Top Performances is a recurring feature in which we definitively handpick the very best performances from an iconic actor or actress.
This week, Atomic Blonde storms into theaters to continue the reinvention of Charlize Theron as one of the more formidable action stars of the present era. It’s likely that Mad Max: Fury Road will see the Oscar winner cast in a broader swath of roles, but it’s just the latest phase for a star who’s been delivering a diverse array of performances for years.
From the steely resolve of her acclaimed turn in North Country to the knowing high camp of her work in the recent Snow White films to the daffy comic chops displayed in Arrested Development (“Mr. F!”), Theron has established herself as a chameleon of high caliber, able to deal in self-effacing irony and grave, stirring drama with presence and grace.
As she continues to distinguish herself as one of the substantial actresses of this current generation, we thought it time to commemorate some of her best work, from great performances in great movies to standout performances that elevated lesser work by her presence. From the wasteland to the Minnesota suburbs to hell itself, here are our 10 favorite performances to date.