Total Recall: Bill Murray's Best Movies

We count down the comedian's 15 best-reviewed films.


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9. Rushmore (1998)
Tomatometer: 86%

The second act of Murray's career, in which he pivots from playing sleepy-eyed shysters into more finely nuanced dramatic roles, starts with this film, which broke director Wes Anderson through to a larger audience, essentially redefined the quirky high school movie for a new generation and reaped scores of awards and nominations for its trouble. Though it was never anything close to a box office hit -- its gross stalled at just over $17 million, below its $20 million budget -- Rushmore has grown into a certified cult classic. The movie rests on Schwartzman's shoulders, and a good deal of the critical acclaim rightly centered on his turn as the troubled Max Fischer -- but for a not-inconsiderable number of critics, Murray's performance as the dissatisfied executive who befriends, then spars with Schwartzman was a revelation. While lauding Schwartzman as "the best underdog since Cusack in Better Off Dead," eFilmCritic's Brian McKay saved his highest praise for Murray, deeming this "the finest, funniest, and most deadpan performance of his career."








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8. Broken Flowers (2005)
Tomatometer: 86%

By this point, Murray was becoming just as famous for his hard-to-decipher real-life antics as he was for anything he did on screen -- at least partly because anyone who wanted to hire him had no agent or manager to go through, and was forced to deal directly with Murray, supposedly through an oft-neglected personal voicemail box. True to form, for Broken Flowers -- and a part which director Jim Jarmusch said he wrote more or less specifically for his star -- Murray agreed to sign on only if he could stay within 60 miles of his home. Ironically, Flowers is a movie about traveling -- Murray's character visits former flames in an effort to determine which one sent him an anonymous letter informing him of the nearly 20-year-old product of their relationship. As much as his character spent the film in motion, Murray kept his performance close to home, delivering a quiet, minimalistic turn not terribly dissimilar from his work in Lost in Translation. The similarity was noted by more than one critic, and although Flowers didn't attract the same sort of attention as Translation, but most scribes agreed with Sight and Sound's Liese Spencer, who noted, "After a career of deadpanning, Murray's impassive performance is still fresh, funny, sympathetic and restrained."








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7. Tootsie (1982)
Tomatometer: 87%

It's got Stephen Bishop on the soundtrack and it takes place during an era in which soap opera stars had a somewhat realistic chance of appearing on the cover of mainstream publications -- but despite these anachronisms, Tootsie remains largely as fresh and funny as it was in 1982. And although it would be at best misguided to give Bill Murray a large portion of the credit for this, his scene-stealing, unbilled turn as Dustin Hoffman's playwright roommate did give a terrific early indication of Murray's willingness -- eagerness, even -- to take on smaller roles in the right projects. It's easy to see why Murray might have wanted to show up and film a few days of Tootsie, too: with Dustin Hoffman in the lead, Sydney Pollack behind the cameras, and a script whose writers included Barry Levinson and Elaine May, it was a pretty sweet gig whether or not your name ended up above the title. As an added bonus, the movie's examination of gender roles fit perfectly with the times, helping propel Tootsie to nearly $175 million in receipts and plenty of glowing reviews from critics like Emanuel Levy, who called it "one of the best and most significant comedies of the 1980s."




Comments

Confounded

Matthew Bertram

Swap #1 and #3 and I'm fine with the list. Although Caddyshack should be a bit higher in my view, but oh well.

But there is NO WAY Groundhog Day should beat Lost in Translation OR Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters #1 all the way.

I don't care what the Tomatometer says!

"What did you do Ray...?"

Oct 8 - 05:19 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

CADDYSHACK-NO.1
LOST IN TRANSLATION-NO.2
GROUNDHOG DAY-NO.3
GHOSTBUSTERS-NO.4
BROKEN FLOWERS-NO.5 (REALLY UNDERRATED)

I think City of Ember will suck, they aren't screening it for critics until tomorrow, only 2000 screens, and no much advertisements. Ember will be a rental.

Oct 8 - 05:45 PM

the_clouds_are_bleeding

J T

I think this list is pretty accurate, except I think his role as a pre-op transvestite in "Ed Wood" was his best role (although, maybe not his best movie).

Oct 8 - 06:39 PM

blattman

Mike Greenblatt

That is a great list. I loved quick change. It didn't get much attention, but what a fun ride.

Oct 8 - 06:39 PM

smartmoviekid

jonathan ramirez

Wheres his lauded performance in "Osomsis Jones"? just kidding. Murray was always an actor i enjoyed seeing on screen, from his hilarious turns on Stripes and Ghostbusters, to His Edgy Performances in Ed Wood and, my favorite, Lost in Translation. I remember CaddyShack more for Rodney Dangerfield and Chevy Chase, but of couse Murray had his moments. Too Bad City of Ember will stink financially..it was also probably rushed into the screen...not enough of the book's touch i guess. we'll see.

Oct 8 - 06:54 PM

knowingtoast85

brian Firenzi

We're forgetting Murray's towering triumvirate of masterpieces: Garfield, Ghostbusters 2 and Larger Than Life.

Oct 8 - 07:12 PM

Gonšalo Pais

Gonšalo Pais

really Garfield?? Tell me more about how good you are classifying movies

Feb 7 - 10:22 AM

thobie1

Todd Hobart

How about The Life Aquatic? I loved that movie, and Murray was awesome in it.

Oct 8 - 08:15 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

Oh Damn I forgot to mention Life Aquatic, that was great and so under rated. Bill Murray was amazing in it! Oh and Rushmore and Royal Tenembaums those are also amazing, man I wasn't thinking. Also I know people who have met him and they all say he is really nice.

