately falls short.

There is no shortage of hostage thrillers out there and, sadly, "Trapped" is unable to rise above the rest and secure its spot as a must-watch of the genre. In fact, James Christopher The Times UK even went as far as to call it one of "the most inept hostage thrillers [he's] ever seen." Many critics even called it "exploitative" in the way that it uses a missing child premise for an intended action-packed thriller. While a few critics note that it does indeed result in some compelling moments, overall it still misses its target.

39. Sleepwalking

Directed by William Maher, 2009's "Sleepwalking" sees Joleen Reedy (Theron) and her young daughter Tara (AnnaSophia Robb) being evicted from their home after Joleen's boyfriend is arrested for marijuana possession. As a result, the two move in with Joleen's younger brother James (Nick Stahl) — until Joleen takes off. Soon, Tara has been placed in a foster home, where James soon kidnaps her from and takes her on a road trip to Utah, where James' his abusive father (Dennis Hopper) lives.

Theron's character isn't exactly at the center here — it's more the story of the bond between James and Tara — which is a positive in this case, since the film didn't exactly land well with critics or audiences. Leo Goldsmith of IndieWire points out that the film's failure in a script that never reaches its goal, writing, "Each bend in the road positively screeches with the urgency of impending catharsis, but the film never earns its resolution."

All in all, this lackluster film — which Theron only plays a minor role in — won't exactly be remembered as one of Theron's best.

38. The Huntsman: Winter's War

"The Huntsman: Winter's War," which came out in 2016, acts as both a prequel and a sequel to 2012's "Snow White and the Huntsman." While some cast members from the first film returned for this sequel — including Theron, as well as Chris Hemsworth, Nick Frost, and Sam Claflin — "Winter's War" also introduces new key characters, played by Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, and Rob Brydon. Despite a string of big stars, Theron included, "Winter's War" fell short and was poorly received by critics and moviegoers.

The film follows Freya (Blunt) who creates an army of huntsmen to protect her, following a betrayal from her evil sister Ravenna (Theron). This eventually leads to a war between the siblings.

More than anything else, critics found the film to be unnecessary. On this note, David Sims of The Atlantic wrote, "When people gripe about Hollywood's reliance on sequels and cheap franchise cash-ins, this is the kind of movie they mean: no Grimm's Fairy Tale, but a grim tale nonetheless." Further explaining its failings, Allison Shoemaker of Consequence wrote, "It's certainly a beautiful dud. It's a well-acted dud. But a dud it is."

37. The Addams Family 2

On the topic of unnecessary sequels, we're brought to our next film on this list: 2021's "The Addams Family 2." This animated film is a followup to 2019 film, "The Addams Family" and focuses on Morticia (Theron) and Gomez (Oscar Isaac), upset that their kids have begun growing up and want less to do with them, take the family on a road trip.

Much like with "The Huntsman: Winter's War," this sequel screams "unnecessary." Sandra Hall of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote, "Nothing can change the fact that it's yet another example of Hollywood cannibalising its own in its eagerness to keep up the flow of franchises on which the studios rely these days for their sustenance." In this case, even the first "Addams Family" animated film did not fair extremely well (we'll get to that later), which only adds to the question of why a sequel is viewed as a good idea.

However, the film as a whole may have not been received well, but Theron's voice work was, at the very least. Allison Rose of FlickDirect noted that Theron's "deep and sensual voice [that] exudes confidence" is perfect for Morticia.

36. Dark Places

After the massive success of 2014's "Gone Girl," which is based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, movie studios turned their attention to Flynn's other novels to seek out the next big thriller film adaptation. 2015 film "Dark Places" is based on Flynn's 2009 novel of the same name and is directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner (who also wrote the screenplay). The film follows Libby Day (Theron) struggles with the childhood trauma of the murder of her mother and sisters while she investigates whether or not the crime was committed by her brother Ben, who she believed was responsible at the time.

Unfortunately, "Dark Places" did not receive anywhere near the praise that "Gone Girl" did, as it seems that "Dark Places" was unable to find the kind of sharpness and focus that made "Gone Girl" so successful. Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent wrote, "The film, overall, is fatally uncertain of its identity — never quite certain whether it's a gruesome murder-mystery out to shock us or a heavy, character-based drama about a family torn apart." Another critic, Ben Nicholson of CineVue, called the attempt to "fast-track" another Flynn story to screen resulted in a film that is worse than a "botch job."

