Ranked: Julia Roberts' Best (and Worst) Movies

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We take a look back over her three-decade movie career, from 1988’s 'Mystic Pizza' to this year’s 'Ben is Back'. Steel Magnolias: Sony Pictures

After near-ubiquity during the 1990s and 2000s, Julia Roberts has taken a step back from Hollywood over the last decade. She’s still been making movies, but not the mega-smashes she’s known for—the 2013 drama August: Osage County registered as a blip as a cultural radar, while 2016’s Mother's Day is best forgotten.

In the last few years, Roberts seems to have found her meatiest roles on TV. Her 2014 HBO television film The Normal Heart received rave reviews, and her performance in the new Amazon series Homecoming has been described by The Boston Globe as “excellent—mostly reserved, but a faceted reserve that is fueled by fear and fury.”

Although her small-screen excellence is welcomed, this is an unexpected move for a woman who came to epitomize the charismatic Hollywood leading lady. The Georgia native found fame in 1990 playing the carefree sex worker Vivian in Pretty Woman, who finds true love with a rich client. Thanks to her considerable charm and megawatt smile, this deeply problematic movie was transformed into an instant classic.

After starring in a number of middling dramas, she returned to the romcom in 1997 with My Best Friend's Wedding. She finished off her string of 90s romcoms in 1999 with Runaway Bride, reuniting with her Pretty Woman co-star Richard Gere.

Her excellent performance in the 2000 drama Erin Brockovich showed off her acting chops and won her a Best Actress Oscar, as she moved away from romcoms into more prestigious films. She was one of the ensemble cast in Ocean's Eleven, then played an adulterous photographer in the 2004 romantic drama Closer and a socialite in 2007’s Charlie Wilson's War.

The end of the 2000s saw a decline in her film quality, reaching a saccharine nadir with Valentine's Day and Eat Pray Love, both released in 2010. Yet, she now seems to be coming into her own as a serious actress; Roberts told the Financial Times that her role in Homecoming allows her greater scope to “stretch” herself as an actress.

We take a look back over Roberts’ three-decade movie career, from 1988’s Mystic Pizza to her latest movie, 2018’s Ben is Back. Using data from critical review aggregation websites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, as well as user-submitted reviews from IMDb, we’ve ranked all of her movies, from worst to best.

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Love Wedding Marriage: IFC Films

46. Love Wedding Marriage (2011). Total: 26.3%. Metacritic: 13. Rotten Tomatoes: 16. IMDb user: 50. Directed by Dermot Mulroney. Starring: Mandy Moore, Kellan Lutz.
Plot summary: Mandy Moore is a marriage counselor whose life as a newlywed married to Kellan Lutz is turned upside down when she discovers her parents' happy marriage is unexpectedly headed for divorce. Determined to reconcile her parents for their 30th-anniversary surprise party she stops at nothing plunging from one compromising situation to another.  
What the critics said about Love Wedding Marriage: "If there is a special hell for film critics, it probably has movies like Love, Wedding, Marriage on continuous rotation." Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

Mother's Day: Open Road Films

45. Mother's Day (2016). Total: 34.3%. Metacritic: 18. Rotten Tomatoes: 29. IMDb user: 56. Directed by Garry Marshall. Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson.
Plot summary: This celebration of mothers everywhere invites us all to enjoy the laughter, tears and love as three generations come together in the week leading up to Mother’s Day.
What the critics said about Mother's Day: "Even if stars Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts and Kate Hudson are mom's all-time favorites, don't subject her to this cloying,. Plotless dose of saccharine unless she's done you wrong." Sandy Cohen, Associated Press

Valentine's Day: New Line Cinema/Warner Bros.

44. Valentine's Day (2010). Total: 43.3%. Metacritic: 34. Rotten Tomatoes: 39. IMDb user: 57. Directed by Garry Marshall. Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx.
Plot summary: An all-star ensemble cast comes together in Valentine's Day, which follows the intertwining storylines of a diverse group of Los Angelenos as they navigate their way through romance and heartbreak over the course of one Valentine's Day.  
What the critics said about Valentine's Day: "It's got a cold, shiny cash register right where its heart should be." Cath Clarke, Time Out

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Fireflies in the Garden: Senator Entertainment

43. Fireflies in the Garden (2011). Total: 46.7%. Metacritic: 34. Rotten Tomatoes: 41. IMDb user: 65. Directed by Dennis Lee (III). Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson.
Plot summary: To an outsider, the Taylors are the very picture of the successful American family: Charles is a tenured professor on track to become university president, son Michael is a prolific and well-known romance novelist, daughter Ryne is poised to enter a prestigious law school, and on the day we are introduced to them, matriarch Lisa will graduate from college—decades after leaving to raise her children. But when a serious accident interrupts the celebration, the far more nuanced reality of this Midwestern family's history and relationships come to light.
What the critics said about Fireflies in the Garden: "This histrionic family drama must have looked good on paper to attract such a big-name cast, but on the screen it comes off as glib, rushed, and underdeveloped." J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader

