Charlize Theron moved to America in the ’90s. That might surprise people. She’s actually South African, and more or less lost her original accent in order to succeed in the business. Would that be necessary nowadays? It might not. It worked, though. She became a leading actor and an Oscar winner in the years since.
Here are the top 10 movies from the career of Charlize Theron.
Atomic Blonde is a violent spy thriller that has one of the best action sequences you’ll ever see. It’s a one-take-looking sequence that lasts for several minutes, and it’s a true delight. The plot is typical spy stuff, but its action and acting is more than enough to make it worthwhile. It’s also got some great subtle makeup work – take not of how Theron’s various bruises appear throughout the production.
The Burning Plain
The Burning Plain is a non-linear movie about … well, many various things. It’s got a lot of characters, a bunch of surprises, and a ton of themes. Trying to describe it would be pointless. It’s the type of movie you need to devote a couple of hours after watching it to try to figure it all out and form a full opinion of it. It’s not worth watching if you’re not willing to put in that work.
In the Valley of Elah
In the Valley of Elah is a movie about a man who is looking for his son. The son was in the military, and he’s gone missing after returning from Iraq. It doesn’t take long to find him; but he’s not alive. The man then searches for the killers. He’s aided by Charlize Theron’s police detective, who gets more involved in the case than most police detectives do. It’s an emotionally compelling experience, based on real events, and details the struggles of soldiers after fighting in a war.
Kubo and the Two Strings
Laika is one of only a couple of companies that is still doing stop-motion animation, and in 2016 it released its best movie: Kubo and the Two Strings. The film is a hero’s journey story that’s thematically rich, visually stunning, emotionally compelling, and works just as well for adults as it does for kids – perhaps even more effectively for adults, whose life experience will amplify the emotional impact of its plot.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road is a simple movie. It’s primarily a lengthy chase sequence that’s been stretched into two hours. But the action is fantastic, the characters have surprising amounts of depth, the plot has more intricacies than you might expect, it’s stunningly beautiful, and the acting is great. On paper, it doesn’t seem like it should have much of anything going for it, but when talented filmmakers are given the opportunity to go for broke, sometimes the result is amazing.
Monster is the film for which Charlize Theron was awarded an Academy Award. She “uglied up” for the role, gaining weight and trying everything to downplay her natural beauty. It’s also a fantastic performance outside of the physical stuff. The movie is about a real-life serial killer, Aileen Wuornos, and is really something that’s worth watching. Not just for the performance, either, although that’s the easy highlight.
North Country is another based-on-real-events movie. It’s based on the story of Lois Jenson, who filed the first class-action lawsuit for sexual harassment in American history. She leaves an abusive relationship, starts a job as a miner, and finds that harassment follows wherever she goes. Topical, that, isn’t it? It features another wonderful performance from Theron and a “light at the end of the tunnel” type of hope given all of its unpleasantness.
A lot of people don’t like Prometheus. I am not one of them. Sure, it has about as much to do with Alien as E.T., but it’s still a thrilling, philosophically engaging sci-fi movie. It generates a lot of tension, asks a lot of interesting questions – even if it isn’t able to answer a ton of them – and it looks pretty great. It’s let down by its characters and any connection it tries to make with Alien.
The Road is about the struggle of a man and a boy as they try to survive in post-apocalyptia. The dangers they run into – including things as simple as a scarcity of food – and the bleak version of the wasteland are scary. It has its moments of joy and hope, but for the most part is a dark, dreary, mood-setting kind of movie. It’s not for everyone, but it’s one of the best “after the end of the world” movies we have. Or, at least, one of the most realistic ones.
Young Adult follows a mid-30s alcoholic who ghostwrites young adult novels. She’s not “adulting” particularly well. She’s a mess. And the people around her appear to be doing better. She returns to her hometown … and then things get even more fun. It’s a fun movie thanks to the writing – it’s a Diablo Cody-written film – and the lead performance from Charlize Theron. It has a point, too, to make about letting go of the past.