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The 15 Best Morgan Freeman Movies According To IMDb

Morgan Freeman was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on June 1, 1937. Freeman was the youngest of five children, moving north as a child with his family during the Great Migration, as Black families left the segregation of the Jim Crow era in the South (per Biography). When Freeman was a boy, he dreamed of being a fighter pilot, but turned to acting after four years in the Air Force (per Britannica). In the '60s, '70s, and early '80s, Freeman worked in theater and television before moving into films in the '80s. 

In 1989, Freeman had three leading roles — in "Lean on Me," "Driving Miss Daisy," and "Glory" — that turned him into a household name. Over the years, Freeman has made quite a career for himself as a distinguished actor with a powerful presence and a deep, commanding voice that has made him a popular narrator for documentaries. With well over 100 credits in film and television to his name, let's look back at his 15 highest rated movies on IMDb.

15. Invictus (2009)

In 2009, director Clint Eastwood teamed up with Morgan Freeman for the third time in "Invictus." Freeman plays South African president Nelson Mandela in a sports biopic based on a true story about South Africa's national rugby team, the Springboks. South Africa is scheduled to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup, thus receiving an invitation for the team to participate. With this knowledge, Mandela approaches the captain of the Springboks, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), about his desire for the Springboks to win the World Cup, believing this victory could unite the nation and help ease the racial tensions between Blacks and whites since the end of apartheid. 

IMDb gives "Invictus" 7.3, while the film has also earned favorable reviews from both critics and audiences at Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. Freeman and Damon were nominated for Oscars for their performances. Lou Lumenick, with the New York Post, said, "This movie depicts an unlikely intersection of sports and leadership in ways that manage to be inspiring and insightful without ever becoming schmaltzy or preachy." Bob Mondello, with NPR, wasn't charmed by the film, although he added, "Freeman's Mandela, however, is pretty marvelous."

14. Amistad (1997)

In 1997, director Steven Spielberg took on "Amistad," the true tale of a Spanish slave ship found off the coast of New England in 1839 after a mutiny in which the kidnapped, slavery-bound Africans fought for their freedom, killing their captors aboard the ship. Once the Africans are taken into U.S. custody, the government imprisons them while the courts determine what to do (per History). Morgan Freeman co-stars in this ensemble cast as a freedman, Theodore Joadson, who enlists the help of a property lawyer, Roger Sherman Baldwin (Matthew McConaughey), to argue on behalf of the prisoners for their liberty.

Freeman's character is fictional, created to fulfill the roles of several real-life people who worked on behalf of the imprisoned Africans (per JSTOR). Anthony Hopkins plays former president John Quincy Adams, who becomes an ally of the prisoners and argues their case before the Supreme Court. Djimon Hounsou plays Cinque, the prisoner who leads the revolt on the slave ship. IMDb gives the film a 7.3, with similar scores on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. The film was nominated for four Oscars, including a Best Supporting Actor nod to Anthony Hopkins for his performance as Adams. Roger Ebert wrote, "What is most valuable about 'Amistad' is the way it provides faces and names for its African characters, whom the movies so often make into faceless victims."

13. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

The 1989 film "Driving Miss Daisy" is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Alfred Uhry, with Morgan Freeman reprising his stage role as chauffeur Hoke Colburn. Jessica Tandy plays Miss Daisy, a wealthy retired school teacher living in Atlanta, and Dan Aykroyd is Boolie Werthan, Miss Daisy's son. The story begins in 1948, when Boolie hires Hoke to drive Miss Daisy after she has a car accident. Over the next 25 years, Miss Daisy and Hoke develop a friendship that defies expectations and race relations in Georgia prior to and during the civil rights movement, when Miss Daisy comes to realize that she too, being a Jewish woman, has experienced prejudice.

"Driving Miss Daisy" was a critically and commercially successful film, winning the Oscar for Best Picture and hitting big numbers at the box office. Entertainment Weekly said, "Director Bruce Beresford's tightly focused adaptation retains all the impact of its Pulitzer Prize-winning stage original." Tandy is great as the cranky old lady who comes to think of Hoke as her best friend, while Freeman brings patience and humor to the kindly chauffeur. Tandy won an Oscar for her performance and Freeman was nominated for his, while also taking home a Golden Globe (per IMDb). IMDb gave the film a 7.4, with the film getting a "universal acclaim" rating on Metacritic.