35. Reindeer Games

Over a decade before either "Gone Girl" or "Dark Places" came out, a star from each film — Theron and Ben Affleck — starred together in an action thriller called "Reindeer Games" in 2000. Directed by John Frankenheimer, "Reindeer Games" introduces Rudy Duncan (Affleck), a man newly released from prison who is looking to start a life with Ashely (Theron), a woman whom his prison friend has been writing to as a pen pal. When that friend dies, Rudy decides to take over Nick's identity so that Ashley thinks that she has been writing to him. However, before the two can be together, they must deal with Ashley's criminal brother Gabriel (Gary Sinise), who believes Rudy has some insider information about a casino that Gabriel plans to infiltrate.

The premise is as convoluted as it sounds. Unfortunately, "Reindeer Games" never finds its footing, resulting in a muddled attempt at a compelling thriller. Desson Thomson of the Washington Post wrote, "'Reindeer Games' is basically a test of your ability to accept a slushpile of implausible twisteroos and Tarantino-style conceits."

Words such as "slushpile" and "implausible" aren't exactly words that convince a potential viewer to actually watch something. Thus, "Reindeer Games" doesn't need to be added to your "to watch" list anytime soon.

34. 15 Minutes

Directed by John Herzfeld, "15 Minutes" follows homicide detective Eddie Flemming (Robert De Niro) and fire marshal Jordan Warsaw (Edward Burns) as they team up to catch two European murderers, Emil Slovák (Karel Roden) and Oleg Razgul (Oleg Taktarov), who have been videotaping their murders in an effort to achieve infamy. Theron plays Rose Hearn, the madam of an escort service who helps Flemming and Warsaw in their investigation.

Just as with "Sleepwalking," the focus is not on Theron in "15 Minutes" — which, again, is likely for the best because "15 Minutes" was not exactly lauded by critics at the time of its release in 2001 (nor would it likely hold up today). In one of the more generous reviews, Roger Ebert wrote, "The movie is far from unflawed. I have a private theory that half the time you see a character tied to a chair, the screenwriter ran out of ideas. Some of the getaways are unlikely. The ending is on autopilot." However, Ebert wrote, "15 Minutes" also has its poignant moments (although none of the ones Ebert pointed to involve Theron), keeping it from the very bottom of this list.

33. A Million Ways to Die in the West

Theron joined the ensemble cast for the 2014 American Western comedy, "A Million Ways to Die in the West," directed by Seth MacFarlane. The film follows sheep farmer Albert Stark (MacFarlane), who, as a bit of a coward, struggles in the Wild West. Luckily, Albert soon meets the beautiful and strong — and very brave — gunfighter Anna (Theron) who helps Albert grow out of his cowardly ways just in time to face Anna's angry outlaw husband Clinch (Liam Neeson).

"A Million Ways to Die in the West" has an outstanding cast and a promising premise, but, unfortunately, was unable to truly succeed — the film currently holds just a Tomatometer score in the low 30s and an audience score not much higher. Most critics found the film to be a bit all over the place and unable to achieve the nostalgic yet satirical tone that it tries for. Anthony Lane of the New Yorker declares that the only person involved who achieved the correct balance of "parody and homage" was the composer, Joel McNeely.

Furthermore, Jake Wilson of the Sydney Morning Herald calls out Theron's character specifically for making "absolutely no sense" and being the outlet for one extremely problematic storyline. Wilson wrote, "On the one hand, she's the ultimate Cool Girl ... On the other, she's trapped in an abusive relationship with Neeson's psycho, who has apparently enslaved her since childhood –- a revelation, played for laughs, that kills the comedy stone dead."

32. The Burning Plain

Written and directed by Guillermo Arriaga, the 2008 drama film, "The Burning Plain," follows Sylvia (Theron), a woman who struggles with depression despite living a successful life. Meanwhile, a young woman named Mariana (Jennifer Lawrence) begins a relationship with the son of a man that her mother, Gina (Kim Basinger), once had an affair with.

The film's story is told through a nonlinear narrative, which many critics found to be overly complicated and a distraction from the central story. Additionally, many found that Arriaga hit viewers over the head with the symbols and messages. On this note, Melissa Anderson of Film Comment Magazine wrote, "What's that smell? The plain isn't the only thing that's charred in screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga's directorial debut; subtlety goes up in flames too."

Meanwhile, Greg Quill of the Toronto Star lamented that had Arriaga allowed viewers to "spend more time with the key characters in this extended tragedy, or had spent some time punching up the plot," then the film could have been successful.

31. Gringo

Directed by Nash Edgerton, 2018's "Gringo" features an ensemble cast which, alongside Theron, includes David Oyelowo, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, Thandiwe Newton, and Sharlto Copley. The story follows a meek businessman, Harold Soyinka (Oyelowo), who travels to Mexico for work to deliver an experimental marijuana pill. While there, things quickly turn sour when Harold is kidnapped by a drug cartel. Theron plays Elaine Markinson, the co-president of Harold's company, Promethium Pharmaceuticals, whom he calls after being kidnapped.

