Total Recall: Gerard Butler's Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Playing for Keeps star.

60%

5. 300

Arguably the most gloriously ab-riffic swords 'n' sandals action epic ever filmed, Zack Snyder's 300 blended newfangled bluescreen technology with time-tested bloody murder to produce a fictionalized adaptation of the Battle of Thermopylae. Working from Frank Miller's comic series of the same name, Snyder pulled out all the stops in pursuit of a faithful reproduction of his source material -- and the results worked so well that, combined with 2005's similarly striking, also Miller-inspired Sin City, they briefly seemed to usher in a new era of hyper-visual graphic novel adaptations. A $210 million box office hit, 300 was less of a sure thing with critics, but it carried enough firepower for Richard Roeper, who called it "Excessively, cheerfully violent -- and it is gorgeous to behold. It looks like the world's most sophisticated and expensive video game, and I mean that in a good way."

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81%

4. Dear Frankie

One of the reasons Butler's been such an alluring target for directors of romantic comedies is his ability to convey rough edges and soulful tenderness in equal measure -- and anyone who thought those qualities would save movies like The Bounty Hunter, and learned the hard way that they couldn't, would do well to check out 2004's Dear Frankie, starring Butler as an anonymous seaman who agrees to help a single mother (Emily Mortimer) preserve the long-running lie that her son's (Jack McElhone) father is a sailor on a ship that just happens to be docking in town. Sweet and mournful, Frankie failed to make much of a dent at the box office, but it definitely left an impression on critics like Film Journal International's Shirley Sealy, who called it "A quietly told film that--by casually tossing in a surprise here and a plot twist there--builds up to an ending that carries an intense emotional impact."


94%

3. Mrs. Brown

Butler made his film debut with a relatively minor role in John Madden's Mrs. Brown, playing the younger brother of a Scottish servant (Billy Connolly) whose relationship with the widowed Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) throws the royal court into a tizzy. Originally intended to air as an episode of Masterpiece Theatre, it went on to accrue acclaim -- and a healthy $13 million at the box office during its arthouse run -- while bringing Dench her first Best Actress Academy Award nomination. Observed Janet Maslin of the New York Times, "Mrs. Brown' transcends its period setting not only with a keenly observed struggle between love and duty but also with the kind of controversy that envelops the Queen and her servant."


93%

2. Coriolanus

This critically lauded, Ralph Fiennes-directed period piece is an adaptation of the Shakespeare play that follows the adventures of the titular Roman general (Fiennes) who's manipulated by his domineering mother (Vanessa Redgrave) into angling for higher office -- and then finds himself exiled from the city. Who does he turn to when it comes time to hatch a plan for his return? Why, his burly archenemy Tullus Aufidius -- who's played to seething, bearded perfection by Butler, coming full circle by reprising the role for the cameras after scoring one of his earliest career breaks in a stage production of the play. Offering resounding proof that all Butler really needs is to step away from the regrettable rom-coms and pick a few solid scripts, Coriolanus earned the praise of critics like Slant's Chuck Bowen, who called it "a savage action movie that somehow manages to preserve the heart of the Bard's work while reducing his words to devastating shards."

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98%

1. How to Train Your Dragon

If you're casting the voice of the head of an ancient Viking village -- and you don't happen to have an actual ancient Viking lying around -- you could do a heck of a lot worse than Gerard Butler, who stepped in to lend his beefy-sounding burr to the animated Stoick the Vast, patriarch of the dragon-infested island of Berk, in DreamWorks' massive 2010 hit How to Train Your Dragon. Though the movie's impressive 3D CGI visuals were undeniably the star of the show, Butler was part of a sharp voice cast that included Craig Ferguson, Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse -- and part of the reason the Houston Chronicle's Amy Biancolli said the movie "uses its whiz-bang technology to amplify feelings as well as dimension and scale. The big optical wow is only the half of it."

