Will Smith in 2013

Will Smith in 2013 (Photo by Kaliva on Shutterstock)

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Step into the spotlight, grab your popcorn, and get ready for a cinematic journey through Will Smith’s charismatic world. From saving the world with flair to tugging at heartstrings with finesse, Smith’s career has been a blockbuster rollercoaster of action, emotion, and unforgettable moments on the silver screen. Join us as we countdown the top films that showcase why Will Smith isn’t just a movie star—he’s a force of entertainment. Our list of the top five best Will Smith movies is based on the consensus films across 11 fan review websites. Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

Best Will Smith Movies, According to Experts

1. “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006)

Biopics are hands-down a genre that Will Smith absolutely dominates. “A struggling salesman takes custody of his son as he’s poised to begin a life-changing professional career in this biographical drama based on the life of Chris Gardner. Smith stars opposite his young son Jaden, which might explain why the stakes feel so high, reflected in every beat of Smith’s career-best performance,” raves AL.com.

In this film, Smith shows vulnerability and emotional turmoil that resonates with viewers. “Throughout the film, he wears his pain on his sleeve, constantly breaking your heart, whether he’s giving away his character’s last $5 or locked inside a subway bathroom, crying and holding on tight to his sleeping son,” offers Entertainment Weekly.

Will Smith’s efforts earned him success across a spectrum of metrics. “‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ enjoyed both financial and critical success. With a relatively small budget of $55 million, the movie made over $300 worldwide…Smith earned an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor,” details Looper.

Iconic quotes from Will Smith as Chris Gardner:

  • “You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.”
  • “This part of my life… this part right here? This is called ‘happiness.’ “
  • “You can’t let people tell you dreams don’t come true. They do.”

2. “Men In Black” (1997)

In 1997, American movie goers would discover the cosmos in action-comedy “Men In Black.” “The sci-fi action film has Smith starring as Agent J alongside Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K. Together, they are the ‘Men in Black’ who handle anything and everything that has to do with aliens and their presence on Earth. Both Jay and Kay are faced with unprecedented circumstances that could threaten the safety of the people of Earth. ‘Men in Black’ is pretty iconic with how much it affects pop culture and the film industry as a whole,” explains MovieWeb.

“Men In Black” was a major Fourth of July release and a huge summer blockbuster. “In trying to think of a film that wholly encapsulates the best of Will Smith’s most definitive characteristics, it is hard to picture anything more fitting than Men In Black. Not to mention, Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1997 hit is one of the most flawlessly executed films of its kind: the sci-fi action comedy,” according to Cinemablend.

Great comic timing and dazzling special effects gave audiences a unique experience. “Barry Sonnenfeld’s visually slick and darkly humorous adaptation of a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi comic book starred Smith as James Edwards, an athletic, mouthy New York City cop who is recruited by ‘K’ (Tommy Lee Jones), a veteran of a secretive government agency that tracks aliens on Earth… The movie deserves much praise for its urbane humor, fantastical though insightful plot, dynamic action sequences, special effects, charismatic performances by its leads, and Danny Elfman’s fun musical score,” states Indie Wire.

Iconic quotes from Will Smith as Agent J:

  • “I ain’t goin’ out like that! I’m gettin’ me some tapes.”
  • “I’m gonna count to three, and if you don’t open this door… I’m gonna splatter your brains all over the wall.”
  • “You know what the difference is between you and me? I make this look good.”

 3. “Ali” (2001)

In another biopic tour-de-force, Smith bulked up to prepare for his role as Muhammad Ali. “Mann’s biographical film of Muhammad Ali marked a big artistic step up for Smith’s acting career, giving him the opportunity to work with a director of Michael Mann’s caliber… Smith rose to the challenge — for an actor once known as a skinny, lanky kid, Smith became virtually unrecognizable, bulking up dramatically, and nailing Ali’s particular voice and physical qualities. The results were some of the best reviews of Smith’s career, as well as his first Golden Globe nod for his film week and Smith’s very first Academy Award nomination as Best Actor,” writes Gold Derby.

