Donald Sutherland's Best Movies

In this week's Total Recall, we count down the best-reviewed work of the Hunger Games: Catching Fire star.

Donald Sutherland

The Hunger Games franchise belongs to Jennifer Lawrence, but she's hardly alone up there on the screen; in fact, she's surrounded by a fairly incredible supporting cast stocked with talented veteran actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, and Stanley Tucci. Oh, and Donald Sutherland, who reprises his role as the ruthless President Snow in the latest installment, Catching Fire. Sutherland's suitably icy performance so impressed us that we decided to dedicate this week's feature to some of his finest moments on the big screen. From socially conscious dramas to goofball comedies, Donald's done it all -- and, as our countdown attests, done it brilliantly. It's time for Total Recall!


86%

10. A Dry White Season

The horror of South Africa's apartheid regime has inspired a number of upstanding dramas, but only one of them features the combined acting might of Marlon Brando, Susan Sarandon, and our man Donald Sutherland: 1989's A Dry White Season. Starring Sutherland as a teacher who experiences a reluctant awakening to apartheid's injustice, and Brando as the human rights lawyer who helps him seek justice for a murdered employee, Season surges under the power of director Euzhan Palcy's withering rage -- and while polemics don't always make for compelling films, most critics agreed that this was a notable exception. "A Dry White Season bursts through your door and beats you senseless," wrote the Washington Post's Jeanne Cooper. "It seems perverse to question its technique and only days later can you question its logic."


88%

9. Six Degrees of Separation

The fascinating story of real-life con artist David Hampton formed the basis for Six Degrees of Separation, adapted from the John Guare play about a smooth-talking young man named Paul (Will Smith) who shows up on the doorstep of a wealthy New York couple (Sutherland and Stockard Channing) and convinces them he's not only friends with their college-age kids, but that he's the son of Sidney Poitier. Before the night is out, he's sleeping in their guest room -- and before the closing credits roll, the extraordinary truth of Paul's story is revealed. While far from a blockbuster on par with Smith's future efforts, Separation earned Channing an Oscar nomination and won praise from critics like About.com's Fred Topel, who called it "a compelling drama" and "Will Smith's greatest performance."

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90%

8. M*A*S*H

Bitterly divided by the ongoing quagmire in Vietnam, a war-torn nation turned its eyes to Hollywood for insight -- and director Robert Altman responded with 1970's M*A*S*H, a pitch-black ensemble comedy that used the exploits of a ragtag bunch of Korean War medics to offer barbed commentary on American foreign policy while delivering lots of laughs. Featuring a rather incredible cast that included Sutherland, Robert Duvall, Elliott Gould, and Sally Kellerman, the movie racked up more than $80 million at the box office, won an Oscar for Ring Lardner, Jr.'s screenplay, and spawned a hit spinoff TV series that ran for 11 seasons. It was, argued Time Out New York's Joshua Rothkopf, "the first real film of the 1970s."

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92%

7. Ordinary People

Movies about the emotional wreckage hidden behind the white picket fences of American suburbia have become kind of played out over the last 20 years or so, but as the 1980s dawned, it was still somewhat new territory -- and as demonstrated by debuting director Robert Redford in 1980's Ordinary People, those themes could be drawn upon to produce one of the young decade's most heart-wrenching (and best-acted) dramas. Led by a cast that included Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore as the emotionally distant parents of a guilt-stricken teen (Timothy Hutton) who survived a boating accident that left his brother dead, People shone a spotlight on the creeping ennui that would come to help define the decade, winning a Best Picture Oscar in the bargain and earning praise from critics like Vincent Canby of the New York Times, who held it up as "A moving, intelligent and funny film about disasters that are commonplace to everyone except the people who experience them."

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91%

6. National Lampoon's Animal House

He's arguably best remembered today for his many successful dramas, but Donald Sutherland can be a pretty funny guy when he has the right script. Witness National Lampoon's Animal House, in which director John Landis lined up some of the era's most talented comics and character actors in order to tell the wonderfully chaotic tale of the war between a frat full of reprobates and the uptight dean (John Vernon) who wants to force them off campus with the help of a rival fraternity. Led by an unforgettable performance from John Belushi and rounded out by a stellar supporting cast (including Sutherland as a stoned English professor), it went down as one of the decade's most uproarious (and financially successful) comedies -- and although many of the movies it inspired were met with critical derision, most scribes couldn't help but guffaw at what Sky Movies' Domic Bloch later deemed "A masterpiece in anarchy."

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Comments

Alberto Balsalm

Alberto Balsalm

In recent years, he has just played the role of "grouchy old man" in every film he is in. Rather well though.

Nov 20 - 04:22 PM

Vincent

Cutler the Witch Doctor

Don't Look Now was fantastic...until the ending. I mean the paint blood looked really cheesy and dumb. Never seen the rest.

