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Every Forest Whitaker Movie Ranked Worst To Best

Forest Whitaker began his career as an actor when he was in his early 20s. Before that, he had studied at USC and earned scholarships for his work as an operatic tenor (via IMDb). While acting became his primary focus, music never left Whitaker's life, and several of his films have featured music or musicians. 

Over the decades since Whitaker made his film debut, he's become one of the most renowned performers in Hollywood. He's won numerous awards for his work, including a BAFTA, Golden Globe, and an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Whether Whitaker is playing a supporting role as a big-city cop or leading a film about a musical legend, he brings his all to every performance. Whitaker has the talent and gravitas to elevate any project, and with well over a hundred acting credits under his belt, he's been more than generous with that talent. Television, films, and even video games have all been graced by Whitaker's presence.

There's no sign that he's slowing down any time soon, but let's take a moment to look back at all of Forest Whitaker's feature film roles thus far, ranked from worst to best.

77. TAG: The Assassination Game

Forty years ago, Forest Whitaker debuted in his first feature film role, 1982's "Tag: The Assassination Game." The story centers on a group of college students who play a game where they shoot each other with rubber darts. Loren Gersch (Bruce Abbott) is the undisputed champion of the game, but when an accidental shot from one of Gersch's competitors "kills" him, he snaps. Gersch starts using an actual gun to take out the competition, and everyone now has to survive this new game.

"The Assassination Game" was Linda Hamilton's first leading role in a feature film. There are definitely worse thrillers out there, and IMDb users rate the film at a 5.9 out of 10. Ultimately, though, the film is more or less forgettable. Whitaker, who plays a bodyguard, only appears in one brief scene. Without any other majorly redeeming qualities, "The Assassination Game" lands at the bottom of Whitaker's filmography.

76. Battlefield Earth

In 2000, Forest Whitaker starred in the multi-award-winning "Battlefield Earth." Unfortunately, those awards were Razzies. "Battlefield Earth" won an award for eight of 10 Razzie nominations, including "Worst Picture," "Worst Screenplay," "Worst Actor," "Worst Screen Couple," and even "Worst 'Drama' of Our First 25 Years." Whitaker himself received a Razzie nomination for his work in the film, but he didn't go on to win.

John Travolta helped produce the film, which was based on the novel "Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000" by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Travolta also stars as Terl, leader of an alien race called the Psychlos. Humanity has been enslaved by the Psychlos, but a rebellion is on the horizon. "Battlefield Earth" only covers the first half of Hubbard's novel, and though a sequel had been planned, the film's reception dashed those dreams (via The Guardian). If terrible science fiction is right up your alley, you might find some enjoyment in one of the genre's worst examples.

75. Catch .44

Written and directed by Aaron Harvey, "Catch .44" is a crime thriller that failed to impress back in 2011. According to Rotten Tomatoes, audiences gave the film only a 14% approval rating. The film's box office earnings failed to make up for its poor reception. "Catch .44" earned less than $300,000 during its theatrical run (via Box Office Mojo), despite a cast boasting Bruce Willis, Forest Whitaker, and a talented trio of lead actresses: Malin Akerman, Nikki Reed, and Deborah Ann Woll.

Drug lord Mel (Willis) has a plan to eliminate three of his more problematic employees. He sends Tes, Kara, and Dawn (Akerman, Reed, and Woll) to a diner under the guise of picking up a drug shipment. In reality, he's sending them to be executed by another team that he's hired to wait at the diner. Ronny (Whitaker) learns of the plot and comes to rescue Tes and her friends, but mistaken motivations and a series of shootouts leave the outcome anyone's guess.

74. Bank Robber

Patrick Dempsey leads this debut film from writer/director Nick Mead. 1993's "Bank Robber" tells the story of Billy (Dempsey), a man who's looking to escape from his life of crime. Billy plans one last bank robbery to pay for his escape from the life, but he's caught on camera during the heist. Pursued by Officers Gross (Judge Reinhold) and Battle (Forest Whitaker), Billy hides out in a hotel, but he's extorted by the guests and staff while he mulls over how to get away with the money.

Audiences on Rotten Tomatoes barely preferred "Bank Robber" to "Catch .44." The film currently has a 20% audience approval rating, and only a 4.4-star rating on IMDb. There's little to latch onto in the film's script, and the cliched premise never goes in any new directions. One reviewer for The New York Times called the film "a series of loosely connected tangents that come to an abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion."

73. Body Count

Crime movies can be hit or miss, and there are quite a handful of misses in Forest Whitaker's history. "Body Count," released in 1998 and directed by Robert Patton-Spruill, is another of them. The film follows five thieves attempting to rob an art gallery. What should be an easy job doesn't go as planned. One of the men ends up dead, and chaos follows the rest as they try to make it to Miami to sell their stolen goods.

The film's group of thieves is played by Whitaker, John Leguizamo, David Caruso, Ving Rhames, and Donnie Wahlberg. The men might be talented on their own, and Linda Fiorentino does well as an antagonist, but the script of "Body Count" gives all of them very little to work with. A contemporary reviewer for Variety criticized the film's "so-so script" and "styleless direction" even while praising the individual actors.