Smith’s detailed performance is lauded by all our sources. “2001 was such a confusing, disastrous blur that a lot of people have forgotten how good this movie is, and how triumphant Smith was in it. Denzel [Washington] may have won the Oscar the following year for ‘Training Day,’ but maybe if that performance wasn’t around, Smith, who received his first-ever Best Actor nomination for ‘Ali,’ would’ve been the next in line to take it,” reflects Thrillist.

“Ali” helped to firmly establish Will Smith as an actor capable of substance and nuance. “Smith gets to hit all his personal high points in ‘Ali,’ delivering a full-bodied entertainer while also carrying the drama and solemnity of other times in the iconic boxer’s story. It’s a riveting performance that changed the way people looked at Will Smith as an actor,” claims BuzzFeed.

Iconic quotes from Will Smith as Agent J:

  • “I’m the greatest, I’m a bad man, and I’m pretty!”
  • “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.”
  • “I’m gonna show you how great I am.”

4. “King Richard” (2021)

As the third and final biopic on our list, “King Richard” shows how Smith has refined his performances over time. “This authorized but hardly hagiographic biopic of Williams, who famously told the world that his two little daughters would grow up to be the best tennis players in the world, and then they were, is a stirring, uplifting sports movie, sure — it will definitely make your kids want to go outside and play some tennis — but it’s also an incredible showcase for Smith, who plays Williams as an unmovable object,” writes Vulture.

This film came out right around the same time that Smith stunned everyone by slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars. “Perhaps sullied by Smith’s notorious Oscar mishap, this straightforward sports biopic accomplishes precisely what it wanted to, to celebrate the legacies of Venus and Serena Williams by focusing on the family who helped them find their path to greatness. Smith lays it on pretty thick throughout, but as usual, you can’t help but abide by his charm and screen presence,” adds AL.com.

Smith’s great strength as an actor is in his emotionally complex portrayals. “With ‘King Richard,’ though, Smith finally took home the Best Actor trophy, thanks to a strong narrative (the Academy loves a narrative!) and a stirring performance as Richard Williams — the undeterred and controversial father of tennis icons Venus and Serena — that raises this film above the traditional sports biopic. Bonus points for pulling off the short shorts,” writes Entertainment Weekly.

Iconic quotes from Will Smith as Richard Williams:

  • “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
  • “The most dangerous creature on this whole Earth is a woman who know how to think.”
  • “You’re gonna be representing every little Black girl on Earth.”

5. “Six Degrees of Separation” (1993)

An early-career gem can be found in Smith’s 1993 film, “Six Degrees of Separation.” “Based on the play by John Guare, it cast Smith against type as a smooth, erudite hustler who finagled his way into the lives of wealthy New Yorkers,” details Looper.

At the time of release Smith was most well-known for his television sitcom work, and this film marked a departure from his previous endeavors. “Smith plays a charming Mr Ripley figure, a young man who cons his way into the lives of two wealthy high-society types, played by Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland, claiming to be the son of Sidney Poitier, so cunningly and tacitly playing on their liberal white guilt about race. Smith is charismatic and unsettling; it is still his masterpiece,” praises The Guardian

“Are you looking for a film that will keep you on the edge of your seat? Six Degrees of Separation is a drama mystery film starring Smith as Paul, a young man who makes an appearance at a fancy dinner party hosted by two art dealers. Interestingly enough, he is covered in blood when he shows up. The film includes other notable names including Stockard Channing, Donald Sutherland, Ian McKellen, and J.J. Abrams. Six Degrees of Separation has an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes,” according to MovieWeb.

Iconic quotes from Will Smith as Paul:

  • “I believe that the imagination is the passport we create to take us into the real world.”
  • “It is the worst kind of yellowness to be so scared of yourself that you put blindfolds on rather than deal with yourself. To face ourselves – that’s the hard thing. The imagination – that’s God’s gift, to make the act of self-examination bearable.”
  • “The thing about being a con man is you have to know how to stay in control, and I didn’t.”

Sources used to come to these consensus picks:

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

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