Best Movies of George Clooney According to Rotten Tomatoes: Born on 6th May 1961, the sixty-two-year-old George Clooney is one of the prominent torchbearers of cinematic sexiness. The silver hair, the debonair fashion, and the suaveness with which he carries himself are something that manifests well and truly in the movies that he does and the kind of razor-sharp corporate Hollywood filmmaking that he represents. It helps, then, that his tequila brand Casamigos has also established him as a representative of luxury and good taste.
This doesn’t mean that he is not effectively able to translate human complexity on the screen with the kind of identifiable creative expression that they deserve. He is able to mix his sophistication with semblances to broader human realities, which also makes him a compelling actor to witness. He can be riveting even when another actor spearheads a film that he leads, which says a lot about how well he has mastered understatement. The urban elegance of his work might make it distant to a major section of the viewers, but it is mostly a rewarding slice of slick entertainment value that the actor has to offer, and the “A-Lister” in him easily enables it.
Although not one of the finest directors from American cinema, his own direction has resulted in some of his most definitive and memorable turns. Of course, there is always a certain safety of touch that informs his body of work, but strangely, it is mostly this that has saved him from completely falling into the dead ditch of mediocrity of standard English-language art (let’s remember what Martin Scorsese said and forget Batman & Robin even exists). As a celebration of him, here are his ten highest-rated movies, according to the critical consensus database Rotten Tomatoes.
10. The Ides of March (2011) | RT Score: 83%
An adaptation of the 2008 play Farragut North written by Beau Willimon, George Clooney directed this sensational yet sharp political drama film with a lot of assured writing in places. While not exactly a film that takes big swings or is equipped with an especially critical lense towards the way things pan out in the electoral processes of the democracy, The Ides of March has an often engrossing narrative that successfully hooks you to the screen. Moreover, the respect for human rights and democracy came out with clarity through the drama, which earned it the famous Brian Award at the Venice International Film Festival.
George Clooney smartly plays the role of the Pennsylvania governor Mike Morris, a mouthpiece of eloquently put democratic values, his gentleman looks and apt statesman persona helping the character to a great extent. The website’s critical consensus says, “While not exactly exposing revelatory truths, The Ides of March is a supremely well-acted drama that moves at a measured, confident clip.”
9. Hail, Caesar! (2016) | RT Score: 86%
While not one of the very best works of filmmaking marvels Joel and Ethan Coen, this film is still a wonderful comedic oddity that pays a charming, dark and brilliant tribute to the Hollywood period drama, and is another graceful addition to the movies about movies. It nailed the kind of historical grandeur peppered with the sound of jazz and outpouring of nostalgia that balanced ravishing production designs with strong contemporary relevance. The textured look and feel of the film earned it a Best Production Design nomination at the Academy Awards of the following year.
In the film, George Clooney’s performance as Baird Whitlock is certainly one of the highlights. Ably playing off the absurd charm of a character devised by the Coens, he plays a character inspired by the 50s star Robert Taylor, a dumb and dim-witted movie star who is drugged and abduced by a bunch of Communist screenwriters. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Packed with period detail and perfectly cast, Hail, Caesar! finds the Coen brothers delivering an agreeably lightweight love letter to post-war Hollywood.”
8. The Descendants (2011) | RT Score: 87%
Alexander Payne’s critically lauded comedy of confrontations is based on the 2007 novel Descendants written by American novelist Kaui Hert Hemmings, and traces the unexpected upheavals in the otherwise generic life of a Hawaiian land baron. This land baron, Matt King, has been played with rock-solid conviction by Clooney, which earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination. The literary nuances of the text translate beautifully on-screen, which also made it a strong contender and later, a winner of the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Praising Clooney’s performance in the film, the late and great Roger Ebert wrote, “Some actors may not be smart enough to sound convincing; the wrong actor in this role couldn’t convince us that he understands the issues involved. Clooney strikes me as manifestly the kind of actor who does. We see him thinking, we share his thoughts, and at the end of “The Descendants,” we’ve all come to his conclusions together.” The critical consensus of RT reads, “Funny, moving, and beautifully acted, The Descendants captures the unpredictable messiness of life with eloquence and uncommon grace.”
7. Up in the Air (2009) | RT Score: 90%
An uber-cool romantic drama best described as a relationship comedy, Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air is the kind of mushy and frothy crowd-pleaser that understands its beats and rhythms and knows very well the art of playing with them. Based on the novel of the same name written in 2001 by American novelist Walter Kirn, it works because of the charming, funny and occasionally even moving writing. However, even more importantly, it works because George Clooney effectively plays a character that is basically himself- a well-dressed businessman who (at that time) is in his 40s.
The film was nominated for five major Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for George Clooney’s effortless performance as Ryan Birmingham. The performances by Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick were also largely appreciated. The critical consensus of the website reads, “Led by charismatic performances by its three leads, director Jason Reitman delivers a smart blend of humor and emotion with just enough edge for mainstream audiences.”
6. Michael Clayton (2007) | RT Score: 91%
Possibly the finest hour of George Clooney on-screen, this film by Tony Gilroy finds him playing the titular character with a compelling mix of vulnerability and a confident approach towards risks and deadly challenges, giving this razor-sharp legal thriller the high-voltage slickness of an espionage drama. The film itself is a powerful one, lauded by critics and audiences for its smart and authentic mainstream breakdown of corporate politics and corruption. So original and dialogue-driven is the film that it feels like a strong cinematic adaptation of a literary masterpiece despite not being one.
