The storied film career of Morgan Freeman is filled with classic roles and memorable moments. Equally known for his roles in period films as well as work in tense drama, Morgan Freeman is one of the most decorated actors in the history of film. When considering his 30+ year film career, we needed to turn to our sources in order to find his top five best movies out of the 45 amazing films he has starred in.
In 1989 Morgan Freeman starred in “Glory” and “Driving Miss Daisy”, two films that shared the theme of the Black American experience. Both films are highly acclaimed for their performances as well as content of their respective narratives. Freeman would go on to captivate audiences in film classics like “The Shawshank Redemption” or director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Not familiar with these classics? You can find many of them on different streaming platforms, which has continued to dominate the entertainment market. The amount of streaming and web-video consumption has increased by 35 percent, according to a recent study.
Not only have Americans been watching more TV, but people have been changing when they tune in to the TV. More people are staying up later to catch up on their favorite shows or binge something new. There’s been a 40 percent increase in the amount of TV being watched between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.
So whether you are a night owl looking for classics to watch or a first-time viewer that’s curious about an iconic American actor, time is limited, and viewers might need help when thinking of what to add to their watchlist. In all, according to recent research, 73 percent of respondents have a list of shows and films they’ve been meaning to watch. Yet only 58 percent of them have made it through their entire list. Of the 42 percent who have failed to make it through their list, many claim the biggest obstacles are dealing with the list getting longer (43%), thinking it’s already too long (29%) or thinking that it’s overwhelming to watch all that TV (25%).
Looking for a new flick to dive into? Freeman has made his indelible mark on the entertainment industry and has helped to establish a standard for excellence in acting. When considering all of his incredible cinematic work, we turned to expert sources to select the best Morgan Freeman movies of all time. Let us know your favorites in the comments below!
The List: Best Morgan Freeman Movies, According to Experts
It is hard to think that “The Shawshank Redemption”, now considered to be a beloved classic, was lacking in sales at the box office. “Based on a Stephen King short story, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ famously was a major disappointment at the box office when it was first released. Word of mouth grew about the film and it eventually became a staple on cable television. The beloved movie tells the story of two prisoners who befriend each other in prison and the escape plan the one who is wrongly imprisoned hatches. Freeman’s gentle narration of the film helped him land a Best Actor nomination, which was among the films total of seven nominations including Best Picture,” explains Gold Derby.
Although Freeman had worked as an actor for decades, this was arguably the role that took his career to the next level. “While Tim Robbins’ Andy Dufresne may be the focal point of the story, the real main character is Freeman’s Red, the guy who thinks he has everything figured out and wired and discovers that there’s more to life than simply being the provider of prison contraband. The movie takes full advantage of both Freeman’s gifts, not only his ability to provide powerful narration, but also his screen presence. ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ lets Freeman be funny, wistful, depressed, thoughtful, and so much more as he completely owns every moment of the movie,” relates Collider.
“Most agree that Shawshank is Morgan Freeman’s best when it comes to his movie catalog. While you can make a strong case for the others included on this list, it’s hard to top this heart tugging story which tells the tale of a man (Tim Robbins) sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for two murders that he didn’t commit. While imprisoned, he meets Red (Freeman), a wise older gentleman who helps him understand the ins and outs of prison life,” writes One37pm.
‘“Batman Begins’ surely gets on this list as one of the best Morgan Freeman movies in town even though he didn’t play a central character. Freeman played the character Lucius Fox, a scientist responsible for researching and developing badass equipment for the hero Bruce Wayne to take on Gotham City’s criminals,” as stated by Buddy TV.
“When Christopher Nolan dropped his first Batman film, ‘Batman Begins,’ in 2005, fans took notice of his new, darker, ‘realistic’ perspective on the multi-layered vigilante. With Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, this incarnation reimagines Batman‘s origin story with a young Wayne traveling to Asia where he trains in martial arts and becomes a member of the League of Shadows before discovering their true aims. Wayne returns to Gotham City, hoping to save the city his family helped build by fighting crime as a costumed vigilante… Freeman’s character provides the gadgets and is instrumental in arming Batman for his role as Gotham’s Caped Crusader, while this incarnation of Batman’s story is the most complex and emotionally resonant of the superhero franchise,” offers Looper.
This film is also the start of what many viewers consider to be the definitive adaptation of Batman. “Christopher Nolan succeeds triumphantly in developing a special bond between Fox and Wayne in ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy.’ He is not only an employee who is loyal to his company but also a mentor with solid principles. Morgan Freeman’s interpretation of Lucius Fox offers us a distinctly reinterpreted comic character. Fox is a man possessing excellent knowledge and he understands the significance of artillery and consciously roots for the prevailing of good over evil,” explains High on Films.
