“I always play women I would date.”
One of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses, known for her method-acting and ability to morph into any character role provided to her, Angelina Jolie is incredibly talented and versatile, and has often been referred to as the “actor of style and director of substance”. Born to actor parents, Jolie’s father’s successful career instilled in her the desire to pursue acting. She had received her debut role at the age of seven in Lookin’ to Get Out, albeit a small one. Jolie had always been the rebel teen with a “punk” personality and had even engaged in self-harm as she struggled with alienation, isolation, eating disorders and insomnia. After a nervous breakdown, she was committed to a psychiatric ward which foreshadowed one of the characters she played later. After adopting Maddox, her first child, Jolie reportedly came to terms with newfound stability and this wonderful experience prevented her from indulging in self-destruction.
Jolie’s “too dark” and brooding demeanour often made it impossible for her to find roles. Her professional career began in 1993 with the film Cyborg 2, before making an appearance in various films over the years, including Hackers, Without Evidence, Love Is All There Is and more. She garnered public attention, however, in 1997, when she won a Golden Globe for her outstanding performance as Geroge Wallace’s second wife, Cornelia in George Wallace, a TV network mini-series. Her breakthrough film, however, was Gia which documented the decline of Gia Caragi’s life and career due to heroin addiction and AIDS-fuelled death. Her “nerve, charm and desperation” made her portray this “beautiful train wreck” of a character with ease. While shooting Gia, Jolie had tried to get into the skin of her character and ceased contact with her then-husband. After the film, she gave up acting to pursue classes yet resumed, motivated by her Golden Globe win and the well-received film.
Jolie has never looked back ever since. A recipient of three Golden Globes, an Academy Award and numerous other accolades, she became a popular face in cinema with various feathers to her hat. Her characters are emotionally volatile, courageous, independent and spirited. Jolie’s quote perfectly summarises the characters she usually plays: “I am reckless but not a rebel without a cause.” Jolie had also tried her hand at directing and production which reaped immense success. This exceptionally talented director-and-actress is also a doting mother to six children and a great philanthrope. She has been associated with humanitarian work for most of her life and has advocated for immigration rights, women and children’s rights, education as well as conservation for the most part. She has also received awards for engaging in selfless work and endeavours to make the world a better place for the downtrodden.
A special envoy to the UNHCR since 2012, Jolie turns 46 today yet appears more resplendent and incredible than ever. Let us take a look at some of her best films streaming on Netflix to pay tribute to this wonderful human being who is striving hard to make the world a better place for the future.
Angelina Jolie’s best films on Netflix:
6. The Tourist (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2010)
The police are pursuing an undercover FBI agent for having sympathies for an embezzler. Elise, who is escaping from the police, sits next to a community college mathematics professor Frank on a train and uses him as a decoy, making others believe that he is her lover. However, the duo soon finds themselves evading the pernicious clutches of the mobster from whom Elise’s lover stole as well as the police in a whirlwind adventure.
The only reason why Jolie agreed to do the film was because of the “quick shoot” sequence. The director said that he could not resist casting such a talented ensemble but soon lost his creative input as the actors took control. However, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie had zero chemistry which made the film lacklustre. The scenery is beautiful and the classic James Bond evocative espionage style thriller is in motion but a somewhat weak plot and seemingly disinterested cast make the film fall apart.
“20 million dollars worth of plastic surgery… and that’s the face you choose.”
5. By the Sea (Angelina Jolie, 2015)
In 1960s France, Vanessa and Roland are a young couple who have hit rock-bottom in their marriage. Vanessa is grieving and withdrawn and does not permit Roland to touch her and they barely even talk. As one final attempt to salvage their marriage, they travel to a secluded, coastal hotel where Roland can work on his book and the couple can finally address long-suppressed issues that were gnawing at their marriage.
Given Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s current relationship status, the film existed almost like an ominous foreboding. It was shot during their 2014 honeymoon in Gozo, Malta. According to Jolie, the film “at its core, is about grief”. Jolie as Vanessa is miserable due to her reproductive barrenness. The misery and loathing she bears in her heart are enough to make Roland feel bad about himself. Jolie is ferocious in her misery and sadness as Vanessa and one might keep hating her for her desperate attempts to tear apart her marriage till they get to know the real reasons for her selfishness. However, the film ends on a note of positivity, self-reflection =, introspection and reconciliation, ushering in the hope for a better future.
“If you really love someone, you want more for them than you want for yourself.”
