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Ranked: The best Will Ferrell movies

From comedies to dramas to children's movies, these are our favorite Will Ferrell flicks

For more than two decades, Will Ferrell has proven over and over again that he’s one of the funniest men alive. First on Saturday Night Live and then eventually on the big screen, Ferrell has continued to find new ways to tell jokes. He’s also found a cadre of collaborators who are willing to be ridiculous right alongside him in some truly great comedies.

Ferrell has occasionally dipped his toes into more serious work as well, and those performances have always been interesting, even if they aren’t always great. This look at Will Ferrell’s best movies really displays the wide array of roles he’s fully capable of taking on.

If you’re looking for more great movies, check out our lists of the best George Clooney movies, the best Brad Pitt movies, or the best Jonah Hill movies.

10. Everything Must Go (2011)
10. Everything Must Go
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stars Will Ferrell, C.J. Wallace, Rebecca Hall
Directed by Dan Rush
One of Ferrell’s more serious performances, Everything Must Go tells the story of a salesman who realizes that his life is quite suddenly collapsing all around him. In an effort to regain some control over his life, Ferrell’s character holds a yard sale after his wife throws him out of the house. Ferrell is remarkably convincing as an overgrown child who has yet to get his life together, but what makes the movie work is his character’s fundamental decency underneath all the dysfunction.
Everything Must Go - Trailer
9. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
9. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Genre Comedy
Stars Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd
Directed by Adam McKay
Revisiting Anchorman for a sequel almost a decade later could have been a complete disaster. Instead, Anchorman 2 is filled with great jokes, even if it’s a little bit shaggier than the first installment. The movie definitely takes some odd zags, including an extended sequence in which Ron is blind. However, Anchorman 2 also offers some fairly trenchant observations about 24-hour news, which often involves saying things without actually knowing much about what’s going on.
Official Anchorman 2 Trailer
8. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
8. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Genre Comedy
Stars Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Michael Clarke Duncan
Directed by Adam McKay
An excellent send-up of NASCAR and the red-state culture that goes along with it, Talladega Nights is never heavy handed in its more satirical elements. Instead, Ferrell and frequent collaborator Adam McKay craft one of the funniest sports comedies ever made, following NASCAR sensation Ricky Bobby as he loses everything and is forced to eat a big slice of humble pie. Talladega Nights is also proof that Ferrell and John C. Reilly make a great team, and this is not the last time they’ll unite on this list.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) Official Trailer 1 - Will Ferrell Movie
7. Zoolander (2001)
7. Zoolander
Genre Comedy
Stars Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor
Directed by Ben Stiller
Villainous Will Ferrell roles are a special subset of his performances, and Zoolander may be the best of the bunch. As Mugatu, Ferrell is unafraid of going big, and it pays off. Mugatu is part of an evil ring dedicated to finding a model who can be brainwashed into assassinating a progressive prime minister in Malaysia who is threatening the cheap child labor the fashion industry uses there. It’s a shockingly biting bit of comedy, perfectly balanced by Ferrell’s utterly farcical performance.
Zoolander (2001) Official Trailer - Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson Movie HD
6. Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
6. Stranger Than Fiction
Genre Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Stars Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman
Directed by Marc Forster
Perhaps Ferrell’s most successful overtly dramatic turn to date, Stranger Than Fiction follows an auditor for the IRS who realizes that his life is being influenced by some disembodied narrator. Eventually, he discovers that he has been doomed to death by this narrator, who believes that she is writing a work of fiction but is actually changing people’s lives in the process. It’s a strange but often life-affirming concept, and Ferrell is great in the lead role as a man leading an unremarkable life who nevertheless wants to keep living more than anything.
Stranger Than Fiction (2006) Official Trailer 1 - Will Ferrell Movie
5. The Other Guys (2010)
5. The Other Guys
Genre Comedy, Action, Crime
Stars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes
Directed by Adam McKay
Any honest list of Ferrell’s best movies is going to be heavy on his collaborations with Adam McKay, but not without good reason; all the movies they’ve made together are excellent. In The Other Guys, Ferrell stars as one half of a mismatched buddy cop duo who are unraveling a minor case as it turns into what could be a vast conspiracy. What really makes the movie work, though, is all the jokes. The Other Guys is a little bit about the financial crimes that toppled the economy, but mostly, it’s just proof that Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are an excellent comedic duo.
THE OTHER GUYS - Official Trailer (HD)
4. Step Brothers (2008)
4. Step Brothers
Genre Comedy
Stars Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen
Directed by Adam McKay
Sometimes, all a movie really needs is lots and lots of great jokes. Step Brothers is one of the more vulgar movies Ferrell has ever made, and it also may be the funniest. Playing a large adult son before there was even a word for such a thing, Step Brothers follows Ferrell’s character as he develops a rivalry — and eventually, a friendship — with another large adult son played by John C. Reilly. In reality, though, the plot of Step Brothers is just an excuse for some of the funniest jokes ever told in a movie.
Watch the trailer for STEP BROTHERS
3. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
3. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Genre Comedy
Ferrell’s most iconic collaboration with McKay is probably still their best. Ron Burgundy may be the most indelible character of Ferrell’s career, so much so that he has brought him back in a wide variety of settings in the years since the movie was released. Featuring some of the funniest comedians in Hollywood, Anchorman became totemic for an entire generation of 13-year-olds who still think that San Diego translates to “whale’s vagina.”
Anchorman The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) Theatrical Trailer
2. Elf (2003)
2. Elf
Genre Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Stars Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart
Directed by Jon Favreau
Ferrell can definitely do the R-rated stuff, but Elf is all the proof you need to see that he can be just as funny without any sex jokes. Playing Buddy the elf, a human who winds up being raised by Santa’s elves, Ferrell is all light and enthusiasm, so much so that he becomes infectious to everyone around him. Elf is a story about Christmas spirit, and it feels like the kind of movie that few people besides Ferrell could have sold. It’s funny, sentimental, but never corny, and it’s become a genuine Christmas classic in the 20 years since it hit theaters.
Elf (2003) Official Trailer #1 - Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel Christmas Movie HD
1. The Lego Movie (2014)
1. The Lego Movie
Genre Animation, Family, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Stars Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell
Directed by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Even if we’d only ever gotten Ferrell’s villainous turn as Lord Business, The Lego Movie probably still would have made the list. What makes The Lego Movie great is the surprising shift it takes to live action in its last 20 minutes. Ferrell’s Lord Business is just a stand-in for a worn-out dad who wants his kid to leave his Legos alone. The movie’s resolution doesn’t come when Lord Business is defeated. Instead, it comes when Ferrell’s character realizes that his son is the one who is using the Legos right, and then he decides to join in on the play.
The LEGO® Movie - Official Main Trailer [HD]

Editors' Recommendations

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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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