Charlize Theron‘s new film The Old Guard was released on Netflix today, and our critic Matt Goldberg called it “the best Netflix action movie thus far.” It certainly seems to cement Theron as an action star following her badass turns in Mad Max: Fury Road, Atomic Blonde and The Fate of the Furious.
And yet, Theron is so much more than just an action star. Not only is she an Oscar-winning actress thanks to Monster, but she also produced that 2003 movie and many more via her Denver & Delilah Films banner, making her a creative force to be reckoned with even from behind the camera.
Theron is terrifying in Monster, and she’s equally powerful playing a pair of very different survivors in the sexual harassment dramas Bombshell and North Country, both of which brought her individual Oscar nominations. The Cider House Rules earned more Oscar nominations than both of those films, yet it didn’t make the cut for this list, given how rarely it’s discussed these days.
I also had to leave off Theron’s eye-opening debut in the 1996 crime movie 2 Days in the Valley and her turn as Keanu Reeves‘ wife in the B-movie pleasure The Devil’s Advocate — not to be confused with The Astronaut’s Wife, which was less successful in my mind. Some at Collider advocated on behalf of Aeon Flux, but if I was going to put a big mainstream movie on here, I’d go with Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus or Peter Berg‘s Hancock, though neither appear below. In fact, if there’s one movie I wish we had room for, it would be The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, which earned Theron a Golden Globe nod for playing Sellers’ second wife, Swedish actress Britt Ekland.
In the end, I don’t think you can argue with the top two films on this list, or the inclusion of both of Theron’s Jason Reitman films, which showcase a completely different side of the South African actress, and allowed her to flex the comedy muscles that served her so well in last year’s winning rom-com Long Shot. Check out the list of Theron’s best films below, and let me know in the comments section if you think The Old Guard deserves a spot.