4. Wanted (Timur Bekmambetov, 2008)
Wesley Gibson is a classic Chicago slacker who works a mundane desk job under a tyrannical boss. His life is uneventful except for the presence of an infidel girlfriend and a scheming best friend. One evening, quite unexpectedly, he discovers that his father was a first-class assassin whose enemy is now after him. Soon, he is roped in by Fraternity, an elite group where he undergoes rigorous training under the ruthless yet kind Fox to make himself battle-ready for an epic showdown; however, exposure of undesirable truths make him question the Fraternity and he is confounded by the revelations.
With a talented ensemble cast delivering incredible performances, especially Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman, this never-slacking film surprises the audience with a new twist at every juncture. Angelina Jolie was cast after the script was remodelled for her. She wanted to make her character “distant and unattainable”. She even wanted her character to get killed and even justified this decision by saying that “if she was to find out she had killed people unjustly and was a part of something that wasn’t fair, then she should take her own life”.
“We kill one, and maybe save a thousand.”
3. Kung Fu Panda franchise (Mark Osborne, John Stevenson – 2008, Jennifer Yuh Nelson- 2011, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Alessandro Carloni- 2016)
The film’s protagonist is an adorable panda named Po who assists his adoptive and loving father in a noodle shop and loves to gorge on food, especially dumplings. Unexpectedly, he stumbles upon his fate as the legendary Dragon Warrior who must find his true purpose and is the last hope for the sustenance of Kung Fu. he trains alongside masters such as Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Crane and Viper under the watchful guidance of Master Shifu and gradually embarks on a quest-like journey of self-discovery, self-acceptance and undying confidence as he battles various adversaries over the course of three films.
This animated film with anthropomorphic animals abounds in humour, heartwarming moments and brilliant imagery and successfully conveys the message of self-love and believing in one’s ability. Jolie voices the iconic tigress, who is a tough and ruthless South China tiger and the leader of the Furious Five. she had expected to become the Dragon Warrior and was initially hostile towards Po as she could not imagine how an untrained panda could get ahead of her, yet eventually warms up to him, becoming best of friends. Jolie does a brilliant perfecting Tigress’ deadpan and poker-faced dialogues.
“The true path to victory is to find your opponent’s weakness and make him suffer for it.”
2. Changeling (Clint Eastwood, 2008)
Based on the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, the film follows the journey of Christine Collins who lives in 1928 Los Angeles with her nine-year-old son Walter and her struggle against intense powerplay. One day, she comes home to see that her son is missing. When she reports the same, authorities shun her away on the grounds of being reckless and an incompetent mother; she is also called delusional and is confined to a psychiatric ward. The police go to extreme lengths, using various unfair measures to hide their corruption and failure to solve the case.
The film exposes the bigotry and corruption of the police juxtaposed to a mother’s undying, spirited struggle to find her son. Angelina Jolie reportedly found her role of Christine Collins distressing as a mother. However, the unimaginable depth of the character as well as the protagonist’s perseverance to keep struggling despite all the obstacles in her path, made Jolie say yes to the script. The gripping storyline deals delicately with heavyweight issues such as woman disempowerment, political bigotry, violence related to children as well as trivialising mental health.
“I used to tell Walter ‘Never start a fight, but always finish it.’ I didn’t start this fight… but by God, I’m gonna finish it.”
1. Girl, interrupted (James Marigold, 1999)
Criticised for being uberly melodramatic and for romanticising mental illness, watching Girl, Interrupted can help one comprehend Hollywood’s approach to mental illness. Eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen is sent to a psychiatric institution for being suicidal while she is in vehement denial. At Claymoore, she meets girls suffering from various ailments, ranging from pathological lying to eating disorders, and befriends them, especially Lisa. With Lisa, Susanna begins to loosen up and gradually enjoy the essence of life, despite being confined within the institution.
The friendships forged inside Claymoore defies stereotypical understanding and this unlikeliest bunch of friends stick up for each other in times of desperate need. The institution is nearly heterotopic as they finally feel free in each other’s arms without the fear of being perceived as the Other. Lisa is a testament to the on-screen brilliance of Angelina Jolie who played the rebellious, spirited character with fringe bangs and a constant smirk and expressive eyes, with utmost dexterity. Having won her only Oscar for this incredible performance, her characterisation makes Winona Ryder’s protagonist turn limp and lifeless in comparison, overshadowing her.
“A word of advice, don’t point your fucking finger at crazy people!”