On paper, "Gringo" sounds like it has the potential to be an action-packed thriller with a compelling story and an all-star cast to boot. However, the film falls flat, mostly due to a script as meek as its protagonist.

Paul Byrnes of the Sydney Morning Herald pointed out that the plot details tie together a bit too neatly, writing, "Life may be full of coincidences, but screenplays cannot be." Furthermore, Roxana Hadadi of Pajiba noted that the film comes across as if it is "created by someone who has ever actually been to Mexico [who never] thought to pay attention to more than kidnapping scares and cartel nightmares."

30. Hancock

"Hancock" stars Will Smith as the titular character, John Hancock, an alcoholic vigilante. His actions may be well-intentioned, but he ultimately leave Los Angeles financially burdened trying to fix the damage that he leaves in his wake each time he attempts to save someone. However, after he saves PR executive Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), things begin to look up when Ray sets out to help save Hancock's image. Theron plays Mary, Ray's wife, who also happens to have superpowers similar to Hancock's.

The 2008 film received middling reviews, leaving it at a low 40s Tomatometer score and a high 50s audience score. Mostly, the script is lacking focus — is it meant to be a buddy comedy, or is Hancock meant to be taken as a serious superhero? Many critics noted that the first half of the film doesn't match the second.

As far Theron's role goes, at least Mary is not a damsel in distress, but rather a superpower-wielding character in her own right. Plus, the scene in which it's revealed that Mary has powers — where she throws Hancock through a wall when he tries to kiss her — is a memorable (and enjoyable) one, although it may not be worth watching the entire film.

29. Men of Honor

Directed by George Tillman Jr., "Men of Honor" follows Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.), an ambitious young man who enlists in the U.S. Navy with the goal of becoming the first Black master diver. This goal turns out to be more difficult than expected, mostly due to the racist Master Chief, Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro), who does not want to see Carl succeed. Theron plays Gwen Sunday, the wife of Billy, which is a role that film critic Roger Ebert deemed "unnecessary" in an unfortunately accurate description — the entire film can be summarized in detail without Gwen needing to be mentioned.

Despite Theron's lack of screentime, this 2000 film takes us to the more mixed review section of this list — on Rotten Tomatoes, the film only managed to get a low 40s Tomatometer score, but it did get a much higher audience score in the low 80s. Critics enjoyed Gooding Jr.'s performance above anything else, while the biggest downside seems to be the formulaic script. All in all, critics didn't have much to say about Theron's role, seeing as it is so minor, but we usually can expect a solid performance from the award-winning actor, even in the less-liked films.

28. The Legend of Bagger Vance

Directed by Robert Redford, 2000's "The Legend of Bagger Vance" is set during the Great Depression and focuses on the once-promising golfer Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon), who finds himself with a second chance to make it as a golfer at World War I derailed his initial plans. However, Junuh has lost some of his skill. Luckily, a mysterious traveler named Bagger Vance (Will Smith) offers to coach him in time for the big match. Theron plays Adele Invergordon, the on-and-off girlfriend of Junuh.

The reviews were mixed, but leaned toward negative (the Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes is in the low 40s). A big issue with the film is that, as some critics pointed out at the time, it utilizes the "Magical Negro" trope, in which a Black character exists solely to help a white character advance. Christopher John Farley of TIME Magazine wrote, "In real life Tiger Woods just wrapped up one of the greatest seasons in the history of golf ... In 'The Legend of Bagger Vance,' one of the more embarrassing movies in recent history, Will Smith plays a magical black caddie who helps Matt Damon win a golf tournament and the heart of Charlize Theron."

Theron's character doesn't have much of a characterization outside of her relationship to Junush, so there are a few different ways in which this film hasn't held up well.

27. The Addams Family

As mentioned earlier, the predecessor to 2021's "The Addams Family 2" didn't exactly become a mega success, but it did manage to fare better than its sequel. The reviews were negative to mixed amongst critics, but audiences rated it a bit higher Rotten Tomatoes. In the film, the Addams family is prepping their house for the slew of spooky relatives that are coming to visit. However, they soon find themselves facing a conflict when TV personality Margaux Needler (Allison Janney) wants to get rid of the Addams family mansion in order to see out all the properties in the neighborhood.

Within the mixed reviews, some critics found the film charming while others found it missing the tone of the original "Addams Family" TV series. On the negative, Wenlei Ma of News.com.au wrote, "This 2019 CGI remake misses the mark in the most crucial element of what has sustained The Addams Family all this time — its offbeat, macabre vibe. If you don't get that, you're really not going to get any of it." Meanwhile on the positive, Amanda Greever of the Daily Times wrote, "It's a clever, funny movie with a message about family, even the quirky ones who we want to belittle or make fun of."