12. The Bucket List (2007)

In director Rob Reiner's "The Bucket List," two terminally ill men, a billionaire named Edward (Jack Nicholson) and a mechanic named Carter (Morgan Freeman) — who once wanted to be a history professor — meet while sharing a hospital room. They strike up an improbable friendship, before setting off (against doctor's orders) on an adventure Edward has offered to fund. They travel the world, accompanied by Edward's valet Matthew (Sean Hayes), checking items off their bucket list, including skydiving and riding motorcycles on the Great Wall of China, before cancer makes them incapable of doing so. 

Kyle Smith of the New York Post wrote, "Commercial as it is, 'The Bucket List' is slightly daring and more than a little bit wise," giving the film kudos for centering on older stars in a story about the concerns of elderly people — something we rarely see in youth-obsessed Hollywood. IMDb gives the film a score of 7.4, and the box office numbers confirmed that the story and its stars struck a chord.

11. Lean on Me (1989)

In the 1989 film "Lean on Me," Morgan Freeman plays Joe Clark, a former teacher hired as the new principal of Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey. The school's test scores are the lowest in the state, and the mayor of Paterson is worried that if the state takes over running the school, it will affect his reelection. So the mayor has the school superintendent bring in Clark, a hard-nosed disciplinarian, to get the basic skills test numbers up by the end of the year. This film is based on a true story, detailing the controversial steps Clark employed to improve school spirit, test scores and the educational environment of the school, including expelling a large swath of students who were deemed troublemakers, known drug dealers and users.

While Variety found fault with the film's "simplistic treatment" of the very complex issues that assail inner-city schools, critic Jane Galbraith also praised "Morgan Freeman's inspired performance" as Clark. Freeman himself told the Hollywood Reporter, "If I learned anything from this movie, it was that if you want to portray a living person, you need a lot of emotional input from him." IMDb gives the film a 7.4, and you can currently stream it on HBO Max if you want to check it out for yourself.

10. Gone Baby Gone (2007)

In "Gone Baby Gone," Morgan Freeman co-stars as police chief Jack Doyle in a film centering on the investigation into a missing four-year-old child, Amanda McCready (Madeline O'Brien), in a rough Boston neighborhood. The film, co-written and directed by Ben Affleck, stars his brother Casey as Patrick Kenzie, a private detective hired to assist in the investigation because residents of this tight-knit community would be more comfortable talking to a local instead of law enforcement. Michelle Monaghan co-stars as Kenzie's partner and lover Angie Gennaro. In what could have been a run-of-the-mill mystery, Affleck elicits excellent performances from this ensemble cast, with Amy Ryan nominated for an Oscar for her supporting role as Amanda's drug-addicted mother Helene (per IMDb).

"Gone Baby Gone" was adapted from a novel by Dennis Lehane, the same writer who brought us "Mystic River." Like the latter, this film tells another story that exists in the gray regions of morality, asking the audience when it is right to do something that is technically wrong. Claudia Puig wrote in USA Today, "There is a compelling ethical question raised skillfully that will haunt viewers. The poignant conclusion probably will incite debate." IMDb gave this film a 7.6, and HBO Max is the place where you can currently stream it.

9. Lucky Number Slevin (2006)

Morgan Freeman co-stars with an all-star ensemble cast in the slick crime flick "Lucky Number Slevin," pitting two crime bosses, The Boss (Freeman) against The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley), with the seemingly innocent Slevin (Josh Hartnett) trapped in the middle by a case of mistaken identity. USA Today's Claudia Puig wrote, "This pop-culture-infused mistaken-identity thriller ultimately grabs hold and beguiles, though its convoluted plot takes a while to get going." 

The cast is generally what carries this thriller. Seeing Freeman cast as a villain was a fun change of pace, as is watching Bruce Willis as the notorious contract killer, Mr. Goodkat. Meanwhile, Lucy Liu's character, Lindsey, and Harnett's Slevin have great chemistry, adding the possibility of romance to the film, while Kingsley and Stanley Tucci are always welcome performers. Although some critics complained that "Lucky Number Slevin" had more style than substance, we're inclined to agree with IMDb giving the film a 7.7.

