Total Recall: Ewan McGregor's Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Jack the Giant Slayer star.

81%

5. The Impossible

Set out to make a movie about one of the more horrific tragedies in recent memory, and you've got your work cut out for you -- like any good dramatist, you have to make real-life events cinema-worthy without dishonoring the people who actually experienced them, but with the added pressure of large-scale death and destruction hanging over your film. By most accounts, Juan Antonio Bayona's The Impossible did a noble enough job of representing the Indian Ocean tsunami that wreaked havoc on Boxing Day of 2004, and while some critics resented the way it focused on one white family of tourists (led by McGregor and Naomi Watts) at the expense of the people who actually lived in the region, and others dismissed the whole thing as manipulative Oscar bait, most writers found it (ahem) impossible not to be moved. Calling it "An intense and compelling family melodrama," Salon's Andrew O'Hehir argued that it "sets a new standard for disaster cinema."

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83%

4. Emma

For awhile in the 1990s, it seemed like you couldn't go a week without running into another indie period film at your local arthouse theater; fortunately, quite a few of them were better than average, with Douglas McGrath's frothy Jane Austen adaptation Emma one of the more breezily enjoyable of an often dour-faced bunch. Starring Gwyneth Paltrow as the titular would-be matchmaker and McGregor as one of her suitors, it extended Miramax's winning streak with a healthy $22 million gross, an Academy Award for Best Original Score, and a slew of positive reviews from critics like Peter Keough of the Boston Phoenix, who wrote, "Emma proves that cinema is up to the greatest that literature has to offer."

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83%

3. The Ghost Writer

The Ghost Writer was director/co-writer Roman Polanski's first full-length release since 2005's Oliver Twist, and the time off apparently did him some good: This small-scale political thriller, adapted from Robert Harris' novel, used a solid veteran cast to tell the story of a ghostwriter (McGregor) who finds himself drawn into trouble when he takes a job helping a British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan) finish his memoirs -- and unwittingly turns up clues to a crime that could threaten his own life. "The swirl of visual poetry, political intrigue and personal zeal that Polanski creates gets under your skin and brings an icy hand up your back," marveled Tom Long of the Detroit News. "This is moviemaking."

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84%

2. Beginners

Family dramedies are a dime a dozen, but there's only one Beginners: Mike Mills' tender, sweet look at the sometimes hilarious, often moving ways in which a widower's (Christopher Plummer) decision to come out of the closet affects his relationship with his son (McGregor) -- as well as his son's pursuit of love in his own life. "Plummer gives a textured portrayal as Hal," admitted Stella Papamichael for Radio Times, "but it's the character of Oliver, sensitively played by McGregor, that rings truest, even when he takes advice from a subtitled dog."

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89%

1. Trainspotting

Before he was one of Hollywood's hottest and most eclectic leading men, Ewan McGregor was just another young actor climbing into a toilet. Thankfully, all that toilet-climbing was for a good cause: Trainspotting, Danny Boyle's brilliantly stylish adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel about a group of heroin addicts struggling to get by in 1980s Scotland. Despite the dark subject matter, the movie managed quite a few moments of marvelously dark humor, and although it wasn't one of the bigger box office draws of the year, it quickly went on to acquire a cult following. The critics were always on board, however; screenwriter John Hodge was nominated for an Academy Award, and the film earned raves from scribes like Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote, "Exuberant and pitiless, profane yet eloquent, flush with the ability to create laughter out of unspeakable situations, Trainspotting is a drop-dead look at a dead-end lifestyle that has all the strength of its considerable contradictions."


In case you were wondering, here are McGregor's top 10 movies according RT users' scores:

1. Trainspotting -- 92%
2. Moulin Rouge! -- 88%
3. Big Fish -- 86%
4. Black Hawk Down -- 85%
5. The Impossible -- 85%
6. Shallow Grave -- 81%
7. Velvet Goldmine -- 78%
8. Beginners -- 77%
9. The Pillow Book -- 77%
10. Emma -- 73%


Take a look through McGregor's complete filmography, as well as the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don't forget to check out the reviews for Jack the Giant Slayer.

Finally, here's the trailer for 1997's I Love You, I Love You Not, one of Law's first features:

Comments

Aaron Peters

Aaron Peters

A little suprising he's never been nominated for an oscar.

Feb 27 - 04:20 PM

Betzabet Lima

Betzabet Lima

yessss soo unfair

Feb 27 - 04:55 PM

Teije Vliet

Teije Vliet

I've never been blown away by his performances to be perfectly honest. He does know how to spot a decent script though.

