In Contention's Top 10 Performances in Steven Soderbergh Films
With 'Magic Mike' on the way, a look at the actors who excelled in the director's work
2. Julia Roberts in "Erin Brockovich" (2000)
A box-office smash over a year before it won Roberts her inevitable Best Actress Oscar, the deceptively conventional "Erin Brockovich" was Soderbergh's first out-and-out star vehicle: as much as the film benefits from the social and stylistic inflections he applies to a formula underdog narrative, it works precisely because it's aware that Julia Roberts' magnetism is its greatest asset. It's a thing of rare chemical beauty when a great movie star finds that role, the one that depends on an existing screen persona while tapping new territory within it: Roberts' sassy warmth was no discovery here, but Erin's domestic pragmatism and down-at-heel empathy give a richer context to that toothsome electricity. A career performance, in every sense of the term.