26. Snow White and the Huntsman

Much like with two "Addams Family" movies, 2012's "Snow White and the Huntsman" performed better than its sequel. The first film, directed by Rupert Sanders, introduces Theron's character, Queen Ravenna, who has become the queen by marrying the king, just to immediately kill him and take power. In order for Ravenna to become immortal and keep her beauty forever, she must eat the heart of her stepdaughter, Snow White (Kristen Stewart). When Snow White escapes, Ravenna sends a huntsman named Eric (Chris Hemsworth) to find Snow White and bring her back — only for Eric to eventually join forces with Snow White in an effort to defeat Ravenna forever.

Ultimately, the reception for "Snow White and the Huntsman" was mixed. While some critics found it to be a compelling, darker version of the well known tale, others found the plot lacking and the film as a whole unnecessary. One critic in favor of the film, David Elliott of the San Diego Reader, wrote, "Strong effects, good design, and an exciting use of nature help to empower Stewart and Theron, who inject a rich, double dose of feminism."

At the very least, most can agree that Theron excels at playing the cold and commanding queen.

25. Trial and Error

The 1997 comedy "Trial and Error" brings us to the halfway point of this ranked list, meaning we are now in the better half of Theron's filmography. Directed by Jonathan Lynn, "Trial and Error" follows a lawyer named Charlie (Jeff Daniels), who is sent to Nevada by his boss on business. While there, his best friend, an actor named Richard (Michael Richards), turns up to throw Charlie his bachelor party before he gets married. Things take a turn for the worst when, the next day, Charlie is too hungover to show up in court — leading Richard to fill in for him and "act" the part of lawyer Charlie. Theron plays Billie Tyler, a waitress whom Charlie falls in love with over the course of the film, making him rethink his wedding plans.

Theron's role may be minor but she makes it a memorable one. John Anderson of the Los Angeles Times wrote in his review, "If someone wanted to make someone else a star, it's hard to imagine a better route than Lynn takes with Theron, who brings the movie to its knees every time she comes on screen." Additionally, Janet Maslin of the New York Times called the film "A comedy that's much fresher and sunnier than it has any real right to be."

It seems as though Theron gives a scene-stealing performance in an already enjoyable comedy — this list really is on the up and up.

24. Mighty Joe Young

In 1998, Theron starred in director Ron Underwood's "Mighty Joe Young" as Jill Young, a woman living in Africa. As a young child, she saw her mother die while trying to protect wild gorillas from a group of poachers led by Andrei Strasser (Rade Serbedzija). As an adult, Jill cares for a gorilla named Joe — who has a genetic anomaly that makes him 15 feet tall — and decides to take him to a California wildlife rescue, run by Gregg O'Hara (Bill Paxton). However, as it turns out, Andrei is determined to capture Joe and follows them to California.

"Mighty Joe Young" is listed as a children and family movie and many of the reviews regard it in this light. Critic Roger Ebert summed up the nicely, writing, "'Mighty Joe Young' is an energetic, robust adventure tale: not too cynical, violent or fragmented for kids, not too tame for adults." Similarly, Richard Schickel of TIME Magazine wrote, "This Christmas you could do worse than introduce the kids to the big Furby, one who carries a certain moral weight very lightly."

All in all, Theron's kids movies may be few and far between, but this one hits its mark.

23. Battle in Seattle

Written and directed by Stuart Townsend, the 2007 political thriller, "Battle in Seattle," is based on the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Seattle, Washington, claiming that their work only widens the wealth gap. The film follows a variety of characters, from protesters to the Seattle mayor.

Amongst the mixed reviews, a few critics enjoyed watching an infrequently-talked-about piece of history play out on screen. However, others found the real life events to be too glossed over within the narrative — for example, Leo Goldsmith of IndieWire wrote, "Approaching its subject with a neat idealism and packaging its political fervor in the most facile of forms, the film boasts a cast loaded with Hollywoods both new and old and wraps its message up with eye-rolling naivete."

With "Battle in Seattle" being right at the midpoint of this list, it really just comes down to the individual viewer's preferences when it comes to deciding if the film succeeds in dramatizing real life events or not.

22. F9

The "Fast and the Furious" franchise is one of the most popular movie sagas out there, with a whopping nine movies under its belt, with two more in the works, plus a few spin-off films. Theron joined the franchise in 2017 with the eighth installation, "The Fate of the Furious." And in 2021, she returned for "F9" — which fared slightly worse than its predecessor. In "F9," directed by Justin Lin, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team must stop the destructive plan of Dom's estranged brother, Jakob (John Cena). Theron plays criminal mastermind and enemy to Dom, Cipher.

