Jennifer Lopez is a superstar. She’s got the albums, the singles, the moves, the judging gigs, the fragrances, the clothing line, and the Vegas residency to prove it. She’s as multi-hyphenate as they get. But here’s something we don’t talk about enough: JLo is also a fantastic actress. Her charm and charisma elevate whatever film she’s in, whether a crime caper romance opposite George Clooney or one of the best musical biopics ever put to screen. And while her talents alone may not have been enough to salvage such projects as Gigli and Jersey Girl, (both from the “Bennifer period”) there’s no denying that when the girl from the Bronx finds a script and a director worthy of her, she lights up the screen.
Since we’re finally getting big-screen J.Lo back this year with Second Act, we thought we’d count down to five of the best J.Lo movies you can stream from home. Or, as you’ll see below: the four best + Anaconda, because you really should never have a list of Jennifer Lopez films that don’t include that Amazon-set B-movie.
Second Acts opens in theaters on December 21, 2018.
Almost twenty years after her death, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez is still a musical icon. Known as ‘la reina del tex-mex’ she was the first female artist to have a tejano hit. She sold more than 60 million albums making her one of the most successful Latina singers of all time. The movie memorializing her life, Selena, is iconic in its own right. Starring Jennifer Lopez as Selena, Edward James Olmos as her father, and the late Lupe Ontiveros as her fan club president, the film made millions of dollars at the box office. Directed by Gregory Nava, (El Norte, Mi Familia) it has its melodramatic, telenovela-esque moments and cheesy cutaways to a sparkly full moon and roses but the film is like a gift to her fans, their chance to see her perform one last time. The movie makes it clear that she was at a pivotal moment in her career, that she was about to crossover into the mainstream having just recorded an English-language album. And even though she wasn’t alive to witness it, her posthumous album, “Dreaming of You”, reached number one. Every time I watch it, it makes me tear up and incessantly repeat, “Anything for Suh-lee-nus.”
A true B-movie hit from the late 1990s, Anaconda has the kind of improbable plot these films are made of: A National Geographic film crew is in the Amazon hoping to work on a documentary on a long-lost Indigenous tribe. But they’re soon taken hostage by an insane Paraguayan hunter, who forces them along on his quest to capture the world’s largest – and deadliest – snake. In the movie’s lore, the famed anaconda is near-mythic in size and ruthless in its kills. Dripping with sweat and risible dialogue (“Is it just me or does the jungle make you really, really horny?”, “This film was supposed to be my big break. But it turned out to be a big disaster.”) the film was a hit despite its mixed-reviews. Directed by Peruvian Luis Llosa and starring none other than Jennifer Lopez herself (alongside the likes of Owen Wilson, Jon Voight and Danny Trejo), Anaconda has to be seen to be believed.
Steven Soderbergh’s Academy Award-nominated romantic comedy/heist film features the sizzling chemistry between George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. Clooney plays suave-talking bank robber Jack Foley who, in his escape from prison, kidnaps US Marshall Karen Sisco (Lopez). Their immediate romantic spark begs the question: will she do the right thing in pursuing him and getting back to justice, or will she pursue him just for herself? The will-they-or-won’t-they hovers over this quick-footed drama that earned Lopez her second ALMA award in as many years. Shot with dazzling flair for complex flashbacks and freeze-frames that keep the film’s kinetic style pulsing forward, Out of Sight may well be one of the best films JLo ever starred in.
Featuring instantly iconic costumes by Eiko Ishioka and a slew of visual effects that broke ground upon release, Tarsem Singh’s The Cell is, above all, a visual feast. The mind-bending film follows child psychologist Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) who’s working on an experiment to enter the minds of those in a comatose state. When Carl Rudolph Stargher (Vincent D’Onofrio), a serial killer, is captured and falls into such a state, she’s pressured into going into his mind to find any kind of lead into where his latest victim may be. Stragher’s twisted mind proves to be a series of booby traps that Deane will have to navigate if she hopes to come out of it alive, learning both about his childhood trauma and seeing firsthand a demonic manifestation of his murderous desires. Lopez’s outfits and wigs alone are worth this genre-bending thriller’s ride.
San Francisco wedding planner Mary (Jennifer Lopez) has one goal: to make partner in at the wedding company she works for. That’s how she lands the biggest gig she’s ever worked: the wedding between catering heiress, Fran Donolly (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) and her boyfriend Steve Edison (Matthew McConaughey). Only Mary has already met the groom and fallen for him after he saved her from an incoming car and later a movie date orchestrated by Mary’s best friend. When she finds out the guy she’d be daydreaming about is the same groom for the wedding she cannot mess up, she’s left to figure out whether her love life should take precedence over her career (and over Steve’s engagement, obviously). A classic rom-com with a hell of a couple at its heart, The Wedding Planner shows that JLo truly can have it all.