Nov 20 - 04:24 PM

Dave J

Dave J

"Kelly's Heroes" may be close on the RT list but it should've made it on the user's list scoring 85% amongst the users!

Nov 20 - 04:48 PM

Kyle Thomas

Kyle Thomas

Giddy up to that.

Nov 20 - 07:42 PM

Russell Scott

Russell Scott

Oddball, one of the greatest characters in movie history. Even if you don't like war movies, fictional as it is, you will love his performance as the hippie tank commander.

Nov 20 - 11:55 PM

Alan Troske

Alan Troske

A hippy in WWII, never understood that part.

Nov 23 - 06:00 AM

Scott Frost

Scott Frost

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)is a fantastic and creepy movie. The performances from the whole cast really make this movie. And oh that wonderful ending.....

Nov 20 - 04:56 PM

Thomas Levesque

Thomas Levesque

my 10 favorite donald sutherland movies are
1-The Hunger Games
2-Reign Over Me
3-Fool's Gold
4-Outbreak
5-A Time To Kill
6-JFK
7-The Italian Job
8-Buffy The Vampire Slayer
9-Horrible Bosses
10-The Puppet Masters

Nov 20 - 04:57 PM

Johan Andersson

Johan Andersson

Are you kidding? Apart from JFK those are pretty much his worst movies.

Nov 21 - 01:23 PM

Thomas Levesque

Thomas Levesque

well i like them, if u have a problem with it, then tought shit.

Nov 22 - 04:05 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

In a way, he'll always be Hawkeye to me but there's some great stuff here. Don't Look Now is tremendous and his final scene in Ordinary People is devastating. Some of my other favorites - Johnny Got His Gun, Fellini's Casanova, 1900, Kentuncky Fried Movie (ha! forgot about that one), Eye of the Needle. He's been bank-rolling a lot this century though.

Nov 20 - 05:45 PM

Carl Latin

Carl Latin

Panic is fantastic!

Nov 20 - 07:00 PM

Kyle Thomas

Kyle Thomas

Giddy up to that.

Nov 20 - 07:42 PM

Juan Carlos Sánchez Emilfork

Juan Carlos Sánchez Emilfork

Oviri (The Wolf at the Door) deserves a place in this rating, his role as Paul Gauguin is impressive

Nov 20 - 07:53 PM

Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter

no kelly's hero's or JFK?

Nov 20 - 07:58 PM

Infernal D.

Infernal Dude 2.0

Ordinary People. The poster child of Best Picture Winners that didn't deserve it.

On subject though, where's Kelly's Heroes!? I love that movie. I still have the VHS with the old "book cover" box. What a fun film.

Also, his informant montage in JFK is the driving scene of that movie.

Nov 20 - 09:08 PM

David Rocha

David Rocha

I don't see how it didn't deserve. I'm guessing you feel Raging Bull was a better movie. Whether that would be a common agreement among most, that doesn't mean Ordinary People didn't deserve it.

Nov 22 - 11:41 AM

Infernal D.

Infernal Dude 2.0

I do think Raging Bull or The Elephant Man should have won. I also think history is on my side on this one. Who talks about OP anymore? High school students who have to read the book and watch the movie to shore up before the test, thats about it.

OP stands proudly next to Shakespeare in Love and Crash. No one remembers them, either.

Nov 22 - 11:54 AM

David Rocha

David Rocha

You're associating memorable with great films, which is hardly the case. Just because we don't remember it like we do with Raging Bull that doesn't diminish it for what it is. A great film. It deservingly won an award over four great, nominated films.

Nov 22 - 07:05 PM

Typhon

Typhon Q

This guy as President Snow was the best part of Hunger Games.

Nov 20 - 09:17 PM

Gary Devenport

Gary Devenport

How has Sutherland not been nominated for an Oscar??

Nov 20 - 11:15 PM

Russell Scott

Russell Scott

Oddball, one of the greatest characters in movie history. Even if you don't like war movies, fictional as it is, you will love his performance as the hippie tank commander.

Nov 20 - 11:55 PM

Alan Troske

Alan Troske

A hippy in WWII, never understood that part.

Nov 23 - 06:00 AM

Mike Mozelle

Mike Mozelle

and no mention of Kelly's Heroes... damn shame

Nov 21 - 04:08 AM

scifimark

scifi mark

I love him as an actor and seen almost all of these movies. He was a great addition to the hunger game cast.

Nov 21 - 06:33 AM

Rose Milnes

Rose Milnes

Why is everyone forgetting his brilliant performance as Mr. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice? He was fantastic in that movie.

Nov 21 - 06:45 AM

King of the Snoots

Ryan Brown

The "Mechanic" anyone??? Ohh wait...these are about Donald Sutherland's best movies. Hands down "Ordinary People."

Nov 21 - 10:44 AM

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