"F9" didn't quite make it to a fresh critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but the viewers liked it quite a bit more and got the film to an audience score in the low 80s. The critics who liked it, however, called it fun, self aware and daring. As for Theron's part, it, unfortunately, is limited. In a negative review, Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post declared that Theron's talents are "wasted."

Once again, "F9" comes down to preferences — if you're into the "Fast" franchise, then you'll probably love Theron's return as Cipher. If you don't, there are plenty of other Theron action movies to check out.

21. The Devil's Advocate

Before Theron and Keanu Reeves starred as conflicted lovers in 2001's "Sweet November," they played husband and wife in 1997's "The Devil's Advocate," directed by Taylor Hackford. In the film, Mary Ann Lomax (Theron) begins experiencing a series of strange and supernatural visions. Meanwhile, her husband Kevin (Reeves) dives deeper and deeper into his new job at a New York law firm — and eventually discovers that his boss, John Milton (Al Pacino) is actually the Devil (so, yes, the film's title may be a bit too on the nose).

"The Devil's Advocate" is as over the top as one would assume from the synopsis — and this is exactly why some critics think that the film works. For one, Todd McCarthy of Variety describes the film as "a fairly entertaining supernatural potboiler that finally bubbles over with a nearly operatic sense of absurdity and excess." Noting that it has its problems, McCarthy then declared that it is "engaging in [its] own pulpy way." However, others found it self-indulgent and lacking in substance and characterization, so if you check this one out, keep in mind that it is far from perfect.

20. 2 Days in the Valley

In 1996, Theron appeared in the crime film, "2 Days in the Valley," by director John Herzfeld. Set within 48 hours, the film follows a group of various characters who are connected by a murder in the San Fernando Valley. Theron plays Helga Svelgen, the girlfriend of Lee Woods (James Spader), a hitman who has betrayed his best friend by setting him up as the fall guy in a murder-for-hire scheme. After the betrayal, Helga and Lee flee the scene and end up on the run together.

With "2 Days in the Valley," there are some critiques — some reviewers think the characterization and the dialogue needed work — but the critics enjoyed it overall. Summing up much of the praise, Mike LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Funny, pathetic, sad, absurdist — writer-director John Herzfeld plays it any number of ways, and makes them all work."

19. The Yards

Directed by James Gray, "The Yards" introduces Leo Handler (Mark Wahlberg), a man who has just gotten out of prison after taking the fall for a group of his friends. He is looking to settle back into a normal life and move on from his prison past. However, when he takes a job with his uncle, Frank (James Caan), Leo finds himself immersed in a criminal world yet again. Theron plays Erica Soltz, one of Leo's cousins and the one to suggest that Leo work with Frank.

While some critics found it to be lacking in enjoyability, others found it to be quite the opposite — a slow burn but a compelling one. Exemplifying what critics liked the best about the film, Richard Brody of the New Yorker wrote, "The tangle of family, business, and crime, with its resulting loyalties and betrayals, is the volatile stuff of which the drama is made."

18. The Fate of the Furious

In 2017's "The Fate of the Furious," Theron makes her debut in the "Fast" saga as the mysterious cyberterrorist Cipher, who forces Dom (Vin Diesel) into working with her and betraying the rest of his team. With this being Theron's first film in the franchise — and with Cipher being the main villain of the movie — she has a much bigger role here than in the aforementioned "F9." Because of this, there is much more focus on Theron in the reactions to "The Fate of the Furious."

To start with, Owen Gleiberman of Variety loved Theron's inclusion in the film, writing, "Theron proves an ace villain: imperious yet personable, with a leonine cunning and directness." Gwilym Mumford of The Guardian notes that Theron is much better than the material she had to work with, writing, "Theron too has great fun with the nefarious Cipher, despite the character often seeming drawn-on-the-back-of-a-napkin flimsy. She does an awful lot with very little, purring out extended monologues about choice theory and human nature." On the other hand, however, David Ehrlich of IndieWire argues that even Theron's talents couldn't save the poorly written character, writing, "The franchise's first female baddie, Cipher is regrettably also its least interesting."

Whether you think the film utilizes Theron or not, fans of the actress will likely enjoy watching her take on such a villainous role.

17. Bombshell

For the 2019 drama "Bombshell," Theron portrayed a real life figure: former Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly. Directed by Jay Roach, "Bombshell" is based on a true story and follows three women working at Fox News who work to expose CEO Roger Ailes for repeated sexual harassment.