8. Glory (1989)

Morgan Freeman co-stars with Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, and Cary Elwes in "Glory." This Oscar-winning historical drama is based on a true story about the Union's Black infantry soldiers, the 54th Regiment, who fought in the Civil War against the Confederate army (per History). A war monument and the personal correspondence of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw inspired Kevin Jarre's screenplay (per Santa Barbara International Film Festival), which finds Shaw (Broderick) being put in command of a Black unit of soldiers after being wounded in battle and subsequently promoted.

Shaw asks Cabot Forbes (Elwes) to be his second in command, and the first to join the regiment is Thomas Searles (Andre Braugher), a Black man who was born free. Later, John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) — who we first meet as a grave digger while Shaw lies wounded on the battlefield — and a former slave named Silas Trip (Washington) join the regiment. Washington won his first Oscar for his performance (per oscar.org). IMDb gave the film a score of 7.8, while both critics and audiences rated it 93% "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes. "Glory" also regularly shows up — often near the top — on lists of the best films about the Civil War, including this one.

7. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

In 2004, Morgan Freeman worked with director Clint Eastwood for the second time, co-starring with Hilary Swank and Eastwood in "Million Dollar Baby," a film about a young woman, Maggie Fitzgerald (Swank), who tries to convince Frankie Dunn (Eastwood), a seasoned Los Angeles boxing coach, to train her for professional matches. Frankie is reluctant, but Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris (Freeman) gives her some tips until eventually Frankie takes her under his wing. The film took home four Oscars, including Freeman's first (and to date only) win, for Best Supporting Actor.

"Million Dollar Baby" isn't your average sports movie: it asks gut-punching questions about morality, and how we can show up for others. Roger Ebert gave the film a four-star review, calling the film "a masterpiece, pure and simple, deep and true," and IMDb gave the film an 8.1 rating. Freeman's narration guides us through Maggie and Frank's story, which is about two people who appear in each other's lives just when they need each other most. Freeman told The Hollywood Reporter, "Clint is my most favorite director of all. Hooking up again with him after making 'Unforgiven' was really fun."

6. Unforgiven (1992)

In 1992 Morgan Freeman worked with director Clint Eastwood for the first time, playing Ned Logan in Eastwood's highly regarded Western, "Unforgiven." When two cowboys disfigure a sex worker at a saloon in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, her friends raise a bounty for the heads of the men who harmed her, because they were disgusted by the pathetic punishment the town sheriff gave out. This $1,000 bounty brings competing parties to town. A young man recruits Will (Eastwood), an aging outlaw who has turned to farming after becoming a widower, to go after the reward with him. Will asks Ned (Freeman), his old partner, to accompany them to Big Whiskey, where the sheriff, Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman), is displeased by the presence of an English gunslinger (Richard Harris) and the impending arrival of other vigilantes. 

"Unforgiven" has an 8.2 rating on IMDb and a "must-see" score on Metacritic. This film is a fresh interpretation of the genre that made Clint Eastwood a household name. The Hollywood Reporter said, "While not a pretty picture — no ride-into-the-sunset cliches — 'Unforgiven' is a magnificently realized work. In addition to Eastwood's fine, rough performance, Hackman and Freeman stand out."

5. Batman Begins (2005)

When Christopher Nolan dropped his first Batman film, "Batman Begins," in 2005, fans took notice of his new, darker, "realistic" perspective on the multi-layered vigilante. With Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, this incarnation reimagines Batman's origin story with a young Wayne traveling to Asia where he trains in martial arts and becomes a member of the League of Shadows before discovering their true aims. Wayne returns to Gotham City, hoping to save the city his family helped build by fighting crime as a costumed vigilante.

The all-star cast includes Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Ken Watanabe, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, a technology expert at Wayne Enterprises. Freeman's character provides the gadgets and is instrumental in arming Batman for his role as Gotham's Caped Crusader, while this incarnation of Batman's story is the most complex and emotionally resonant of the superhero franchise.

IMDb gives the film a rating of 8.2, with a 84% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave the film a four-star review, saying, "This is at last the Batman movie I've been waiting for. The character resonates more deeply with me than the other comic superheroes." Meanwhile, if you are getting ready to see the newest version of the story, "The Batman," you can watch all three of Christopher Nolan's Batman films on HBO Max.

4. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Morgan Freeman reprises his role of Lucius Fox for the final film in director Christopher Nolan's voyage into the mythology of Bruce Wayne, as Batman (Christian Bale) stands against Bane (Tom Hardy) in "The Dark Knight Rises." Eight years after Batman took the fall for the death of Harvey Dent and went into seclusion, Bane terrorizes Gotham, forcing Batman from the shadows to once again fight for a city that doesn't appreciate all he has sacrificed. Anne Hathaway joins the cast as Selina, a.k.a. the elusive Catwoman, a thief targeting Gotham at the same time as Bane. Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard round out the cast of this stunning conclusion.

IMDb gave the film an 8.4, with Rotten Tomatoes giving the film an 87% "fresh" score. The New York Post said, "Christopher Nolan's dramatically and emotionally satisfying wrap-up to the Dark Knight trilogy adroitly avoids clichés and gleefully subverts your expectations at every turn." This is where Nolan's interpretation of the Batman story diverges from your average superhero flick. He delves into the depths of the soul of the man behind the mask, making a more satisfying movie experience in the process. This trilogy is a perfect example of how you can make an action movie be about more than the action.

3. Seven (1995)

Morgan Freeman plays William Somerset, a veteran homicide detective on the cusp of retirement when he is partnered with newly transferred rookie David Mills (Brad Pitt). As they search for a serial killer working his way through the seven deadly sins, they are pulled into the murderer's gruesome, twisted psyche in director David Fincher's crime drama, "Seven." The film co-stars Gwyneth Paltrow as Mills' wife, Tracy, and Kevin Spacey as the mysterious John Doe. The beleaguered city is an atmospheric backdrop for these brutal murders, while the killer taunts detectives with passages from Dante's "Divine Comedy."

IMDb rates the film an 8.6, with Rotten Tomatoes confirming an excellent 82% "fresh" score. The film isn't exactly a mystery or whodunit, because the killer turns himself in before the brutal ending of this film. It is an investigation into the nature of evil and the men who struggle to understand it. Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, saying, "The enigma of Somerset's character is at the heart of the film, and this is one of Morgan Freeman's best performances." If you haven't seen this film, but enjoy darker themes, you are in for a disturbing cinematic treat.

2. The Dark Knight (2008)

Morgan Freeman reprises his role of Lucius Fox in this Oscar-winning iteration of the Batman franchise, with Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and Heath Ledger in his second-to-last film role, playing the iconic Joker in "The Dark Knight." This film is the pinnacle of Christopher Nolan's vision for Gotham and owes much of that to the cast's stellar performances, with Ledger receiving a posthumous Oscar for his work. This film also features district attorney Harvey Dent's origin story as Two-Face, with Aaron Eckhart taking the role. Maggie Gyllenhaal takes over the role of Rachel from the first film's Katie Holmes, while Rachel's relationship with Dent is a crucial plot point.

IMDb gave "The Dark Knight" a 9.0 rating, with Rotten Tomatoes rating it 94% "fresh" and Metacritic calling it a "must-see" movie. Even if you aren't traditionally a superhero movie fan, Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is worth checking out; the middle film, which is often the weakest in a trilogy, is actually the best of the bunch. James Christopher from the UK Times said, "Heath Ledger is a sensation as the Joker. The late legend doesn't just steal the film, he murders it in style." If you haven't seen Ledger as the Joker, you have missed a performance well worth your time.

1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

In 1994, Morgan Freeman starred with Tim Robbins in "The Shawshank Redemption," a fantastic film about two men who form a friendship while in prison. Director Frank Darabont adapted the screenplay from Stephen King's novella, "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption." After Andy Dufresne (Robbins) is sentenced to prison for two life sentences for allegedly murdering his wife and her lover, Andy meets Ellis "Red" Redding (Freeman). Their friendship becomes a bright spot during two bleak decades behind bars for the men. Freeman also narrates "The Shawshank Redemption," relaying a story about injustice, friendship and the reclamation of one's self-respect and soul.

Freeman told The Hollywood Reporter, "Most of what I remember is that when I read the script, I didn't know which character to read for. When my agent told me it was Red, I couldn't believe they were giving me the movie! I never imagined it would be that character." The film has a 9.3 score on IMDb and has clinched the number one spot on the IMDb Top 250 Movies. If that isn't enough to persuade you to see the film, it also has an excellent 91% "fresh" score on Rotten Tomatoes, and is a "must-see" movie on Metacritic. Critic Nev Pierce said (per BBC), "Freeman, in particular, is exceptional. His performance is so unshowy it can easily go unnoticed, but it's the soul of 'Shawshank.'"