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The best Mark Wahlberg movies of all time

From Pain & Gain to Boogie Nights, these are the best Mark Wahlberg movies that you can stream now

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Few actors have had more surprising careers than Mark Wahlberg. After living out a fairly troubled youth and having a brief career as a rapper, Wahlberg transitioned to the big screen and became one of the most enduring movie stars of the past 20 years. Across a wide range of genres, Wahlberg has managed to prove that he has the kind of charisma and charm to carry big-budget spectacles. At the same time, he’s also proven that his skills as an actor can be used in smaller, supporting performances, leading to a far more successful acting career than many might have assumed 25 years ago. The films on this list are the best Mark Wahlberg movies, and the ones that crystallize what a great Wahlberg movie should be.

Instant Family (2018)

Instant Family
Genre Comedy
Stars Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Allyn Rachel
Directed by Sean Anders
Mark Wahlberg has starred in plenty of action movies, but he may be best when he gets to flex his comedy muscles. In Instant Family, he and Rose Byrne star as a couple who decide to foster children, and get in way over their heads almost immediately. For all of its comedic mayhem, Instant Family is also one of the sweetest, most wholesome movies on this list. It features Mark Wahlberg in full-on “good dad” mode, and he has a remarkably able scene partner in Rose Byrne, one of the great comedic actresses of her generation.
Instant Family (2018) - Official Trailer - Paramount Pictures

The Other Guys (2010)

The Other Guys
Genre Action, Comedy, Crime
Stars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes
Directed by Adam McKay
Another great Wahlberg comedy, Marky Mark is tasked with playing the straight man in The Other Guys, a ridiculous cop movie that’s also about the financial crisis. Even as the movie begins to more overtly reference politics (as Adam McKay’s later films did even more explicitly), The Other Guys is still first and foremost a comedy. Its opening scene features what is perhaps the greatest joke of the Rock’s entire career, but Wahlberg also gets plenty of time to shine as an average Joe who happens to be loathed across New York because of that time he accidentally shot Derek Jeter.
THE OTHER GUYS - Official Trailer (HD)

Read more: Ranked: The best Will Ferrell movies

The Departed (2006)

The Departed
Genre Drama, Thriller, Crime
Stars Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Wahlberg has only been nominated for one performance in the entire career, and it was the right one. Playing a truly angry sergeant in the Boston Police Department who spends most of his time swearing in the thickest Boston accent you’ve ever heard in your life, The Departed feels like Wahlberg in his most purely uncut form. As the movie twists and turns, Wahlberg becomes something close to its secret weapon. He’s definitely not one of the main characters, but Martin Scorsese wants you to forget about him so that he can remind you how central he’s been during the movie’s very final moments.
The Departed (2005) Official Trailer - Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson Movie HD

Three Kings (1999)

Three Kings
Genre Action, Comedy, War
Stars George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube
Directed by David O. Russell
One of the first movies to follow up on the promise Wahlberg showed in Boogie NightsThree Kings sees Wahlberg star alongside George Clooney, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze as a group of American soldiers during Desert Storm who decide to engage in some light robbery. Nothing goes as they expect it to once they set out to commit this crime, but that’s to be expected. Three Kings is a pretty trenchant commentary on the nature of modern warfare, and Wahlberg more than holds his own against an ensemble cast that’s packed to the brim with charisma.
Three Kings - Original Theatrical Trailer

Pain & Gain (2013)

Pain & Gain
Genre Action, Crime, Comedy
Stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie
Directed by Michael Bay
Michael Bay and Mark Wahlberg have teamed up several times over the course of his career, but most of those collaborations have been on Transformers movies. With Pain & Gain, though, we get a genuinely interesting satire about muscle-bound men desperate to achieve their version of the American dream. For all of Bay’s overblown machismo, Pain & Gain seems to suggest that the director may be more self-aware than he lets on, and also maybe funnier than we think. Wahlberg is great alongside the Rock and Anthony Mackie in a trio of deeply strange central roles.
Pain & Gain Official Movie Trailer

Read more: The 10 best action movies on Netflix

I ♥ Huckabees (2004)

I ♥ Huckabees
Genre Comedy, Romance
Stars Jason Schwartzman, Isabelle Huppert, Dustin Hoffman
Directed by David O. Russell
Possibly the weirdest movie on this list, I Heart Huckabees features Wahlberg in a supporting role. He plays a client of an organization that exists to solve existential quandaries, which is exactly as unusual as it might sound. Wahlberg can often get overwhelmed when the premise becomes less firmly grounded in reality, but because he’s not at the center of this film, he works just right. Wahlberg is a great star, but he can be even better in a strong supporting role, and I Heart Huckabees is supporting Wahlberg at the top of his game.
I Heart Huckabees - Trailer - HQ

Ted (2012)

Genre Comedy, Fantasy
Stars Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane
Directed by Seth MacFarlane
Telling the story of a grown man’s relationship with his vulgar childhood teddy bear, Ted isn’t exactly a high-brow movie. Then again, when you have jokes as good as the ones that Ted rattles off from beginning to end, you may not need any sophistication. One of Wahlberg’s hallmarks as an actor is that he reads as working class in a way that many other mainstream movie stars simply don’t. He uses this persona to full effect in Ted, which also takes him back to his roots as a blue-collar Boston boy.
Ted - Trailer

Boogie Nights (1997)

Boogie Nights
Genre Drama
Stars Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Telling the story of a young porn star as he rises to prominence in the late 1970s, Boogie Nights was the movie that first showed us what Wahlberg is capable of. Although it’s definitely a bit of a Scorsese pastiche, Paul Thomas Anderson brings enough of his own flair to the project to make everything feel fresh and alive, even 25 years later. Wahlberg is great in the central role, but he’s also surrounded by a legendary cast that includes a young Julianne Moore and a young Philip Seymour Hoffman, as well as a shockingly great performance from a late-career Burt Reynolds that should have nabbed him an Oscar.
Boogie Nights (1997) Official Trailer #1 - Paul Thomas Anderson Movie

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The Fighter (2010)

The Fighter
Genre Drama
Stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams
Directed by David O. Russell
Wahlberg has worked with director David O’Russell on three separate occasions over the course of his career, and each one of those movies made this list. The Fighter may be the best of the three, though, and it’s definitely the most straightforward. The movie tells the true story of the Ward brothers, two boxers who both competed at a high level. Although the movie is ostensibly about boxing, though, it’s really about the fragile bond between these two brothers, and the messed up family that they both come from. It’s a family movie much more than a sports movie, and all the better for it.
The Fighter (2010) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

We Own the Night (2007)

We Own the Night
Genre Drama, Crime, Thriller
Stars Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes
Directed by James Gray
James Gray may be one of the more unheralded filmmakers of the 21st century, and We Own the Night is among his best work. Wahlberg plays a cop whose brother is a nightclub owner attempting to remain neutral in an all-out war between the cops and the mobs. After Wahlberg’s character is injured on the job, he teams up with his brother to take on the mafia once and for all. As cliched as all of that may sound, Gray’s hands are delicate enough to make the movie sing, and Wahlberg’s is just one of several great performances on display here.
We Own The Night (2007) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

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Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance culture writer based in upstate New York. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The…
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