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

1. 300 -- 90%
2. How to Train Your Dragon -- 90%
3. Dear Frankie -- 89%
4. The Phantom of the Opera -- 86%
5. P.S. I Love You -- 82%
6. Law Abiding Citizen -- 77%
7. Chasing Mavericks -- 76%
8. Mrs. Brown -- 75%
9. Harrison's Flowers -- 74%
10. RocknRolla -- 71%


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

Finally, here's a younger Butler in a reasonably intense UK Polaroid commercial:

Comments

Alberto Zeeky

Alberto Zeeky

Although not critically successful in terms of Butlers current film career, he's really been able to provided some very enjoyable screen presence in the films he has been in. Despite being pretty negatively viewed, I have to say Butlers best roles in acting (not voice work) have been in The Ugly Truth & Law Abiding Citizen. He fit the perfect womanizing role necessary for Ugly Truth which I found him very comparable to Will Smith's job in Hitch. As for Citizen, he flat out stole the show in that film from every actor sharing screen time with him. Fox was a good fit, but Gerard as a villain was far too enjoyable. Aside from the ending, it's probably the most enjoyable film I've watched of Butlers. I'd love for him to get more of the "villian you want to win" roles... RT users have the score in a much better perspective than the critics.

Dec 5 - 04:54 PM

King  S.

King Simba

At least the critics list doesn't have 300 as his best film. Granted, that film is enjoyable as a mindless flick (though even then it's still flawed, namely the Persians being less threatening than Elmer Fudd), but better than How to Train Your Dragon and Coriolanus? Not really.

Dec 6 - 05:43 AM

Jónas Haux

Jónas Haux

I would say Corionalus is his best performance.

Dec 6 - 12:44 PM

Deborah J.

Deborah Jean

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Dec 30 - 01:24 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

A poor man's Clive Owen. Butler should do a film with Sam Worthington and James McAvoy and call it "Publicists Are Underrated".

Dec 5 - 05:02 PM

Holden D.

Holden Drover

haha.. I do love McAvoy though..

Dec 9 - 05:22 PM

Cole Jaeger

Cole Jaeger

He's only been in 5 fresh movies.

Dec 5 - 05:03 PM

Not L.

Not Likely

You can count!

Dec 6 - 10:21 AM

Jaho Koo

Jaho Koo

ahahahaha

Dec 8 - 11:54 PM

David Tanny

David Tanny

Coriolanus was amazing. But Butler was definitely the weakest actor. I enjoyed 300, and he was decent in that. Gamer was another fun movie.

Dec 5 - 05:12 PM

Kenneth Amoateng

Kenneth Amoateng

he is outrageously incredible.

Dec 5 - 06:04 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

You know what's funny? I've seen PS I LOVE YOU but have never seen 300. And before anyone here slaps the gay label on me, truth is I'd rather see a half-naked Hilary Swank than AB-MEN: MASTERS OF SPARTA. He was okay as the Phantom, but the truth is I'm not a Butler fan from what I have seen of him. The only one on this list I even have a mild interest in is CORIOLANAS. Directed by Ralph Fiennes? That's bad-ass!

Dec 5 - 07:04 PM

Branden Mata

Branden Mata

His best that i have seen is in 300. Guy was just a straight up baddass in that movie. He shoulda just kept doing action roles, idk why he keeps doing crappy romantic comedies, I mean you can just tell straight from the trailer their gonna be bad. That's how bad they are.

Dec 5 - 07:22 PM

KingSigy

Numna Stingdoo

I haven't seen this top 5 movies, but I've never liked anything this man has been in. 300 was a colossal waste of time to me and I despised everything about it.

Dec 5 - 07:50 PM

Dani Fenn-Wells

Dani Fenn-Wells

How to Train Your Dragon is amazing.

Dec 5 - 07:54 PM

Zane B

Chum Chum

He's just...not that good

Dec 5 - 09:32 PM

This comment has been removed.

Zane B

Chum Chum

So, The Dude abides?

Dec 6 - 07:22 AM

King  S.

King Simba

At least the critics list doesn't have 300 as his best film. Granted, that film is enjoyable as a mindless flick (though even then it's still flawed, namely the Persians being less threatening than Elmer Fudd), but better than How to Train Your Dragon and Coriolanus? Not really.

Dec 6 - 05:43 AM

Scott Graham

Scott Graham

The first page of his best movies are rated rotten. Impressive.

Dec 6 - 06:15 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

When Reign of Fire is in your top 10 best reviewed its time to get a new agent.

Dec 6 - 09:10 AM

Zane B

Chum Chum

So, The Dude abides?

Dec 6 - 07:22 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

When Reign of Fire is in your top 10 best reviewed its time to get a new agent.

Dec 6 - 09:10 AM

nate2709

Nate 2709

You can count Butler's good movies on one finger.

Dec 6 - 09:21 AM

Not L.

Not Likely

You can count!

Dec 6 - 10:21 AM

Jaho Koo

Jaho Koo

ahahahaha

Dec 8 - 11:54 PM

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