In 1994, Jennifer Aniston was a 25-year-old actress worried her career was going nowhere. All four of her previous TV shows had been canceled, and her only credited film role to date was as a bratty teen tormented by a diminutive Irish demon in 1993’s execrable horror flick Leprechaun.
Then Friends came along. Although she originally auditioned for the part of Monica Gellar, she was cast as Rachel Green, the ditzy but well-intentioned golden girl of the group. The show was a phenomenal success, running for ten seasons and remaining as much of a cultural touchstone today as it was during the 90s (Netflix bought the rights for $500,000 an episode in 2015).
Each of the six Friends characters became hugely famous, but Jennifer Aniston was undeniably the breakout star. She became an aspirational figure for 90s womanhood, from her layered ‘Rachel’ haircut to her brand of peppy optimism. By the time Friends was winding up in 2004, she was making $1 million an episode and had married Brad Pitt—it’s easy to see why women wanted to be her.
She brought this star persona over into her movie career, choosing a number of Rachel-like roles in romantic comedies. These late 90s movies such as Picture Perfect, She’s The One and The Object of My Affection were light and forgettable, but proved Aniston could pull an audience to the big screen.
The Good Girl, a 2002 indie dramedy, was a leftfield choice for Aniston and remains one of her most memorable roles. Her character, a depressed small-town cashier, subverted Rachel Green’s fantasy rise to success, and instead portrayed an angstier and less glamorous version of a woman’s quarter-life crisis.
She returned to mainstream comedies with Bruce Almighty the following year, and went on to rake in box office dollars with Along Came Polly, The Break-Up and Marley & Me, becoming a figurehead of the era’s high-concept romcom boom.
Recently, she’s mixed in this ultra-commercial fare with unexpected choices like 2014’s Cake, in which she underwent a makeunder to play a woman struggling with chronic pain. Unsurprisingly for a woman who made her career on TV work, she’s fully on board with the current streaming service boom. Last year, she produced and starred in Dumplin’, a Netflix musical comedy; she has two more Netflix original projects on the way.
To celebrate her 50th birthday on February 11, Newsweek has collected data from critical aggregation websites Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDb to find the 15 best-received movies of her career to date.
New Line Cinema
=14. He’s Just Not That Into You (2009). Total score: 57.5%. IMDb users: 6.4. Metacritic: 47. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.1. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.4.
Directed by: Ken Kwapis. Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Kris Kristofferson, Justin Long.
Plot summary: This Baltimore-set movie of interconnecting story arcs deals with the challenges of reading or misreading human behavior.
What the critics said: “Are women desperate or just desperately stupid? This is the misogynist question at the core of He’s Just Not That Into You , a women-bashing tract disguised as a chick flick.” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.
=14. The Switch (2010). Total score: 57.5%. IMDb users: 6.1. Metacritic: 52. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.5. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.1.
Directed by: Josh Gordon, Will Speck. Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis.
Plot summary: Seven years after the fact, a man comes to the realization that he was the sperm donor for his best friend’s boy.
What the critics said: “The truly dusty cliché it drags out again is the cute couple who don’t, you know, think-of-each-other-like-that. Until, of course, they do.” Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger.
=12. Rock Star (2001). Total score: 58% . IMDb users: 6.2. Metacritic: 54. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.4. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.1.
Directed by: Stephen Herek. Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, Dominic West, Timothy Spall, Jason Flemyng.
Plot summary: Lead singer of a tribute band becomes lead singer of the real band he idolizes.
What the critics said: “A genial look at what happens when a wannabe becomes a headliner, Rock Star only stumbles when it decides it has to deliver a lesson about What’s Really Important.” Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times.
=12. The Yellow Birds (2017). Total score: 58%. IMDb users: 5.7. Metacritic: 56. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.3. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.3.
Directed by: Alexandre Moors. Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Alden Ehrenreich, Toni Collette, Tye Sheridan.
Plot summary: Two young soldiers, Bartle (21) and Murph (18) navigate the terrors of the Iraq war under the command of the older, troubled Sergeant Sterling. All the while, Bartle is tortured by a promise he made to Murph’s mother before their deployment.
What the critics said: “Making a late appearance in the Iraq War movie cycle, the impressively acted The Yellow Birds manages to leave an affecting mark even as it constantly struggles to find a distinctive voice of its own.” Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times.
11. Dream for an Insomniac (1996). Total score: 58.25%. IMDb users: 6.2. Metacritic: (n/a). Rotten Tomatoes: 5.1. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.6.
Directed by: Tiffanie DeBartolo. Starring: Ione Skye, Jennifer Aniston, Mackenzie Astin.
Plot summary: Girl leads a lonely life until she meets the boy of her dreams. The boy, however, has a live-in girlfriend.
What the critics said: “Aniston is the breeze in this movie.” Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid.
10. Cake (2014). Total score: 58.75%. IMDb users: 6.4. Metacritic: 49. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.8. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.2.
Directed by: Daniel Barnz. Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Mamie Gummer, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy.
