With ‘Sex Tape,’ starring Cameron Diaz, coming soon to a theater near you we thought we’d show some serious imagination and think/write about her other films. Given both space and time are relative, that’s just how we’re going to do it around these parts.
In the past 20 years, ever since she broke onto the scene in Jim Carrey’s ‘The Mask,’ I’ve seen a remarkable 27 Cameron Diaz films. If I would have guessed beforehand I would have said 15 max, and I might have only remembered ten off the top of my head. But now that I look over this list, I’m somewhat impressed. Somewhat. Diaz has been in some winners, but she’s also often played a living prop. Some dogs too, of course, woof, but overall Cameron Diaz probably has had a better career than you or I remember, and she’s got to be given a little credit for at least choosing interesting projects. It’s not as though Hollywood has a track record of creating clever roles for attractive blonde leads.
Anyway, this is the definitive ranking of her work, and it will supersede all lists that have come before or after it. I will rank them starting at the worst Diaz performance I’ve seen, then head straight toward the BEST Cameron Diaz role I’ve had the pleasure of gulping down. In this manner, I will be building your anticipation, making the whole thing more exciting! A totally “pro” move. Even I don’t know what I’m going to do next! Play along at home!
Note: This is based upon the Diaz performance in the film, NOT the overall quality of the film itself. So before you start with the “The Mask ranked so low?!!!” nonsense, take a beat and think. You’ll agree, with enough time.
27. What Happens in Vegas
A terrible film AND a pretty awful performance. If you figure you rise to the level of your co-stars, well, you know, Ashton Kutcher. He hasn’t exactly been tearing it up lately, unless “it” is Mila Kunis. (mandatory “Heeeeeyoooooo”)
26. Shrek Forever After
The Shrek franchise all blends together, doesn’t it? Really it’s more of a commentary on the Mike Myers style of comedy, pop culture references galore that age like a fine fart. Starting with ‘Wayne’s World,’ continuing on with the ‘Austin Powers’ series and culminating with ‘Shrek,’ my man made a significant impact on the box office. Ironically enough, for someone obsessed with pop culture jokes, Myers left very little mark upon said pop culture. Admit it, you can’t remember one Diaz line from any of the ‘Shrek’ films. In fairness, she was a disembodied voice. But still, Antonio Banderas crushed that noise. Respect.
25. Shrek the Third
24. Shrek 2
I don’t have much more to say about ‘Shrek.’ I leave it to you, my adoring audience.
23. In Her Shoes
I can’t imagine anyone else seeing In Her Shoes at this point, so I should start with the fact with Cameron Diaz can’t read in the movie. And all her problems stem from that, it’s why she sleeps around. According to the movie. So yeah, it’s a disaster on all fronts. Almost worth watching just for the giggles. I can make fun of illiterates because they can’t read this. And before you accuse me of being insensitive, I had a family member who was illiterate. I’m covered on all fronts. I can’t be racist because I HAVE LATINO FRIENDS.
22. Very Bad Things
She’s the pouty bride here, and I’d say pouty Diaz is an underrated phenomenon. Ah, who am I kidding, it’s the fellas and the dead prosti that make this movie great.
21. The Green Hornet
She was in this? Like, in the movie? Hmm, yes she was. Follow up question: Has there been a lady career with as much physicality, long term, as Cameron Diaz? Follow up follow up question, has anyone changed their look less in the last 20 years?
20. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
She was barely in this movie, but she’s not an active negative either. We’re on our way to the good stuff!
19. Minority Report
She was an uncredited bus passenger here. I wasn’t able to even find video, just that little pic. Still good enough for 19th place!
18. My Best Friend’s Wedding
Julia Roberts rules this film. Cameron is the prop. But she’s a damned good prop, playing the uber-likable foil Julia wants to hate. But can’t. As it turns out, Cameron was a surprisingly capable cinematic third banana in many of her movies.
17. Bad Teacher
This is just about where the roles become worthy. I’m already on the record as against the “Bad” franchise, but that’s not due to Diaz. She’s the best of the “Bads” if you know what I’m saying, much better than Thornton [Did Laremy just said he likes Cameron Diaz in ‘Bad Teacher’ better than Billy Bob in ‘Bad Santa?’ I’ll try to get him the help he needs. -Vince]. Her dry hump scene with Justin Timberlake is a thing of beauty. There’s a lot to like out of Diaz in this one.
16. Knight and Day
She held her own with Tom Cruise in an admittedly meaningless action film. The best thing about this film were the semi-decent trailers that promised comedy AND action, but Cameron Diaz made what little film there was here palatable.
15. A Life Less Ordinary
Early Diaz, and a film I mostly remember for the Beck song. Still, this film was a pretty good example of a role she’d do much better in her older years. See if you can guess which one. Teaser!
14. The Holiday
Just a cute little rom-com that exists purely upon the charms of Diaz, Winslet, Law, and Black.
The first Shrek hit like a freight train, even I have to admit that, setting up Diaz for return engagements every three years. Plus she was rocking her normal “girl” power dealie here, turning the princess theme on its head. You might remember a film called Brave that somehow did a worse job with that very idea over decade letter.
12. Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
Why do I have this ranked so high? Sure, I enjoyed the Chaz series, but they were as facile as facile can be. There was no there there. Still, besides ‘The Heat,’ it’s tough to name another multi-female dominated action film. Cameron Diaz has been a trailblazer, even if none of us quite noticed the breadcrumbs on that trail.
