Jeffrey Wright is a lauded American actor known in recent years for his portrayal of Arnold in HBO’s Westworld. Wright made his cinematic debut in the 90’s courtroom drama Presumed Innocent, which stars Harrison Ford. Since then, he’s acted in numerous compelling and quirky TV and film dramas, including Angels in America and Basquiat. Despite transitioning into major Hollywood productions, Wright often returns to his indie roots.
Wright’s next big role will be Commissioner Gordon in the Robert Pattison-led Batman revival, set to be released in 2021. In honor of his abundant and diverse acting career, here are Jeffrey Wright’s 10 best films according to Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Chicago 10 (2007) – 81%
Wright voices Black Panther Bobby Seale in this animated feature about the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where anti-Vietnam protesters employed violent tactics to make their displeasure with the ongoing war known.
As a result of the chaos that erupted at the convention, a group of eight protesters and activists were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit violence. With this film, director Brett Morgen hoped to pay tribute to the expansive anti-war movement that survived through most of the 1960s.
9 Confirmation (2016) – 83%
In this film made for HBO, director Susannah Grant dramatizes Clarence Thomas’s 1991 Supreme Court nomination and the controversy that ensued after he was accused of sexual harassment by his former employee Anita Hill.
Kerry Washington stars as Hill, who causes a media frenzy after her accusations are leaked. This leads to highly publicized hearings where Hill is asked to share what happened in front of a divisive Congressional committee. Wright portrays Hill’s attorney during the hearings, Charles Ogletree.
8 The Ides of March (2011) – 84%
George Clooney stars in and directs this political drama about a governor’s ambitious plan to win the Democratic nomination in a presidential race. Clooney plays Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris, who is in the middle of a contentious battle in Ohio during primary season. Ryan Gosling plays one of Morris’s campaign managers, who discovers his boss is hiding an affair, the kind of scandal that could ruin him.
Wright plays North Carolina Senator Franklin Thompson, who controls a large chunk of delegates Morris needs in order to secure the nomination.
7 Only Lovers Left Alive (2014) – 85%
Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton star as a pair of ancient vampire lovers in this Jim Jarmusch version of a horror movie. Hiddleston is Adam, and Swinton is Eve. Adam passes time in his Detroit Victorian while Eve lives in Tangier. Afraid of being outed and reluctant to drink blood from contemporary humans, they both rely on suppliers to give them access to older blood.
Wright plays Adam’s supplier, a blood bank manager who goes by Dr. Watson. For a hefty sum, he satiates Adam’s desire for O negative blood.
6 The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete (2013) – 86%
A heartbreaking story about how the criminal justice system tears families apart, the title characters in this drama are two young boys whose mothers have both been apprehended by police. Instead of getting sucked up into a corrupt system, the two boys band together to try their luck on their own, dodging cops and prying neighbors.
The older boy, Mister, is full of life and hope despite his circumstances, and his resourcefulness knows no bounds. Wright plays a homeless veteran named Henry who is also trying to survive on the streets.
5 Broken Flowers (2005) – 87%
Bill Murray plays Don Johnston in this Jim Jarmusch comedy. After he receives an anonymous letter informing him he has a son, Johnston decides to track down his old lovers in order to figure out who sent him the letter.
Wright plays his neighbor Winston, a lover of mystery novels who compels Johnston to go through the plan. Winston helps him research the locations of the women he used to date, going so far as making Johnston’s travel arrangements for him. The movie is considered one of Jarmusch’s best, and it fueled Bill Murray’s revival in the 2000s.
4 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) – 89%
Suzanne Collin’s widely popular The Hunger Games series spawned a just as popular movie trilogy starring Jennifer Lawrence. While this dystopian story inspired legions of similar science fiction tales geared toward young adults, The Hunger Games is still considered the best.
In both Catching Fire and Mockingjay, Wright plays Beetee, the District 3 male in the 75th Hunger Games who is skilled in electronics and was able to win by electrocuting tributes en masse. Beetee later joins the alliance to protect Katniss, played by Lawrence, proving to be an invaluable resource with his knowledge.
3 O.G. (2018) – 89%
Another HBO feature, O.G. stars Wright as an incarcerated man named Louis who has almost completed his 24-year jail sentence from a crime he committed when he was young. Louis is jumped by a new inmate, a young man named Beecher whose attitudes and disposition remind Louis of himself when he first entered jail.
Louis decides to strike up a friendship with Beecher. Louis also feels drawn to Beecher, who he hopes to help adjust to life behind bars before he reenters a world he hasn’t known in decades.
2 Source Code (2011) – 92%
Jake Gyllenhaal is at the helm of this science fiction thriller about a U.S. Army captain sent on a high tech mission to figure out who is responsible for a terrorist attack that blew up a commuter train in Chicago.
Using an experimental machine dubbed Source Code, Gyllenhaal’s character Colter Stevens enters a simulation of the disaster created by amassing the memories of passengers killed in the attack. Wright plays Dr. Rutledge, the man behind Source Code. As Stevens reenters the simulation over and over again to gather more clues in order to prevent another bombing, he comes to realize the machine is much more than a simulator. In fact, it’s a gateway into alternate realities.
1 Casino Royale (2006) – 95%
In the first James Bond revival to star Daniel Craig, a star-studded cast of talented actors support this tale of espionage, intrigue, and high-stakes poker. As operative Bond, Craig tracks down Le Chiffre, a financier with connections to terrorist organizations all over the world.
Le Chiffre is played by Mads Mikkelson, and when Bond finds out his nemesis is planning to participate in a poker game at Montenegro’s Le Casino Royale, he makes his way to the action. Wright plays a CIA operative named Felix Leiter who also infiltrates the game.
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