Plot summary: Claire becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group while grappling with her own, very raw personal tragedy.
What the critics said: “For all the pain, grief, sadness and suicide that layers Cake, it is a serious treat to see the actress stretch herself. Hopefully this film won’t turn out to be a single slice.” Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times.
9. Bruce Almighty (2003). Total score: 59%. IMDb users: 6.7. Metacritic: 46. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.7. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.3.
Directed by: Tom Shadyac. Starring: Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman, Steve Carell.
Plot summary: A guy who complains about God too often is given almighty powers to teach him how difficult it is to run the world.
What the critics said: “On at least three or four occasions, Carrey made me laugh so hard I had tears in my eyes—and that’s a heck of a trick.” Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper.
8. Life of Crime (2013). Total score: 59.25%. IMDb users: 5.8. Metacritic: 60. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.9. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.
Directed by: Daniel Schechter. Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Yasiin Bey, Isla Fisher, Tim Robbins, John Hawkes.
Plot summary: Two common criminals get more than they bargained for after kidnapping the wife of a corrupt real-estate developer who shows no interest in paying the $1 million dollar ransom for her safe return.
What the critics said: “Thanks to [Elmore] Leonard’s source material and the outstanding cast, it works.” Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com.
7. We’re the Millers (2013). Total score: 61.25%. IMDb users: 7. Metacritic: 44. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.5. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.8.
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber. Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Ed Helms, Nick Offerman.
Plot summary: A veteran pot dealer creates a fake family as part of his plan to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico.
What the critics said: “A laugh-out-loud comic trek that avoids being either too crude or too docile. If a summer of high-impact blockbusters has left you worn out, join the Millers for a laugh.” Tom Long, Detroit News.
Sony Pictures Classics
6. Friends with Money (2006). Total score: 62% . IMDb users: 5.8. Metacritic: 68. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.6. Rotten Tomatoes users: 2.8.
Directed by: Nicole Holofcener. Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener, Jason Isaacs, Joan Cusack, Simon McBurney.
Plot summary: After she quits her lucrative job, Olivia finds herself unsure about her future and her relationships with her successful and wealthy friends.
What the critics said: “This delicious, seriocomic tale of four friends in affluent, liberal, west L.A. grappling with midlife crises, metrosexual spouses and household remodeling takes on an avoided subject: money, and how it affects our relationships.” David Ansen, Newsweek.
Twentieth Century Fox
5. Marley & Me (2008). Total score: 65%. IMDb users: 7.1. Metacritic: 53. Rotten Tomatoes: 6. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.8.
Directed by: David Frankel. Starring: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Eric Dane, Kathleen Turner, Alan Arkin.
Plot summary: A family learns important life lessons from their adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog.
What the critics said: “It should come as no surprise that when you team Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston with a Labrador retriever, you get a bundle of blond fluff.” Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
=3. Horrible Bosses (2011). Total score: 65.25%. IMDb users: 6.9. Metacritic: 57. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.3. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.6.
Directed by: Seth Gordon. Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Meghan Markle, Jamie Foxx.
Plot summary: Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness.
What the critics said: “There are few comedy pleasures better suited to the medium of movies than that of watching supposedly normal people behaving terribly. And if those transgressing characters are played by popular movie stars, so much the better.” Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
=3. The Good Girl (2002). Total score: 66.25%. IMDb users: 6.4. Metacritic: 71. Rotten Tomatoes: 7. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.
Directed by: Miguel Arteta. Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, Deborah Rush, John C. Reilly, Tim Blake Nelson, Zooey Deschanel.
Plot summary: A discount store clerk strikes up an affair with a stock boy who considers himself the incarnation of Holden Caulfield.
What the critics said: “Aniston rises to the level of the material, creating a character of remarkable breadth and depth.” Bill Muller, Arizona Republic.
2. Dumplin’ (2018). Total score: 66.5%. IMDb users: 6.8. Metacritic: 53. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.5. Rotten Tomatoes users: 4.
Directed by: Anne Fletcher. Starring: Danielle Macdonald, Jennifer Aniston, Odeya Rush.
Plot summary: Willowdean (‘Dumplin’), the plus-size teenage daughter of a former beauty queen, signs up for her mom’s Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant as a protest that escalates when other contestants follow her footsteps, revolutionizing the pageant and their small Texas town.
What the critics said: “There’s so much more to enjoy, from the nuanced work by Jennifer Aniston that ensures Rosie’s never a caricature of a pageant mom; to the warm and natural best-buddy chemistry between Danielle MacDonald and Odeya Rush.” Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times.
Twentieth Century Fox
1. Office Space (1999). Total score: 73.75%. IMDb users: 7.8. Metacritic: 68. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.9. Rotten Tomatoes users: 4.
Directed by: Mike Judge. Starring: Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, David Herman.
Plot summary: Three company workers who hate their jobs decide to rebel against their greedy boss.
What the critics said: “Its plot may be a standard-issue office drone’s revenge fantasy, but its characters and its nowheresville setting are uncannily realized.” Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com.