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It should come as no surprise, but Renée Zellweger is one of the most prestigious and prolific actresses of her generation. With two Oscars, four Golden Globes, and literally dozens of other awards to her name, the actress from Katy, Texas, has remained to be a force to reckon with ever since she made her on-screen debut in the early 1990s. And with no fewer than 10 different awards for her portrayal of Judy Garland in Judy, it doesn't look like Zellweger will be stopping her reign anytime soon.
All of this got me thinking - what are the 10 best movies featuring Renée Zellweger? With someone with as many acting credits as Zellweger, deciding on just 10 was no easy task. I mean, her career ranges from small indie comedies and low-budget horror movies to large studio productions and everything in between. She's played a housewife arrested for the murder of her husband, a waitress who experiences a mental breakdown and thinks she's on a soap opera, and even a beloved children's author.
Those are just a few of the characters this talented and diverse actress has brought to the screen. Without any further ado, here are Renée Zellweger's 10 best movies.
10. Me, Myself & Irene (2000)
Six years after the Farrelly brothers and Jim Carrey first got together for Dumb and Dumber the writer/directors and comedy legend in the making teamed up once more for the 2000 dark comedy about a polite police officer with a second personality in Me, Myself & Irene. Renée Zellweger co-stars as Irene P. Walters, a fugitive who later becomes the love interest of Charlie Baileygates and Hank Evans (the two personalities brought to life by Carrey).
Although Me, Myself & Irene isn't everyone's favorite Jim Carrey movie, this tale of a cop with dual personalities on the run from the law with a fugitive makes for one hell of a comedy. This is partly due to the innocent demeanor and dry delivery of Irene's character that is brought alive by Zellweger's amazing performance.
9. One True Thing (1998)
Coming off the success of Jerry MaGuire (more on that later), Renée Zellweger gave a heartbreaking performance of woman who returns home to take care of her dying mother (Meryl Streep) in One True Thing. After putting her career at New York magazine on hold, Ellen Gulden (Zellweger) returns to her childhood home to her cancer-stricken mother and the fractured relationship with her father (William Hurt).
Zellweger was not yet the superstar she would become in the years following the release of One True Thing, but her performance as a woman trying to mend ties with her parents is so realistic and refreshing that it's no surprise that she would shoot up to superstardom a few years later.
Stream One True Thing here.
8. Miss Potter (2006)
Renée Zellweger had already been awarded an Oscar and several Golden Globes by the time she brought her portrayal of Beatrix Potter in the 2006 biopic Miss Potter. This period drama, which was also executive produced by Zellweger, tells the story of the the beloved children's author as she works on The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
If you didn't know any better you would be convinced that Zellweger is actually from England after witnessing her stunning performance in this feel-good story, which also stars Ewan McGregor. The way that this Texas native brings one of the literary world's most shining figures is top notch and proves that Zellweger is one of the best to ever do it.
Stream it here.
7. Cinderella Man (2005)
When she's not the main character, Renée Zellweger still finds a way to be a shining attraction, which is exactly what she accomplished in Ron Howard's 2006 biopic Cinderella Man about a washed up boxer who gets back in the ring. Playing against Russell Crowe's portrayal of James J. Braddock as the boxer's wife, Mae Braddock, Zellweger brings a loving and conflicted wife to life in this beautiful cinderella story.
There's a certain look in Zellweger's eyes that comes out during the drama's most emotionally difficult scenes that would be hard to pull off by someone without her nuanced approach to acting. She doesn't overshadow her co-stars, instead brings them up to the forefront. It's just a shame Zellweger didn't receive all the recognition she deserved for this role.
Stream it here.
6. Nurse Betty (2000)
In addition to putting on some of the most captivating dramatic performances in recent memory, Renée Zellweger can also hold her own in more comedic roles. She proved this and then some with her Golden Globe-winning performance in the 2000 dark comedy Nurse Betty. In this hilarious farce, Zellweger plays Betty Sizemore, a waitress who assumes the identity of a nurse on a soap opera after a traumatic event.
