Total Recall: Ewan McGregor's Best Movies

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

Ewan McGregor

From independent dramas to a certain trilogy of big-budget sci-fi prequels, Ewan McGregor has led an admirably varied life on the big screen -- as well as off, where he's an accomplished stage actor as well as a bestselling author. This weekend, McGregor takes another step in a new direction with his appearance in Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer, a tongue-in-cheek, action-packed retelling of everyone's favorite magic bean-fueled fairytale, and we decided to take the opportunity to pay tribute with a look back at some of his finest films. Yes, that's right...it's time for Total McRecall!


77%

10. Big Fish

Casting younger versions of older actors to play their characters in the past is always a tricky proposition for any director, but Tim Burton pretty much knocked it out of the park in Big Fish; not only did he have Albert Finney anchoring his movie's present-day storyline-slash-framing device, he scored a casting coup by landing McGregor as Finney's more youthful incarnation, giving him a chance to deliver one of his more rakishly charming performances in a production that boasted all of Burton's trademark visual whimsy in addition to a tender screenplay (adapted from the Daniel Wallace book) about the often-complicated relationships between fathers and sons. "Big Fish is so strange and so literary that audiences seeking conventional fare may get impatient with it," admitted the Chicago Tribune's Michael Wilmington. "But it always takes effort to catch the big ones. This one is worth it."

Mode: HLS Link


79%

9. Brassed Off

Movies about people in economically depressed small towns triumphing over adversity in some unusual, typically arts-driven way are nothing new (see: The Full Monty, Calendar Girls), and for good reason -- with the right narrative hook, it's a story worth telling repeatedly. Case in point: Writer/director Mark Herman's Brassed Off, starring the incomparable Pete Postlethwaite as the director of an award-winning civic brass band in a British town where most people (including himself) have worked in the local mine -- which is facing foreclosure thanks to a government study led by a woman (Tara Fitzgerald) who grew up nearby, and had a childhood romance with one of the members of the band (Ewan McGregor). Formula stuff, to be sure -- but according to most critics, it was crafted adeptly enough to forgive its familiarity. As an appreciative Bridget Byrne put it for Boxoffice Magazine, "Like the music it celebrates, Brassed Off is in-your-face yet sentimental, rousing yet sad, defiant but full of heart."


80%

8. Haywire

A sleek, pleasantly pulpy woman-on-the-run action thriller with an uncommonly sharp cast, Steven Soderbergh's Haywire essentially doubled as two films -- one that acted as a showcase for the bone-crunching skills of star (and real-life MMA fighter) Gina Carano, and another that served to highlight the ever-dependable work of her supporting players, a group that included McGregor, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, and Antonio Banderas. "Carano is nothing special as an actress," admitted Eric D. Snider for Film.com, "but darned if it matters when she's supported by a killer screenplay, a sharp cast, and Steven Soderbergh's unmistakably sly, mordant direction."

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80%

7. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

The Star Wars prequels have been the focus of a lot of critical scorn, and plenty of it is deserved, but they did have their moments -- many of which arrived during 2005's Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. While far from perfect (and doomed to forever be known as the film that brought fans Darth Vader's most laughable scene), Sith allowed fans to finally witness the events leading up to the galaxy-altering battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor) and his wayward pupil, Anakin Skywaler (Hayden Christensen). "Same logo. Same starry-night spacescape. Same music. Same crawl. Same everything," wrote Eleanor Ringel Gillespie of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Only different. And so much better."


79%

6. Little Voice

Two years after appearing in Mark Herman's Brassed Off, McGregor reunited with the writer/director for Little Voice, an adaptation of the Jim Cartright play (titled The Rise and Fall of Little Voice in its stage incarnation) about a debilitatingly shy woman (Jane Horrocks) with a phenomenal singing voice and a mother (Brenda Blethyn) who happens to bring home a talent agent (Michael Caine) after a night of bar-hopping -- therefore setting the stage for a life-altering chain of events. McGregor's Little Voice role (a socially awkward pigeon trainer who forms a bond with Horrocks) isn't one of his biggest, but it helped lay the groundwork for a film career that has grown to encompass a wide variety of genres -- and it helped earn the approval of critics like Variety's Derek Elley, who called the movie "A small picture with a big heart."

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 Hard With a Vengeance

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 Hard With a Vengeance

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 Hard With a Vengeance

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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