Bill Murray at the Premiere of “The Monuments Men” 2014 in London, England

Bill Murray at the Premiere of "The Monuments Men" 2014 in London, England (Photo by BAKOUNINE on Shuterstock)

In the arena of comedy, few actors can stand toe-to-toe with the uniquely hilarious and surprisingly poignant performances of Bill Murray. His expansive filmography spans over four decades, and we have done the task of sifting through his treasure trove of cinematic gems to find the best Bill Murray movies that have left a mark in Hollywood history.

Murray’s journey from his improvisational comedy beginnings on “Saturday Night Live” to his celebrated film roles is a testament to his versatility and talent. A recent study on the impact of comedy films highlighted how humor in movies, like those Bill Murray stars in, can significantly contribute to viewers’ mental health, improving mood and lowering stress levels.

Actors like Bill Murray, who skillfully balance comedy and drama, enjoy a stronger emotional bond with their audience, making their performances more impactful. This emotional connection with the audience has undoubtedly contributed to the lasting appeal of many of Murray’s movies.

With countless awards and a consistently impressive box office performance, deciding on the top five best Bill Murray movies was a challenge. To do so, we studied multiple expert reviews to determine the most frequently recommended movies across these platforms. So, get ready to embark on a journey through Bill Murray’s most outstanding performances. And don’t forget, we’d love to hear your thoughts on these picks or any we might have missed in the comments below!

Bill Murray at the Premiere of "The Monuments Men" 2014 in London, England
Bill Murray at the Premiere of “The Monuments Men” 2014 in London, England (Photo by BAKOUNINE on Shuterstock)

The List: Best Bill Murray Movies, According to Fans


1.  “Ghostbusters” (1984)

In the annals of cinema history, the year 1984 holds a special place, predominantly due to the release of one of the most beloved films of the decade – “Ghostbusters”. This cult classic offers a generous display of Bill Murray’s unique ability to infuse comedy into his character, establishing him as a leading figure in the comedic genre. As Dr. Peter Venkman, Murray’s character is imbued with a distinctive charm that is brought to life by his clever one-liners and an idiosyncratic brand of humor. More than three decades later, this character continues to echo in the memory of audiences, a testament to the timeless appeal of Murray’s performance.

"Ghostbusters" (1984)
“Ghostbusters” (1984) Blu-Ray DVD

IGN emphatically endorses the influence of Murray’s acting in the film: “Bill Murray’s performance in Ghostbusters is iconic, bringing to life one of the most memorable characters in film comedy. His portrayal of Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters is the epitome of comedic brilliance. His impeccable timing and delivery of witty one-liners bring an undeniable charm to the character.”

Echoing the sentiments of IGN, Screen Rant heaps accolades on Murray’s comedic skills. They observed the qualities that set him apart, stating, “In Ghostbusters, Murray effortlessly steals the show with his quick-witted banter and charismatic presence. He brings a unique blend of comedy and charm to the role of Dr. Venkman, making him an unforgettable part of the film’s success. His dry wit and comedic timing are unparalleled in Ghostbusters.”

Complementing the praise, Collider also highlights the role Murray’s comedic talent played in making Ghostbusters the classic it is today. They find humor at the core of Murray’s portrayal: “Bill Murray’s performance as Dr. Venkman in Ghostbusters is comedic perfection. His impeccable improvisational skills and ability to ad-lib iconic lines elevate the film to legendary status. The hilarious portrayal of Peter Venkman is one of the highlights of the movie.”

2. “Lost in Translation” (2003)

“Lost in Translation,” directed by Sofia Coppola, offered audiences an opportunity to witness an unanticipated facet of Bill Murray’s artistic capabilities. Deviating from his typically comedic roles, Murray graced the silver screen with a nuanced performance that harmoniously married elements of comedy and drama. His character, Bob Harris, is an aging actor caught in the web of a midlife crisis amidst the bustling life of Tokyo. This performance allowed Murray to portray a profound depth of character that resonated strongly with audiences and critics alike, solidifying it as one of the most impactful performances of his career.

"Lost in Translation" (2003) DVD
“Lost in Translation” (2003) DVD

Rotten Tomatoes provides an appreciative critique of Murray’s performance in “Lost in Translation.” They express admiration for the unexpected depth Murray infused into his character, writing: “Bill Murray’s portrayal in Lost in Translation is a revelation. With his understated and nuanced acting, he captures the essence of isolation and longing, delivering a performance that is both deeply poignant and unexpectedly comedic. The performance in Lost in Translation showed a depth and sensitivity that few expected.” This underscores the element of surprise that many experienced while watching Murray transition from his typical comedic roles into a more dramatic one with seamless ease.

Further amplifying the praise, Empire places emphasis on the insightful nature that Murray brought to his role. They extol his performance, stating, “Murray’s performance in Lost in Translation is profound, capturing the subtle complexities of the human condition. Lost in Translation is a career-defining achievement. He navigates the delicate balance between melancholy and humor, immersing the audience in the existential journey of his character with unparalleled finesse.”

Variety also offered their commendation of Murray’s role in “Lost in Translation.” They highlighted how Murray allowed his character’s internal conflict to shine through without overshadowing the subtler nuances of his character development. Variety comments, “Murray’s restrained performance in Lost in Translation showcases his dramatic capabilities. A true tour de force.”

