If there were still actual B-movies around these days, Milla Jovovich would undoubtedly be queen of them; even as it is, she’s made her career largely in lower-budget pulp films produced by either her ex-husband Luc Besson or her current husband Paul W.S. Anderson. Marina goaded me into putting together a Rank ‘Em for our favorite Ukranian-model-turned-actress, though it didn’t require much urging! Milla admittedly hasn’t been in that many good movies and she certainly has a reasonably well-defined range of acting ability, but she brings such a level of go-getter charisma to everything that I will almost unfailingly enjoy anything she’s in. Plus, girlcrush. They don’t have to make sense.
There are still a good many of her films that I haven’t seen, like The Fourth Kind, The Messenger, and Dummy, but here’s a good chunk, ranked by my Milla-viewing pleasure.
12. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
I like Apocalypse (the second entry) the least of the Resident Evil series because I find the whole Alice vs. Nemesis plotline incredibly boring and predictable. Milla does have some pretty awesome costumes and the last boss fight, as ridiculous as it is, has some fun moments. Also, the teaser trailer for this film is one of my all-time favorite teasers.
11. Dazed and Confused (1993)
A controversial placement, I’m sure, for a fairly well-loved movie, but I just…don’t like it very much. It’s probably my own fault for not being able to relate to the story, but I don’t really get the appeal of this particular coming of age story. That said, I do, of course, enjoy Milla’s small part in it. I didn’t realize she was in it when I first started watching it, so that was a nice surprise in an experience I otherwise wasn’t enjoying that much.
10. Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Afterlife (the fourth entry) suffers from a plotline too thematically similar to Extinction, but it DOES give Ali Larter more to do and and actually uses 3D in a dumbly fun way. The script is as bad or worse than any of the other entries (probably even Apocalypse), and Milla’s growing tendency to play Alice like an autobot doesn’t help, yet I still enjoyed it. Sue me.
9. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
The third Resident Evil movie gets a boost by having a story that moderately makes sense, and makes good use of a Mad Max-esque postapocalyptic landscape, as Alice goes in search of other survivors of the zombie plague and Umbrella tracks her down. But from a Milla Jovovich eye-candy perspective, the baggy and much-fabricked costume design is a massive disappointment.
8. Stone (2010)
An existential crisis drama masquerading as a thriller; Edward Norton is nearing the end of an arson prison sentence, and he sends his wife Milla to seduce the parole-giving officer (Robert De Niro) and convince him to write a good recommendation. That’s the premise on the box cover. Really, it’s far more about De Niro’s own hang-ups. The movie is way too overwrought, but Milla does turn in one of her better performances, slipping with ease from seductress to giggling child to cold woman scorned.
7. A Perfect Getaway (2009)
A fairly standard thriller, but a perfectly decent and enjoyable one, with Milla and Steve Zahn as a couple vacationing in Hawaii – but there’s a couple of psychopaths loose in the jungle who are killing tourists. You know there’s gonna be twists here, but they’re effective, and both Milla and the scenery are beyond lovely.
6. No Good Deed (2002)
Detective Samuel L. Jackson runs across a gang planning a bank robbery and ends up becoming their hostage, left alone with one of their girls as a guard. Milla is the girl, of course, who is adept at manipulating the not-so-bright men in the gang; when she starts reaching Jackson’s softer side, is she sincere or not? I watched this on a whim a while back and was surprised by how much I liked it; it’s not on par with director Bob Rafelson’s classic ’70s films, but that feel comes through enough to feel nicely retro now and then.
5. Zoolander (2001)
I’m not a big fan of Ben Stiller and avoid his movies wherever possible; a friend wheedled me into this one, and I must confess, I rather like its bizarre qualities. Milla fits in perfectly with her character Katinka Ingabogovinanana, the lanky Russian in S&M garb tasked with “protecting” fashion model Stiller. It’s ridiculous, over the top, and a whole lot of fun.
4. Ultraviolet (2006)
Kurt Wimmer’s much-maligned follow-up to Equilibrium has one thing that film didn’t: Milla. It also lacks the self-importance that makes me weary of Equilibrium. Of course, Ultraviolet is plenty dumb in the script department, but in this particular case, that only lets the psychedelic visuals shine even further. This is style-over-substance cinema of excess, and I am okay with that.
3. Resident Evil (2002)
The other three Resident Evil films I’ll toss off as guilty pleasures, but I will actually defend this one as a genuinely entertaining and decently-made B-movie zombie flick. I like the “Alice finding out who she is” part of the plot, I like the various zombie encounters (especially the one with the dogs), I like the way Alice actually seems to care about the people she’s with here, and the way her eyes cary her performance. Milla plays Alice less and less human as the series goes on, but in this first entry, she’s great. I probably rewatch this and The Fifth Element as much as any other films I own.
2. The Claim (2000)
If I were simply choosing the best movie Milla’s ever been in, it would be The Claim, no doubt. It’s likely also her best performance, going way against type as the head of a frontier brothel and mistress to the town’s leader (yes, kind of like McCabe and Mrs. Miller). Having Michael Winterbottom as director and getting to play off the likes of Peter Mullan and Sarah Polley doesn’t hurt her at all, and she steps up. That said, it’s not really a “Milla movie,” so I had to reserve the top spot for one of those.
1. The Fifth Element (1997)
Milla’s first major role remains her most iconic, Leeloo, aka the Fifth Element, aka Supreme Being of the Universe. In a film that’s utterly wacky from start to finish, Milla winds up being the emotional core, and she keeps me coming back to this film despite annoyances named Chris Tucker. The film is silly (mostly in a good way), but Milla has never been more perfect.