Julia Roberts’ Top 15 Films—Ranked From Worst To Best

The queen of romantic comedies, Julia Roberts is one of the most beloved actresses in Hollywood.

By Meghan Dillon3 min read
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She’s been out of the spotlight for a couple of years, but she’s making a return to the big screen this fall in a new romantic comedy, Ticket to Paradise, alongside friend and fellow Hollywood legend George Clooney.

Romantic comedies tragically seem to be a genre of the past, but we can’t help but hope for a genre revival due to Roberts’ latest rom-com. In honor of her return to Hollywood, we’re breaking down her 15 greatest movies.

15. Eat Pray Love (2010)

Based on the memoir of the same name, Roberts plays Liz Gilbert, a middle-aged woman desperate to find herself after a divorce. She devotes a year of her life to traveling across Italy (to eat), India (to pray), and Indonesia (to love). Roberts not only makes the protagonist easy to root for but, even with the subpar acting, it’s the perfect movie for a relaxing girls' night in.

14. Michael Collins (1996)

Based on the true story of Irish revolutionary and politician Michael Collins (Liam Neeson), Roberts plays his fiancée, Kitty Kiernan. This lesser-known movie chronicles Collins’ role in the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Republican Army, but Roberts also shines in her supporting role. Even if you’re not interested in the history behind the movie, the acting and stunning costumes are enough to keep your attention all the way through.

13. Closer (2004)

In this romantic drama about infidelity and the complexity of romantic relationships, Roberts stars alongside Clive Owen, Jude Law, and Natalie Portman. Based on a classic Mozart opera, it’s nearly impossible to explain this movie without major spoilers, but it’s definitely worth the watch.

12. Runaway Bride (1999)

Nearly a decade after starring opposite Richard Gere in Pretty Woman (more on that later), the two stars reunited in Runaway Bride. Roberts plays Maggie, a woman infamous for ditching multiple grooms on their wedding day. Gere plays a journalist trying to tell Maggie’s story, and while the rom-com hijinks ensue from there, this story also examines the importance of knowing yourself.

11. Stepmom (1998)

Roberts not only served as an executive producer on this movie, but we love watching her alongside the iconic Susan Sarandon. Roberts plays Isabel, a young woman who takes on the role of stepmother to Sarandon’s children. Though the women initially clash, both women learn from each other in this heartbreaking yet heartwarming movie.

10. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Starring alongside George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Andy Garcia, Roberts makes a splash in this star-studded heist comedy. She plays Tess Ocean, the ex-wife of criminal Danny Ocean (George Clooney), who is planning a next-to-impossible heist. Although she’s not at the center of the action, her ability to stand out in a cast of A-listers is impressive.

9. Flatliners (1990)

In this psychological horror movie, Roberts plays medical student Rachel Manus, who, along with some classmates, participates in an experiment to learn what happens after death. What they experience in the process changes what they thought they knew about life, death, and their sins. It’s very different from her signature role in romantic comedies or dramas, proving that she can hold her own in any genre.

8. The Pelican Brief (1993)

Julia Roberts in a political thriller alongside Denzel Washington? Sign us up! Roberts plays Darby Shaw, a law student whose world turns upside down when she looks into the assassination of two Supreme Court judges. She teams up with an investigative journalist (Denzel Washington) to help uncover the truth. This thriller proves that Robert’s girl-next-door persona can be used in genres beyond comedy. 

7. Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)

In another one of her few roles in thrillers, Roberts plays a young woman desperate to flee her abusive marriage. This heartbreaking movie shows the true horrors people (yes, women and men) face in abusive relationships, allowing Roberts’ talent as an actress to shine through the screen while viewers root for her to escape.

6. Steel Magnolias (1989)

Like Ocean’s Eleven, it’s hard not to love this movie’s all-star cast. Starring alongside Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Darryl Hannah, and Shirley MacLaine, Roberts plays Southern belle Shelby in this classic tearjerker. The story follows the group of women supporting each other through life, and depicts Shelby’s wedding day, her struggle with diabetes, and her death following the birth of her son. The women come together to support her mother in her grief, showing the importance of sisterhood, even one founded in your local salon. Be sure to grab your tissues for this one, you’re going to need them.

5. Mystic Pizza (1988)

In one of her first movie roles, Roberts plays Daisy, a young Portuguese-American woman trying to make the best of her youth while working as a waitress. The movie is fun with some serious elements, but it’s the first movie to show that Roberts was a star in the making, easily marking it as one of her most iconic roles.

4. My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

It might be the most cliché romantic comedy of all time, but romantic comedies are our ultimate guilty pleasure. Roberts plays Julianne, a woman who made a marriage pact with her best friend, Michael, only to realize her feelings for him when he brings home his future bride. Julianne tries to sabotage their relationship, and the mischief she makes is comedy gold.

3. Notting Hill (1999)

In this romantic comedy classic, Roberts stars as a famous actress who falls for Hugh Grant, a handsome bookstore owner, after a chance encounter. The movie is so charming that it can make even the greatest cynic both laugh and believe in true love. Sure, it’s full of clichés, but that’s what romantic comedies are for!

2. Erin Brockovich (2000)

We had to put the movie that finally won Roberts the Academy Award for Best Actress in the top three. Based on the true story of Erin Brockovich, Roberts plays the title role of a woman who got a job at a law firm to help take care of her kids after a car accident, only to discover a massive medical scandal cover-up to protect corporate interests. Roberts shines in the role as the badass and inspiring Brockovich, somehow making us love her even more.

1. Pretty Woman (1990)

In her most iconic role and the role that made her the queen of romantic comedies, Roberts plays Vivian Ward, a prostitute with a heart of gold. Vivian inevitably falls for businessman Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) after they engage in a fake romantic relationship for business purposes. It’s totally unrealistic, but the iconic shopping scene where Vivian gives the snobby saleswoman a piece of her mind will never get old.

Closing Thoughts

From her iconic romantic comedy roles to impressive performances in dramas, Julia Roberts is one of the most versatile and beloved actresses in Hollywood. We’re excited to witness her return to the big screen this fall and will be bingeing some of our old favorites to hold us over until then.

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