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The 11 best Jeff Bridges movies, ranked

The Dude has a long and storied career to celebrate

The cast of The Big Lebowski in the bowling alley
Truus, Bob, and Jan too!/Flickr

Actor, writer, and producer of film and music, Jeff Bridges is a household name that any movie lover should know. Born in true stardom fashion in L.A. to two already famous actors, Lloyd and Dorothy Bridges, Jeff still showed his worth as an actor by proving it time and time again. Starting at the young age of 17, Jeff had already featured as an extra in a few films and shows (some of his parents’ as well as others) before going out on his own to really get a taste for showbiz.

Pursuing his dreams never got in the way of his other life accomplishments though, like joining the Coast Guard right when he turned 18. Jeff strived to be a man of many talents. During his eight years of service, he landed his first breakout role in the timeless The Last Picture Show (we will get to that shortly), which was only the beginning of his long career in film.

As will be shown in our list today, Bridges took on countless roles that challenged him emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Some of which even helped him hone lifelong talents, musical and otherwise. Lots of people may think they know all of Bridges’ great films, but there are a few on this list that may surprise you and make you say “How could I, a great film fan, have possibly missed that one?.” We’re here to tell you: You’re not alone. Jeff took his acting talents to work with numerous different award-winning writers, directors, producers, and other actors over the years, which we’ve taken the time to rank. So here is our list of the top 10 best Jeff Bridges movies of all time.

11. Iron Man (2008)

11. Iron Man
Genre Action, Science Fiction, Adventure
Stars Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges
Directed by Jon Favreau
Believe it or not, some people were skeptical of the potential success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when Iron Man released way back in 2008. Thanks to grounded storytelling from Jon Favreau and spectacular performances from Robert Downey Jr. and Jeff Bridges, the film sparked a worldwide superhero phenomenon. Bridges plays the Iron Monger, Tony Stark’s opposition when he returns from an overseas prison with enlightened technological abilities made possible through his suit.

10. American Heart (1992)

10. American Heart
r 110m
Genre Crime, Drama
Stars Jeff Bridges, Edward Furlong, Lucinda Jenney
Directed by Martin Bell
A film riddled with unapologetic drama and family struggle, American Heart doesn’t make the top of our list today, but it gets an honorable mention as one of his more insightful dramas. An ex-convict (Bridges) is found by his young son (Edward Furlong), resulting in an attempt to salvage a relationship from the many years apart, but his past dealings and habits keep coming back to haunt him. With some real heart-wrenching moments of tension, this film is one of Bridges’ more emotional roles, allowing himself to really open up to the situation at hand.

9. The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)

9. The Fabulous Baker Boys
85 %
r 114m
Genre Comedy, Drama, Music, Romance
Stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges
Directed by Steve Kloves
A film detailing the ups and downs of showbiz, The Fabulous Baker Boys is a musical tale about the revival of a brotherly duo that’s on a steady decline. When two brothers, Frank (Beau Bridges) and Jack Baker need to add something to their act to keep a roof over their heads, Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up late to the audition to blow them out of the water. As the story goes on, the beautiful Susie begins to widen the rift between the two brothers, causing some family drama that has been said to reflect the real-life issues between Jeff and Beau Bridges.

8. Starman (1984)

8. Starman
70 %
pg 115m
Genre Science Fiction, Romance
Stars Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith
Directed by John Carpenter
In a sort of sci-fi comedy sub-genre, Starman isn’t necessarily at the top of the list, but it’s still good fun to see Bridges as an acclimating extra-terrestrial. When an alien responds to the Voyager II attempt to communicate with alien life, he takes the form of a widow’s (Karen Allen) husband and begins his journey across America, piquing too much of her curiosity for her to stay behind. This film definitely has some great comedic moments, thanks to the physical performance that Bridges brings to the game.

True Grit (2010)

True Grit
80 %
Genre Drama, Adventure, Western
Stars Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon
Directed by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
A Coen Brothers remake of the John Wayne classic, True Grit is reprised with utmost grace and genuine sincerity, boasting an iconic cast of characters to drive it home. A hard-headed and brave teenage girl (Hailee Steinfeld) goes in search of a U.S. Marshall (Bridges) with a reputation exceeded only by his lack of hygiene, hoping that he will help to find her father’s murderer and bring him to justice. Bridges definitely gave this role his own personal twist, but this movie is hinged on the breakout performance of the young Steinfeld, showing their on-screen chemistry with little to no effort at all.

