George Clooney is one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood, having sat proudly at the top of the A-list for the last couple of decades. While most actors are up and down in the quality of their films, Clooney is usually pretty dependable. He doesn’t just star in his movies; he produces a lot of them with his business partner Grant Heslov and even directs some of them.
He has a lot more certified “fresh” scores on Rotten Tomatoes than “rotten” ones, which is pretty impressive for a guy with so many movies on his résumé. So, here are George Clooney’s 10 Best Movies, According To Rotten Tomatoes.
10 The Ides of March (84%)
Political movies aren’t always the best; they can feel biased, like they’re pushing an agenda over telling a story. However, The Ides of March is a great example of a modern political thriller. George Clooney directed the film from a script he co-wrote with his producing partner and the author of the novel it’s based on and stars alongside Ryan Gosling in a dark Shakespeare-flavored story about a U.S. Presidential campaign.
The movie doesn’t have anything particularly insightful or revolutionary to say about the political arena, but it is a spectacularly acted drama carried by a cast containing some of Hollywood’s greatest current talent.
9 Hail, Caesar! (86%)
George Clooney has made a bunch of movies with the Coen brothers, but it’s his most recent collaboration with them that has a Rotten Tomatoes score high enough to make this list. Hail, Caesar! is a satire of the Golden Age of Hollywood, named after a fictional swords-and-sandals epic that’s in production in the ‘50s while a film-industry “fixer” played by Josh Brolin (inspired by a real-life guy) searches for a missing cast member.
It’s a good thing the movie turned out so well, because the Coens first pitched it to Clooney in 1999 and it would’ve been a shame for something that long in the making to turn out badly.
8 The Descendants (89%)
Few movies have balanced comedy and drama quite as finely as Alexander Payne’s bittersweet movie The Descendants. George Clooney plays a father who has just lost his wife (and his kids’ mother) in a horrific accident. The movie is about grief as this family tries to move on from their tragic loss, with character moments taking the place of plot.
There’s a school of thought that character-driven movies aren’t as good as story-driven movies, but the character-driven ones that are driven by characters you can root for and fall in love with, like this one, can be great movies, too.
7 Michael Clayton (90%)
Although its complex and densely layered plot was a lot for some mainstream audiences to get their heads around, Michael Clayton is a well-crafted thriller. It revolves around the titular lawyer, played by George Clooney, whose partner is having a mental breakdown while their firm is faced with a class-action lawsuit related to one of their shadiest clients.
Written and directed by Tony Gilroy, best known for his work on the scripts for the Bourne franchise, Michael Clayton was showered with Oscar nominations (including one for Clooney for Best Actor) and praised by critics for its complicated ethics and well-drawn characters.
6 Up in the Air (91%)
To follow up his acclaimed and timeless indie teen dramedy Juno, Jason Reitman told this story of a man whose job was to fire people from their jobs and an obsession with his ultimately meaningless bank of frequent-flyer miles. It was the defining story for corporate America as it was going through a recession.
George Clooney plays the lead character who connects with various people who enter his life as strangers and discovers that there’s more to being alive than hording a frivolous, made-up currency. It’s not surprising at all that Up in the Air was nominated for six Academy Awards.
5 Fantastic Mr. Fox (92%)
Wes Anderson returned to the quirky stop-motion animation style he perfected with this Roald Dahl adaptation with last year’s Isle of Dogs, but it’s still arguably Fantastic Mr. Fox that takes the title of Anderson’s crowning animated achievement.
George Clooney heads up a voice cast filled with A-list talent: Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe – a healthy mix of regular Anderson collaborators, like Jason Schwartzman, and bona fide movie stars. The film wasn’t a mainstream hit, like a Pixar movie, but it wasn’t a box office bomb either, and it did receive an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.
4 TIE: Out of Sight (93%)
Elmore Leonard just might be the greatest crime writer who ever lived. His stories are timeless, his characters are relatable, and his colloquial, minimalist writing style is endlessly readable. His work has been translated to the screen dozens of times, but Steven Soderbergh’s darkly comic thriller Out of Sight is still one of the best and most memorable examples.
George Clooney stars as career bank robber Jack Foley alongside Jennifer Lopez and Ving Rhames. Fun fact: Michael Keaton reprises his role as Ray Nicolette, a cop from the Elmore Leonard literary universe, from Jackie Brown, Quentin Tarantino’s film adaptation of Leonard’s novel Rum Punch.
3 TIE: Good Night, and Good Luck (93%)
George Clooney clearly understands how to manage one of his own performances from behind the camera, because he’s been in the director’s chair for a good number of his best-reviewed films. Actor-directors tend to focus more on the creative side of filmmaking than the technical side, but Clooney is all tech in this paranoid tale of McCarthyism.
Most directors who wanted to make a black-and-white film would just shoot it in black-and-white and be done with it, but Clooney had a more inventive technique than that: he filmed it on color film stock on grayscale sets and converted the shots into black-and-white for the movie’s release.
2 Three Kings (94%)
War stories with a generally comedic tone are difficult to pull off, but George Clooney has managed it time and time again: The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Monuments Men (which he also directed), Hulu’s new Catch-22 miniseries, and of course, David O. Russell’s Three Kings.
It’s a satirical take on the Gulf War, set right at the end of the conflict, with a group of American soldiers pulling off a daring gold heist while the Iraqi people are rising up to topple Saddam Hussein. With its own unique comic tone and a surreal depiction of life at war, Three Kings is truly its own beast.
1 Gravity (96%)
What so few blockbusters do these days, and it’s a real shame, is simply tell real stories about human beings. They’re all about saving the world from an alien invasion or a zombie apocalypse – one person’s life-or-death situation apparently isn’t high-stakes enough by Hollywood’s standards. But that’s what makes Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity so special.
It’s a big-budget movie set in outer space, but it’s just about the relationship between two people who are suddenly thrust into a survival situation and have to use their scientific knowledge and quick wits to stay alive as they drift through the debris of their space shuttle to possible doom.