The reviews were generally positive, with the actors receiving much of the credit for making the film a success. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times called out Theron especially, writing, "'Bombshell' works as well and as long as it does largely because of its actors, Theron most of all. One of her qualities as a performer is that she never begs for the audience's love ... Even when the movie puts some feminist-lite uplift on this ugly world, Theron doesn't soften Megyn."

Theron's performance is worth checking out for those curious about her portrayal of a real life, contemporary figure.

16. The Life and Death of Peter Sellers

Many years before "Bombshell," Theron portrayed another real life figure: actress and model Britt Ekland, who was married to comedian Peter Sellers from 1964 to 1968. Directed by Stephen Hopkins and starring Geoffrey Rush in the title role, the 2004 HBO film, "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" follows Sellers' rise to one of the industry's most famous comedians, including the various struggles he faced along the way.

Theron plays Sellers' second wife, Britt, who he marries just 10 days after meeting. Their relationship becomes strained due to Britt insisting on going through with a pregnancy that Peter doesn't want, as well as Peter pulling away while grieving his mother's death.

The film was largely praised, thus why it is so far near the top of this list (even if Theron Plays a minor role in it) and even received nine Primetime Emmy wins. She may not be the lead, but her performance did get a shoutout in the Variety review by Todd McCarthy, who calls her portrayal "vivacious."

15. North Country

Directed by Niki Caro, 2005's "North Country" depicts a true story. It follows single mother Josey Aimes (Theron), one of the first women allowed to work at an iron mine in Minnesota. Soon these women find themselves being sexually harassed by the male workers, angry that women have been let into their workplace. In response to the horrific abuse, Josey files a harassment lawsuit — despite being warned not to by her friends and family.

Theron received an abundance of praise for her performance as the determined, willful single mother going up against a seemingly impossible task of making men face the consequences of their actions. Theron's apt performance is summed up well by Roger Ebert, who wrote, "What Charlize Theron does with the character is bring compelling human detail. We believe she looks this way, sounds this way, thinks this way."

It's a difficult story to watch play out, but as many critics would argue, Theron's performance makes it worth watching.

14. The Cider House Rules

In 1999's "The Cider House Rules," Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) has grown up in an orphanage and become the mentee to Dr. Larch (Michael Caine), the orphanage director who performs secret abortions. Wanting to know life outside of the orphanage, Homer decides to leave with Candy Kendall (Theron) and Wally Worthington (Paul Rudd), a young couple who sought out Dr. Larch for an abortion. Later, when Wally leaves to fight in World War II, Candy and Homer begin an affair.

"The Cider House Rules" was well received by critics, with many deeming it a solid drama with a compelling plot and talented actors, Theron included. This film is hardly Theron's most memorable drama — we'll be getting to those soon — but, as usual, Theron makes the most of what she is given. Her time in "The Cider House Rules" will at least keep you captivated while you're watching it.

13. The Italian Job

Long before Theron appeared in any "Fast and the Furious" films, she starred in another action film that has its fair share of car chases — 2003's "The Italian Job." Directed by F. Gary Gray, the film follows a group of thieves — including Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg), Handsome Rob (Jason Statham), Left Ear (Mos Def) and Lyle (Seth Green) — plan to steal from a former member, Steve (Edward Norton), who previously betrayed them. For their plan, they enlist Stella (Charlize Theron), the daughter of an associate killed in the midst of Steve's betrayal. The film is loosely based on the 1969 British film of the same name.

"The Italian Job" was deemed an exciting, well made action thriller by critics. Neil Norman of the London Evening Standard wrote, "It is smart, funny, well plotted and performed and as slick as a Vaselined eel. If you have to remodel a classic for a new age, this is the way to do it." Theron's presence is also a plus.

12. The Road

Based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, the 2009 film, "The Road," follows an unnamed man (Viggo Mortensen) and his unnamed young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) as they search for civilization amongst the ruins of an catastrophe that has resulted in near-extinction of humans. Theron's character, the wife of the man (and also unnamed), exists only through flashbacks.

As a whole, the film received mixed to positive reviews — summing up the gist of the reaction, A.O. Scott of the New York Times wrote, "'The Road' is engrossing and at times impressive, a pretty good movie that is disappointing to the extent that it could have been great." Scott also gives a shout out to Theron, despite her minor role, declaring that the unnamed woman (who plays a slightly bigger role in the film than in the novel) is "glowingly incarnated" by Theron.

11. That Thing You Do!

Written and directed by Tom Hanks, 1996's "That Thing You Do!" is set in 1964 and follows a small town band called The Wonders, who become famous overnight from one of their songs, aptly titled "That Thing You Do." Theron plays Tina Powers, the girlfriend of the band's drummer, Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott).

