20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
Over the course of her career, Cameron Diaz has played everything from an ogre princess to a crime-fighting angel to the most irresponsible teacher of all time. But though she's best known for starring in goofy, raunchy comedies, Diaz's resume is filled with varied compelling roles that don't get talked about nearly as much as her underwear dance in Charlie's Angels. In fact, we'd go so far as to say that over the course of her career, Diaz has steadily delivered surprising, awards-worthy performances that often get overlooked by both the press and the public. In honor of her latest film, Sex Tape, arriving in theaters Friday, we've taken a look back at Diaz's life and career to pinpoint every single performance that shocked, moved, and impressed us... and, in a just world, would have impressed the Academy as well.
The CounselorLet’s get this out of the way: yes, Diaz’s character does have sex with a car. It’s a shame, though, that the hubbub surrounding that scene overshadowed everything else about her performance, which is insane in the best possible way. As Malkina, the calculating girlfriend/partner in crime to Javier Bardem’s Reiner, Diaz turned everything up to 11 to give an over-the-top, off-the-wall performance that is more entertaining than attempting to figure out what’s happening with Bardem’s hair. Despite a star-studded cast and a script by Cormac McCarthy, Diaz was easily the most memorable thing about The Counselor, as well as the most compelling.
ShrekOkay, so the Oscars don’t honor voice over work. That doesn’t mean that Diaz’s work as Princess Fiona isn’t worthy of praise. With anyone else voicing her, Fiona would probably turn out to be another cookie-cutter animated princess – kooky, sure but not downright weird, and probably not willing to convince a bird to sing itself to death or having a burping contest with an ogre. Diaz gives Fiona an absurd amount of personality, depth and fun, making her feel as alive as she would if it actually ere Diaz up on that screen.
My Best Friend’s Wedding Julia Roberts get all of the attention, but her Julianne Potter would be nothing without Diaz’s sweet, warm-hearted Kimmy Wallace. A character like Kimmy could have easily been one-dimensional: an unrealistic perfect girl meant to make the protagonist jealous. But Diaz’s Kimmy is a fully realized person; she’s not just sweet, she’s also naïve and awkward and genuinely open-hearted. And her ability to turn what would otherwise be a painfully embarrassing karaoke scene into an endearingly goofy moment deserves much more credit than Roberts letting Dermot Mulroney go.
USA Films via Everett Collection
Being John Malkovich And you thought The Counselor was a strange movie. In Being John Malkvoich, Diaz plays Lotte, the unhappy, pet-obsessed wife of John Cusack’s Craig, who enters into a relationship with Craig’s work crush Maxine (Catherine Keener) while inside the head of John Malkovich. It would be easy to let the craziness of the plot outshine the characters, but Diaz, wearing a horrendously frizzy wig and a series of unflattering outfits, uses the opportunity to give a weird, intense, complex performance that is, unfortunately, often forgotten in favor of her comedic ventures.
There’s Something About Mary The Mask may have put her on the map, but it was the Farrelly Brothers’ comedy that really made Diaz a star. The entire movie hinges on her being the most irresistible woman in the universe, so she needs to win over the audience in addition to the characters. Diaz does exactly that. Her performance is bright, charming and effortlessly funny, and it’s not hard to see why everyone fell in love with her hilarious and heartwarming character.
In Her Shoes In Her Shoes is a much better movie than it appears in its trailer, and much of that is due to Diaz’s performance as Maggie, the free-spirited wild child sister of Toni Collette’s Rose. It would be easy to turn Maggie into a flighty, one-dimensional character, but Diaz manages to turn a somewhat trite reveal – Maggie is dyslexic and has trouble reading and doing basic math – into an opportunity to showcase the insecurity, doubt, and hurt that has turned Maggie into the frivolous party girl that she is. It’s a surprisingly layered performance for a light-hearted movie about the relationship between sisters, and Diaz easily holds her own opposite Collette and Shirley MacLaine, both of whom received more attention.
Vanilla Sky Whether you loved Vanilla Sky or found it impossible to get past Tom Cruise’s melted face, there’s no denying that Diaz’s performance was the standout of the film. As Julie, the suicidal, jealous ex-girlfriend of Cruise’s David Aames, Diaz is simultaneously terrifying and heartbreaking, showcasing all of the hurt, anger, and instability that drive her to extreme measures. More than just the femme fatale or the vindictive ex, Diaz’s Julie is a tour de force performance that unfortunately got overshadowed by some terrible prosthetics.
All hail the conquering "Clones."
