Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Baby

Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Baby

Renee Zellweger is back on the big screen this week as she reprises the title role in Bridget Jones's Baby.

It was back in 2004 when we last saw her take on this role in Edge of Reason and the new film sees her reunite with filmmaker Sharon Maguire.

To celebrate Zellweger's return, we take a look back at her career and some of her movies that you cannot afford to miss.

- Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)

It seems only right that we start with Bridget Jones's Diary and it was back in 2001 when we saw her take on this role for the very first time. It is hard to believe that this movie is already fifteen years old.

The movie was based on the book of the same name by Helen Fielding and saw Sharon Maguire take up the director's chair to make her feature film debut.

While Zellweger was no stranger to the big screen and had enjoyed success with the likes of Jerry Maguire, Bridget Jones's Diary was the film that was to propel her onto the A-list.

For me, Zellweger was perfect for the role of Bridget, bringing a lot of heart and charm to the role - it hard to understand why there was so much controversy around Zellweger's casting.

Zellweger truly embodies this character and gets under the skin of this very lost thirty-something. She is a mix between grown woman and little girl and the actress captures that wonderfully well.

Bridget Jones's Diary is a movie that is a lot of fun and was a great reminder of just how great British comedy movies could be.

The movie went on to be both a critical and commercial success as it grossed over $281 million by the end of its theatrical run.

Not only did the role of Bridget Jones catapult Zellweger onto the A-list, but it also saw her bag her first Best Actress Oscar nomination. She lost out to Halle Berry for her performance in Monster's Ball.

Bridget Jones's Diary

- Chicago (2002)

It was the beginning of 2003 when Chicago hit the big screen in the UK and saw Zellweger tackle a big musical role for the first time.

Zellweger took on the iconic role of Roxie Hart in the Rob Marshall directed film, which was based on the musical of the same name. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and John C. Reilly completed the all-star cast.

The movie follows murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, who find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago.

Chicago is a great spectacle of a musical that is energetic and packed with some wonderful musical numbers and set pieces. While it is the story that we all know, the director has truly breathed new life into it.

As well as being a visual spectacular, Chicago is a film that is packed with well-crafted and developed characters as well as plenty of humour.

Both Zellweger and Zeta-Jones deliver fantastic performances as Hart and Kelly and together, they are a wonderful film partnership that you find yourself rooting for.

The movie was a box office smash and went on to be nominated for eleven Oscars, including another Best Actress nod for Zellweger. It would win six, including Best Picture; it was the first musical to win the Best Picture gong since Oliver back in 1968. Zellweger lost out to Nicole Kidman in The Hours.

Chicago

- Cold Mountain (2003)

In 2003, Zellweger would team up with Kidman for Cold Mountain, which was based on the novel of the same name by Charles Frazier.

The movie was directed by Anthony Minghella and Zellweger and Kidman were joined on the cast list by Jude Law, Eileen Atkins, Kathy Baker, Brendan Gleeson, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

At the dawn of the Civil War, the men of Cold Mountain, North Carolina, rush to join the Confederate army. Ada (Kidman) has vowed to wait for Inman (Law), but as the war drags on and letters go unanswered, she must find the will to survive. In his absence, Ada enlists the help of Ruby as she tries to hold onto the farm of her deceased missionary father.

Zellweger took on the role of Ruby, in what was a strong and rather gritty performance from the actress. She may be a supporting cast member in Cold Mountain, but it is Zellweger who truly shines and gives the film's best performance.

Ruby is a spunky and engaging character who works hard, fights even harder. and is not afraid to get her hands dirty in order to survive - a complete contrast to Kidman's depiction of Ava.

While Cold Mountain does suffer from some pacing problems at times, it is a well-crafted and beautiful looking movie that was met well by the critics.

After two Best Actress Oscar nominations, it was the Best Supporting Actress gong that Zellweger would go on to win. It was the only win from seven nominations.

Cold Mountain

- Cinderella Man (2005)

Zellweger teamed up with Russell Crowe and director Ron Howard in 2005, as a biopic about boxer James Braddock was brought to the big screen.

This was the first time that Zellweger had worked with Howard as she played Braddock's wife Mae. Paul Giamatti was also on the cast list.

The movie followed Braddock, a supposedly washed-up boxer who battled back to become a champion and an inspiration during the 1930s as he fights to provide for his family.

Cinderella Man is one of those wonderful rags to riches stories that has real heart at the film's core. This is a story that will not fail to move you and you will be willing Braddock to triumph as he steps in the ring for his shot at the heavyweight championship.

Zellweger gives one of the best performances of her career as Braddock's wife, who is relieved when her husband leaves boxing behind but accepts that he needs to return in order for them to survive. There is a wonderful bond and chemistry between Crowe and Zellweger and you really believe the love that is between this struggling husband and wife.

Cinderella Man is a wonderfully crafted film that tells a very human story - this is a movie that is as much about Braddock out of the ring as it is about him in it. Howard has also captured the period beautifully and you really are transported to Depression Era New Jersey.

Cinderella Man was met with acclaim upon release and, for me, remains one of the best boxing movies of recent years.

Cinderella Man

- Miss Potter (2006)

In 2006, Zellweger took on the role of author Beatrix Potter in a biopic for the author's life.

Directed by Chris Noonan, Miss Potter chronicles the start of Beatrix Potter's career, her struggles and heartbreak on her way to becoming one of the world's most loved authors.

Miss Potter was only the third feature film for Noonan, coming after Bulls and the huge success of Babe in 1995. It was the director's first collaboration with Zellweger.

While many thought that the role of Beatrix Potter should have been played by a British actress, Zellweger is truly charming in the role and, once again, captures that English accent wonderfully well.

Of course, this is a movie that does celebrate the talents and achievements of Potter, but it is a movie that delves into her personal story - one that is dotted with sadness.

Zellweger plays Beatrix as a strong and independent woman who has no interest in marrying a man so he can provide for her. She is a woman who wants to find her own way in the world but also wants to be loved.

There is a strength and a vulnerability to her that Zellweger balances well. I also love her chemistry with McGregor and you do find yourself rooting for them to triumph.

Miss Potter may not have been one of Zellweger's biggest box office successes, but it is one of her most charming and touching movies. It really is up there as one of my favourites.

Miss Potter

Bridget Jones's Baby is released 16th September.


by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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