Versatile, handsome, effective. Jude Law is one of Hollywood’s recognizable faces whose career has spanned beyond what people thought of at first. After all, he was just “the pretty British” guy. And yes, he started off with some of those that paved his way to becoming a more serious actor in films that could use his golden smile, but also his acting skills.
Luckily, Law’s very notable career is full not only of good performances but of very well-written scripts. This didn’t stop him from being prolific in the early 2000s when he appeared to show in every drama or romance film. But today, we don’t see him as much as we would like (we’re talking about a guy who made 16 films between 1999 and 2004).
Recently, we saw him participate in the Harry Potter franchise, playing a young Albus Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. Currently, he’s finishing production in Justin Kurzel’s thriller The Order. While we wait for that one, let’s check out Rotten Tomatoes’ ranking of his best films.
10 Side Effects (2013) – 81%
In Steven Soderbergh’s highly underrated thriller Side Effects, Law plays Dr. Banks, a psychiatrist dealing with his patient Emily who appears to be suicidal and is prescribed an experimental drug that supposedly makes her sleepwalk. But when Emily kills her husband in a sleepwalking episode, Banks investigates further and realizes he may be dealing with someone only pretending to be sick. This is one of Soderbergh’s best films.
9 Road to Perdition (2002) – 81%
Based on a graphic novel of the same name, Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition sees a father (Tom Hanks) and son running away from a mobster who has killed their family. In the film, Law plays contract killer Harlen Maguire, a monster of a man who will do anything to kill the remaining Sullivans and collect his money. This is one of the few times Law has played the bad guy, and it suits him very well.
8 Gattaca (1997) – 82%
Sci-fi thriller Gattaca has Jude Law playing a very shady man. Jerome Morrow is paralyzed from the waist down after a car ran him over. He decides to lend his genetic traits in a future where only people with the best genes get to be successful. The problem is he lends it to Vincent, a guy who gets in a little bit of trouble.
Law’s Morrow is one of his most underrated performances. The ending will leave you in emotional shock.
7 The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) – 85%
In Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, Law plays Dickie Greenleaf, a spoiled young man whose living the best life in Italy in the late ’50s. His father has paid Tom Ripley, to go to Italy and fetch back his son.
The thing is Ripley’s fascination with Dickie and his lifestyle will become obsessive and drive him to do desperate things in this thriller based on the work of Patricia Highsmith. This film earned Jude Law his first Oscar nomination.
6 Contagion (2011) – 85%
Law again in one of Soderbergh’s films. Contagion is the story of what would happen if the world suffered from a worldwide pandemic after a respiratory virus took everyone by surprise. Sound familiar?
The events that take place in Contagion, as well as some of the behavior by the people involved, are eerily similar to what we lived through when COVID-19 arrived in 2020. Law plays Alan Krumwiede, a conspiracy theorist who uses the crisis to promote a cure for financial gain.
5 The Aviator (2004) – 86%
Scorsese’s The Aviator is the story of Howard Hughes as he became a Hollywood visionary and aviation mogul. The ensemble cast is impressive, and it features a huge group of actors giving life to the elite of the film industry during the ’30s and ’40s. Among those, a young Jude Law gave his best representation of Hollywood legend Errol Flynn.
4 The Nest (2020) – 90%
The Nest is a powerhouse drama that tells the story of a family living in America during the ’80s when suddenly the father/husband Rory (Law) decides it’s time to move to England and start over. The wife isn’t happy, and the children are not having a great time either.
Rory is a trader and entrepreneur who sadly realizes too late he shouldn’t have messed with the family’s integrity as it all crumbles down in the end. Law stars alongside a fantastic Carrie Coon.
3 The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – 92%
In one of Wes Anderson’s most prominent films, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Law plays the Author, a man whose grave a woman visits in the beginning and whose visit to the famous hotel inspired him to write his most famous book: The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Law’s role is quite secondary in the film as he plays only the young version of the Author. Nevertheless, it’s Anderson’s universe and as usual, some of the familiar faces will have short performances in the forms of cameos.
2 Hugo (2011) – 93%
The reunion with Scorsese. In Hugo, Law plays Hugo Cabret’s father, a clockmaker with a passion for mechanical devices who finds the strange mechanical man that writes. The machine is broken, so father and son do their best to try to repair the automaton, but tragedy strikes too soon and Mr. Cabret dies in a house fire. We don’t have to tell you how beautiful and underrated Scorsese’s Hugo is.
1 Spy (2015) – 95%
Paul Feig’s Spy features Jude Law as a CIA partner to a rather rare version of a secret agent played by Melissa McCarthy. As cheesy as the film appears to be, Spy is actually pretty funny, and most of it has to do with the charm of its characters, the wit of the script, and Feig’s particular style of comedy filmmaking. In any case, there’s no chance you’ll get bored watching this one.