Even when she's paired up with someone as funny as Chris Rock (who was in his prime, may I add), Zellweger holds her own throughout this dark comedy. Her timing, charm, and commitment to the role brings the laughs without patronizing victims of mental illness. No wonder Zellweger's performance are still talked about today, 20 years later.
Stream Nurse Betty here.
5. Judy (2019)
Upon seeing the first trailer for Judy, the 2019 biopic about an emotionally and physically distressed Judy Garland in her final days, it was easy to tell that Renée Zellweger, who portrays Garland, would be recognized at every award show. And by pulling off the acting and singing better than anyone else, she earned all the recognition she received.
This heartbreaking and gut-wrenching tragedy about the final year in the life of one of Hollywood's saddest stories could not have been brought to the screen with anyone but Zellweger in the lead role. Almost unrecognizable in the makeup and scars of an emotionally spent woman, Zellweger brings Garland's persona to life one final time.
Stream it here.
4. Bridget Jones Diary (2004)
If I were to make a list without including Bridget Jones's Diary, I think, no, I know my wife would disown me and make me sleep in the doghouse upon reading this. Based on the novel of the same name, which is a reinterpretation of Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice, this 2001 romantic comedy features a star-studded cast consisting of Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant.
It's only fitting that a girl from Texas could star in one of the quintessential British romantic comedies of the 21st Century and have as much dry wit and self assurance as the very English character on which her role was based. Anyone who has read or watched this adaptation, and its two sequels, knows just how charming Zellweger is as the titular Bridget Jones.
Stream it here.
3. Cold Mountain (2003)
Renée Zellweger took home her first of two Academy Awards for her role in the 2003 Civil War epic Cold Mountain. Based on the novel of the same name, this sprawling drama centers around the odyssey of a wounded Confederate soldier (Jude Law) who leaves the war to find the woman he loves (Nicole Kidman). Zellweger comes in as a rough around the edges woman with a heart of gold by the name of Ruby Thewes who is brought it to support Kidman's Ada Monroe.
Even though Cold Mountain is mostly about Law and Kidman's characters' undying love for one another, Zellweger steals the scene whenever her character is shown. From good time and bad, fits of sorrow and fits of laughter, Zellweger's Ruby Thewes is one of the most captivating characters in the movie and the actresses' extensive filmography.
Stream it here.
2. Jerry MaGuire (1996)
You had me at hello. Those five words took Renée Zellweger from a relatively unknown actress to an overnight star following her portrayal of single mom Dorothy Boyd in Cameron Crowe's 1996 Jerry MaGuire. It seems that anytime anyone brings up the best romantic comedies of the 1990s and beyond, this film about a struggling sports agent, Jerry MaGuire (Tom Cruise) is near the top of the list.
Zellweger's delivery in that amazingly shot and acted scene is one that aspiring actors and actresses strive to replicate. Despite only uttering five short words, Zellweger brings so much emotion to the key scene in the movie and carries it in her eyes, her brow, and the rest of her face. Little did we know how much the actress would get out of this scene and use it to propel herself to superstardom.
Stream it here.
1. Chicago (2002)
Long before Renée Zellweger gave audiences a touching rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" in Judy, the actress proved she could sing and dance with the best of them in the 2002 film adaptation of the Broadway hit Chicago. This critically acclaimed musical about two murderesses fighting for stardom in prison cells would take home six Academy Awards at the 75th Academy Awards.
Although Zellweger didn't receive the Oscar for her portrayal of housewife and aspiring vaudevillian Roxie Hart, she took home several trophies for her well-rounded performance, including a Golden Globe for Best Actress - Musical or Comedy. By performing all of her own songs and dance numbers, Zellweger proved that she was just as talented as the rest of the star-studded cast which including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, and more than a dozen other singers, dancers, and stars of the silver screen and Broadway.
Those are just 10 of the best Renée Zellweger movies. Do you agree with the list, or do you think we did the actress a disservice by not including the horror classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation? Make sure to let us know all about it in the comments.