Grand Champion: American Family Movies

42. Grand Champion (2002). Total: 47%. Metacritic: n/a Rotten Tomatoes: 50. IMDb user: 44. Directed by Barry Tubb. Starring: Joey Lauren Adams, Jacob Fisher, Emma Roberts.
Plot summary: Grand Champion' weaves the tale of a spunky young boy named Buddy and his prize-winning calf, Hokey, as they climb from the underdog position and up through the ranks of several Texas stock shows to ultimately win the coveted title of Grand Champion.  
What the critics said about Grand Champion: "This low-key family drama is so hokey that its title character is named Hokey." Jeff Strickler, Minneapolis Star Tribune

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I Love Trouble: Buena Vista

41. I Love Trouble (1994). Total: 47.5%. Metacritic: n/a Rotten Tomatoes: 43. IMDb user: 52. Directed by Charles Shyer. Starring: Nick Nolte, Julia Roberts, Saul Rubinek.
Plot summary: Peter Brackett and Sabrina Peterson are two competing Chicago newspaper reporters who join forces to unravel the mystery behind a train derailment.
What the critics said about I Love Trouble: "Again and again, the I Love Trouble script takes us deeper and deeper into the machinations of a high-tech company when what we want to see is Nolte and Roberts outfox each other." Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

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Mary Reilly: Sony Pictures

39. Mary Reilly (1996). Total: 48.3%. Metacritic: 44. Rotten Tomatoes: 43. IMDb user: 58. Directed by Stephen Frears. Starring: John Malkovich, Julia Roberts.
Plot summary: The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde through the eyes of Dr. Jekyll's maid Mary Reilly (Julia Roberts).
What the critics said about Mary Reilly: "This isn't dumb, but it plays out as academically as it sounds, without a shred of true terror and with only the most muted sexual charge. Solemn, portentous and curiously dull, there is simply no chemical charge between Roberts and Malkovich." David Ansen, Newsweek

Full Frontal: Miramax Films

40. Full Frontal (2002). Total: 48%. Metacritic: 45. Rotten Tomatoes: 52. IMDb user: 47. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Starring: David Hyde Pierce, Julia Roberts.
Plot summary: A movie about movies for people who love movies.  
What the critics said about Full Frontal: "Soderbergh's playfully experimental spirit should be saluted, even if the end product looks like it was more fun to make than it is to watch." David Ansen, Newsweek

Runaway Bride: Paramount Pictures

38. Runaway Bride (1999). Total: 49%. Metacritic: 39. Rotten Tomatoes: 53. IMDb user: 55. Directed by Garry Marshall. Starring: Julia Roberts, Richard Gere.
Plot summary: In a last-ditch effort to save his tarnished career, a big-city reporter (Gere) chases a scoop about a mercurial, small-town girl (Roberts) known as the Runaway Bride due to her habit of leaving her grooms-to-be at the altar.
What the critics said about Runaway Bride: "The problem with "Runaway Bride" isn't the radiant Julia Roberts, whose star wattage has rarely burned so brightly. The problem isn't Richard Gere, who is loose, self-effacing and unusually charming... So why does "Runaway Bride" feel so off? Why does it produce such halfhearted laughter?" David Ansen, Newsweek

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Ready to Wear (Prêt-à-Porter): Miramax

37. Ready to Wear (Prêt-à-Porter) (1994). Total: 49%. Metacritic: 48. Rotten Tomatoes: 48. IMDb user: 51. Directed by Robert Altman. Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren.
Plot summary: A fashion show in Paris draws the usual bunch of people; designers, reporters, models, magazine editors, photographers.
What the critics said about Ready to Wear (Prêt-à-Porter): "Ready to Wear is all appetizers: the main course never arrives. Still, the critical savagery puzzles me. Altman's movie may be indefensible, but it's not unenjoyable." David Ansen, Newsweek

America's Sweethearts: Columbia Pictures

36. America's Sweethearts (2001). Total: 49.3%. Metacritic: 44. Rotten Tomatoes: 47. IMDb user: 57. Directed by Joe Roth. Starring: John Cusack, Julia Roberts.
Plot summary: For an awkward, self-conscious girl like Kiki (Roberts), being the personal assistant to a beautiful mega-star like Gwen (Zeta-Jones) isn't easy. But when she dutifully accepts the task of helping Gwen and her estranged mega-star husband Eddie (Cusack) make it through one last public appearance masterminded by legendary press agent Lee Phillips (Crystal), forever devoted Kiki finds that her job is about to get even harder.  
What the critics said about America's Sweethearts: "The talented cast works hard to keep this souffle from falling. Because of Roberts, America's Sweethearts is going to be seen by a lot of people. For best results, keep those expectations low." David Ansen, Newsweek