You may know him as the handsome businessman Jack Trainer in “Working Girl” or perhaps as President James Marshall in “Air Force One.” If that’s not the case, maybe famed archaeologist Indiana Jones rings a bell? Space smuggler Han Solo? If you don’t know who we are talking about yet, maybe it’s time to binge-watch some classics. But for those who are still with us, of course, we are talking about the one and only Harrison Ford. A legendary actor who has made a significant impact in the film industry with his versatile roles. From his charming portrayal of rom-com leads like in “Sabrina” to his commanding performance in films such as “The Fugitive,” Ford has proven his acting prowess time and time again. Whether he’s exploring ancient ruins as Indiana Jones or navigating the galaxy as Han Solo, the best Harrison Ford movies have captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. His talent and charisma have solidified his status as one of Hollywood’s most beloved and enduring actors.
Though most have heard the story of the carpenter turned actor, the acting bug didn’t hit Harrison Ford as late as one may think. During his last semester of college, where he was studying philosophy, he took a drama class and became enamored with acting. It wasn’t until he found himself struggling to get roles bigger than bit parts through the late ’60s and ’70s that Ford turned to carpentry. Seeing just how difficult it is to make it in show business, with studies indicating that 70 percent of actors have careers that last only one year, it’s understandable that Ford found it to be a struggle. It was actually through his work in carpentry that he was able to audition for George Lucas’s film “American Graffiti,” which Ford would go on to star in. The friendship between Lucas and Ford would then blossom into his big break in the space opera “Star Wars.” The film’s massive success not only solidified Ford’s position in show business but also established him as an iconic figure in the sci-fi genre. Despite the initial struggles, Ford’s determination and talent ultimately paved the way for his incredible success in the entertainment industry.
Ford’s success as Han Solo in the trilogy of movies that followed would solidify his name in pop culture. Hitting the ’80s would bring the actor more success, as he starred in a string of films as the titular character in the “Indiana Jones” movies, appearing in the last installment just this year with “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” He would then go on to star in a slew of different genres throughout the next few decades, leaving almost no stone unturned. With sci-fi films such as “Blade Runner,” dramas like “The Mosquito Coast,” and even action films like “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger,” where he appeared as Jack Ryan. The 2000s continued to treat Ford kindly, with roles in thrillers like “What Lies Beneath” and romantic parts in films like “The Age of Adaline.” Lately? The actor, like most, has made the leap to streaming services, appearing on Paramount’s western drama “1923” alongside Helen Mirren as well as on the AppleTV+ comedy “Shrinking.”
But with such an extensive filmography and almost six decades in the business, how does one narrow it down to Ford’s most memorable work? Luckily, we at StudyFinds have researched across numerous expert sources to bring you the top five best Harrison Ford movies of all time! Don’t agree with our list? No worries! We would love to hear from you in the comments below.
The List: Best Harrison Ford Movies, According to Experts
Few images are as iconic as Dr. Indiana Jones with his whip and hat. Though some of the films in the franchise have been met with mixed reviews, 1981’s “Raiders” has always remained a favorite amongst fans. Though “Last Crusade” is usually not far behind, and for fellow weirdos, “Temple of Doom” is a cult classic and number one in some people’s books. But “is there a more famous archeologist than Indiana Jones? Fat chance. I bet you can’t even name a real-life archeologist. That’s just how cool Indiana Jones is—a man who has been discovering rare artifacts, traversing dangerous dungeons, and punching Nazis for over 40 years. Only Ford could make a job about scrubbing old rocks this awesome,” says Esquire.
“It’s a quirk of Ford’s career that, despite his slightly curmudgeonly persona, you get the sense that his most enduring characters could definitely save the day, but while rolling their eyes and inwardly going ‘urgh, FINE’ – he’s made some of the most purely fun pieces of pop cinema ever created. ‘Raiders’ is the greatest of them all. When the Nazis start chasing down the Ark of the Covenant, said to be a supernatural wonder weapon that could make their army invincible, it’s up to archaeologist-slash-adventurer Indiana Jones to get there first. This first Indy outing is a potent mixture of old Hollywood and new: Steven Spielberg’s direction allows space for both derring-do and thoughtfulness, and Ford’s Indy is a beefed-up matinée idol who’s both cocky and never entirely sure what he’s doing. Perfect,” raves EmpireOnline.
“Indiana Jones may have become a long-running action movie franchise, but all the sequels in the world could never top the purity and simplicity of the first movie, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ Though Han Solo was Harrison Ford’s breakout role, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ was the first big movie to feature Ford in the lead role, well and truly establishing him as a leading man. ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ continues to hold up as an essentially perfect action/adventure movie over 40 years later, and there’s no question that it deserves to be considered one of Ford’s very best films,” explains Collider.
You didn’t think we could mention famed archaeologist Indiana Jones and not space smuggler Han Solo, who absolutely did shoot first, did you? “With ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ the 1980s got off to an amazing start for Harrison Ford, seeing as all those movies are considered among the decade’s best. ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ is particularly spectacular, as it’s a sequel that managed to outdo the already great ‘Star Wars’ in just about every way, ultimately standing as one of the best blockbusters of all time,” notes Collider.
“Over 40 years later, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ stands tall as everything a sequel should be. Upping the stakes of the original ‘Star Wars’, darkening the tone, refining the special effects, and getting even better performances out of its star actors, this legendary film encapsulates the magic of science fiction romps and discussions on good versus evil. Harrison Ford famously didn’t believe this franchise could turn into anything worthwhile before this movie, and you can tell in his portrayal of Han Solo that he was completely dialed in. What a movie,” exclaims The Manual.