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones isn't likely to smash Spider-Man's record-busting $114.8 million opening, but the fifth in George Lucas' sci-fi saga should eclipse the $431 million earned in 1999 by Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.
Although eagerly anticipated, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace endured harsh criticism for its plodding pacing and the introduction of perceived racial stereotype Jar Jar Binks. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones' stronger reviews should enable it to enjoy a longer and healthier run than its immediate predecessor.
But that won't help Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones challenge Spider-Man's amazing debut. Spider-Man opened at 3,615 theaters, representing 7,500-plus screens. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones will debut Thursday in 3,100 theaters, representing 6,000-plus screens. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones could, however, match Spider-Man's debut in its first four days.
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace made $28.5 million on its first day--a record at the time--but its weekend gross of $64.8 failed to beat The Lost World: Jurassic Park's $72.1 million. Still, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace went on to become only the second film to break $400 during its initial run, the other being Titanic. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace now ranks as the fourth highest-grossing film domestically.
No other blockbuster-to-be dares to cross the path of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones until the June 14 arrival of Scooby-Doo. Yet Anakin Skywalker does face somewhat of a threat from the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in the bid to earn the biggest gross of the year.
Spider-Man broke the $200 million mark in a record nine days. Such a feat took 13 days for both Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The web-slinger also will easily amass $300 million in less than the record 28 days that it took Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Spider-Man experienced a mere 38 percent drop in business in its second weekend, earning a stunning $71.4 million. That stands as the best second-weekend and the fourth best-weekend hauls.
Even with the arrival of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, Spider-Man could conceivably make another $35 million this weekend.
With $228.2 million through Monday, Spider-Man looks set to swing his way to $400 million.
Hugh Grant isn't afraid to go one on one with the Empire.
In 1999, Grant's Notting Hill proved the perfect alternate to those who found nothing amorous about Anakin Skywalker's introduction to the Force. Notting Hill, which opened two weeks after Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, took in $116 million.
Of course, Grant had some help from Julia Roberts.
The fate of About a Boy rests solely on Grant's shoulders. His co-stars include veterans of several blockbusters, Rachel Weisz (The Mummy series) and Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense), but neither were the key draw. Also, Universal Pictures is not selling About a Boy as the latest offering from American Pie chefs Chris & Paul Weitz. A wise move, considering About a Boy is a mature romantic comedy, whereas American Pie reveled in its anything-goes brand of juvenile antics.
About a Boy isn't likely to duplicate the success of Notting Hill, which opened with $21.8 million and eventually became Grant's biggest U.S. hit to date. This adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel will debut in a modest 1,100 theaters in advance of a Memorial Day holiday weekend expansion. So Grant should brace himself for $8 million to $10 million. If audiences fall head over heels in love with Grant's roguish and self-absorbed bachelor-as British audiences already have--then About a Boy should match the $52.7 million earned in 1994 by Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Grant can take heart from the performance of Richard Gere's Unfaithful, which opened last weekend to a sturdy $14.1 million and has $15.5 million through Monday. That gives Gere--who's been in a slump in recent years--his best opening since 1999's Runaway Bride ($35 million). There's the Julia Roberts factor in play once again.
Unfaithful also almost doubled the $7.8 million that Intersection, another extramarital cautionary tale starring Gere and based on a French film, opened with in 1994 before crashing to a halt with $20.6 million.
Director Adrian Lyne can't expect his sexually charged drama, a remake of the 1968 French film La Femme Infidele, to repeat the great success of his Fatal Attraction ($156.6 million) or Indecent Proposal ($106.6 million). The equally glossy Unfaithful should tumble to about $8 million in its second weekend, then vanish when confronted May 24 by Enough and Insomnia. Still, Lyne should be happy for a $40 million total after the disaster that was his controversial 1998 remake of Lolita ($1.1 million total).
The New Guy in high school also got off to a better-than-expected start, considering that this DJ Qualls farce sat on the shelf for one year.
Not that The New Guy's $9 million represents a comeback of sorts for the boorish teen comedy, which has fallen out of favor in recent years because of such pitiful endeavors as Freddy Got Fingered, Slackers, Sorority Boys and Tomcats.
The New Guy should do a little better than National Lampoon's Van Wilder, which opened in April with $7 million and has collected a mere $21 million through Sunday. Budgeted at $13 million, The New Guy has $9.5 million through Monday. It will turn a modest profit but won't likely spawn a sequel a la American Pie.
Unfaithful and The New Guy put up much more of a fight against Spider-Man than Deuces Wild and Hollywood Ending did the previous weekend.