Mar 1 - 08:20 AM

Brian Brennan

Brian Brennan

Not even in Trainspotting?

Mar 3 - 07:07 PM

Ashley West

Ashley West

Really?! I never knew that...what a travesty.

Mar 3 - 01:13 PM

Cat MacRae

Cat MacRae

Yes, Golden Globes, tho. He was just nominated for Salmon Fishing in Yemen. Just a fantastic actor and great human being.

Mar 4 - 08:56 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

His motorcycle docs are fun to watch.

How is Ep. III at 80%?

Trainspotting is still his best but I did like him as the slimy villain in Haywire.

Feb 27 - 04:23 PM

Stefan Takacs

Stefan Takacs

I don't know why Haywire is so highly regarded. The movie was terrible. B movie with a bunch of A listers.

Love Trainspotting, fantastic flick.

Feb 28 - 08:54 PM

Magnus Grant

Magnus Grant

thank God at least one of the prequels is in the top 10 of his films. Underrated films they are.

Feb 27 - 04:24 PM

Dave J

Dave J

If you mean the Star Wars Prequels- Lucas should've stopped with just "The Phantom Menace" since 2 and 3 were way too unbearable to watch! The overabundance use of CGI overshadowed whatever what was happening throughout the rest of the films!

Feb 27 - 05:00 PM

Alex A.

Alex Anonymous

The Phantom Menace was the worst. It was an absolute snooze-fest. Attack of the Clones had the cool fight scene but the rest was filler. And Revenge of the Sith was good, but sill not GREAT.

Feb 27 - 06:02 PM

Dave J

Dave J

If "The Phantom Menace" was really that bad it wouldn't have made it to the top ten in the RT list, and to remind you that none of the other Star Wars prequels even made it in neither top 10 lists even if it's rated higher on the users- it obviously wasn't liked enough!

Feb 27 - 06:20 PM

Alberto Zeeky

Alberto Zeeky

I'd still take Phantom over Clones anyday. Attack of the Clones had far too much of the romance garbage for it to be a enjoyable film, and one good fight scene isn't good enough to save it.

Atleast in Phantom the pod racing scene was pretty good, you had Liam Neeson, and Darth Maul was one of the few bright spots about the entire prequel series.

Feb 27 - 09:25 PM

King  S.

King Simba

I find the RT user ratings pretty flawed. I mean, seriously Rocky currently sits at 65% and that's one of the most popular underdog movies of all time.

I think IMDB reflects the general opinion better, and there you'll find Revenge of the Sith is at 7.8 out of 10 which is much higher than the first two prequels and higher that even some of the most popular sequels in the past decade, such as Spiderman 2 and X2.

It was also pretty well recieved with audiences. It is one of only 3 films to have opened with more than 100 mil and yet fall less that 50% in its second weekend. It was even voted in the top 500 movies of all time on Empire's list of greatest films.

The film was well recieved both with critics and audiences, comapared to the more mixed reception of the first two prequels. It's just one of those films where the hatred for it is really exaggerated, sort of like what happened with Prometheus or Titanic, both film where you can't hear a good word about them on message boards and yet when it comes to actual ratings they score pretty good.

Feb 28 - 12:54 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Hayden Christensen. (washes hands)

Feb 28 - 01:57 AM

Superzone

Link O'Fett

Phantom Menace: Not awful, but the worst of the six films. It's definitely the least exciting.
Attack of the Clones: Underrated. I think it's a great film with some flaws.
Revenge of the Sith: Honestly, one of my favorite films from the past 10 years. I think it's brilliant in both its storytelling and visuals.

Feb 28 - 11:00 AM

Bobby Luke

Bobby Luke

If you want to argue that those movies are underrated, I can tell you why - Jar Jar Binks. Remove him from the films, and their stock will go WAY up.

Mar 2 - 10:50 PM

AHungerArtist

ahungerartist ahungerartist

UH, Dave J, TPM didn't make it in the RT top ten list. Revenge of the Sith did. Unless you're referring to some other top ten list, which would be stupid, since you get no reference.

Mar 3 - 02:26 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Huh, and you're absolutely right too! Gee, all that says to me is that the prequels are a lot worst than I thought since I couldn't even tell one from the other regardless what it says!