“On the set of Cloud City’s carbon-freezing chamber, the vibe was not good. The whole sequence around Han Solo’s imprisonment as a silently screaming objet d’art had taken three weeks to film. Leia and Han were meant to say they loved each other, but it wasn’t working. Ford improvised, chucking out line after line until he became exasperated. ‘Let’s do it one more time, and that’s it,’ he said. ‘love you too’ became ‘I know’. Han Solo went into that freezing chamber a badass; he came out a fully-fledged legend. It’s the ultimate cocky kiss-off, but the little tremble in Ford’s voice, showing real emotion beneath the bravado, really makes it sing. Han Solo will forever be the heart of the original trilogy, and nowhere is that clearer than in Lucas’ tragedy-tinged middle installment,” writes EmpireOnline.
“Witness” is a gripping crime thriller directed by Peter Weir that follows a detective entangled in a dangerous web of corruption. “In what may be arguably Ford’s best performance on-screen, he portrays Det. John Book, who, during his investigation of the murder of an undercover cop, finds that there’s a witness to the crime, eight-year-old Amish boy Samuel Lapp, who saw the murder while waiting on a train platform with his mother. Fearing for their safety, John decides to escort them back to Amish country, only to be tailed by the real killer, who wounds Book in an ambush. The Amish people take him into their community and vow to protect him,” describes GoldDerby.
“Ford received his first and only Oscar nomination for playing the cop who hides out in an Amish community when it transpires that the killers he is chasing are in his own department. His tender performance, especially while crooning along to Sam Cooke’s ‘Wonderful World’, and Weir’s lyrical direction go a long way towards compensating for the picture’s homespun folksiness and banal town mouse/country mouse tensions,” explains The Guardian.
“Ford’s blockbuster success hurt his Oscar odds, but at least he got his only, very much deserved nomination as a cop hiding out from his homicidal superiors in Pennsylvania’s Amish country, like a time trip to another horse-and-buggy world. It starts as a great thriller, like ‘The Fugitive,’ then turns into a deeply sensitive love story as he bonds with an Amish widow (Kelly McGillis in her finest performance),” raves AARP.
Ford once again found success stepping into the sci-fi genre with “Blade Runner.” In a neo-noir film set in a dystopian future, “Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter tasked with the job of eliminating four escaped Replicants. Based on a Philip K. Dick short story, ‘Blade Runner’ is one of those intellectual ’80s sci-fi films that has sparked thousands of theories and conversations. When the Replicants show more human emotions than the humans who created them, who is more human? To this day, people still speculate about one of the film’s unanswered questions: Is Rick Deckard a Replicant? While the true answer may be ambiguous, it just speaks more to Ford’s ability as an actor, as his character’s background wasn’t cut and dry, but he was still able to deliver a strong performance,” comments MovieWeb.
“While now Ridley Scott’s film is considered a modern classic, when it was originally released in 1982, ‘Blade Runner’ opened to mixed critical reviews and was generally considered to be a box-office flop. Time has been kind to this sci-fi milestone, which is set in the distant future of 2019 (wait, huh?) Los Angeles, where it’s always raining (as if), hovercraft fly through the air, and electronic ads cover the entire side of buildings, And Ford’s performance as ex-police officer Rick Deckard is treasured by sci-fi fans all over the world,” notes GoldDerby.
“The beauty of ‘Blade Runner’ is the irony of seeing Deckard’s appreciation of life develop through his love of an android, Rachael (Sean Young). Their tender romance infuses the gloomy dystopian Los Angeles with fleeting moments of intimacy, reimagining the neo-noir genre with a sci-fi detective and AI-powered femme fatale. While the brilliance of ‘Blade Runner’ makes it feel untouchable, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ was a surprising sequel that expanded the world of the original while respecting its ambiguous ending. Returning as Deckard, Ford played a man forced to abandon his one true love with heartbreaking authenticity. The sequel’s final moments are tear-jerking thanks to a wordless, powerful performance from Ford,” writes SlashFilm.
“You switched the samples!” Ford yells in this iconic action thriller. Desperate to prove his innocence. “What could top Indiana Jones being menaced by a giant stone ball in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark?’ Ford’s Dr. Richard Kimble, falsely accused of murdering his wife, facing a huge train about to collide with his bus full of convicts—filmed with a real train pulverizing a real bus, no CGI. His race to elude a relentless U.S. Marshal (Tommy Lee Jones) is a classic duel between master actors, a wronged-hero epic worthy of Hitchcock, and one of the greatest action movies ever because it’s rooted in characters we care about,” writes AARP.
“The plot of this intense thriller film is nothing extraordinarily original: a man who is wrongly convicted of killing his wife must escape the police and find the person who really committed the crime. The way the story is executed is what still brings us to the edge of our seats today, though. Ford had already built up almost two decades of goodwill with fans, which led to a lot of anticipation for this remake of the popular 1960s TV show of the same name,” says The Manual.
“Based on the show of the same name, ‘The Fugitive’ follows Harrison Ford’s Richard Kimble, a doctor who is framed for the murder of his wife. ‘The Fugitive’ is an impressive thriller that adapts its source material with a deft hand. While they have few scenes together, Ford and Jones’ chemistry is very good and helps elevate the relationship between the two adversaries. ‘The Fugitive’ proves to be one of Harrison Ford’s best performances,” concludes CBR.
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