There was a period of time where it felt like Samuel L. Jackson was acting in, well, just about everything. Over the course of his career, he’s appeared in over 150 films with no signs of slowing down. In fact, he’s the highest grossing actor of all time, with his films grossing a total of 16.7 billion dollars worldwide.
In the 2010’s he was most known for his role as Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But, remaining prolific as ever, Jackson continued to appear in other films that were just as memorable as his Marvel entries. Between 2010 and 2012 alone he was in 13 films. Here are his top 10 2010 films, NOT from the MCU, ranked by Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Kingsman: The Secret Service (74%)
Jackson has long been associated with cool, tough guy roles (usually yelling a certain compound word with the letters “M”, and “F”). So his turn as Richmond Valentine, the nerdy misguided villain in Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) was not only a pleasant surprise; it demonstrated that Jackson was capable of stealing the show without relying on being typecast.
While (spoiler alert) his character didn’t live to see the sequel, his comedic performance is one of the most memorable parts of Kingsman and though surprising at the time, it’s now inconceivable to think of anyone else in that role.
9 Kong: Skull Island (75%)
Before Brie Larson became Samuel L. Jackson’s costar in the MCU, they both starred in a small indie film…okay, not really. Kong: Skull Island (2017) was the second installment in The Monsterverse, another cinematic universe comprising of iconic monsters such as King Kong and Godzilla. Skull Island was Kong’s introduction to audiences of the 2010s.
In it, Jackson plays Preston Packard, a U.S colonel bent on killing Kong to avenge the death of some of his men during the events of the film. In an interview with Nerdist, he described his character as being the “standard for people seeing something that they don’t understand and identifying it as the enemy.”
8 The Hateful Eight (75%)
Director Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson are known for being long time collaborators. Jackson first appeared in Tarantino’s 1994 classic Pulp Fiction and has been in Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004), Inglorious Basterds (2009, uncredited narrator), and Django Unchained (2012).
The Hateful Eight (2015) is set just after the Civil War. Tarantino had originally intended to make The Hateful Eight a sequel to Django Unchained. But he decided to keep both films separate, much to the benefit of audiences and Jackson, who had a starring role as Major Marquis Warren.
7 Big Game (78%)
This Finnish film might have slipped through the cracks for most people but this is one to watch if you’re looking for a combination of action and fun. Samuel L. Jackson is the President of the United States. Currently stranded in Finland, he is in danger with his only hope being a Finnish teenage boy.
On paper, this doesn’t sound like something up Jackson’s alley and yet Big Game (2014) premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to positive reviews, with praise aimed at the homage it pays to low budget 80’s action films. Additionally, Jackson isn’t the only big star in this cast. Jim Broadbent, Felicity Huffman, and Ted Levine are also featured.
6 The Other Guys (78%)
In this 2010 comedy, Jackson played a small role that parodies the tough guy roles he’s performed in the past. As Detective Highsmith he, alongside Dwayne Johnson’s Detective Danson, are the the best cops in the NYPD.
Their abrupt exit leaves many questions and gives two lesser detectives (played by Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg) the chance to finally step up. While Detective Highsmith failed at “aiming for the bushes,” Jackson perfectly hits the mark as a cocky but efficient cop, regardless of the property damage his character causes.
5 Mother and Child (78%)
Samuel L. Jackson has played a variety of roles, but it isn’t often that he gets to play a love interest. In the ensemble melodrama Mother and Child (2010), he plays Paul, the head of a law firm. He has an affair with one of his attorneys (played by Naomi Watts), resulting in her pregnancy.
Mother and Child connects multiple storylines together through the generational struggles and familial connections shared by its characters. It’s a far cry from Jackson’s typically masculine filmography but yet again, he manages to show that he has the range to do it all.
4 Chi-Raq (82%)
Chi-Raq (2015), is an adaptation of the Ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata, in which the titular character convinces women to withhold sex from their husbands, forcing the men to find a peaceful resolution to end the Peloponnesian War. In this Spike Lee joint, Jackson narrates the events of the plot as the character Dolemedes.
Updated for modern times, the setting is now Chicago and the war is switched with gang violence. Despite the controversy leading up to its release, Chi-Raq received positive reviews from critics and was the first film ever produced by Amazon Studios.
3 Django Unchained (87%)
Before The Hateful Eight, audiences saw Jackson portray Stephen, an elderly and embittered house slave in Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 film Django Unchained. It premiered to rave reviews and Jackson once again proved why he is a Tarantino mainstay. Including The Hateful Eight, Jackson and Tarantino have collaborated 6 times.
While this already sounds like a lot, it’s important to note that Tarantino has only made a total of 9 films to date. This means Jackson has appeared in the majority of Tarantino’s filmography. He will certainly be remembered for the many franchises he’s been part of, but his presence in the Tarantinoverse will hold a special place in the hearts of many moviegoers.
2 Incredibles 2 (94%)
Fourteen years after its critically acclaimed predecessor The Incredibles (2004), Samuel L. Jackson reprised his role for the sequel, Incredibles 2 (2018). While the film is animated, Jackson’s voice is instantly recognizable as Lucius Best (a.k.a. Frozone).
Fans of the original film will remember the iconic “Where is my Super Suit?” scene between Frozone and his wife, Honey. Fortunately for viewers, the second film was just as good as the first, providing plenty of new moments that made the 14-year wait worthwhile.
1 I Am Not Your Negro (99%)
Once again Jackson is on narrating duty, but instead of a fictional feature, it’s for the 2016 documentary I Am Not Your Negro. Based from the letters of the unfinished manuscript Remember This House by James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro uses excerpts from these letters and archival footage of Baldwin to explore the racism that has always been present in America. In addition to his own views, the film also shows the lives of civil rights activists such Martin Luther King Jr.
It was considered one of 2016’s best documentaries, and was not the only documentary Jackson narrated in the 2010s. In 2011 he narrated African Cats, a nature documentary, for Disneynature. While it didn’t make this list, it’s further proof that Samuel L. Jackson has left his mark on practically all genres of film.
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