Critics, for the most part, loved everything about "That Thing You Do!" — from the script to the acting to the fictional band's song at the center of the plot. David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews, for one, called it "a persistently entertaining endeavor that's been suffused with a whole host of appealing, captivating elements." Theron plays a minor role — she isn't even the lead female role (that part is played by Liv Tyler), but, as expected, she plays a charming (if imperfect) first girlfriend to Guy before he inevitably ends up with Tyler's Faye.

10. Prometheus

Delving into horror sci-fi territory, Theron starred in the Ridley Scott-directed "Prometheus" in 2012. The film follows a group of scientists exploring a clue that may reveal the origins of mankind on Earth, only to face a threat that could lead to the extinction of humanity. Theron plays Meredith Vickers, an employee of expedition underwriter Weyland Corporation who tags along to monitor the trip.

At a low 70s Tomatometer score and a high 60s audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, "Prometheus" was largely a success. Overall, critics came to the conclusion that, while it is not as revolutionary as Scott's iconic 1979 sci-fi horror, "Alien," it still makes for a compelling sci-fi piece in its own right and hits all the right notes.

As for Theron, Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Theron is in ice goddess mode here, with the emphasis on ice (and this just as her turn in 'Snow White and the Huntsman' is about to open) but perfect for the role all the same."

9. In the Valley of Elah

Based on true events, 2008's "In the Valley of Elah" focuses on Detective Emily Sanders (Theron), who helps Hank Deerfield (Tommy Lee Jones), a retired Army soldier whose son — in the military himself — went missing.

Much of the attention went to Jones' performance — the actor even received an Oscar nomination for the role — but Theron holds her own opposite him. William Thomas of Empire noted that Theron played her part "with depth and honesty," while The Independent Critic remarked that Theron "shines as a stressed out, burned out detective who seems to spend as much time dealing with sexist peers as she does bad guys and bureaucrats."

Theron has become somewhat known for playing strong and bold women, often in action films. She plays one of those characters here, even in a more reserved setting. If you enjoy her performances and want to see one in a powerful drama, "The Valley of Elah" will likely satisfy you.

8. Kubo and the Two Strings

We've made it to Theron's highest rated animated film: 2016's "Kubo and the Two Strings." When a young boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson) accidentally summons an evil and vengeful spirit, he finds himself on the run. He soon teams up with Monkey (Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey) to battle the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and save his family and legacy.

"Kubo and the Two Strings" was an absolute hit, receiving praise across the board. In a five out of five stars review, Wendy Ide of the The Guardian wrote, "It explores unexpectedly profound ideas of rebirth and destiny rewritten, like origami paper sheets refolded into another form." Additionally, Jacob Stolworthy of The Independent pointed out the beautiful animation, writing, "With utmost care applied to its every shot, the adults will be marvelling as much as the youngsters."

The rave reviews — and the ultra high Rotten Tomatoes score — speak for themselves: this film is worth your time.

7. Atomic Blonde

In the 2017 action thriller "Atomic Blonde," Theron stars as Lorraine Broughton, a ruthless and ultra-skilled spy. Set just before the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, Lorraine must set out on a mission to find a list of double agents.

With a Tomatometer score in the high 70s, it's safe to say that the David Leitch-directed "Atomic Blonde" is a captivating and successful thriller. According to critics, the film's success is led by Theron, followed by the deftly executed fight scenes. To this point, Kambole Campbell of One Room with a View wrote, "A good time — saved by spectacular fight scenes, a colourful cast of supporting characters, and a great lead in Theron." Meanwhile, Jane Crowther of Glamour gave just about all of the credit to Theron, writing, "Who do we thank for this refreshing take on the smash-'em-up genre and this thoroughly modern woman in a Bechdel-beating blockbuster? ... Thank Charlize Theron."

6. Young Adult

Directed by Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air") and written by Diablo Cody ("Juno"), 2011's "Young Adult" follows Mavis Gary (Theron), a ghost writer of teen literature. She returns to her hometown to try to rekindle the relationship with her high school sweetheart, Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson). Instead, she finds herself bonding with Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), a now-disabled former classmate.

Theron is front and center in "Young Adult." The film, at its core, is a character study of a 37-year-old divorced woman who is longing for the so-called glory days of high school. And Theron, sharply in tune with the character, makes sure that the character study remains utterly compelling.

Perfectly put by Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times, "When it's done right, as it is in 'Young Adult,' there is something absolutely mesmerizing about watching a train wreck unfold on screen. When the wreck in question is a narcissistic beauty played to scheming, sour, downward-spiraling perfection by Charlize Theron, cringing is definitely called for, but so is laughter."

