Starting out with very minor roles in two of the hippest movies of the mid-1990s – Dazed and Confused and Reality Bites – as well starring opposite a young Matthew McConaughey in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel – Renee Zellweger has gone on to become one of the most well-known and acclaimed actors of her generation.
A winner of two Oscars, two Baftas and three Screen Actors Guild Awards, the now 53-year-old Texan is back in the spotlight thanks to the recent arrival of her transformative turn in Amazon Prime Video’s The Thing With Pam.
To celebrate, Stuff to Watch has compiled what we believe are her eight greatest performances – and where you can watch them right now.
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Bridget Jones’ Diary (Neon)
While threatened with being overshadowed by the devilishly handsome and hilarious duo of Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, Zellweger, pitch-perfect English accent and all, brought Helen Fielding’s hapless singleton to life with aplomb in this 2001 rom-com that still offers plenty of uproarious laughs.
“Delivers frisky fun for bruised romantics regardless of age, sex or nationality,” wrote Rolling Stone magazine’s Peter Travers.
Chicago (iTunes, GooglePlay)
Infused with a sense of razzle-dazzle, and boasting fabulous performances from Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and, yes, Richard Gere, Rob Marshall’s 2002 adaptation of the hit 1970s musical inspired by the 1920s “trial of the century” really was a deserving winner of Oscars, Baftas and All That Jazz.
While embracing Chicago’s theatrical roots through elaborate set-pieces, stunning footwork, brassy singing, and glittering costumes, Marshall also created something distinctly cinematic.
Cold Mountain (iTunes)
Zellweger won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in this 2003 American Civil War drama about a wounded soldier on a journey back home to his sweetheart. Nicole Kidman and Jude Law also star.
“You remember it for the heat of its romantic yearning and the mysteries that wrap themselves around you until you’re lost in another world,” wrote Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers.
Down with Love (iTunes, GooglePlay)
Zellweger stars opposite a charming Ewan McGregor in this truly delightful homage to the Rock Hudson and Doris Day movies of the 1960s. A screwball comedy par excellence, Peyton Reed’s evocative and provocative rom-com focuses on the blossoming love.
“McGregor is divine as Catcher Block and Zellweger plays her part to pouty perfection,” wrote Toronto Star’s Susan Walker.
Jerry Maguire (Amazon Prime Video)
“You had me at hello.” Honestly, Cameron Crowe’s magnificent 1996 magnum opus, the best sports film of the 1990s, Tom Cruise’s finest two hours as an actor and one of the greatest rom-coms of that era’s vast array of genre classics, caught me hook, line and sinker much , much earlier than the unforgettable living-room-set finale.
A lot of its charm comes from a winning winsome Zellweger as the practical, complicated and somewhat tragically smitten widowed mum-of-one Dorothy Boyd.
Judy (GooglePlay, iTunes)
Zellweger rightly dominated the 2020 awards season thanks to this fabulous performance as faded performer Judy Garland.
Based on the play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter, it looks at the former Wizard of Oz star’s final years, as she battles her demons and attempts to deliver a series of shows in London.
“Judy is not exactly Renee Zellweger’s comeback vehicle, but it might as well be,” wrote Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan. “And delivering a devastating, heartbreaking performance as a woman who made a career out of comebacks is the best kind of poetic justice.”
Nurse Betty (DVD rental from Alice’s, Aro Video)
Zellweger is joined by Greg Kinnear, Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock for this 2000 black comedy about a young widow who takes her post-traumatic obsession with a soap star a little too far.
“An utter original with a little something to say and a way of saying it that manages to be at once delightful and bilious,” wrote Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan.
One True Thing (iTunes, GooglePlay)
Zellweger stars opposite Meryl Streep and William Hurt for this slightly soapy, but well-acted 1998 drama about a career woman who reassesses her parents’ lives after she is forced to care for her cancer-stricken mother.
“Bluntly, poignantly believable,” wrote The New York Times’ Stephen Holden.