If there’s one actor in Hollywood who’s had more ups and downs than we can count, it’s Robert Downey, Jr. He’s gone from being a young up-and-comer to a disgraced addict, to becoming one of the most iconic superhero characters of all time. In this article, resident movie expert, Kevin Cochrane, assembles a selection of the best Robert Downey, Jr. movies.
Honorable Mention: Iron Man / Marvel
There’s no arguing that the Marvel movies, from the first Iron Man to Endgame, all showcase Robert Downey, Jr.’s incredible talent.
Not one to play free craps online from home, the iconic Stark is rolling the dice with a beautiful woman on each side when we first encounter him and his military escort. It creates a stark contrast (pun intended) with the playboy-become-superhero we finally see at the very end of the series.
Since we can’t include all the MCU films on this list, we’ll just say that it’s some of the best work RDJ has ever done, and leave it at that.
10: Weird Science (1985)
Although it wasn’t Robert Downey, Jr.’s first movie, it’s the earliest work that showcases the actor’s comedic talent. He sets the tone for the film by pantsing the two main characters early on, and the bully continues to create havoc throughout the film. He does get his comeuppance, however, thanks to the beautiful Kelly LeBrock.
9: Chances Are (1989)
Co-starring Cybill Shepherd, this is a charmingly funny and lighthearted romantic comedy.
Imagine dying on your anniversary, and being reborn as the guy destined to date his own daughter from his past life. If that sounds as funny as it does confusing, then you have to watch this film.
8: Bowfinger (1999)
Have you ever wondered what the charmingly smug and witty Tony Stark would be like if he were an absolute slimeball? Watch Bowfinger.
The actor only spends a short amount of time onscreen as producer Jerry Renfro. However, his brief appearances are so memorable that it’s easy to forget he wasn’t the main character.
7: A Scanner Darkly (2006)
A Scanner Darkly is one of the strangest, compelling and artistic films ever made, and casting both RDJ and Keanu Reeves was a masterstroke. Downey plays animated addict James Barris, and you’ll be in for quite the experience if you brave the disturbing story and trippy visuals of this film.
6: Natural Born Killers (1994)
Downey plays a sleazy tabloid host in Natural Born Killers, turning serial murderers Mickey and Mallory into nationwide sensations. It’s a dark film that isn’t for everyone, but it brilliantly portrays and mocks society’s fascination with bloodshed.
5: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)
RDJ plays a crook pretending to be an actor and stars alongside Val Kilmer, who portrays a gay private eye. The movie was a major box office bomb, despite being a witty and intricate noir comedy.
Interestingly, of the entire Robert Downey, Jr. filmography, the actor picks this title as his best work. The movie is a bit of an acquired taste, but still worth the watch for any fan.
4: Tropic Thunder (2008)
When you think things can’t get any weirder, there’s Tropic Thunder. Downey plays an Australian method actor pretending to be an African-American soldier, and hilarity ensues.
The film did get flack for its unapologetic and controversial portrayal of some actors’ misguided lengths for a role. However, RDJ gave a masterful performance and only lost out on an Oscar due to Heath Ledger’s stunning Joker portrayal in The Dark Knight.
3: Zodiac (2007)
The Zodiac serial murders is a grisly unsolved case of the 60s and 70s. The film is a haunting masterpiece, and Downey’s magnificent performance as crime reporter Paul Avery makes it even better.
2: Sherlock Holmes Series (2009 & 2011)
It might be cheating to include both of these films in one spot, but they deserve it. Outside of the MCU, the second Sherlock Holmes is the highest-grossing film Downey Jr. ever made.
Although the actor isn’t British, he captures the essence of Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic sleuth perfectly. It’s no surprise at all that this role won him a Golden Globe as Best Comedy/Musical Actor, and it’s an absolute must-see.
1: Chaplin (1992)
Arguably the best film Downey ever made, the actor portrays the silent movie legend in an eerily accurate way. Not only does he capture the genius’ charm and talent, but also the deep depression that drove him.
It remains one of the most emotional and powerful performances that RDJ has ever given.
Robert Downey, Jr. has come a long way, from unusable has-been to one of the most recognizable and loved actors in the world. With his impressive range, he’s portrayed everything from bullies to heroes, reporters to lawyers. With so many great Robert Downey, Jr. movies, it comes as no surprise that he’s considered one of Hollywood’s greatest actors today.