This film is highly reviewed by all our sources. “‘Million Dollar Baby‘ and its story of redemption is everything viewers could want from a serious and personal movie. The acting in the movie, by Eastwood, Hilary Swank, And Freeman are as good as you will find in any movie, anywhere, in any time in Hollywood history. It’s a masterclass by all three and it makes even this sad, tragic story a true joy to watch,” posits Cinema Blend.
“‘Million Dollar Baby’ is yet another sports drama directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Morgan Freeman in the role of a gym assistant Eddie Dupris. The plot focuses on Mary Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) who’s determined to become the best boxer with the help of her gruff trainer (Clint Eastwood) and Eddie. The movie’s more interested in the inner demons than the sporting themes themselves. The story’s strongest point is definitely the heartfelt journey, but it’s all assisted by solid acting and direction. Freeman’s pseudo-narration works incredibly well for the story advancing the work with a somber tone,” details MovieWeb.
“Million Dollar Baby,” was also an award winner. “The film that finally nabbed Freeman an Oscar, his performance as Eddie ‘Scrap-Iron’ Dupris is the gritty heart of Eastwood’s boxing film. Yet again, his quiet dignity is always at the surface, but is always ready to explode with something more fierce. You never look at Freeman and see a pushover, and it’s because you know he’s harboring something deep and intense. In ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ Freeman shows off his intensity and kindness in equal measure,” offers Collider.
In this grisly murder mystery film, Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt explore a dark narrative. “Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives in David Fincher’s masterpiece starring Brad Pitt and Freeman, the latter of whom as the world-weary detective whose looming retirement can’t come soon enough. As exciting as it is unsettling, Fincher’s thriller remains the best of its kind, largely thanks to a career-best performance from one of the finest actors we’ve ever seen,” writes AL.com.
“Honestly, Morgan Freeman could have very well won an Oscar for ‘Se7en’ as well. Portraying retired police detective William Somerset who decides to take on one final case with the new young guy on the scene (Brad Pitt) where they make a gruesome discovery of elaborate murders. It soon becomes very clear that they are dealing with a dangerous serial killer (Kevin Spacey), who is specifically targeting people who he thinks represent the Seven Deadly Sins. Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, and Kevin Spacey together in one film is definitely a good two hours spent,” offers One37pm.
Also well-loved by fans, “Se7en” is a cult classic. “IMDb rates the film an 8.6, with Rotten Tomatoes confirming an excellent 82% ‘fresh’ score. The film isn’t exactly a mystery or whodunit, because the killer turns himself in before the brutal ending of this film. It is an investigation into the nature of evil and the men who struggle to understand it. Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, saying, ‘The enigma of Somerset’s character is at the heart of the film, and this is one of Morgan Freeman’s best performances.’ If you haven’t seen this film, but enjoy darker themes, you are in for a disturbing cinematic treat,” adds Looper.
Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman have collaborated in several films. “Freeman has often said that his favorite movie is Clint Eastwood’s 1976 Western, The Outlaw Josey Wales. So when the actor finally had the chance to co-star with Eastwood in Unforgiven, he didn’t need to be asked twice… As his [Eastwood’s] equally regretful best friend and old partner Ned Logan, Freeman gives a gorgeously nuanced performance that forces Eastwood to express emotional depths that he usually keeps hidden below the surface,” writes AARP.
“Clint Eastwood’s dreary Western (or as many call it, an ‘anti-western’) about a retired killer who takes on one more job years after he had turned to farming. Arguably Eastwood’s finest work as a director and actor, in which he plays the conflicted and aged outlaw William Munny, who thought he’d left behind a life of murder before it found him in his later years. Beautifully shot, it features terrific supporting performances from Gene Hackman (who also won an Oscar), and Freeman as Ned Logan, Munny’s friend and fellow retired outlaw who joins him on his fateful journey,” as written by AL.com.
“In ‘Unforgiven,’ Morgan Freeman plays sharpshooter Ned Logan, a loyal and longtime friend to Clint Eastwood’s Will Munny in this epic western. Logan joins up with Munny to help a young man called ‘The Schofield Kid’ track down a gang a vial cowboys accused of torturing a prostitute. In a film filled with some of the best actors of their day, including Clint Eastwood (who also directed), Gene Hackman, and Richard Harris, Morgan Freeman more than holds his own with his brilliant performance. In fact, ‘Unforgiven’ might just be his best performance that he WASN’T nominated for any major awards for,” claims Cinemablend.
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