Mar 4 - 12:52 PM

Alex Rodriguez Whosoever

Alex Rodriguez Whosoever

eepisode 3 was the best one hands down

Feb 28 - 08:00 AM

Billy Guilfoyle

Billy Guilfoyle

Yeah, dude. Revenge of the Sith was super epic. But if I were Lucas, looking back, I'd have taken Attack of the Clones and really spent time learning from Shakespeare and making the love story more epic and less cheesy. But Revenge of the Sith hits all the right spots. And as much as I hate that he sold the series to Disney. I'm finally coming around, and a bit excited to see if they can knock the pitch out of the park.

Feb 28 - 01:07 PM

Sarmad Qayyum

Sarmad Qayyum

You know I believe that Ep III was a good addition to the Star wars saga but what let it down was Hayden Christensen's performance and that they had to continue with some of the plot points of the other two prequels. If those plot points didn't exist, I'd say this would be one hell of a movie but that's just my opinion.

Mar 4 - 01:23 AM

Dick Travis

Mick Travis

You need to see Dr. Plinkett!

Feb 27 - 05:17 PM

Diego Tutweiller

Diego John Rottweiler

The Phantom Menace is the biggest letdown in movie history. Attack of the Clones was... okay... and Revenge of the Sith was surprisingly fantastic.

Feb 27 - 05:30 PM

Dave J

Dave J

They're all equally bad since anyone whose seen the previews should be able to predict the drama events that happened except that it took way too long to get their! Jar Jar Binks was a major problem in part but I liked Liam Neeson which his acting presence was lacking in two and three, and the special effects was much more than I wanted to see!

Feb 27 - 05:38 PM

MANBAT

Meh McMehson

WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOUR FAAAAAAAAAAAAACE

Feb 28 - 01:53 PM

Jesse Sanchez

Jesse Sanchez

You been eating pizza rolls?

Feb 28 - 07:19 PM

Jesse Sanchez

Jesse Sanchez

Star Wars Episode 1 was the worse thing since my son.

Feb 28 - 07:24 PM

Ayan Chakravarty

Ayan Chakravarty

hope your son sees this when he has a gun in his hand. :D

May 20 - 01:37 PM

MANBAT

Meh McMehson

That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen anyone type.

Feb 28 - 01:52 PM

David Rocha

David Rocha

You are trolling so hard.

Feb 28 - 02:59 PM

Philip Frey

Philip Frey

Absolutely correct. For a whole generation, the prequels are just "Star Wars". They just aren't as loud and obnoxious as the haters...

Mar 1 - 06:44 AM

Dave J

Dave J

I have to say that it doesn't happened often when the #1 movie on the users list is the same as the RT list and rightly so about "Trainspotting" which solidified Ewan McGregor's name on the map! And I have no idea he was in "Blackhawk Down" for I guess his role wasn't major!

Feb 27 - 04:36 PM

Eren Eryürekli

Eren Eryürekli

I like Moulin Rouge too, I wished that they would add it to the list.

Feb 27 - 04:38 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Black Hawk Down is my favorite of his.

Feb 27 - 04:53 PM

Betzabet Lima

Betzabet Lima

yea i like more the RT users' scores

Feb 27 - 04:55 PM

Betzabet Lima

Betzabet Lima

yessss soo unfair

Feb 27 - 04:55 PM

Teije Vliet

Teije Vliet

I've never been blown away by his performances to be perfectly honest. He does know how to spot a decent script though.

Mar 1 - 08:20 AM

Brian Brennan

Brian Brennan

Not even in Trainspotting?

Mar 3 - 07:07 PM

Dave J

Dave J

If you mean the Star Wars Prequels- Lucas should've stopped with just "The Phantom Menace" since 2 and 3 were way too unbearable to watch! The overabundance use of CGI overshadowed whatever what was happening throughout the rest of the films!

Feb 27 - 05:00 PM

Alex A.

Alex Anonymous

The Phantom Menace was the worst. It was an absolute snooze-fest. Attack of the Clones had the cool fight scene but the rest was filler. And Revenge of the Sith was good, but sill not GREAT.

Feb 27 - 06:02 PM

Dave J

Dave J

If "The Phantom Menace" was really that bad it wouldn't have made it to the top ten in the RT list, and to remind you that none of the other Star Wars prequels even made it in neither top 10 lists even if it's rated higher on the users- it obviously wasn't liked enough!

Feb 27 - 06:20 PM

Alberto Zeeky

Alberto Zeeky

I'd still take Phantom over Clones anyday. Attack of the Clones had far too much of the romance garbage for it to be a enjoyable film, and one good fight scene isn't good enough to save it.

Atleast in Phantom the pod racing scene was pretty good, you had Liam Neeson, and Darth Maul was one of the few bright spots about the entire prequel series.

