South African Hollywood star Charlize Theron is known both for her charity work, as founder of the Africa Outreach Project and as someone who has proven her talent in front of the camera.

The model-turned-actress has given some incredible performances in some good and bad films. Here are my top ten Charlize Theron movies:

10. The Devil’s Advocate (1997) – Mary Ann Lomax

Starting off the countdown is one of her earliest and, without a doubt, most memorable Hollywood roles as Mary Ann Lomax, the wife of Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), an unassuming, increasingly successful lawyer who discovers that he is working for Satan himself, John Milton (Al Pacino). As the devil proceeds to manipulate Mary Ann for his own gain, Charlize is compelling as a woman who becomes increasingly isolated, mentally disturbed and driven to drastic measures to bone-chilling effect.

9. In The Valley of Elah (2007) – Detective Emily Sanders

Charlize plays the detective hired by Hank Deerfield (Tommy Lee Jones) to track down his son – a US soldier who has seemingly vanished without a trace. They uncover a web of lies, cover ups and murder and the star studded cast deliver. Charlize is convincing as the detective determined to get to the truth no matter what.

8. Sweet November (2001) – Sara Deever

Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron reunite in this romantic melodrama, in which she plays Sara Deever is a woman who starts a new relationship every month and tries to help them become better and kinder versions of themselves before moving on to the next partner. Keanu plays ‘Mr November’ – cold business executive Nelson Moss who takes a while to thaw. Alhough the script has its shortcomings, Theron shines as this complex, charming and mysterious character.

7. Mighty Joe Young (1998) – Jill Young

The 1940s movie gets a remake and Charlize plays the soul mate of a two-ton gorilla. Since birth, they have been raised together and she’s the only one who can keep him calm. Along with the film’s impressive special effects (for that time) is Charlize’s charm, enthralling innocence and a brilliant performance that mirrors that of her ape friend. This was a unforgettable part of my childhood.

6. The Cider House Rules (1999) – Candy

Candy Kendall, a troubled young woman with secrets to hide, wins the heart of Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) in the screen adaptation of John Irving’s 1985 novel. Homer is an orphan who has grown up at the St. Cloud Orphanage in rural Maine under the watchful and caring eye of Dr Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine). This is a poignant film with some disturbing lessons – at its heart a story of love in all its forms. Charlize, after some seemingly less multi-layered and substantial roles, and a bad film in between, is direct and sweet as the girl who inadvertently falls in love with Homer while her boyfriend Wally (Paul Rudd) is on leave.

5. Trapped (2002) – Karen Jennings

Karen Jennings’s asthmatic daughter is taken captive by Joe Hickey (Kevin Bacon) and held for ransom. The stay-at-home mum along with her husband Dr. Will Jennings (Stuart Townsend) try to foil the kidnapper’s plans and Theron is powerful as the woman who’ll stop at nothing to save her child. It’s a noteworthy performance in an okay movie.

4. The Italian Job (2003) – Stella Bridger

The 1969 classic is one of my favourite movies of all time and in this remake, Charlize  plays the daughter of a criminal killed by one of his crew in an act of betrayal during a gold heist. She is seeking revenge and is an overconfident, highly skilled vault and safecracker – legally that is until she is recruited by Charlie Croker’s (Mark Wahlberg) team. Some impressive chase scenes are a chance for her to shift gears and show off a wilder side.

3. Young Adult (2011) – Mavis Gary

Mavis is the prom queen everyone hates, a semi-famous author struggling with writer’s block and Peter Pan syndrome, and who’s set her sights on winning back her high school sweetheart.  The fact that he has a wife and newborn child doesn’t deter but rather propels her character. The film itself breaks the norm in that it gives you a protagonist you like even less by the end of it. Charlize is so entertaining as the bad girl that this role garnered her a Best Actress Golden Globe Nomination.

2. North Country (2005) – Josey Aimes

The mining industry is typically a male-dominated profession but Charlize’s character is a mother who needs to feed her children. So she joins her local mining company and is subject to all sorts of abuse at the hands of her co-workers. Inspired by a true story, this powerful drama cements Charlize’s ability to deal with sensitive subject matter.

1. Monster (2003) – Aileen Wuornos

At number one, it’s Monster, a gritty exploration of prostitute-turned serial killer Aileen Wuornos who murdered seven men in Florida. The nominations board took note and she earned herself 17 awards including an Oscar for Best Actress. This is one of her first really serious roles that resulted in a total transformation both in character and appearance. It was unexpected from someone with such model looks to dig deep for such an unforgettable role.

Honourable mentions:

    • The Legend of Bagger Vance
    • The Road
    • 2 Days in the Valley
    • The Cider House Rules
    • Snow White and The Huntsman
    • Prometheus
    • Men of Honour
    • Aeonflux (she proved herself an action star despite the sub-par film)

Do you agree? Which Charlize Theron movie is your favourite?Your turn on the soapbox in 3, 2, 1.