11. The Other Woman
She was the lead, but she wasn’t where the film hung all the “sexy lady” baggage. My goodness, if Kate Upton can actually act her way out of a paper bag she’s going to have a long and fulfilling career as the “unattainable” whoa-man. Just a lot to offer a young man. Moving on, Diaz is asked to carry all the other water for the film, providing the connective tissue for Jaime Lannister, Apatow’s wife, and the very and cutesy Kate Upton part. She’s business like, but empathetic. Ultimately, the film can’t hold it all together, because it sucks, but that’s not Cameron’s fault. She did the best she could with the tools available.
10. Charlie’s Angels
In a way, our girl Cam’ron Di’az is the ultimate “white girl”, even though she’s of Cuban descent. But by owning it, being self-effacing, and by being being super duper blonde, she somehow transcends the label. It’s a bit of a Gwen Stefani trick. Just bathe yourself in everyone else’s culture and let the good times roll. This is Diaz hitting all the things she’s great at – working in an ensemble, dancing and fighting, playing off an older man (Bill Murray). Seeing this trailer again, you sort of wonder how Drew Barrymore was the third gal plugged in there. I mean … she seems like a pleasant person, but c’mon she’s no Lucy Liu or Cameron Diaz. Ball don’t lie.
9. She’s the One
I think you could make a strong case she’s the sixth wheel here, after the two primary couples and the dad. Greatest sixth wheel in cinematic history? Don’t tell any of the guys from ‘Ocean’s 11.’ Greatest female sixth wheel in cinematic history? I’d put that on her obit, that’s how impressive that is.
8. Any Given Sunday
Switching back to serious cinema, here she’s the lead female actor in a vast desert of testosterone. She always holds her own with the boys though, and you can mark Pacino down as one of the many luminaries she’s vibed it wit’.
7. The Mask
The height of Cameron’s, ummm, shall we say, “physical powers”. She’s coquettish in ‘The Mask,’ the loopy straight girl next to Jim Carrey’s frenetic and needy class clown.
6. The Box
Here’s what I wrote about ‘The Box’ all the way back in 2009, before the Internet was a “thing”:
The Box presents huge moral dilemmas and is a genuine candidate for cult-classic status. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it, perhaps some amalgamation of confused and captivated. Yes, The Box confustivated me.
I still feel the same way, but Cameron Diaz does manage to pull off a Southern accent here, a far superior version than Charlize Theron did in ‘Legend of Bagger Vance.’ Speaking of, is Theron her greatest comparable? Theron isn’t as action-y, but she’s also had more whiffs on the comedy front as well. Edge goes to Theron, but it’s close. This was an outlier Diaz movie, a serious one, which is probably why I enjoyed it so. I’m serious like that sometimes. [It’s Theron by a mile. Like I said, we’re trying to get him the help he needs. -Vince]
5. The Counselor
This character is arguably silly, but it’s also alpha-predator Diaz. This is the direction she’s been going lately, to her credit, finally asserting herself as a powerhouse after 20 years of more vanilla roles. She murders everyone in this film, and she’s certainly the most memorable character. The movie itself is muddled, showing far more promise than execution, but you can’t quibble with Diaz’s take on extremely challenging material.
4. Something About Mary
When we think about Diaz as “the winning prize”, as we so often do, it starts with ‘There’s Just Something About Mary.’ She doesn’t show up in full until the last half of the film, where it’s then her official job to make us think guys like Ben Stiller have a chance just by being funny and kind. She pulls this off! Possibly her greatest achievement ever, and at such a young age, unless you count the top three films. Remember, this list is factual.
3. Being John Malkovich
I just realized that Cameron Diaz was nominated for a Golden Globe in all of my top four films. Which either means I have bad taste, just like them, or perhaps they used to better. Possibly I’m just that tapped into her best roles. Why no OSCAR, Mr. Academy? She’s great in ‘Malkovich,’ it’s the one part she ever played where she wasn’t at all like Cameron Diaz. Not blonde, not perky, not the sex object, just a plain Jane who furthers the plot with good acting. Unfortunately, bizarro-Diaz only got to the big screen once, and her two most iconic roles show off more of her authentic and organic creative self. Whatever the hell that means.
2. Vanilla Sky
This is every crazy ex someone has had rolled into one taut package. This scene in the car is unforgettable, and haunting. You never want a woman saying these words to you while she’s at the wheel of a muscle car. Yeeps. At 1:15 into this clip, Cruise gives a look of pure dread. Diaz isn’t in much of the film, but she makes a massive contribution when she is. I’d say she “beat” Penelope Cruz both times she shared a movie with her, and that broad has a statue (and three nominations overall). Guys, when you sleep with someone your body makes a promise, whether you do or not. That’s just the way it is.
1. Gangs of New York
This is Cameron Diaz’s best work. She’s asked to do a lot throughout, interacting with heavyweight Daniel Day-Lewis and getting knives thrown all about her head and bosom. Sure, she is third in the running after Leo and DDL, but Diaz plays vulnerable, sultry, and streetwise, sometimes all in the same scene. This is all facets of the Diaz mystique working well together. You do your thing, adult lady. When she’s working with a great director, Diaz tends to deliver, which should make the rest of career (which unfortunately won’t count, due to this list) really interesting. Which way will she go? Can’t play the sexpot forever. Personally, I’d go with the Nolan – Coens – Wes Anderson trifecta. They’ll get it done. Then Maybe Tarantino. Mmmmm. Cap it all off with Sofia Coppola or Kathryn Bigelow and ride off into the sunset. Get them statues.
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