72. Freelancers

If you've seen one police drama, you've seen them all, but every once in a while there's a cop drama that truly breaks the mold. Sadly, 2021's "Freelancers" is not one of those films. Directed by Jessy Terrero, "Freelancers" had an interesting cast going for it, but the story lacked originality and came across as a predictable bundle of cliches. Audiences on Rotten Tomatoes only give the film a 30% approval rating.

"Freelancers" tells the story of Jonas Maldonado (50 Cent), who joins the police academy to follow in the footsteps of his late father. Maldonado is greeted on the force by Lieutenant Dennis Lureu (Forest Whitaker) and Captain Joe Sarcone (Robert De Niro). When Maldonado discovers that Sarcone and a group of dirty cops might be responsible for his father's death, his loyalties are tested against his thirst for revenge.

71. Downtown

In 1990, Forest Whitaker starred in the buddy cop film "Downtown" alongside Anthony Edwards. In the film, suburban cop Alex Kearney (Edwards) is assigned to work in downtown Philadelphia, and no one expects to have a good run of it. Sergeant Dennis Curren (Whitaker) is assigned to show Kearney the ropes, and though the two start off on the wrong foot, they warm up to each other as they investigate the murder of another officer.

Written by Nat Mauldin and directed by Richard Benjamin, "Downtown" suffers from characters that are little more than stereotypes and comedy that felt dated even 30 years ago. A reviewer for The Washington Post maligned the film's script and one of its lead performances, saying, "Forest Whitaker is much too good an actor for this material, and Anthony Edwards is not nearly good enough." Though Whitaker's talent may have shone through the film's sorry script, it wasn't enough to make "Downtown" a success.

70. A Dark Truth

"A Dark Truth," written and directed by Damian Lee, had plenty to say, but didn't quite get its message across. The film explores how corporate corruption can damage lives and even cause death, but that exploration is overpowered by a poor script and tired action tropes. The critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes is just 8%, and though audiences disagreed with that supremely low score, they still didn't give it a positive approval rating.

Morgan Swinton (Deborah Kara Unger) works for Clearbec, a multinational corporation that's covered up a massacre in a village in Ecuador. With the help of talk show host Jack Begosian (Andy Garcia), she aims to reveal what her company did. Francisco Francis (Forest Whitaker) and his family were in the village during the massacre, and he also wants to reveal Clearbec's wrongdoing, but the company will stop at nothing to keep the story under wraps.

69. How It Ends

Netflix produced this apocalyptic thriller directed by David M. Rosenthal. Will (Theo James) and Sam (Kat Graham) are on the verge of getting married, but first Will travels to Chicago to ask Sam's father Tom (Forest Whitaker) for permission. While Will is in the windy city, an apocalyptic earthquake destabilizes the Earth's climate and initiates societal collapse. Will and Tom decide to work together to travel back to Sam in Seattle.

"How It Ends" has a premise that, by 2018, had been done better several times over. Without any distinguishing features in terms of plot or character, the film is just another forgettable Netflix entry. For once, critics and audiences were on the same page with the film. Both groups gave it a 17% approval rating. Hardcore disaster movie fans might be able to look past the film's flaws, but they wouldn't find much else to love in it.

68. Diary of a Hitman

"Diary of a Hitman" told the classic story of a hired killer attempting to get out of the business, but the film didn't add many innovations to the typical plot. Roy London directed the film, which writer Kenneth Pressman adapted from his own play "Insider's Price." The story follows the last job of a hitman known as Dekker (Forest Whitaker). Zidzyck (Lewis Smith) hires Dekker to kill his wife Jain (Sherilyn Fenn), but when what should be a simple job turns out to be quite complicated, Dekker's shot at retirement is at risk.

London's film didn't make a big splash at the box office. "Diary of a Hitman" left theaters with only about $32,000 worth of earnings and no critical acclaim to speak of. In the years since, it hasn't turned out to be a sleeper hit, but according to Rotten Tomatoes, a little over a third of its viewers find themselves entertained enough.

67. Taken 3

Forest Whitaker joined Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, and Famke Janssen for the third installment of the "Taken" franchise. This outing sees Bryan Mills (Neeson) framed for the murder of his ex-wife Lenore (Janssen). Pursued by Inspector Franck Dotzler (Whitaker) and a legion of LAPD and federal agents, Mills has to use his skills to clear his name and get revenge on the real killers. The film is full of the over-the-top action "Taken" fans had come to expect. It's likely the last go-round for Bryan Mills, since no one is sure if "Taken 4" will ever happen.

Predictably, critics mostly hated "Taken 3." At 13%, it has the worst Rotten Tomatoes rating of the entire franchise. Reviewing audiences liked the film a bit more and gave it a 43% rating. Of course, the rating that likely matters most is the box office, and "Taken 3" didn't disappoint. It made well over $300 million at the global box office. That's more than enough to leave the door to a sequel open for a while longer.