The film was nominated for a number of Awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director for Tony Gilroy and Best Actor for Clooney. Curiously, the film remains the only nomination and win of Tilda Swinton so far for a film, given that she does little and somehow still leaves a mark. The critical consensus for the film reads, “Michael Clayton is one of the most sharply scripted films of 2007, with an engrossing premise and faultless acting. Director Tony Gilroy succeeds not only in capturing the audience’s attention, but holding it until the credits roll.”
5. Out of Sight (1998) | RT Score: 94%
Out of Sight is one of the rare pre-2000s work of George Clooney that is still counted among his best, and unsurprisingly so, because it also happens to be one of the prominent works of Steven Soderbergh. A stylish American crime comedy adapted from novelist Elmore Leonard’s 1966 novel of the same name, the film received Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing. The film finds Clooney pulling off the role of a bank robber with great panache.
Surprisingly equipped with a distinct reputation of being one of the best English-language heist thrillers, the film is a perfect representative of its lead star’s silver fox look and feel. The critical consensus reads, “Steven Soderbergh’s intelligently crafted adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel is witty, sexy, suprisingly entertaining, and a star-making turn for George Clooney.”
4. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) | RT Score: 94%
Shot in color film stock and later colour-corrected to black-and-white, this film marks the sophomore feature of George Clooney as a director, and is also inarguably his most accomplished directorial to date. A proper period drama about the landscape of American television news, the film powerfully charts the conflict between veteran journalist Edward Murrow and Senator McCarthy, doing so with a healthy dose of luxuriant nostalgia and evocative world-building along with drama that does a lot of heavy-lifting.
The film finds Clooney giving his all to a powerful supporting turn as Fred Friendly, who was the coproducer of CBS TV programme See it Now. He anchors the small character and his contribution to the protagonist’s battle against McCarthyism with as much wit and charm as he does behind the camera, and lights up the screen with his understated presence. The film itself received several accolades including six major Oscar nominations, and a lot of praise for David Strathairn’s accomplished leading performance. The critical consensus of the website reads, “A passionate and concise cinematic civics lesson, Good Night, And Good Luck has plenty to say about today’s political and cultural climate, and its ensemble cast is stellar.”
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) | RT Score: 93%
One of the most spectacular and appealing filmmakers of our generation, Wes Anderson could see something a lot of us can easily oversee about Clooney- the appeal of his voice. The way Clooney infuses a spirit of playfulness to the roguish titular character amplified the stop-motion wonder’s impact and took it to unexpected places of pure sensory delight. There is something intensely charming about the voice modulation, and it most certainly plays off. Adapted from the 1970 novel of the same name written by Roald Dahl, the film too is one of the most essential animated movies.
In New York Film Critics Circle, the film notably secured the 3rd place for Best Picture and grabbed Best Animated Film. In fact, George Clooney won the Best Actor award for the film alongside his performance in Up in the Air. The RT consensus for the film says, “Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delightfully funny feast for the eyes with multi-generational appeal — and it shows Wes Anderson has a knack for animation.”
2. Three Kings (1999) | RT Score: 94%
The second of George Clooney’s only two pre-2000s films to make it to the list and even more strangely, a David O. Russell picture to be so, Three Kings is an anti-war black comedy actioner set in the aftermath of Gulf War, in the 1991 uprisings against Saddam Hussain in Iraq. In it, George Clooney plays the leading man Archie Gates, a US Army Special Force officer disillusioned with the war close to his retirement. He plays it off really well with co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube, enhancing the strangely enjoyable tonality of the film.
The film received a lot of critical attention and applause, and is widely considered one of the rare compelling movies of Russell’s otherwise not-so-glorious (and to put it bluntly, mid) film career. The critical consensus of Rotten Tomatoes for the film reads, “Three Kings successfully blends elements of action, drama, and comedy into a thoughtful, exciting movie on the Gulf War.” In other words, an actually intelligent drama film for your weekend!
1. Gravity (2013) | RT Score: 96%
Alfonso Cuarón is one of the most definitive auteurs of world cinema, to the point that nearly all of his films have been called ‘overrated’ on some platform or the other. His mainstream sci-fi opera Gravity is perhaps the most severely exposed to this dilemma, but in reality, it is rather masterful, equipped with more patience and self-contained humanistic meditation than Interstellar’s “vastness” could ever afford to be, the film also has Clooney rubbing shoulders with Sandra Bullock in a subdued, calm little performance as Matt Kowalski, a veteran astronaut planning to retire. His light-on-feet humour and tendency to talk are compelling embellishments to a rather wisely written character.
The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards, out of which it won eight, including a best director nod to Cuarón and best cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki. Clooney’s performance here was a bit under-the-radar, but in the service of a brilliant expedition that doesn’t feel less than an adventure. The critical consensus for RT reads, “Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is an eerie, tense sci-fi thriller that’s masterfully directed and visually stunning.”
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George Clooney (Actor, Producer, Director) Links: IMDb