After over four decades of prominence in Hollywood, not many can lay claim to having the career that Harrison Ford has had. Whether you’re debating the respective merits of characters Indiana Jones and Han Solo, or you prefer one of his other classic movies like Blade Runner, Ford is cooler, more sophisticated, suave, and sexier than almost any of his peers. At 80 years old, the legend is still starring in upcoming films like this summer’s biggest picture, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
Any time an actor has a hotly anticipated new film, it makes us nostalgic about what they’ve already offered up in years past. We’re here to count down the 10 best Harrison Ford movies of all time, an endeavor that will surely be a challenge considering how famous and successful he’s been. Hopefully your favorite Harrison Ford movie will make the list.
If there were two genres of film that Harrison Ford has occupied more than any other in his career, science fiction and Western would be the two that would come to mind first. Cowboys & Aliens isn’t the best movie Ford has ever made, but it’s a fun mashup of genre tropes that the actor is very familiar with. Ford teams up with James Bond actor Daniel Craig to help save a small town from extraterrestrials before it’s too late. The special effects have aged well, and Ford and Craig have good chemistry that is easy on the eyes.
Harrison Ford has been teased a little bit for continuing to play the same characters from his younger years even as he ages into his twilight ones. This biopic is a nice age-specific role for him though, as he portrays Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s. The Dodgers were the baseball team that signed Jackie Robinson, the first Black man to ever play in a Major League Baseball game. Robinson is acted with perfection by the late, great Chadwick Boseman, bringing to light smaller details of an important story that deserves to get told over and over again.
50 years after its release, this George Lucas-directed coming of age film is still the ideal embodiment of the 1960s youth counterculture and the misadventures of a time lost to nostalgia. No matter what year you graduated high school, American Graffiti will still instantly bring you back to the days of your commencement as the characters of the film drive around California trying to soak up all of the fun that will be lost in adulthood.
While I didn’t want to include two movies of the same franchise in this list, it’s impossible not to give credit to the vitality and gravity Harrison Ford embedded within the reboot of the Star Wars movies starting in 2015. The Force Awakens needed someone from the original trilogy to shine bright so that fans could see a connective thread between the past and the present, and Ford is incredible stepping back into the shoes of Han Solo decades after his last appearance in the role of the famous space cowboy.
The only role that Harrison Ford was ever nominated for an Oscar for, Witness is a powerful and engaging crime film that shows the lengths a police officer will go to when trying to protect vulnerable people like a mother and her young child. This movie was made at the height of Ford’s fame in the 1980s and it fits perfectly within his action/adventure umbrella. Seeing him step outside of the confines of franchise work was also a nice change of pace for Ford.
Harrison Ford’s last time in the skin of CIA agent Jack Ryan is an exciting story of the character fighting back against the Columbian cartel and all of the dangers and risks that come along with this type of adventure. James Earl Jones and Willem Dafoe also integrate high-level performances into this crime thriller.
The plot of this intense thriller film is nothing extraordinarily original: a man who is wrongly convicted of killing his wife must escape the police and find the person who really committed the crime. The way the story is executed is what still brings us to the edge of our seats today, though. Ford had already built up almost two decades of goodwill with fans which led to a lot of anticipation for this remake of the popular 1960s TV show of the same name. Tommy Lee Jones is also excellent in the role of U.S. Deputy Marshal Gerard.
Harrison Ford continues his impeccable run of 1980s successes in the world of genre-heavy storytelling by playing Rick Deckard, a cop who is tasked with saving the citizens of a dystopian Los Angeles from the horrors of android intelligence from afar. Blade Runner brilliantly lays out all of the fascinating and introspective ideologies that form the cyberpunk category of science fiction movies that would come in the decades after its release. A sequel titled Blade Runner 2049 came out in 2017 with Ford reprising his role as Deckard.
The first film in what would go on to be a five movie series that culminates this summer, Raiders of the Lost Ark sees Harrison Ford don his archaeology outfit for the first of many adventures as Indiana Jones competes with the nazis for the Ark of the Covenant. Ford is the ultimate adventure hero, combining his handsome, gruff exterior with a tender resolve and perseverance to overcome the enemies laid before him. People may still argue whether Indiana Jones was even needed to stop the antagonists of the story, but we sure as heck are glad he was present to add his charm and archetypal badassery!
Over 40 years later, The Empire Strikes Back stands tall as everything a sequel should be. Upping the stakes of the original Star Wars, darkening the tone, refining the special effects, and getting even better performances out of its star actors, this legendary film encapsulates the magic of science fiction romps and discussions on good versus evil. Harrison Ford famously didn’t believe this franchise could turn into anything worthwhile before this movie, and you can tell in his portrayal of Han Solo that he was completely dialed in. What a movie!
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