Must-Watch Jennifer Aniston Films: Our Top 15 Rotten Tomatoes Recommendations

Joanna listens intently

Jennifer Aniston’s career may have started as a TV star, but she has since become a successful movie actress with almost 50 films under her belt. Despite being forever known as Rachel to many fans, Aniston has received numerous accolades for her film work including nominations at the Golden Globes, Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, and Independent Spirit Awards. She often plays the strongest character in even poorly-received movies. Here are her top 15 films according to Rotten Tomatoes, ranked by watchability.

15. Cake

Claire weeps

Cinelou Releasing presents “Cake,” a film that explores one of the most uncomfortable realities of human frailty: chronic pain. In the 2014 drama, Jennifer Aniston’s performance as Claire earned rave reviews and awards season buzz for her portrayal of a woman still struggling with chronic pain a year after a car accident tragically killed her son. Aniston thoroughly de-glamorizes herself and delivers a performance that is moody, cynical and detached, which is “against type” for her. Claire is exhausted and harsh, but has echoes of vulnerability and warmth buried deep beneath those sharp surfaces.

Aniston trades her trademark screwball energy for something measured, simmering and powerful. She plays beautifully against a stacked cast that includes Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Chris Messina, and Anna Kendrick. Exploring grief, addiction, and trauma, “Cake” is undoubtedly one of Aniston’s best movies, but it’s also one of the hardest ones to watch.

“We’re the Millers” is also available for viewing.

Rose smiles while driving

The 2013 film “We’re The Millers” from Warner Bros. may not be the best road trip movie out there, but it certainly has its funny moments. Jennifer Aniston stars as Rose O’Reilly, a seductive stripper who performs a lengthy strip tease routine that serves as an instant highlight reel moment for the movie. This R-rated film is a rare addition to Aniston’s filmography, proving that she is up for anything in her ageless career. Despite its aimless and middling comedy, Aniston’s game performance elevates the movie alongside a cast of ringers like Jason Sudeikis, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, and Ed Helms. “Dream for an Insomniac” is another movie worth checking out for Aniston fans.

Allison and Frankie speak in a bedroom

The casting for the 1996 film “Dream for an Insomniac” is perplexing, as Jennifer Aniston, known for her monumental fame from “Friends,” was given a quirky friend role. Meanwhile, Ione Skye portrays the romantic perfectionist insomniac heroine, but it’s impossible to take your eyes off of Aniston. The film was released at the beginning of Aniston’s “Friends” run and showcased her sharp wit. Although Aniston’s role in the film is insignificant compared to Skye’s, she is by far the most captivating part of the movie that would otherwise be forgotten. Similarly, in “The Switch,” Aniston steals the show with her charm and comedic timing, even though the focus is meant to be on Jason Bateman’s character.

Wally and Kassie have a quiet discussion

The movie “The Switch” by Walt Disney Studios in the 2010s is a unique cultural document when you think about it. It was adapted from Jeffrey Eugenides’ short story about a man secretly swapping his friend’s sperm donor sample for his own, thus “hijacking” the paternity of her child. The story has a somber, ironically detached tone of bitterness and regret, but “The Switch” turns it into a standard romantic comedy that’s somehow light and airy, despite having a weighty premise. It takes on a happy ending and plays most of it for laughs.

That “The Switch” was modestly well-received at all is a testament to the chemistry of Aniston and co-star Jason Bateman, who bring all of their sitcom-honed likability to bear. They work well together, and the movie hits all the standard beats of nearly getting them together, and then there’s a big reveal that tears them apart right before the end. Excepting the fact that the big reveal is downright horrific, the film mostly moves past it and considers its own premise to be funnier than it is terrifying. It all adds up to a surprisingly watchable and fascinating experiment in paternity-based plot contrivances.

11. Rock Star

Chris and Emily speak to a woman at a nightclub

The 2001 music drama film “Rock Star” is an overlooked movie that tells the true story of replacement Judas Priest frontman Tim Owens, weaving a mildly diverging story about the perils of instant celebrity. Mark Wahlberg stars as the lead singer of a cover band that gets kicked out and replaced by a new singer, played by the guy from Third Eye Blind. But don’t worry, his character gets to replace the actual frontman of the band he has been solidly covering all the while because they’ve just kicked him out, and they’re looking for an imitator to stay on tour. Emily Poule, played by Jennifer Aniston, is Wahlberg’s far-too-patient girlfriend in Seattle that of course has to watch him descend into a life of nonstop touring, alcohol, and groupies. She livens up the film here and there in this relatively thankless role and helps ground the story enough to make it compelling to watch when it was replaying on VH1 for an entire decade. “The Object of My Affection” ranks at number 10.

