We Watched 23 Jennifer Lopez Movies and Ranked Them from Best to Worst
If you look hard enough, you might come across a contrarian with the gall to say that they dislike Jennifer Lopez. But that person is probably wrong.
You see, the woman has been on the scene for 25 years, and in that time she's put out hundreds of projects. There's a J. Lo song or movie or makeup palette for everyone.
I, for one, have always been a fan, and it's because she's a (truly) self-made icon who worked her way to the top (though she’s still Jenny from the Block), and hasn’t lost a bit of momentum in the last quarter-century. (Or maybe it’s because “I Luh Ya Papi” is the greatest song of this millennium. Take your pick.)
This year, Ms. Lopez turned 50, which is amazing not just because she still looks 25, but because her resume reads with the breadth of Infinite Jest: eight studio albums, over 30 movies (if you include animated films and bit parts), numerous TV roles, and several fashion labels and collaborations. Plus, she earned a badass standalone nickname and popped out two kids along the way ...
In honor of the ultimate modern woman, we (by “we” I mean “I”) watched every Jennifer Lopez movie (and by “every” I mean non-animated films in which she had a prominent role that were available to rent on Amazon).
Before embarking on my own personal J.Lo film festival, I wasn’t unfamiliar with the multi-hyphenate’s body of work. I’d seen the rom-com staples: Maid In Manhattan, The Wedding Planner, Monster-In-Law — and even a couple less mainstream choices: Enough, Selena. But, as I’d come to realize, Lopez's oeuvre is vast, and I'd barely scratched the surface.
VIDEO: Meghan Markle's Wedding Dress Compared to Jennifer Lopez's Wedding Planner Gown
So, over the course of two weeks, I watched 23 Jennifer Lopez films — and, naturally, ranked them.
I learned a lot from the 40 hours I spent with Ms. Lopez. For example, her most common roles include police officer and waitress; also, despite her position in the industry/world, she seems to be casting directors' favorite damsel in distress (even when her character is in law enforcement!). Important side note: Jenny from the Block does not need our saving — nor that of Stephen Dorff, Jim Caviezel, Jason Statham, Vince Vaughn, Robert Redford, or Matthew McConaughey.
Without further ado, here is the definitive ranking of (almost*) every Jennifer Lopez movie from worst to best (according to me).
*At the time of writing this, Shall We Dance was impossible to stream.
UPDATED: This story has been updated from a previous version on 9/11/2019 .
23. Angel Eyes (2001)
Though J.Lo does make a convincing cop (she plays one in this, Money Train, and Shades of Blue—plus a U.S. Marshal in Out of Sight), her chemistry with love interest/savior Catch (Jim Caviezel) is non-existent. Coupled with an aimless domestic violence subplot, Angel Eyes comes across as a message-devoid cash grab (yo quiero, yo quiero dinero!).
22. Blood and Wine (1996)
Lopez, a heavily-accented nanny, plays the side-piece of smarmy wine dealer (and criminal, duh) Jack Nicholson. It's hard to pinpoint what it is that makes this movie so very, very bad—overdone premise? debilitating plot holes? poor writing? the ineffectual use of Michael Caine?—but rest assured, it's not worth the rental fee.
21. U Turn (1997)
Lopez plays a Native American, which, while not great (to say the least), is not the most offensive part of this movie. At best, U Turn is a weird attempt to paint director Oliver Stone as a Lynchian auteur; at worst, an aimless exploitation of an all-star cast which includes Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Billy Bob Thornton, Claire Danes, Jon Voight, and Joaquin Phoenix.
20. Gigli (2003)
I assumed that the infamous Gigli —the film responsible for the coupling of Lopez and Ben Affleck, thus spawning that infamous '00s relationship known as Bennifer—would be far and away the worst movie of Lopez’s career. I was wrong. Though the J.Lo-Affleck collab is, indeed, terrible, it’s hardly unwatchable. In fact, it’s reached that cinematic sweet spot of being so bad that it’s actually entertaining.
19. The Boy Next Door (2013)
Recently separated mom Claire makes the mistake of fraternizing with the titular boy next door … It’s sexy, it’s thrilling, it features Kristin Chenoweth in an award-worthy role as a sassy gal pal—but alas, none of Boy’s campy strengths are great enough to save the plot hole-ridden tale.
18. The Cell (2000)
Jen plays a badass who literally travels inside the mind of a schizophrenic serial killer in order to save his next victim, but despite her best efforts, it's token white guy FBI agent (Vince Vaughn) who ultimately saves the day. It was y2k so I guess we'll let it slide, but seriously, just let J.Lo win.
P.S. This movie is low-key Silence of the Lambs meets Spy Kids terrifying (think: Buffalo Bill frolicking among the nightmare-inducing thumb people) and I do not recommend watching it alone.
17. An Unfinished Life (2005)
I saw this movie last week and I barely remember it—that's pretty much all you need to know. Starring Lopez, Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, and pre-Homeland Damian Lewis, the strength of the cast alone should make this Wyoming-set film canonical, but instead it’s not even memorable enough to warrant a review.
16. The Back-up Plan (2010)
Though it aims to compete with Lopez's former rom-com wins (thus setting expectations incredibly high), The Back-up Plan is just that: a back-up plan for when you're in a classic J.Lo mood but neither Maid in Manhattan or The Wedding Planner are available to stream.
