For decades now, Ethan Hawke has been one of the most fascinating actors on screen. From early in his career, he was recognized as an intense and compelling performer who always brought something special to the projects he was in, no matter the size of the role or the film.
Hawke has made his mark on a wide variety of films, often sticking to the independent world which brought him his stardom, but occasionally moving into bigger projects. His filmography is filled with some true classics as well as a few gems you might not have heard of yet. Here are Ethan Hawke's best movies according to Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Maggie's Plan (86%)
Ethan Hawke isn't typically the kind of actor you would see popping up in romantic comedies unless there is something special there. Maggie's Plan is a small film that stars Greta Gerwig as a woman longing to start a family who becomes entangled in a strange love triangle with a married man (Hawke).
The indie film, directed by Rebecca Miller, boasts a great cast which largely impressed the critics. Gerwig was especially highlighted as an excellent lead for the film, and the unusual story was seen as a fun and interesting way to subvert the cliched romantic comedy genre.
9 Born To Be Blue (88%)
Hawke has played real-life figures several times in his career, but it must have been daunting to take the role of famed jazz musician Chet Baker. Born to be Blue is a re-imagining of Baker's career and specifically focusing on his comeback attempt in the '60s after an injury threatens to end it.
Though the film was overlooked by many, critics called it one of Hawke's best performances and the real reason to watch the film. It was also praised for its inventive and unusual take on the musical biopic, which set it apart from others.
8 Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (88%)
Hawke has worked with some legendary filmmakers in his long career, including the great Sidney Lumet in his final film before he passed away. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead stars Hawke and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as two brothers who decide to deal with their financial problems by robbing a jewelry store owned by their parents.
Critics called it a return to form and a fitting final film for Lumet, who delivers all the tension and thrills he is known for. The amazing cast was also praised for delivering powerful intensity to this tragic tale.
7 A Midnight Clear (88%)
A Midnight Clear finds Hawke early in his career as part of a cast of talented young actors. The World War II story centers on a small group of soldiers who find themselves bunkering down in a snowed-in cabin as German forces close in on their position.
A Christmas war movie is uncommon, but critics praised the solid take on the genre. The wonderful cast shines in this moving and thoughtful story of soldiers who are not the typical brave heroes but remain heroic nonetheless.
6 Maudie (89%)
Hawke is often known to use his star power to get small projects off the ground, like this Canadian biopic. The movie stars Sally Hawkins as Maude Lewis, a housekeeper living in remote Nova Scotia who hones her artistic skills and gradually becomes a beloved figure in her community.
Hawkins was given heaps of acclaim for her charming and spirited portrayal of the real-life artist and Hawke was praised for his role as Lewis' husband. Their performances help elevate this simple story of a fascinating person.
5 First Reformed (93%)
First Reformed is Hawke's most recent film on this list and one of his most acclaimed roles. Hawke stars as a minister at a small yet historic church. As he struggles with various hardships, the minister begins to question the role he is serving in the world.
Hawke was praised for his impassioned performance as a tormented man. Writer-director Paul Schrader was also given a lot of praise for shaping a dark and thought-provoking drama that draws the audience in and gives no easy answers.
4 Before Sunset (95%)
Hawke is not the kind of actor with a lot of franchises in his filmography, but he did star in a trilogy which remains one of the most celebrated film series of all time. Before Sunset is the second film in the series which picks up nine years after the first film, as Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Julia Delpy) reunite in France.
Critics loved returning to the charming love story all these years later with the two leads continuing their amazing chemistry together. The intelligent script and story draw you in and make you root for this couple all over again.
3 Boyhood (97%)
Hawke and Richard Linklater have been key collaborators for years and, as you'll see with the rest of this list, they make good movies together. Boyhood is an ambitious film shot over the course of 12 years and detailing the life of a young boy and the struggles of growing up. Hawke plays the young boy's father who also grows over the years.
The incredible way in which the story is told made for a unique and unforgettable cinematic experience according to most critics. The movie avoids melodrama and clichés to tell a real and powerful story.
2 Before Midnight (97%)
Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke reteamed for the third film in their phenomenal series about Jesse and Celine. Before Midnight finds the couple nine years later, married and with kids. During one summer day, we witness how their relationship has changed over the years.
Critics were thrilled with the bold and honest take on this couple's story showing the real-life arguments beneath all the romance. The leads are once again amazing together and the movie is filled with the kind of intelligent conversations that makes the series so wonderful.
1 Before Sunrise (100%)
The film that started Hawke's most popular franchise remains his most acclaimed. Before Sunrise finds Jesse and Celine meeting for the first time on a train and deciding to spend the night together, walking around Vienna and getting to know each other.
As with the other films in the trilogy, the chemistry, the intimate direction, and the intelligent script make this a spell-binding and engrossing story which critics loved.