Nina smiles warmly

The 20th century saw many stars rise to fame in romantic comedies, but Aniston never quite reached the level of a dependable leading lady. Perhaps it’s because she’s always been a bit too appealing – romcoms rely on the idea that our beautiful main character has trouble finding someone to fall in love with, and for America’s 90s sweetheart, that might just be a little too much disbelief to suspend.

Her 1997 film “The Object of My Affection” is one of her most well-received attempts in the genre, but it requires us to buy into the premise that her character Nina, an upbeat social worker living in densely populated New York City, has so much trouble falling in love that she spends much of the movie hung up on her gay best friend.

Sure, George is charming and played by a young Paul Rudd, but Nina has the looks and charm of Aniston in her prime! Was it that hard to meet new people before dating apps? “The Object of My Affection” succeeds largely because it ends up telling a story about friendship instead of romance, or rather the gray area that exists between the two.

And while we’re on the subject of wanderlust, let’s talk about the urge to travel and explore. There’s something about the unknown that draws us in, whether it’s a new country or a hidden corner of our own city. The desire to discover what’s out there is universal and ageless, and it’s what keeps us moving forward. So go ahead, embrace your wanderlust and see where it takes you.

Linda yells as a crowd cheers her on

The movie “Wanderlust” brings together Aniston and Paul Rudd once again, this time as a married couple who stumble upon a hippie commune in the 2012 comedy. Aniston embraces her role as a supporting player in wackier comedies, rather than carrying a lead rom-com. Directed by David Wain, known for “Wet Hot American Summer” and “Role Models,” the film is packed with jokes and features an ensemble cast of Wain’s old contemporaries from “The State.” Justin Theroux also stands out, playing the leader of the commune and using his real-life relationship with Aniston as fodder for the tabloids at the time. While not particularly relevant or trenchant given the years following the housing crisis and recession, “Wanderlust” trades coherence for reliable funniness and makes for a re-watchable movie for Aniston fans.

Renee pouts

The 1996 movie “She’s The One” features Jennifer Aniston in a partially captivating role. The movie revolves around two brothers who struggle to commit to one of the many beautiful women in their lives. Aniston plays Renee, the wife of one of the brothers who is unaware of his infidelity. Her character mostly serves as the voice of reason in a film about the dangers of self-involved masculinity. While her husband’s mistress is played by Cameron Diaz, it’s still hard to believe that Aniston and her fluffy hair could ever be deceived like this.

The real MVP of “She’s The One” is another famous sitcom star – John Mahoney, the dad from “Frasier,” who nails the pivotal part of the brothers’ domineering, chauvinistic father. He gets his own comeuppance late in the film, and his sons realize that his advice has been useless all along. “She’s The One” subtly subverts the gender roles that dominated ’90s movies, making it quite watchable even today.

Moving on, let’s talk about “Marley and Me”.

Jenny pulls back on the leash as her dog Marley pulls forward

The 2008 film “Marley Me,” adapted from John Grogan’s memoir, tells the full lifespan of Grogan’s misbehaved Golden Retriever Marley, from puppyhood to old age. The movie doesn’t have much of a plot, as it follows the episodic structure of the memoir, but it allows stars Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson to showcase a range of emotions and character growth. While the film can’t stray too far from reality, Aniston and Wilson bring nuance to their roles that other broad comedies may not. “Marley Me” is a simple movie that aims to please. As for “Life of Crime,” there is no further information given.

Mickey cowers in bed

As we approach the top of this list, it becomes evident that the most popular and highly reviewed movies by Aniston are the ones where she doesn’t rely solely on herself for leading roles, but instead uses her talents to complement a strong ensemble cast. The 2013 crime caper “Life of Crime” is a perfect example of this. Like many movies based on Elmore Leonard’s work, it has a low-key pulpiness that’s charming, and Aniston’s dry comedic skills are a great fit for her role as Mickey Dawson, the kidnapped trophy wife of an un-caring wealthy businessman.

In a classic Leonard twist, the husband refuses to pay the ransom, as he doesn’t even want her back, and Aniston’s character begins to manipulate the emotions and loyalties of the kidnappers as the stalemate lingers. Other highlights of the cast include character actor John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey in the same role that Samuel L. Jackson portrayed in “Jackie Brown.”

Moving on to “Horrible Bosses,” Aniston plays against type as a sexually aggressive dentist who harasses one of her employees. The movie is a raunchy comedy with a strong ensemble cast that includes Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Kevin Spacey. Aniston’s performance was praised for its departure from her typical roles and her willingness to embrace more risque material. Overall, “Horrible Bosses” is a fun and entertaining movie that showcases Aniston’s versatility as an actress.