Deuces Wild fell out of the Top 10 in its second weekend. It slid 54 percent from $2.7 million to $1.2 million. The 1950s gang rumble was delayed following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Judging by its puny $5 million total through Monday, Deuces Wild hardly benefited from its eight-month delay.
Despite being Woody Allen's most accessible comedy in years, Hollywood Ending collapsed by 46 percent in its second weekend, from $2 million to $1 million.
Hollywood Ending has $3.6 million through Sunday, which is poor even by Allen's lowly standards. Last year's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion slowed by 35 percent in its second weekend, from $2.4 to $1.5 million. The screwball comedy ended with a disappointing $7.4 million total. Hollywood Ending doesn't have the staying power to match that.
DreamWorks, which also distributed The Curse of the Jade Scorpion and 2000's Small Time Crooks, clearly picked the wrong time to unveil Hollywood Ending. Allen's good-natured ribbing of the movie industry won't capitalize now on being selected to open this year's Cannes Film Festival, as it would have done later this summer. Competing against Spider-Man is also no job for Allen.
With the summer movie season now underway, many of the April holdovers are enjoying one last spring fling. Ice Age ($171 million through Sunday), Panic Room ($93.2 million through Monday), The Scorpion King ($81.3 million through Monday), The Rookie ($68.3 million through Monday) and Changing Lanes ($57.6 million through Monday) are close to the end of their profitable runs.
The same cannot be said for a handful of popular art house offerings. Y Tu Mama Tambien romanced a strong $615,059 in its ninth week for a torrid $9.3 million total through Sunday. The Cat's Meow purred its way to a five-week total of $1.8 million on Sunday after a $335,681 weekend.
Monsoon Weddingearned $543,361 in its 12th week for a total $9.7 million through Sunday. My Big Fat Greek Wedding received a $1.2 million gift after expanding from 147 theaters to 247 theaters in its fourth weekend, bringing its total to $4.1 million through Sunday.
Love is definitely in the air.
Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck) is a young high-powered Wall Street attorney working for his father-in-law's firm. On Good Friday Banek is on FDR Drive on his way to court for a probate case involving a multimillion-dollar trust when he gets distracted on his cell phone. One lane over is Doyle Gibson (Samuel L. Jackson) an insurance company representative and recovering alcoholic. His wife has divorced him and is planning on leaving New York with their two boys for a job in Portland Ore. unless he can convince a family court judge otherwise. He's practicing his speech on his way to court and while switching lanes doesn't notice Banek's silver Mercedes crossing over. The two cars sideswipe each other. Banek is too impatient to trade insurance information and peels off in his car with a cocky "Better luck next time." What he doesn't realize is that he has left a crucial file in the hands of Gibson who is left standing on a median next to his broken car in a downpour. When Banek's attempt to get the file back fails the two men engage in a bitter war of revenge.
Ben Affleck (Pearl Harbor) plays lawyer Gavin Banek a man quickly disillusioned not only by his profession but to a certain extent life. Banek is a complex character: Underneath the arrogance he displays at the start of the film is a nice guy who grapples with issues like everyone else. With every devious move is a bout of guilt and Affleck does a great job reflecting that in his character. Samuel L. Jackson (The Caveman's Valentine) is equally impressive as Doyle Gibson a recovered alcoholic trying to win back his family. Jackson plays Gibson's character with such earnestness you may find yourself taking his side. Both Affleck and Jackson handle their characters' duality delicately and convincingly. The supporting cast members also deliver superior performances especially Toni Collette (Shaft) who plays Banek's co-worker mistress--and ironically--his moral compass and Sydney Pollack (Random Hearts) his corrupt father-in-law and boss. Also look for good performances from William Hurt (A.I.: Artificial Intelligence) and Amanda Peet (Saving Silverman).
In his screenwriting debut Chap Taylor delivers a blunt and hauntingly realistic portrait of what happens when two decent guys are suddenly backed into corners. The story's intensity mounts almost inconspicuously as the two men carry on their hostilities swapping offensive and defensive positions as they try to destroy each other. This aspect of the film not only makes the characters more relatable but it also builds suspense. Each time one of them is ready to end the petty quarrel he receives a blow from the other which in turn makes them both more vengeful. Because the film takes place in one day director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) takes advantage of the time element in the film--a crucial component. With each threat for example is an or else: "It will take me half an hour to get to my bank " Gibson tells Banek when the cards are in his favor. "If my credit's not on by the time I get there I'll destroy the file." Changing Lanes effectively portrays characters that are not all bad and not all good--something many recent films have attempted to do unsuccessfully.