15. Parker (2013)
Thoroughly typical Jason Statham fare,Parker sees Lopez as secondary to the plot, her character reduced to a puddle of hormones in the presence of the action star's titular lead.
14. Out of Sight (1998)
Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney is the onscreen pairing we deserve, but Out of Sight is a waste of their combined buzz. For a supposed crime drama, the Steven Soderbergh film is surprisingly boring. Also, I feel as though I must defend Miss Lopez's honor—the idea that a U.S. Marshal (Lopez) would fall for a convicted bank robber (no matter how charming and George Clooney-esque) pains me. Apparently I'm alone in these complaints, though, so don't take my word for it.
13. Lila & Eve (2015)
J.Lo stars as a grieving mother administering vigilante justice alongside Viola Davis. As always, Viola brings her A-game; this movie doesn’t—but hey, it’s fun to watch.
12. Monster-In-Law (2005)
Monster-In-Law needs more Michael Vartan and less "quirky hijinks," but the Prince and the Pauper-style rom-com is still hella entertaining.
11. El Cantante (2007)
Come for Marc Anthony and J.Lo in their peak Marc Anthony-J.Lo years, stay for Lopez’s scene-stealing portrayal of salsa singer Hector Lavoe’s feisty wife Puchi.
10. Selena (1997)
The 1997 biopic is a great showcase for Lopez’s skills as an actress, singer, and dancer. Though the cliche-heavy script makes it feel more like an Afterschool Special than a feature film, J.Lo truly shines.
9. Bordertown (2007)
An underrated gem from the Lopez archives, Borderlands follows American reporter Lauren Adrian as she delves into the serial killings of female factory workers near the Mexican border in Juarez.
8. What to Expect When You're Expecting (2012)
It's no masterpiece, but What to Expect When You're Expecting is good, palatable fun. That being said, it could use at least 30% more J.Lo (and like, 10% less Dennis Quaid).
7. Money Train (1995)
Drink every time they say “money train”! Just kidding—don’t do that, you might die (they say it a lot). Schlocky repetition aside, Money Train (shots!) is an entertaining buddy cop film, and though it lacks plausibility and takes the painfully predictable route of exploiting J.Lo for her sex appeal, it’s a worthy guilty pleasure.
6. Maid In Manhattan (2001)
This is rom-com canon, y'all. Marisa (Lopez), a hardworking single mom and hotel maid, fibs her way into the heart of wealthy politician Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes). Once you get over the deeply ludicrous plot, and the fact that Marisa and Christopher's undying bond is formed over about 4 minutes of screen time, you'll have the time of your life.
5. Anaconda (1997)
Unlike most of Lopez's swings and misses, Anaconda knows just how bad it is. Featuring Jon Voight as a villainous snake expert (who acts and sounds suspiciously similar to The Room's Tommy Wiseau), Ice Cube as the "oh, s—t!" screaming cameraman, J.Lo as the (sassy) voice of reason, and giant (!!!) snakes (!!!), the movie is unapologetically campy and unapologetically incredible. Anaconda is a must-see.
4. The Wedding Planner (2001)
He saved her life! He saved her shoe! As confused as I am by the film's decision to cast Lopez as an Italian, The Wedding Planner is a truly heartwarming rom-com (I get teary-eyed every time). Unlike its counterpart Maid in Manhattan, the attraction between Mary (Lopez) and Steve (Matthew McConaughey) makes sense and doesn't feel rushed or overly saccharine. Steve's kind of an asshole and that's kind of Mary's type—it's real life, guys!
3. Enough (2002)
This is the kick-ass kind of role Lopez was meant to play. Slim (no, her name is never explained) is a battered wife who'll stop at nothing to protect herself and her daughter from her vengeful husband (Billy Campbell). For all the helpless girlfriends Lopez has played, Slim is a welcome change of pace. This is peak J. Lo content, and we can't recommend it enough.
2. Second Act (2018)
Jennifer Lopez is one of the best examples of a strong and independent women in today’s pop culture landscape, so why is her character’s happiness reliant on a man in 90% of her movies? This is where Second Act breaks the mold. It follows all the typical rom-com tropes (Makeover sequence! BFF dance sesh! Dark secret from the past reemerges!), but it also focuses on a woman — herself and her dreams — in a way that feel-good hits like Maid in Manhattan and The Wedding Planner never dared. Lopez’s Maya has a love interest, of course (played by This Is Us’s dreamy Milo Ventimiglia, no less), but the movie isn’t about him — instead, Second Act is a love letter to every woman who feels limited by society, and a delightful pep talk for those willing to fight back.
1. Hustlers (2019)
Like a fine wine, Jennifer Lopez (and her career) just gets better with age. From Lopez's very first scene in the film, an artful pole routine set to Fiona Apple's "Criminal," it's clear that Hustlers is banking on something more than its incredibly marketable star or the obvious sex appeal of a Hollywood film about strippers. Where other projects would force a celebrity of Lopez's magnitude into the skimpiest outfits imaginable, straddling Harvey Weinstein types to a soundtrack of on-the-nose 2007 hits like Britney Spears's "Gimme More," Hustlers treats its cast and the world they inhabit with respect. These women aren't caricatures meant to be pitied or laughed at — they're real people, whose actions (no matter how unethical) are rendered with understanding.
Lopez, who's been turning in understated (and underrated) performances for more than 20 years, is finally getting the recognition she deserves with her portrayal of magnetic pack leader Ramona. Not only is this the best film she's ever been in, but it's her most affecting performance since Enough.