Julia stares ahead

The success of the 2011 comedy film “Horrible Bosses” is quite surprising in hindsight. It possesses a level of unbridled raunchiness that would likely never be made even just over a decade later, and its plot is somewhat aimless, relying on the premise being simple enough to keep track of while letting the ensemble cast kill time. As an R-rated movie that thoroughly embraces being for mature audiences, it somehow connected with audiences who may have been a little tired of the lofty comedy-dramas of the era that got bogged down with emotional subplots.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Jennifer Aniston takes a wild leap away from her norm by starring as Dr. Julia Harris, one of the horrible bosses that gives the film its name. She had been in raunchy movies before, like “Wanderlust” or the Adam Sandler joint “Just Go With It,” but usually she still plays a level-headed character that reacts to various shenanigans. In “Horrible Bosses,” however, her aggressive and suggestive dentist character might be a little strange to watch from a post-“Me Too” viewpoint, but it provided her with her most un-Rachel-like role to date, and she ran with it.

4. Friends with Money

Olivia shops for groceries

One of the most memorable episodes of the hit TV show “Friends” was season 2’s “The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant.” In this episode, Rachel, Phoebe, and Joey have to confront their wealthy best friends about the uncomfortable subject of money. This aspect of adult life deeply affects friendships, despite money being inexplicably taboo to discuss. Jennifer Aniston stars in what is essentially a feature-length adaptation of that episode in Nicole Holofcener’s 2006 drama “Friends with Money.”

The title refers to Aniston’s character Olive’s tension with her wealthy friends as she cleans houses to make ends meet. The movie itself has a patient, wondering tone of Holofcener’s best movies. Unlike a sitcom, conflicts aren’t easily resolved, and each character feels fully realized with a rich inner life. It helps that Aniston is joined by the fantastic Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, and Joan Cusack as the rest of the friend group. Like a reverse “Sex and the City,” “Friends with Money” is a Los Angeles story about four women who are more deeply concerned with the banalities and struggles of everyday life, not just romance.

3. The Good Girl

Justine and Holden have a serious talk

Search for Fox PicturesIn her most successful dramatic showcase so far, Aniston mutates her normal exuberance and charm to play a withdrawn and doleful makeup counter employee in 2002’s “The Good Girl.” The plot is a bit relentlessly bleak, but it’s humanized by Aniston’s believable performance as an introvert attempting to expand her world beyond a sleepy small town. She embarks on a doomed affair with a younger man played by Jake Gyllenhaal, even though his chosen name of “Holden” after “The Catcher in the Rye” couldn’t be a bigger red flag.

Of all her roles, Justine in “The Good Girl” might be the one that actually makes you forget you’re watching Aniston, the bubbly television star, as she plays it with an introversion and limp physicality that make you believe this woman truly never found the strength to escape her circumstances. She missed out on the major awards that year, but “The Good Girl” remains a celebrated gem of her filmography.

2. Dumplin’

Rosie watches from backstage

The movie “Office Space” is a classic comedy that has received numerous positive reviews over the years. Despite this, it didn’t receive much attention upon its release. The movie follows a group of office workers who hate their jobs and decide to rebel against their boss. It’s a hilarious take on the monotony of corporate life and the frustrations that come along with it. The film’s witty humor and relatable characters make it a must-watch for anyone who has ever worked in an office environment.

Joanna and Peter talk in the car

In the classic comedy “Office Space” from 1999, Aniston’s character Joanna may not play a huge role, but she is an essential part of the film’s lasting appeal beyond just being the love interest of Ron Livingston’s main character Peter. While Peter is living out his existential quest to survive the rhythms of white-collar office life, the few scenes with Aniston’s Joanna as she works at a very mainstream-style restaurant are an equally important part of the film’s rallying cry against corporate nonsense. The drudgeries of work and the insanity of corporate power structures go much further than nine-to-five office jobs, and Joanna has one of the most memorable service work stories on film. The recurring bits where she tangles with her boss about the number of “pieces of flair” that she wears on her work outfit are some of the funniest in the movie, and in contrast to Peter’s suddenly Zen approach of not showing up to work, Joanna gets a showcase scene where she triumphantly quits and flips her boss off to his face, a cathartic thing to watch for pretty much anyone that’s ever been employed. In showing Joanna at work alone and giving her a bit of growth outside of her relationship with Peter, “Office Space” more than earns casting Aniston as the upbeat dream girl we all wish we could meet when work gets us down.

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