List compiled by Eddie on 27/04/2020
I must apologise in advance to all hardcore fans, I was unable to fit the holy trinity of great Will Smith films After Earth, Wild Wild West and Collateral Beauty into this list.
I don’t know how you can forgive me but please try.
In what’s now been a decade long spanning career, Will Smith has gone from rapper, TV star, box office draw and Oscar nominated actor and while his career has been erratic of late, there’s little doubt that the best of Will Smith provides some great cinematic entertainment.
At home leading tentpole studio films or more human centric dramas, Smith doesn’t mind dabbling in various projects and has displayed a willingness to try his hand at various performances to varying but at times great results.
Below is a collection of Smith’s best works, works that have formed part of the reason why Smith has found himself being one of the most reliable performers in the industry.
Happy reading and happy watching!
10. Seven Pounds (2008)
Smith plays – Ben
A film that was mainly dismissed by critics but well-regarded by audiences, Seven Pounds is an undeniably sappy affair but Smith turns in a strong performance as Ben alongside notable supports such as Rosario Dawson and Woody Harrelson, making Gabriele Muccino’s a Hollywoodized but effective tearjerker.
9. Ali (2001)
Smith Plays – Muhammed Ali/Cassius Clay
Teaming up with Michael Mann, Ali see’s Will Smith deliver what could well be his best acting turn but the film around him is a strange hybrid of great and frustrating as Mann struggles to fully come to grips with how to tell the famed boxer’s life story. Watchable but also disappointing in the grand scheme of things.
8. Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
Smith plays – Paul
Up until his role in Fred Schepisi’s star-studded drama, Will Smith was seen to be not much more than the fast talking rapper and star of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. A heartfelt and well-performed character study, Separation is the type of film Smith hasn’t quite made enough of in his decade spanning career.
7. Enemy of the State (1998)
Smith plays – Robert Clayton Dean
A typical assured Tony Scott thriller, Enemy of the State is arguably more relevant now than it was upon release as its story of story of Will Smith’s on the run lawyer Robert Clayton Dean is filled to the brim with “Big Brother” like components that feel more realistic than ever in our tech obsessed and surveillance filled world. With Smith and Gene Hackman on top form, this is a 90’s effort well worth revisiting.
6. I, Robot (2004)
Smith plays – Del Spooner
Based on an idea from famed sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov, Dark City director Alex Proyas struggled to deliver a nuanced futuristic vision but thanks to Smith’s strong work and a great CGI performance from Alan Tudyk as robot Sunny, this fun and fast-paced event flick is one of the more memorable efforts of its kind.
5. Bad Boys (1995)
Smith plays – Mike Lowery
Smith, Martin Lawrence and explosion loving kingpin Michael Bay made for quite the team in box-office action comedy smash Bad Boys. Very much a film of its era, this wise-walking and frenetic affair was the perfect showcase for the on screen chemistry of its leads and showcased the huge audience love for Smith in particular.
4. I Am Legend (2007)
Smith plays – Robert Neville
One of the more enjoyable Richard Matheson adaptations, I Am Legend coasts off the charisma of its leading man as Smith remains front and centre throughout Francis Lawrence’s visually impressive sci-fi thriller. With one of the most memorable big screen human/canine friendships seen on screen and some fantastic set-pieces, I Am Legend was a deserving box-office hit.
3. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Smith plays – Chris Gardner
Based on a true story, Will Smith teams up with real life son Jaden for a film that garnered him a well-deserving Oscar nomination. Pursuit of Happyness may be manipulative and overly sentimental, but it’s hard not to be affected by such a heart-warming story that remains a fan favourite to this day.
2. Men in Black (1997)
Smith plays – Jay
Whoever had the grand idea of teaming up renowned grump Tommy Lee Jones with the polar opposite Will Smith for a sci-fi comedy deserves a pay rise. One of the most likeable 90’s comedies, Men in Black was a lightning in a bottle type occurrence that was never bettered in multiple attempts following.
1. Independence Day (1996)
Smith plays – Capt. Steven Hiller
The type of big, dumb and spectacle fuelled blockbuster that we don’t see much of in today’s more serious minded landscape, Independence Day is not refined filmmaking but its cinema operating in peak fun mode. With a loaded A-list cast all getting on board for the over the top fight to save humanity, Independence Day remains top of its class.
What are your favourite Will Smith films? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy to see that you included Enemy of the State. I remember being so happy to see Will Smith do well in a non-comedy film the first time I saw it.
It’s interesting that the film has only really grown in relevance to. Was great to see Smith and Hackman together.
Oh, wow! Independence Day! Why do I always forget that movie? Nice post.
A very silly but very fun film, still holds up as a great popcorn watch.
No love for hotel rwanda?
That and black panther are prob my two favorite will smith movies
Very good Smith movies! The Matrix is another one.
Yay, I, Robot love!
I’m a fan! It’s a very fun mainstream scifi.
I always saw I’robot as being underrated but Will Smith as being the even more underrated actor. He has some pretty solid talent.
His a great talent when given the right roles, hoping he can pick some more good films to do over the next couple of years.
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I hated Independence Day when it came out. Will Smith was great as usual as well as VFX but the execution was so dumb I could not digest it. I’ve seen it again as respect to my father bringing me VHS gift from a business trip (he knew I was big SciFi fan). It just confirmed my hate. Maybe I should give it another look after so many years.
Another one I hated was Wild Wild West, especially because I expected a lot from another favorite genre (western) and Will Smith honestly rarely misjudged a script until that point.
Last year I got to know his personality through Red Table Talk and my respect and admiration just grew. He is a wonderful and honest human being.
His a very interesting character. He seems extremely committed to his work and sounds like he has a few really good projects on the go at the moment.
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