Oct 8 - 08:25 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

Oh Damn I forgot to mention Life Aquatic, that was great and so under rated. Bill Murray was amazing in it! Oh and Rushmore and Royal Tenembaums those are also amazing, man I wasn't thinking. Also I know people who have met him and they all say he is really nice.

Oct 8 - 08:25 PM

omelette

Bobby Brown

I think The Life Aquatic should be on this list - but there's no way it could possibly be, I love it but far too many people hate it.

I like Groundhog Day quite a bit, but think that it's really really overrated. Bill Murray's best movie? One of the best comedies ever made? Not in my book. Lost in Translation and Ghostbusters totally deserve their high spots, though!

Oct 8 - 08:27 PM

chrisfrenzy

CHris Henson

I dig Life Aquatic, too. I think you have to watch it more than once to appreciate it. Also, it helps if you think of it as a film by Max Fischer. And the David Bowie sung in Portuguese was amazing.

Oct 9 - 12:10 PM

utkipp1

Anthony Kipp

It may not have been the best movie he was in (yeah it was) but by far his best performance was in Ghostbusters. And it is a movie that will be remembered long after the others, besides Groundhog Day and Caddyshack, are forgotten.

Oct 8 - 08:29 PM

condorman

Bence Vass

To the guy who said that Groundhog day was forgotten. In Austria it is played (together with Scrooged) every Christmas, and I watch both every time. I would guess it is the same everywhere else :D

Oct 10 - 04:41 AM

Pramod Bhat

Pramod Bhat

i love ...to watch that

Feb 8 - 01:42 PM

Mr. Freeman

David Bostic

How could you have not listed Life Aquatic? Bill gets more face-time in that film, in which he does an amazing job, than in either of the other two Anderson films. Although the film as a whole was not as amazing as Anderson's two previous efforts, the film is still amazing in its creativity and Murray's performance is really what keeps it from sinking.

Oct 8 - 08:41 PM

screwhead100

Ben Wellick

"There are probably more eminently quotable movies from the early '80s" --- what comedy is more quotable than caddy shack from the early 80s?!!?!

& im not even apart of that generation, im 23........and i kno its the best of the best!!!

Oct 8 - 10:07 PM

Confounded

Matthew Bertram

Airplane! is probably the biggest. Princess Bride, Breakfast Club/Sixteen Candles, Blues Brothers, even Ghostbusters could be argued to have "more" quotable one-liners (but that would just be an argument).

And of course, "Say hello to my little friend!"

Oct 9 - 05:07 AM

kodie131

Cody Dean

These lists shouldn't just rely on the tomatoemeter, it should rely on its cult status, appreciation, etc. WHERE IS LIFE AQUATIC?!? I honestly think it should be in the top five, he is incredible in it. Who honestly doesn't get teary eyed when he does near the end? It's brilliant film making, and it's all about Murray.... and the covers of David Bowie.

Oct 8 - 11:55 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

The Life Aquatic.... I don't know. Just didn't work for me. Too many dull moments I didn't find humor or even story progression in. Though I loved Royal Tenenbaums and of course Rushmore. (OR scrubs is one of the best movie lines ever). I wish Kingpin was on the list. He was hilarious in that flick. No one can work a comb over like Murray.

Ghostbusters may be Murrays best. He carried that titanic blockbuster. In the 80s, Murray was God. I appreciate what he does now, though. Sophisticated, little comedy/dramas that make you think a bit and appreciate the small things about life.

He's had his clunkers, but who hasn't.

Oct 9 - 01:40 AM

rucknrun

Neil Blevins

The list should be:

1-Caddyshack
2-Stripes
3-Ghostbusters
4-Groundhog Day
5-Rushmore

The rest in any order. Where is what about Bob? That has to be better the the awful Maddog and Glory.

Oct 9 - 04:45 AM

Confounded

Matthew Bertram

Airplane! is probably the biggest. Princess Bride, Breakfast Club/Sixteen Candles, Blues Brothers, even Ghostbusters could be argued to have "more" quotable one-liners (but that would just be an argument).

And of course, "Say hello to my little friend!"

Oct 9 - 05:07 AM

Gimy

Gimy Moo

caddyshack is #1, end of story. kingpin is another funny one thats not on here though. the "sh3tcloud" line still cracks me up. gotta say, tenenbaums sucked, so did life aquatic. but to have caddyshack at 13 is pretty much saying the list means nothing. it's a classic thats qouted by both young and old. it's one of the best sports movies of all time, but on a murray list according to critics...only 13? shameful...

Oct 9 - 06:06 AM

ThinPhantom

james cochino

king pin and life aquatic should have made this list. groundhog day #1? the way i see it murray had 2 brilliant parts to his career. the first 10 years and the last 10 years. groundhog day falls into that awkward late 80's early 90's phase where he was probably sober and trying way too hard to be as lovable as steve martin and john candy.

Oct 9 - 08:18 AM

screwhead100

Ben Wellick

ya, whata bout bob deserves to be on this list just bc he was terrorizing richard dreyfus........lol.........

Oct 9 - 08:36 AM

Oz_79

Ted Osborn

I never knew about the rift between Dreyfuss and Murray, so that makes What About Bob even funnier in my book. I also heard there was a bit of a rift between Chevy and Murray during Caddyshack, but that rift maybe more about Bill's craziness when he was a younger man.

Back to the list, I don't know if I would put Groundhog Day at #1 but its still a funny and sentimental story...and I think Andie McDowell is hot! I can't believe Kingpin isn't on the list, I mean the scene where he and woody are in the cafe, and McKracken is trying to pick up the ladies is hilarious.

Oct 9 - 08:40 AM

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