Jolie portrayed Wallace's second wife, Cornelia, a performance Lee Winfrey of The Philadelphia Inquirer considered a highlight of the film.
George Wallace was very well received by critics and won, among other awards, the Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film.
She starred in the critically acclaimed biographical cable films George Wallace (1997) and Gia (1998), and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the drama Girl, Interrupted (1999).
Jolie's starring role as the video game heroine Lara Croft in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) established her as a leading Hollywood actress.
The film was not well received by critics; Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert noted that Jolie "finds a certain warmth in a kind of role that is usually hard and aggressive; she seems too nice to be [a mobster's] girlfriend, and maybe she is." Her next work, as a frontierswoman in the CBS miniseries True Women (1997), was even less successful; writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Robert Strauss dismissed her as "horrid, a fourth-rate Scarlett O'Hara" who relies on "gnashed teeth and overly pouted lips." Jolie's career prospects began to improve after she won a Golden Globe Award for her performance in TNT's George Wallace (1997), about the life of the segregationist Alabama Governor and presidential candidate George Wallace, played by Gary Sinise.
The film met with mixed reception from critics, and Jolie's character—Thornton's seductive wife—was particularly criticized; writing for The Washington Post, Desson Howe dismissed her as "a completely ludicrous writer's creation of a free-spirited woman who weeps over hibiscus plants that die, wears lots of turquoise rings and gets real lonely when Russell spends entire nights away from home." Jolie then co-starred with Denzel Washington in The Bone Collector (1999), playing a police officer who reluctantly helps Washington's paraplegic detective track down a serial killer.
The film grossed 1.5 million worldwide, Jolie next took the supporting role of a sociopathic mental patient in Girl, Interrupted (1999), an adaptation of Susanna Kaysen's memoir of the same name.
She appeared in five of her brother's student films, made while he attended the USC School of Cinema-Television, as well as in several music videos, namely Lenny Kravitz's "Stand by My Woman" (1991), Antonello Venditti's "Alta Marea" (1991), The Lemonheads's "It's About Time" (1993), and Meat Loaf's "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" (1993).
She began to learn from her father, as she noticed his method of observing people to become like them.