6. Crazy Heart (2009)

6. Crazy Heart
83 %
r 112m
Genre Drama, Music, Romance
Stars Jeff Bridges, Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Directed by Scott Cooper
An emotionally quintessential story of heartbreak, hardship, and musical expression, Crazy Heart gives a unique look behind the curtain of musical stardom. After an exceptionally successful country music career, Bad Blake (Bridges) begins to realize that he must address the many issues that his career and his nonchalance caused, from which he draws further musical inspiration. Besides a wonderful screenplay and award-winning original songs, Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal knock it out of the park with their subtle deliveries and seemingly personal anecdotes, securing their places as some of the best actors to grace the screen this century.
CRAZY HEART - Official Trailer

5. Fat City (1972)

5. Fat City
88 %
pg 97m
Genre Drama
Stars Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges, Susan Tyrrell
Directed by John Huston
Following his breakout role in The Last Picture Show, a young Jeff Bridges lands on his feet the following year with the boxing drama Fat City. When an older, washed-up boxer (Stacy Keach) begins to feel his age in the ring with him, he begins sparring with a young and promising new boxer (Bridges) who has a slew of his own problems to bring to the table. With plenty of background story and character development to go around, this movie goes past being a sports movie and points out some great societal commentary along the way.

4. Hell or High Water (2016)

4. Hell or High Water
88 %
Genre Western, Crime, Drama
Stars Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster
Directed by David Mackenzie

Fearless and original, Hell or High Water is a modern-day western with every bit of comedy and drama anyone could ask for, tightly knit by a stellar screenplay and a rockstar cast to deliver the goods. When a family farm in West Texas threatens to be foreclosed by the bank, a divorced father (Chris Pine) and his ex-con brother (Ben Foster) plan to do whatever it takes to save it, so long as they can escape the local ranger (Bridges) who is hot on their tail. With themes of family, financial hardship, and injustice, this bit of cinematic brilliance has won over critics across all platforms as a wild ride for all involved.

The Fisher King (1991)

The Fisher King
61 %
Genre Comedy, Drama
Stars Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Mercedes Ruehl
Directed by Terry Gilliam

Imaginative and smart, The Fisher King lends an ear to the less fortunate and the ignored, drawing parallels between the working class and the homeless. When a rude and mouthy radio DJ (Bridges) is the accidental cause of a horrifying shooting incident, his life begins to spin out of control, causing social disorders and heavy drinking habits. Co-starring the late and great Robin Williams, the two characters are brought together by cruel fates and unexpected common ground, resulting in a profoundly life-changing experience for them both.

2. The Big Lebowski (1998)

2. The Big Lebowski
71 %
r 117m
Genre Comedy, Crime
Stars Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi
Directed by Joel Coen
A cult comedy classic of epic proportions, The Big Lebowski is an absurdist work of art from the legendary Coen Brothers, competing for the top rank of their most appreciated films. A laid-back, go-with-the-flow, Dude (Bridges) is constantly mistaken for an exceedingly rich man with the same legal name, as event after event plagues his efforts to be the chilled-out Duderino he strives to be. With moments of surprising hilarity contrasted by some mild abstraction (in Coen brothers fashion), this flick is bound to bewilder and impress, just try to read between the lines if you want to extract one of the many layers of hidden themes and entendre. See more of the best comedy movies of all time for picks like this.
Official Trailer | The Big Lebowski | Screen Bites

1. The Last Picture Show (1971)

1. The Last Picture Show
93 %
Genre Drama
Stars Timothy Bottoms, Cybill Shepherd, Jeff Bridges
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Critically acclaimed and six-time Oscar-nominated (two Oscar wins), The Last Picture Show is a not-so-quaint look at life in a small Texas town. The film follows a group of high schoolers in this coming-of-age story where scandal, betrayal, and consequences run amuck as the arid town continues to deteriorate in every sense of the word. Starring a wonderful cast of lead and supporting actors and directed/written by legendary Peter Bogdanovich, it’s no wonder it was so well received at its release, compared in its time to the great Citizen Kane as film works of timeless artistry.

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Shawn Laib
Shawn Laib is a freelance writer with publications such as Den of Geek,, Edge Media Network, diaTribe, SUPERJUMP…
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