Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner
10 Throwback Movies That Prove J.Lo Has Always Been An Icon

by Ani Bundel
Columbia Pictures

It's about time Jennifer Lopez revived her status as rom-com box office queen. And with buzzy projects like Marry Me and Shotgun Wedding coming out soon, it looks like she's doing just that. But while you wait for these new films, why not take a look at the throwback Jennifer Lopez movies that solidified her Hollywood A-list status in the first place?

Lopez is one of the original multi-hyphenates in the business. Before her, the pop stars who crossed into the movie business, like Cher, were few and far between. Nowadays, most people don't think twice about Zendaya or Demi Lovato moving from one to the other and back. But it was stars like Lopez who carved that path, going from fly-girl on In Living Color to the star of Selena to singer of multi-platinum albums like On The 6. In between, she's done everything, including spearheading fashion lines and judging reality shows like World of Dance.

But with two decades of films under her belt, which of the movies in the Lopez canon are worth finding and watching on streaming? Since the mid-1990s, Lopez has been in a string of hits mixed with interesting artistic choices and only one bonafide flop (which was still a pretty high-profile project). With so many worth checking out, here's a curated list of which ones are worth your time:


The original film that took Lopez from a fly-girl and a mid-range pop star to the A-list was 1997's Selena. It was the perfect marriage of subject matter, the late Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla-Pérez.

It helped that critics went in expecting little from Lopez, only to have her overdeliver on every level. The reviews at the time proclaimed she carried the film and this stands true today.

Selena is streaming on HBO Max.

'Out of Sight'

If Selena was the film that put Lopez on the map, then it was Out of Sight that proved her performance wasn't a fluke. The crime-comedy was directed by Steven Soderbergh and co-starred Ving Rhames just off his hot turn in Pulp Fiction and George Clooney amid his meteoric rise as one of the biggest stars on the planet. Lopez holds her own against both like she was born for it.

Out of Sight notably includes several other hot actors of the time, including Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson. It also had future household names like Don Cheadle and Viola Davis.

Out of Sight is currently streaming on Hulu.

'The Wedding Planner'

The early aughts were a rom-com era and Lopez thrived as the lovelorn everygirl haplessly stumbling toward Mr. Right. That run started with The Wedding Planner, which initially cast Jennifer Love Hewitt and then Sarah Michelle Gellar as the star before landing with Lopez.

Lopez wound up paired with Matthew McConaughey, which turned out to be the perfect onscreen match.

The Wedding Planner is streaming on Hulu.

'Maid in Manhattan'

Lopez followed The Wedding Planner the next year with another rom-com, Maid In Manhattan, which co-starred Ralph Fiennes. In this one, she's a single mom and a hotel maid, he's a high-powered politician, and they fall in love.

Written by John Hughes, the movie's concept might seem far-fetched. But the result was a smash hit in 2002; the New York City escapism hit all the right notes.

Maid in Manhattan is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.


Gigli today is treated as a punchline, but in 2003, it was seen as a sure thing. "Bennifer" was the biggest couple on the planet; their offscreen chemistry lit up red carpets worldwide. Lopez's romantic comedies were box office gold; Ben Affleck would play a mobster. Both Al Pacino and Christopher Walken were in it. What could go wrong?

The film was a complete bomb; it barely brought in $7 million. It killed the career of writer and director Martin Brest. It's a fascinating exercise in how a film can completely fail its stars.

Gigli is streaming on Hulu.

'Jersey Girl'

In the wave of negative Gigli press, most people forget Lopez and Affleck actually made two films together. The other one, Jersey Girl, was directed by Affleck's good friend Kevin Smith.

In this one, Lopez isn't the romantic lead; Liv Tyler (just off the Lord of the Rings films) is. Lopez plays the late wife who died in childbirth, who Affleck's character is grieving. It was a different kind of role for Lopez, and one she took to quite well, even if Jersey Girl wasn't the hit that could erase the specter of Gigli from the record books.

Jersey Girl is streaming on Hulu.


The film that did the trick in erasing memories of Gigli was the one-two punch of Bennifer's break-up followed by Lopez's monster hit, Monster-In-Law.

Though it was technically marketed as a rom-com, the real power couple of the film is Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez, two women locked in a battle of wills. For Fonda, this was her return to the big screen, and even if it's a sexist trope of a role, she gives it a three-dimensionality Lopez needed to help make the film a box office smash.

Monster-In-Law is streaming on HBO Max.

'El Cantante'

Everyone remembers Lopez's films with Affleck. They probably don't remember that this fact didn't stop her from doing another project with her next significant other. El Cantante puts her alongside her real-life husband at the time, Marc Anthony.

The film is also a bit of a retreat to what worked for Lopez initially, a biopic of a Latinx artist whose life made an excellent movie drama. In this case, it's the late salsa singer Héctor Lavoe, played by Anthony, with Lopez as Puchi, Hector's wife and the film's narrator.

El Cantante is streaming as a rental on Amazon Prime Video.


Lopez spent the next few years on hiatus from film, but when she returned to movies in the early 2010s, rom-coms had gone out of style. So Lopez turned to Fast & Furious-style heist films, including Parker, in which she appeared alongside action star Jason Statham.

The film wasn't a flop at the time, but it wasn't a hit either. However, it's become a major title on Netflix since and is listed as one of the most-watched action films of 2021.

Parker is streaming on Netflix.

'Lila & Eve'

Before Hustlers became her big comeback film, Lopez re-teamed with Viola Davis in Lila and Eve, which premiered at Sundance in 2015.

Although the story of grieving mothers out for revenge is pretty standard, like so many of Lopez's other films, it's the performances of the leads that elevate it.

Lila and Eve is streaming on AllBLK via Amazon Prime.