With this week's release of the action/comedy Knight & Day with Tom Cruise, let's do our weekly retrospective on the squeaky clean Cameron Diaz and her best films to date, listed in chronological order.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="175" caption="Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz in "My Best Friend's Wedding" courtesy of ew.com"][/caption]
My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
Though we first saw her as eye candy in the Jim Carrey vehicle The Mask, Cameron had her first sizeable hit with 1997's My Best Friend's Wedding. Playing a young, excitable bride, Diaz shows surprising confidence and depth against Julia Roberts, as the future bride who is trying to hold on to her man.
A harmless movie overall, the film is an enjoyable trip from beginning to end, regardless of the countless romantic comedy cliches. Diaz holds her own - you actually feel for her as a confused future newlywed who expects the best from everyone, even a jealous ex-crush of her future hubby. Along with her, Roberts, Dermot Mulroney and, specifically, Rupert Everett makes it an enjoyable romp through the days leading up to a wedding and how families can come together and enjoy each others' company, if only for one day.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="177" caption="Cameron Diaz in "There's Something about Mary" courtesy of ew.com"][/caption]
There's Something about Mary (1998)
To this day, there may not be a movie people associate more with Diaz than this Farrelly brothers comedic gem. Playing the title "Mary," Diaz is the object of many a character's (and moviegoer's) obsession. The film belongs to Ben Stiller, but Diaz does a fine job playing a "semi-straight man" throughout the film. Given her on-screen work with Stiller and a hilariously inept Matt Dillon, she proves she can hold her own against some ridiculous, but surprisingly well-written comedy, regardless how stupid or immature.
The film certainly broke Diaz into the mainstream, giving her some clout in the comedic world, both romantic and "frat boy." She had yet to be "typecast" in the roles she would play in the future, but proved she could hang with some good competition and would be a good addition to any comedy.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="246" caption="Cameron Diaz in "Being John Malkovich" courtesy of buzzsugar.com"][/caption]
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Before she began her "stereotype" run of awful romantic comedies, Diax starred in what many (including myself) consider her best film to date, the wonderfully imaginative and strange Being John Malkovich. Going against her typical "object of desire" role, Diaz actually plays the sorry, boring housewife of John Cusack in the film. Not many people would want to cheat on Cameron Diaz with Catherine Keener, but to each his own, I guess.
Directed by Spike Jonze, the story involves a tiny portal that Cusack discovers that takes him into the mind of actor John Malkovich for a brief period of time, then spits him out on the New Jersey expressway. A brilliantly confusing and original script by Charlie Kauffman gives the film its muster, but between Cusack, Diaz, Keener, and Malkovich himself, the actors and their outlandish little lives brighten the screen and bring it to life.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="259" caption="Princess Fiona, voice by Cameron Diaz, in "Shrek" courtesy of agirlsworld.com"][/caption]
Long before the sequels came and ruined a perfectly good, original idea, Cameron Diaz lent her voice to Princess Fiona, a princess held captive and rescued by an ogre named Shrek (Mike Myers) and his talking donkey sidekick (Eddie Murphy). Fiona and Shrek develop a candidly sweet relationship on their way back to the castle to give her to the prince waiting for her.
Say what you want about the obsessive merchandising and overdone sequels, the original Shrek film from Dreamworks Studios is a clever, hilarious take on fairy tales, our childhoods dreams, and the meaning of true love and beauty. It's not every day you get to watch a well developed female character in a movie directed at children, let alone in an animated film. Diaz did more than just read the lines for that role - she embodies it and makes it a great one.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="281" caption="Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis in "Gangs of New York" courtesy of theage.com.au"][/caption]
Gangs of New York (2002)
I previously said in my Five Best: Leonardo DiCaprio feature that Diaz is the piece of this film that really brings the whole thing down for me a bit. That is still the case, but a performance that looks meek against Leo and Daniel Day-Lewis in a Martin Scorcese film may still be a good performance against, say Vin Diesel and Adam Sandler in a Todd Phillips film. And, because we aren't looking at Cameron's best performances - but her best films - this stays on the list.
Before Diaz began playing a Charlie's Angel every two years, she took one last role in a good film with some pretty talented people around her. Though her character is a tad underdeveloped in the film (which is not really her fault), Diaz still does a fine job playing Leo's love interest, a petty thief who was originally involved with Bill "The Butcher" Cutting (Day-Lewis) in 1900's New York.
Regardless, Cameron Diaz has certainly made a name for herself in the film industry - certainly from a financial standpoint. Not many command more money to appear on screen, but she rakes in box office cash, so it's deservedly so.