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Will Smith’s 9 most iconic movies of all time

Here's are Smith's best of the best roles that you can't miss

Will Smith attends the "Ismael's Ghosts (Les Fantomes d'Ismael)" screening and Opening Gala during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 17, 2017 in Cannes, France
Matthias Nareyek / Getty Images

Not many actors have had more longevity or success at the box office than Will Smith, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After finding moderate success as a hip-hop artist, Smith’s transition to film allowed him to find his true niche.

Early in his acting career, Smith drew audiences with his comedic prowess and boyish charm. Once he got opportunities to star in feature-length films, the actor proved he had the range to become a truly groundbreaking artist. Today, Smith sits within the upper echelon of male film stars. With summer approaching, a season filled with Hollywood blockbusters, here are some of the best Will Smith movies you can watch that helped Smith establish his name.

Men in Black (1997)

Men in Black
71%
7.3/10
pg-13
98m
Genre
Action, Adventure, Comedy, Science Fiction
Stars
Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino
Directed by
Barry Sonnenfeld
Watch on Amazon
Rarely has a major movie made human contact with aliens as fun as Men In Black. In this action-comedy Will Smith movie, an agency of people clad in black attire works to protect the Earth from the threat of aliens and to keep them out of the public eye. Smith stars as Agent Jay, a wise-cracking former street cop who joins the MIB to broaden his horizons and find his purpose.

Bad Boys (1995)

Bad Boys
41%
6.8/10
119m
Genre
Action, Comedy, Crime, Thriller
Stars
Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Téa Leoni
Directed by
Michael Bay
Watch on Amazon
In the ultimate buddy film, Martin Lawrence teams up with Smith for one of the most iconic action films of the ’90s. The two funny guys play a pair of police officers who are infamous for causing major damage in car chases, gunfights, and simple arrests as they fight crime in Miami. The movie finds them trying to protect a witness to a murder while getting to the bottom of a case involving narcotics stolen from the evidence room in the police precinct.

Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day
59%
7/10
145m
Genre
Action, Adventure, Science Fiction
Stars
Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum
Directed by
Roland Emmerich
Watch on Hulu
In what is considered his breakout feature, Smith reprises the role of Air Force pilot Captain Steven Hiller, who is recruited for a mission to save the world from invading aliens. Outmatched against the aliens’ technology, Smith and the rest of the cast use whatever methods possible to prove that humanity’s will to survive is a force to be reckoned with.

I, Robot (2004)

I, Robot
59%
7.1/10
115m
Genre
Action, Science Fiction
Stars
Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk
Directed by
Alex Proyas
Watch on Amazon
It’s the year 2035, and the robotic machines we’ve created are planning to take dominion over Earth. In this action-thriller, a cop who detests robots (Smith) investigates a service robot for possibly committing a crime and uncovers a conspiracy that threatens mankind.

I Am Legend (2007)

I Am Legend
65%
7.2/10
101m
Genre
Drama, Science Fiction, Thriller
Stars
Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan
Directed by
Francis Lawrence
Watch on Amazon
Following the devastation of a virus that kills millions, if not billions of people, a surviving virologist (Smith) tries to create a cure that could save the remaining people who have been turned into mutants. Although the film was the victim of enormous anticipation and hype, it has aged well and really showcases Smith’s acting chops.

Ali (2001)

Ali
65%
6.7/10
157m
Genre
Drama
Stars
Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jon Voight
Directed by
Michael Mann
Watch on Amazon
Fighting films are hard to nail because of the limitations of most actors. However, Smith’s portrayal of boxing great Muhammed Ali is one of his best. This sports drama from director Michael Mann covers ten years of the boxer’s life; from his sensational championship victory over Sonny Liston to his discovery of the Islamic faith, all the way up to Ali’s renowned Rumble In The Jungle fight against George Foreman. Although the movie didn’t do well at the box office, Smith received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Seven Pounds (2008)

Seven Pounds
36%
7.6/10
123m
Genre
Drama
Stars
Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson
Directed by
Gabriele Muccino
Watch on Amazon
In this emotional drama by Gabriele Muccino, a man living with a big secret goes on a remarkable journey to redeem himself by helping change the lives of seven strangers. Although it is a big contrast to Smith’s other notable acting jobs, the actor’s role in this film is perhaps his most memorable.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

The Pursuit of Happyness
64%
8/10
117m
Genre
Drama
Stars
Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandiwe Newton
Directed by
Gabriele Muccino
Watch on Apple TV+
This story, based on the astounding life of businessman Chris Gardner, sees Smith and his then-eight-year-old son Jaden star as Gardner and his young son, respectively. After the father spends is remaining savings on a dying technology, he must find a way to survive and take care of his son while trying to land a job as a stockbroker. The heartfelt performance earned Will an Oscar and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.

Concussion (2015)

Concussion
123m
Genre
Drama
Stars
Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks
Directed by
Peter Landesman
Watch on Amazon
Concussion is a biographical sports drama about Dr. Bennet Omalu, played by Will Smith. Omalu is a pathologist who makes a groundbreaking discovery about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in retired football players. The film follows Dr. Omalu’s fight to expose the truth about CTE and the dangers of repeated concussions, despite facing opposition from the powerful NFL. It’s a story about facing down a giant and the potential consequences of whistleblowing. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
Movie images and data from:
DeMario Phipps-Smith
Former Digital Trends Contributor
DeMario Phipps-Smith is a Chicago native passionate about working to uplift marginalized communities. He previously worked as…
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