5. Monster

Here, we arrive at the role that earned Theron her Oscar: playing serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the 2003 biographical crime drama, "Monster." Written and directed by Patty Jenkins, "Monster" introduces sex worker Aileen, as she meets and begins a relationship with the young Selby Wall (Christina Ricci). The plot chronicles the seven murders of male clients that led to Aileen's death sentence.

Nev Pierce of BBC.com declared that Theron gives "a tender performance of fractured humanity, while Matthew Lucas of The Dispatch calls Theron's performance "fierce, hauntingly vulnerable" and one that "shows us who Aileen Wuornos really was." Furthering the praise, Stephen Holden of the New York Times wrote that Theron "uncovers the lost, love-starved child cowering under the killer's hard shell" in a performance that is full of "emotional intensity."

Some other critics did have reservations about the success of the film as a whole, but they were all in agreement about Theron's performance, which many described as career-defining and unforgettable.

4. The Old Guard

One of the most recent films on this list, Theron's most recent leading-role action film, "The Old Guard" came out in 2020. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, "The Old Guard" follows a team of self-healing immortal mercenaries who must fight to keep their secret from being revealed. Theron's character, Andromache (or Andy) of Scythia, is the oldest of the immortals.

For The Undefeated, Soraya Nadia McDonald praised the film, writing, "Given a team of highly regarded actors in Charlize Theron, Chiwetel Ejiofor and KiKi Layne, Prince-Bythewood delivers both satisfying, high-octane fights and a proper storyline to stitch them together." Meanwhile, Sara Stewart of Book & Film Globe, called out Theron, writing, "Theron is so good at martial arts now that her fight scenes are a thing of beauty." Diane Pershing of the Malibu Times declared it "a slam dunk of an action film" — it doesn't get much better than that, especially when Theron is starring.

3. Long Shot

Proving she also excels in the romantic comedy genre, Theron starred alongside Seth Rogen in 2019's "Long Shot," directed by Jonathan Levine. Theron plays Charlotte Field, the U.S. Secretary of State who decides to run for president. Rogan plays Fred Flarsky, a journalist who, upon running into Charlotte at an event, realizes that she was his childhood babysitter (and childhood crush). After reconnecting, Charlotte impulsively decides to hire Fred as her speechwriter, ultimately leading to a romance.

With a fun premise and an unexpected but palpable chemistry between Theron and Rogen, there is a whole lot to love about this rom com. Describing its appeal nicely, Wendy Ide of The Guardian declared it a "crowd-pleasing charm bomb of a movie that combines intelligence and a sexual spark to explosively funny ends." Further, Olly Richards of NME wrote that "Long Shot" is "proof that romantic comedy can still be smart and refreshing."

Truly, rom com fans won't be disappointed.

2. Tully

Teaming up once again "Young Adul" director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody, Theron returned to the world of dramedy with 2018's "Tully." The film follows Marlo (Theron), a woman about to give birth to her third child. Despite his best intentions Marlo's husband Drew (Ron Livingston) doesn't understand the struggles that Marlo goes through as a mother, especially directly following childbirth. Eventually, they hire a night nurse, Tully (Mackenzie Davis), with whom Marlo forms an emotional bond. Notably, the sharp script has a surprising — and expertly executed — twist ending.

On Rotten Tomatoes, "Tully" has a high 80s Tomatometer score, alongside a mid-70s audience score, proving why it sits at Number 2 on this list. The acting received a large amount of praise — for example, Adam Kempenaar of the podcast Filmspotting, said, "Playing opposite ends of a spectrum — one despairing and worn down, one so hopeful and youthful — [Davis and Theron] could both have become caricatures of those people and never do."

Whether you choose to watch "Tully" for the acting, for the deft direction, or for the smart twist, it will be worth it.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

At last, we've made it to Number 1 on the list, and the top film will likely come as no surprise. Theron's turn as Imperator Furiosa in the 2015 post-apocalyptic action film, "Mad Max: Fury Road" has become perhaps her most iconic role to date. Directed by George Miller, "Mad Max: Fury Road" is set years after the collapse of civilization, in a society where gasoline and water are scarce and the tyrant Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) makes slaves of apocalypse survivors. A warrior known as Imperator Furiosa has just led an escape of Joe's group of wives when she meets and teams up with former captive Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy).

"Mad Max: Fury Road" has a near perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was praised for just about every detail, including the leading performances of Theron and Hardy. Autostraddle declared that Theron "delivers a captivating, challenging performance as Furiosa, arguably her best since 'Monster.'"

A few years down the line, "Fury Road" has maintained its status of being a must-watch action film — some even call it the most important action film of the decade.