Evan Slead ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant TV Editor
She’s still Jenny from the Block and still making waves to talk about. The singer, actor, and American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez has created a portfolio of work that shows no sign of ending its run. While not all of her films are well received critically or commercially, she has managed to have stand out performances. Here is a list of JLo’s top ten movie roles.
10. The Wedding Planner
Lopez has several romantic comedies under her belt, but The Wedding Planner has that little extra something to make it stand out. She plays Mary Fiore, a highly successful and sought after wedding planner in the San Francisco area. She’s poised, planned, and professional, that is until she falls in love with a current client’s fiancé. Scandalous! While the movie may not be one of the most iconic rom-com’s to date, Lopez’s performance proved that she can take any ho-hum script and make a living breathing character appear on screen. She makes Mary’s traits real and believable, a skill that shows her star appeal ten times over.
Every iconic starlet has to show their chops in a monster movie, and Anaconda is where JLo cashes in her chips. A documentary crew, in “National Geographic” style, is scouring the Amazon jungle for a big discovery. Unbeknownst to them, their big discovery is huge and it’s called an anaconda snake. Most of the film involves the “sexy” shots of JLo climbing in and out of the water while the monster devours people whole. The movie overall is arguably awful, and while she does not make any specific impressions, JLo still managed to pick a movie that would be remembered long after its run.
8. The Cell
By far the most diverse picture in Lopez’s bunch, The Cell proved to be an interesting experiment. Playing a child psychologist, Lopez must dive into the psyche of a comatose serial killer to prevent his next killing. The imagery of the film is avant garde and at times over the top, but the dedicated performance from her makes the whole experience almost digestible. Lopez’s beauty goes hand in hand with the more gorgeous imagery, and her ability to draw forth vulnerability adds even more to each scene. An ambitious film, The Cell was a start to the new millennium and JLo’s drive for diverse roles.
A little less romance and a dash more comedy, Monster-in-Law was a surprise enjoyment for viewers. Charlie is a nurse, waiter for a catering company, dog walker, and a girl looking for something new in her life. After coming across a young, single, attractive and kind doctor, Charlie feels that love is in the air. That is until she meets the doctor’s mother, or more like monster. The chemistry between Lopez and Jane Fonda is what makes this goofy comedy work so well. The two give it their all with no apologies. Much like Fonda, Lopez manages to add that ease to her character to make the character a joy to watch on screen.
6. Shall We Dance
The American remake of a Japanese film, Shall We Dance gave Lopez the chance to stay within the romance genre but with a twist on her role. Richard Gere plays a successful business man with a good life and wife. One night he spots a woman dancing in a studio off the subway line. At first intrigued by her beauty, he soon learns to love what she teaches: dance. Lopez’s character is not her typical cutesy and put together type that had been seen before. Most viewers would expect a level of “will they or won’t they” between Gere and Lopez, but her icy demeanor puts a stop to it. She adds a level of vulnerability and caution to her character which plays well with Gere’s initial curiosity. Again, a role that could have been another throw away, Lopez takes her part and makes something of it.
5. My Family
The first major on screen role for Lopez, My Family would prove to be the beginning of a strong relationship between the star and director Gregory Nava. The tracing of three generations of an immigrant family in East Los Angeles, My Family sheds a light on the terror of deportation and the struggles of raising a family that can maintain its foundation. Lopez plays Maria from the first generation layer of the family. Her on screen demeanor struck enough of a chord with the director that he would later turn to cast her for her most iconic role. Embracing her Latin roots, Lopez brings diversity to the forefront of the American public through Maria as a woman discovering love and fighting the immigration system.
4. The Boy Next Door
As a film overall, The Boy Next Door is a delicious treat for a camp lover. It’s awful, but oh so good. Claire is a high school English professor that is dealing with a recent split from her husband. When she meets the new neighbor Noah who is highly attractive and intelligent, she begins to feel a draw to him. After a night of passion, she quickly snaps out of her stupor to put a kibosh on the whole affair. Unfortunately, Noah is not only intelligent, he’s also a psychopath, and will go to any length to make Claire stay with him. Being just about a notch above a Lifetime original movie, this film doesn’t break any new ground in the stalker/thriller genre. However, the campy dialogue and committed performances from everyone in the picture, most notable Lopez, makes this a worthwhile experience. JLo’s depiction of Claire seems to be a mixture of strong, vulnerable, insightful, and vengeful all rolled into one fantastic lady.
For all of the fans of the “woman scorned/woman revenge” genre, Enough is the film to put on a pedestal. Slim is a waitress that truly wants the picture perfect family life. When Mitch (Billy Campbell) comes into her life and their marriage begins, it seems that she’s getting exactly what she wanted. That is, until Mitch begins to reveal his abusive and cheating ways. Slim sneaks away with their daughter Gracie, leaving Mitch to fester in his rage. When Slim realizes that she can’t run from him forever, she decides to turn the tables on him by learning to fight back. Much like The Boy Next Door, this film is goofy and probably a channel flipper for most viewers. For those that love a good revenge flick, this is the movie that will satisfy due to Lopez’s kick ass portrayal of Slim. At the start of the film, Lopez delivers a flawed and wide eyed woman that quickly experiences fear for a majority of the run. By the end, Lopez transforms her performance into one that is cheer-worthy for anyone that has ever been. She’s cool, collected, and ready to take back her freedom. Enough said.
2. Out of Sight
Being her most well received film critically, Out of Sight showed that JLo had the tenacity and acting chops to put her in the ranks of leading woman. Based on the Elmore Leonard novel, Out of Sight tells the story of a bank robber (George Clooney) that takes a US Marshall hostage. What begins as a routine kidnapping turns into a heated cat and mouse love affair between cop and robber. Director Steven Soderbergh took a crime and heist novel and turned it into one of the sexiest films of all time. The connection between Clooney and Lopez is what makes this film memorable. Their ability to play off of one another in the midst of sometimes dramatic and sometimes comedic scenes was flawless. They both had acted in a handful of notable works, but this is what set them apart as leading actors. Lopez delivers a performance that is unrelenting in its mixture of comedy and drama. This is arguably Lopez’s best performance on screen to date, however it’s not her most memorable.
The 90’s were a crazy collection of printed tops, eclectic music, and denim laid accessories. Sadly, it also had its tragic moments. The murder of Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez rocked the pop culture world. She was a chart topper on the Latin music scene, and was quickly crossing over into the mainstream at her young age. Not much longer after her death, the tribute film Selena brought illumination to her life through the stellar performance of Jennifer Lopez. Like catching lightning in a bottle, Lopez’s similar appearance was uncanny and her ability as a singer made the character seem like the real Selena. Tribute films about a pop culture icons life can be tricky, but director Gregory Nava made sure to create an experience that would be more of a memorial to Selena and a closure for fans. However, it’s really JLo’s performance is what makes the film work so well. Her lovable and talented portrait of the real Selena mixed with the ease of Lopez’s on screen persona created the icon that the world would soon learn to be Jenny from the Block.