Feb 27 - 09:25 PM

King  S.

King Simba

I find the RT user ratings pretty flawed. I mean, seriously Rocky currently sits at 65% and that's one of the most popular underdog movies of all time.

I think IMDB reflects the general opinion better, and there you'll find Revenge of the Sith is at 7.8 out of 10 which is much higher than the first two prequels and higher that even some of the most popular sequels in the past decade, such as Spiderman 2 and X2.

It was also pretty well recieved with audiences. It is one of only 3 films to have opened with more than 100 mil and yet fall less that 50% in its second weekend. It was even voted in the top 500 movies of all time on Empire's list of greatest films.

The film was well recieved both with critics and audiences, comapared to the more mixed reception of the first two prequels. It's just one of those films where the hatred for it is really exaggerated, sort of like what happened with Prometheus or Titanic, both film where you can't hear a good word about them on message boards and yet when it comes to actual ratings they score pretty good.

Feb 28 - 12:54 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Hayden Christensen. (washes hands)

Feb 28 - 01:57 AM

Superzone

Link O'Fett

Phantom Menace: Not awful, but the worst of the six films. It's definitely the least exciting.
Attack of the Clones: Underrated. I think it's a great film with some flaws.
Revenge of the Sith: Honestly, one of my favorite films from the past 10 years. I think it's brilliant in both its storytelling and visuals.

Feb 28 - 11:00 AM

Bobby Luke

Bobby Luke

If you want to argue that those movies are underrated, I can tell you why - Jar Jar Binks. Remove him from the films, and their stock will go WAY up.

Mar 2 - 10:50 PM

AHungerArtist

ahungerartist ahungerartist

UH, Dave J, TPM didn't make it in the RT top ten list. Revenge of the Sith did. Unless you're referring to some other top ten list, which would be stupid, since you get no reference.

Mar 3 - 02:26 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Huh, and you're absolutely right too! Gee, all that says to me is that the prequels are a lot worst than I thought since I couldn't even tell one from the other regardless what it says!

Mar 4 - 12:52 PM

Alex Rodriguez Whosoever

Alex Rodriguez Whosoever

eepisode 3 was the best one hands down

Feb 28 - 08:00 AM

Billy Guilfoyle

Billy Guilfoyle

Yeah, dude. Revenge of the Sith was super epic. But if I were Lucas, looking back, I'd have taken Attack of the Clones and really spent time learning from Shakespeare and making the love story more epic and less cheesy. But Revenge of the Sith hits all the right spots. And as much as I hate that he sold the series to Disney. I'm finally coming around, and a bit excited to see if they can knock the pitch out of the park.

Feb 28 - 01:07 PM

Sarmad Qayyum

Sarmad Qayyum

You know I believe that Ep III was a good addition to the Star wars saga but what let it down was Hayden Christensen's performance and that they had to continue with some of the plot points of the other two prequels. If those plot points didn't exist, I'd say this would be one hell of a movie but that's just my opinion.

Mar 4 - 01:23 AM

Dick Travis

Mick Travis

You need to see Dr. Plinkett!

Feb 27 - 05:17 PM

Diego Tutweiller

Diego John Rottweiler

The Phantom Menace is the biggest letdown in movie history. Attack of the Clones was... okay... and Revenge of the Sith was surprisingly fantastic.

Feb 27 - 05:30 PM

Dave J

Dave J

They're all equally bad since anyone whose seen the previews should be able to predict the drama events that happened except that it took way too long to get their! Jar Jar Binks was a major problem in part but I liked Liam Neeson which his acting presence was lacking in two and three, and the special effects was much more than I wanted to see!

Feb 27 - 05:38 PM

MANBAT

Meh McMehson

WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOUR FAAAAAAAAAAAAACE

Feb 28 - 01:53 PM

Jesse Sanchez

Jesse Sanchez

You been eating pizza rolls?

Feb 28 - 07:19 PM

Jesse Sanchez

Jesse Sanchez

Star Wars Episode 1 was the worse thing since my son.

Feb 28 - 07:24 PM

Ayan Chakravarty

Ayan Chakravarty

hope your son sees this when he has a gun in his hand. :D

May 20 - 01:37 PM

Diego Tutweiller

Diego John Rottweiler

The Phantom Menace is the biggest letdown in movie history. Attack of the Clones was... okay... and Revenge of the Sith was surprisingly fantastic.