3. “Groundhog Day” (1993)

The beloved classic film, Groundhog Day, graced the silver screen in 1993, etching itself as a timeless masterpiece and securing a significant place among Bill Murray’s most unforgettable performances. Under the skilled direction of the brilliant Harold Ramis, the movie spins a captivating tale around the character of Phil Connors, a weatherman, whose life becomes entangled in a perplexing time loop, forcing him to relive the same day repeatedly. Through its cleverly crafted narrative, the film weaves together a tapestry of witticisms, emotional depth, and a gradual unraveling of character transformation, making Murray’s portrayal an enduring cornerstone of his illustrious career.

"Groundhog Day" (1993) DVD
“Groundhog Day” (1993) DVD

As we delve into Murray’s stellar performance in Groundhog Day, CinemaBlend aptly reflects on Murray’s achievement, stating, “Bill Murray’s portrayal in Groundhog Day masterfully juxtaposes humor and sentiment, providing a stunning portrayal of Phil’s transformative journey. Groundhog Day is a comedic masterpiece. He brings an unmatched charm and wit to the role of Phil Connors, captivating audiences with his impeccable comedic timing and ability to effortlessly navigate the character’s transformation.” This delicate balance between comedy and pathos elevates Murray’s performance, showcasing his ability to breathe life into Phil Connors with profound humanity and depth.

The Guardian joins in the chorus of admiration for Murray’s acting prowess, eloquently capturing the essence of his performance in Groundhog Day, remarking: “Bill Murray’s performance in Groundhog Day is a career-defining achievement. With his remarkable blend of humor and vulnerability, he creates a character that is both hilarious and deeply relatable, leaving a lasting impact on the audience. In this film, Murray’s comedic flair is highlighted, as he infuses Phil Connors’ character with profound humanity and depth.”

Rolling Stone also pays homage to Murray’s remarkable enactment in Groundhog Day, acknowledging his versatility as an actor and his ability to embody the essence of his character. They express, “Bill Murray’s enactment in Groundhog Day demonstrates a degree of versatility that firmly establishes his stature as a premier actor. Groundhog Day showcases his exceptional range as an actor. He effortlessly transitions from comedic moments to moments of introspection, captivating viewers with his ability to convey both laughter and profound emotion.”

4.  “Caddyshack” (1980)

In the realm of classic Bill Murray films, “Caddyshack” stands as a testament to his exceptional comedic abilities. The film showcases Murray’s comedic prowess in full force, as he takes on the role of Carl Spackler, an eccentric groundskeeper whose improvised dialogue and comedic antics have made the character truly unforgettable.

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert recognizes the brilliance of Murray’s performance in “Caddyshack”. Ebert states, “Bill Murray’s role in Caddyshack is a masterclass in improvisational comedy. His portrayal of Carl Spackler is nothing short of comedic genius.” Murray’s ability to think on his feet and deliver spontaneous wit adds a unique layer of humor and charm to the film.

Entertainment Weekly joins in the chorus of praise and acknowledges the unforgettable nature of his performance, stating, “Murray’s spontaneous wit and natural comedic flair in Caddyshack created an unforgettable character. His improvisational skills and offbeat humor bring an irresistible energy to the film, making him the standout star.”

The New York Times agrees. Why? “Bill Murray’s uproarious performance in Caddyshack has left an indelible mark on comedy film history. Bill Murray’s portrayal of Carl Spackler is a comedic triumph. His eccentricity and knack for delivering hilarious one-liners make him the heart and soul of the film.”

5. “Rushmore” (1998)

“Rushmore” holds a special place in Bill Murray’s illustrious career, representing a significant turning point for the actor. Under the skillful direction of Wes Anderson, the film weaves a captivating narrative centered around a unique love triangle involving a peculiar teenager, a disillusioned industrialist portrayed by Murray, and a widowed elementary school teacher. Murray’s portrayal of Herman Blume, a man grappling with the complexities of midlife crisis, is widely acclaimed for its profound depth and understated humor, showcasing his versatility as an actor and his ability to embrace more dramatic roles.

"Rushmore" (1998) DVD
“Rushmore” (1998) DVD

The New Yorker recognizes the brilliance of Murray’s performance in “Rushmore,” as they remark, “Bill Murray’s nuanced portrayal in Rushmore as the world-weary Herman Blume showcased his ability to blend humor with a deep sense of melancholy.”

Time magazine also commends Murray’s captivating performance in the film: “In Rushmore, Murray delivers a performance that’s filled with humor, yet tinged with a sadness that gives the character depth and relatability. It’s a masterclass in capturing the contradictions of the human experience. ” Murray’s portrayal showcases his keen understanding of the human condition, capturing the complexities of life’s struggles with a perfect balance of wit and poignancy.

The New York Times further emphasizes: “Murray’s evocative performance in Rushmore showcases his ability to subtly express a range of emotions, resulting in a character that is both engaging and deeply relatable. It showcases his skill in subtly expressing a spectrum of emotions and commend him for creating a character that is both engaging and deeply relatable.” Murray’s magnetic presence on screen, combined with his nuanced portrayal, allows the audience to forge a strong emotional connection with his character, fostering a sense of empathy and understanding.

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About Brent Dixon

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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  1. Gordon V Baney says:

    What about Stripes?

  2. LeJas says:

    Ahem…Stripes?? Some of the mist memorable lines in movie comedy, including “A surprise party, I’ll kill ya!” And many many more. Murray, Ramis, “Ox” and a great cast plus Ivan Reitman directing…. at their finest!

  3. Thomas Ferrusi says:

    * You People * Are Crazy. Stripes Should Be #2 AND… What About Bob. Morons, Your Bus Is Leaving.

  4. Rudy says:

    Really!!!!! No what about bob????
    This is ludicrous..not right yall