Catherine Zeta-Jones’ 15 Best Movies, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

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Catherine Zeta-Jones’ 15 Best Movies, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

Catherine Zeta-Jones is one of those Hollywood actresses that most of us remember seeing for the first time in films. Her beauty was almost hypnotizing, and she used this to her advantage, playing typecast roles that brought her into the spotlight as an actress that looked great but also could act. At least, after some training.



In the early 2000s, she became part of Hollywood’s top society when she snatched an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Chicago. Suddenly, people started paying attention beyond her looks, and more complex scripts arrived on her doorstep. Being married to Michael Douglas was secondary to a pretty successful career that eventually would come to a halt. In 2010, Douglas was diagnosed with cancer, and this heavily affected Zeta-Jones. Ridden with depression, the actress stopped working for a couple of years and became estranged from her marriage.

Her career took off again in 2012, but she was very selective with her roles. Anything that meant abandoning her family was unappealing to her. We saw her in only a few films, but then she fully dedicated to TV, a format that’s clearly more comfortable than mean and rotten Hollywood. We saw her recently in Netflix’s Wednesday and Disney’s TV adaptation of the National Treasure franchise, and we certainly hope this is not it for her.

This is our ride through the career of one of Hollywood’s icons, as ranked by Rotten Tomatoes.

15 The Rebound (2009) – 41%

The Film Department

The Rebound is perhaps the only film on this list that went straight to DVD. It definitely didn’t deserve it. The story is about Sandy, a mother who finds out her husband and father to her children, is cheating on her. She decides to move to New York City where she meets a young barista who she falls in love with.

Related: Wednesday: 6 Characters Who Stole the Show in Season 1

14 No Reservations (2007) – 42%

No Reservations
Warner Bros. Pictures

In No Reservations, Zeta-Jones is a fearless chef. Kate’s work is magnificent, but she’s got some attitude issues. The problem is one day her sister tragically dies, and she’s forced to take care of her own niece, and she has no idea how to do it. Luckily a new sous-chef arrives and brings out the good in Kate because she ultimately falls for him. The direction by Scott Hicks is good enough to make this an underrated romantic film.

13 Death Defying Acts (2007) – 42%

Death defying acts zeta jones

Zeta-Jones plays a con artist in Death Defying Acts. Mary McGarvie is a woman who makes Houdini’s world tremble as she does everything possible to put him under her spell while he insists on debunking everyone claiming to have paranormal abilities. The chemistry between her and Guy Pearce is interesting, but Death Defying Acts, unfortunately, stayed an obscure film that not many people saw and remember

12 The Phantom (1996) – 43%

the phantom zeta jones
Paramount Pictures

The Phantom was one of Zeta-Jones’ earliest roles, and sadly it was not a good one. In the film, she plays Sala, a femme fatale who works as a pirate for the bad guy. Curiously, Kit Palmer also known as The Phantom, is divided between his romantic counterpart and Sala’s tremendous beauty and manages to save both of them. This early superhero film lacks the magic of the subgenre and a good script.

11 Rock of Ages (2012) – 43%

rock of ages zeta jones
Warner Bros. Pictures

Rock of Ages brought back the Zeta-Jones that made her a Hollywood figure when she won an Oscar. In the musical comedy, she plays Patricia Whitmore, the conservative wife of a mayor whose only intention is to prohibit rock. Zeta-Jones is a blend of religious bigotry and “Karen-ism,” and easily plays one of the most interesting characters of the film. And yes, that’s her singing in the soundtrack.

10 Red 2 (2013) – 44%

red 2 zeta jones
Summit Entertainment

In Red 2, the sequel to Red, Zeta-Jones plays Katja the Russian secret agent who had a relationship with Frank (Bruce Willis) in the past, and is back to torment him, but also to help the black-ops former agents finish the mission. Her addition to the cast ensemble feels like overkill sometimes, but the actress looks quite comfortable in the action film.

9 Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003) – 45%

Sinbad zeta jones
DreamWorks Pictures

According to the animators in the film, the character Marina was designed according to Zeta-Jones. She provides the voice to Sinbad’s love character in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, the DreamWorks animated film that wasn’t very popular when it was released, and tells the story of the legendary sailor who travels to the end of the world to save his friend.

8 Ocean’s Twelve (2004) – 55%

Oceans twelve zeta jones
Warner Bros. Pictures

Ocean’s Twelve was released in the peak of Zeta-Jones’ career. In the film, she plays a Europol detective who falls for Rusty (Brad Pitt), the second in command in Danny Ocean’s crew. However, Zeta-Jones’s character isn’t as naive as the film paints her out to be. Her dynamic with Rusty is essential to making the film much more interesting and different from its predecessor.

7 The Terminal (2004) – 61%

Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones in The Terminal
DreamWorks Distribution

In The Terminal, Zeta-Jones plays Amelia Warren, a flight attendant who helps Victor Navorski in achieving his goals, while she must deal with her own personal issues. She also plays some kind of love interest in a film that has anything but that. This is definitely one of her best roles because of how well-built into the story her character is.

6 Intolerable Cruelty (2003) – 75%

Intolerable Cruelty
Universal Pictures

Joel Coen’s Intolerable Cruelty is a romantic comedy that’s built under the standards of the “Coens’ way of things.” In the film, Zeta-Jones plays Marylin Hamilton Rexroth Doyle Massey, a beautiful woman whose only goal is to serial marry and drain her ex-husbands of their money. The problem is one day she finds an attorney who will pose a threat. This one proves the talent of the actress, but only in the presence of a good script.

5 Side Effects (2013) – 81%

side effects zeta jones
Open Road Films

Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects stars Catherine Zeta-Jones as a psychiatrist who decides to prescribe experimental drugs to a patient of hers who’s clearly suicidal. The problem is those drugs have a horrible side effect. Or do they? We’re still trying to solve Soderbergh’s very underrated psychological thriller. This is Zeta-Jones’ best dramatic performance of her career.

4 The Mask of Zorro (1998) – 83%

Sony Pictures Releasing

The Mask of Zorro put Catherine Zeta-Jones in the spotlight as one of Hollywood’s young starlets. In the film, she plays Diego de la Vega’s daughter Elena, who also becomes Zorro’s love interest and perfect partner when trying to fight a corrupt politician. Rumors say she was seen by Steven Spielberg who recommended Martin Campbell to cast her as the lead female in the film.

3 Chicago (2002) – 86%

Miramax Films

Chicago’s Velma Kelly is Zeta-Jones’ most important performance of her career. It’s hard to deny that the role is extremely suited for the actress’ skills in singing and dancing. She plays the counterpart to Roxie, the other lady trapped on death row. In 2003, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Chicago.

Related: Chicago: Best Musical Performances in the Movie, Ranked

2 High Fidelity (2000) – 91%

high fidelity catherine zeta jones
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

In Stephen Frears’ High Fidelity, Rob Gordon takes the audience through all of his failed relationships and tries to make some sense of his last breakup. Zeta-Jones plays Charlie in the film, one of Rob’s girls that has marked him for life. Her role is unfortunately too short in the film, but in the few minutes she appears in it, we can understand how Rob fell for her so easily.

1 Traffic (2000) – 92%

Catherine Zeta-Jones in Traffic
USA Films

Catherine Zeta-Jones’ highest-ranked film on Rotten Tomatoes is Soderbergh’s Traffic. In Traffic, she plays the pregnant wife of a drug lord who resorts to desperate measures to help him get released from prison. It’s one of her earliest films, but she’s exceptional in the performance of a woman who finds out the truth about her lifestyle and does the opposite of what we’d expect.

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