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Friday, 22 December 2017

My 10 Personal Favourite Julia Roberts Characters/Performances

*Updated 20 December, 2018*

Sometimes, it's hard to believe that Smyrna, Georgia native Julia Roberts has been around in the Hollywood ranks, spanning the past three decades and although a lot of people may find it unusual to see her sharing second billing with the likes of Tom Hanks, Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney these days, in one's eyes she was in her element in the late 1980s as a highly young promising actress with lots of potential to be fulfilled, whilst soaring her way through to the early 2000s as an highly experienced older pro. 

Looking back on her earlier successes with Mystic Pizza and Steel Magnolias during the late 1980s, her impressive turns in those films should have warranted or led to arguably better roles for Julia. Particularly in terms of dramatic films. But for Erin Brockovich, Mona Lisa Smile, The Pelican Brief, Hook, the rest of her work has predominately been generic rom-coms - yet there is no doubting, whatsoever that she has been, and probably still is one of the biggest and popular movie stars and actresses on the planet. 

Like with all actors and actresses, once you get to a certain point or age, that's when you've hit your stride - and in my opinion, Julia Roberts peaked in 2000 with Erin Brockovich. And since 2003's Mona Lisa Smile, it was a long while that there was a film/movie role of hers that I truly enjoyed, or loved. Until 2017's Wonder & the lesser known crime flick, Secret In Their Eyes came along. 

Her films tend to fall into one of either two categories: the rom-com as the attractive looking love interest (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, Notting Hill) or where she plays a woman that has to fight the system or woman who becomes a victim of some sorts (Erin Brockovich, Sleeping With The Enemy, The Pelican Brief).

She is not everyone's cup of tea (though some of the comments about her from people which are made online, are unsavoury and not nice at all), gets a lot of flak in general due to the types of movies she associates herself with (the ''oh I cannot stand her'' & ''she annoys me'' remarks are never-ending) and there are movies of hers that I don't care for or of which I didn't enjoy; i.e. Pretty Woman (overrated), Runaway Bride, Mary Reily, Mother's Day, Eat Pray Love, Satisfaction, Notting Hill, Something to Talk About, I Love Trouble, the practically needless sequels to Ocean's 11. But I admit to having a somewhat undefinable soft spot for Julia Roberts ahead of say, Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston, though more so her earlier movies & for every Julia Roberts film I dislike, there are also films where I enjoyed her performance in them, - and I'd take these over all of her other movies. & all of those movies I've mentioned.

My favourite performances and characters of hers are ones where she steps out of her comfort zone by tackling more challenging roles, whilst her characters remain likeable and where she does something different to what other people usually expect of her, and to the point impressing, as well as surprising us with her talents. She just has that extra something in her star power that makes her a top draw for many directors and in Hollywood, - even when the movie is not that good or is terrible. There is so much more to Julia Roberts than just her glistening pearly whites and flowing curls, and that as much as we can question some of her film choices, I for one, cannot question her mammoth talents as an actress. 

Below, these are for me my favourite performances and characters of Julia Roberts that I have enjoyed the most out of all the rest. 

Erin Brockovich - Erin Brockovich (2000) >> if Shelby Eatenton is her career- breaking role, then Erin Brockovich is her career-defining role that still remains unmatched. No- nonsense, feisty and a woman who doesn't let up, Julia Roberts not only did this character justice, it is also the best that I have seen of hers that not even her roles after Erin Brockovich could topple this one. Far from it. Absolutely stunning and the definitive performance of her career, throughout.

Shelby Eatenton - Steel Magnolias (1989) >> holds her own alongside experienced stalwarts in Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacClane in her career-breaking role. Shelby is uncomplicated and down-to-earth as a young, Louisiana native can be; but also in Roberts she evokes that charm and likeability that has been up until the 2000s, the main staple of her other characters. 

Darby Shaw - The Pelican Brief (1993) >> though the plot and story are extremely taxing, it is the performances by Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington that really elevate this film and make it watchable. Roberts as law student Darby Shaw is brilliant and shows another layer of her dramatic acting in this thriller, based on the John Grisham novel 


Katherine Watson - Mona Lisa Smile (2003) >> female Dead Poets Society with an overlooked performance as art history teacher, Katherine Watson in post-Oscar winning form & showing that Erin Brockovich was no one-off when it comes to performances, that can stand alongside that of Robin Williams's John Keating of Dead Poets Society. Despite the film not being relatively that well known, it still features Julia Roberts once again in a prominent role - and showing how effective she is as an actress when it is not as the main love interest in a rom-com

Isabelle Kelly - Stepmom (1998) >> movie like many of Julia Roberts' other efforts received mixed reviews and whilst this is not her best performance, she still holds her own opposite co-star Susan Sarandon. Isabelle remains a sympathetic character, even though the audience feels for Jackie.  

Hova - The Ant Bully (2006) >> my favourite character voice-over role of hers, I was so impressed by Julia Roberts's efforts and how genuine, warm and sincere Hova is. I also liked the amount of depth that she had. She is the Batty Koda of Ferngully of The Ant Bully, minus his humour in terms of being the 'star/headling' character. The film wasn't by any means amazing, but she was the standout for me, all thanks to Julia Roberts and that affectionate quality that she has, she brings that to Hova, and thus it worked for me.

Kathleen 'Kiki' Harrison - America's Sweethearts (2001) >> Julia Roberts plays against type as the geeky sister opposite Catherine Zeta Jones's glamourous Gwen, & who remains grounded and down-to-earth and gradually and slowly falls for John Cusack's Eddie. In this screwball rom-com, she showcases more of her humourous side and a knack for comedy, and whilst it is a lot more subdued in contrast to her other roles and that Julia takes more of a backseat, her somewhat understated turn was not only a pleasant surprise, but it was great to see as well. That, and it is probably my only favourite rom-com role of hers. 

Tinkerbell - Hook (1991) >> the least effective out of all of her roles she is primarily known for and though her performance was bashed by a lot of people, I actually liked her portrayal of Tink in this film. Endearing, cute and at times moving and with great camaraderie with Robin Williams, she did what I expected that this character ought to be like. 

Jess Cobb - Secret In Their Eyes (2015) >> haunting, immersive, convincing, Roberts's dramatic turn as cop Jess Cobb avenging her daughter's murder was the highlight for me in this remake of the Argentinian Oscar-winning crime drama. Looking like a pale shadow of her previous characters, appearance-wise, there is a believability and conviction of her performance that I truly bought into it. Sad, angry, crushed at times but also confident & even more defiant than ever, Jess through Julia Roberts's emotive quality came through & arguably she was what made this film worth seeing. 

Dr Emma Brookner - The Normal Heart (2014) >> another overlooked performance of Julia Roberts's as Dr Brookner, based on the real-life Dr Linda Laubenstein in Ryan Murphy's medical-based AIDS drama. Much like Robin Williams delivered an emphatic and committed performance as Dr Malcolm Sayer in Awakenings, Roberts's turn as a medic, and like Malcolm, she too is a physician, Emma is one of her finest and yet again, she shows her range as an actress. She blew it out of the water. This was Julia Roberts's Awakenings.

Honourable mentions: Candi (Baja Oklahoma, 1988), Charlotte (Charlotte's Web, 2006), Daisy Arujo (Mystic Pizza, 1988), Barbera Weston (August: Osage County, 2013), Isabelle Pullman (Wonder, 2017)

Meme by DemitriaMiriam

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