Feb 27 - 05:30 PM

Dave J

Dave J

They're all equally bad since anyone whose seen the previews should be able to predict the drama events that happened except that it took way too long to get their! Jar Jar Binks was a major problem in part but I liked Liam Neeson which his acting presence was lacking in two and three, and the special effects was much more than I wanted to see!

Feb 27 - 05:38 PM

Dave J

Dave J

They're all equally bad since anyone whose seen the previews should be able to predict the drama events that happened except that it took way too long to get their! Jar Jar Binks was a major problem in part but I liked Liam Neeson which his acting presence was lacking in two and three, and the special effects was much more than I wanted to see!

Feb 27 - 05:38 PM

Andrew Rossi

Andrew Rossi

loved him in star wars. moulin rouge is one of my favorite musicals. big fish, beginners....he is a great actor.

Feb 27 - 05:41 PM

Ryan Hoffman

Ryan Hoffman

i believe you mean "in Star Wars, I loved him. One of my Favorites, moulin rouge is. A great actor, he is. hhmmmm?"

Feb 28 - 08:31 AM

Ha Trang Nguyen

Ha Trang Nguyen

love the accent!

Feb 27 - 05:45 PM

Alex A.

Alex Anonymous

The Phantom Menace was the worst. It was an absolute snooze-fest. Attack of the Clones had the cool fight scene but the rest was filler. And Revenge of the Sith was good, but sill not GREAT.

Feb 27 - 06:02 PM

Dave J

Dave J

If "The Phantom Menace" was really that bad it wouldn't have made it to the top ten in the RT list, and to remind you that none of the other Star Wars prequels even made it in neither top 10 lists even if it's rated higher on the users- it obviously wasn't liked enough!

Feb 27 - 06:20 PM

Alberto Zeeky

Alberto Zeeky

I'd still take Phantom over Clones anyday. Attack of the Clones had far too much of the romance garbage for it to be a enjoyable film, and one good fight scene isn't good enough to save it.

Atleast in Phantom the pod racing scene was pretty good, you had Liam Neeson, and Darth Maul was one of the few bright spots about the entire prequel series.

Feb 27 - 09:25 PM

King  S.

King Simba

I find the RT user ratings pretty flawed. I mean, seriously Rocky currently sits at 65% and that's one of the most popular underdog movies of all time.

I think IMDB reflects the general opinion better, and there you'll find Revenge of the Sith is at 7.8 out of 10 which is much higher than the first two prequels and higher that even some of the most popular sequels in the past decade, such as Spiderman 2 and X2.

It was also pretty well recieved with audiences. It is one of only 3 films to have opened with more than 100 mil and yet fall less that 50% in its second weekend. It was even voted in the top 500 movies of all time on Empire's list of greatest films.

The film was well recieved both with critics and audiences, comapared to the more mixed reception of the first two prequels. It's just one of those films where the hatred for it is really exaggerated, sort of like what happened with Prometheus or Titanic, both film where you can't hear a good word about them on message boards and yet when it comes to actual ratings they score pretty good.

Feb 28 - 12:54 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Hayden Christensen. (washes hands)

Feb 28 - 01:57 AM

Superzone

Link O'Fett

Phantom Menace: Not awful, but the worst of the six films. It's definitely the least exciting.
Attack of the Clones: Underrated. I think it's a great film with some flaws.
Revenge of the Sith: Honestly, one of my favorite films from the past 10 years. I think it's brilliant in both its storytelling and visuals.

Feb 28 - 11:00 AM

Bobby Luke

Bobby Luke

If you want to argue that those movies are underrated, I can tell you why - Jar Jar Binks. Remove him from the films, and their stock will go WAY up.

Mar 2 - 10:50 PM

AHungerArtist

ahungerartist ahungerartist

UH, Dave J, TPM didn't make it in the RT top ten list. Revenge of the Sith did. Unless you're referring to some other top ten list, which would be stupid, since you get no reference.

Mar 3 - 02:26 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Huh, and you're absolutely right too! Gee, all that says to me is that the prequels are a lot worst than I thought since I couldn't even tell one from the other regardless what it says!

Mar 4 - 12:52 PM

Dave J

Dave J

If "The Phantom Menace" was really that bad it wouldn't have made it to the top ten in the RT list, and to remind you that none of the other Star Wars prequels even made it in neither top 10 lists even if it's rated higher on the users- it obviously wasn't liked enough!

Feb 27 - 06:20 PM

Bennett Galef

Bennett Galef

Am I the only person yet to notice the giant error?

Feb 27 - 07:02 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

That somehow Ep. III got 80%. I noticed that. Nooooooooooooo!

Feb 27 - 07:32 PM

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