66. Our Family Wedding

"Our Family Wedding" is another film that performed well at the box office despite being ripped apart by critics. The film earned over $21 million during its run. That's quite a showing for a romantic comedy that critics called "a mirthless, contrived affair." Undoubtedly, "Our Family Wedding" can credit its relative success to its talented cast, which included Forest Whitaker, America Ferrera, Carlos Mencia, Lance Gross, and Regina King.

Marcus Boyd (Gross) is a young medical school graduate. He and volunteer English teacher Lucia Ramirez (Ferrera) fall in love, but getting their families to tolerate one another in the lead up to their wedding becomes a major challenge. The family feud is primarily fueled by Marcus's father Brad (Whitaker) and Lucia's father Miguel (Mencia). Cultures and sensibilities clash as the two fathers struggle to make peace with one another. "Our Family Wedding" doesn't offer anything new to the romantic comedy genre, but at 90 minutes, it also doesn't have too much to complain about.

65. Consenting Adults

The '90s were a golden age for erotic thrillers, but "Consenting Adults" is far from a standout example of the genre. Written by Matthew Chapman and directed by Alan J. Pakula, the film follows the murderous interaction between two couples. Richard and Priscilla Parker (Kevin Kline and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) live a peaceful life that's disrupted by their new neighbors Eddy and Kay Otis (Kevin Spacey and Rebecca Miller). Richard and Kay have an affair, but when Kay's body is discovered by police, Richard becomes their primary suspect in the murder. Richard's wife leaves him and takes up with Eddy, who Richard slowly comes to believe has planned out everything. Forest Whitaker plays an insurance investigator who helps Richard unveil Eddy's plot.

"Consenting Adults" would be the kind of movie that makes you look at your neighbors differently if it wasn't so forgettable. Critics and audiences were equally disappointed by the film. It currently has a 23% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and scores just 5.7 out of 10 stars on IMDb.

64. Ready to Wear

Set during the Paris Fashion Week, "Ready to Wear" takes a satirical look at the fashion industry. The film, which was directed by Robert Altman and written by Altman and Barbara Shulgasser, was originally released under the title "Prêt-à-Porter." It stars Kim Basinger, Julia Roberts, Tim Robbins, and Sophia Loren. Forest Whitaker had only a small supporting part in the film, but that may have been for the best. The film was largely hated by 1994's fashion community, and film critic Roger Ebert compared it to a home movie, saying the film is, "somewhat rambling, and overly dependent on knowing the names of all the players."

More than 20 years after its release, the film holds little lasting appeal. Connoisseurs of '90s fashion might have a passing interest in the setting, but the satire left plenty to be desired even upon release. Rotten Tomatoes wisely gives "Ready to Wear" a 24%.

63. Even Money

"Even Money" follows the lives of gambling addicts and shows how their obsession comes to destroy their lives. Carolyn (Kim Basinger) is an author who hides her addiction from her husband, even as she spends most of their money. Walter (Danny Devito) is a magician who's fallen on hard times and taken up gambling. Clyde (Forest Whitaker) has become so debt-laden that he has to ask his brother, a professional basketball player, to help him fix games to earn money. The thread linking them all—not just addiction, but a connection to mob boss Victor—will disrupt their lives forever.

Mark Rydell directed this part crime drama, part gambling addiction PSA. The critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes says that "'Even Money' is so obsessed with portraying the ills of gambling it forgets to develop compelling or likable characters." The film features some strong performers, but ultimately it gives them little to do besides demonstrate a moral message.

62. Ripple Effect

Released in 2007, "Ripple Effect" is the second feature film from writer/director Philippe Caland after 2003's "Hollywood Buddha." As he did in his first film, Caland focused on the story of one man's spiritual journey. Fashion designer Amer Atrash (Caland) came from Lebanon to America looking for fame and success. Instead, he's had one failure after another, and his marriage is on the brink of collapse. Amer blames the misfortune on bad karma from a violent interaction with a man named Phillip (Forest Whitaker) that happened over a decade ago. His attempt to fix one mistake will end up transforming his entire life. 

Once again, Whitaker found himself in a film that couldn't match up to his skills. IMDb users give the film a 4.9 rating. Rotten Tomatoes gave it just 29% approval. Though critics disliked the film as a whole, some praised Whitaker contributions to it. One reviewer for the Austin Chronicle wrote, "thank God Whitaker is here to bring a bit of real pathos and ambiguity to his role" and said that without his talent, the film's "exercise in pop mysticism would have been too painful to bear." 

61. Repentance

Forest Whitaker worked with Philippe Caland for a second time with the 2013 film "Repentance." Caland directed the film and co-wrote the script with Shintaro Shimosawa. The film stars Anthony Mackie as Tommy Carter, a spiritual advisor who takes on Angel Sanchez (Whitaker) as a private client. Angel is obsessed with his mother's death, and Tommy quickly realizes that he's out of his depth. Angel's obsessive patterns turn violently toward his counselor, putting the lives of Tommy and his family at risk. 

"Repentance" has a promising premise, but the film fails to deliver anything truly groundbreaking or memorable. According to Rotten Tomatoes, audiences were moderately entertained by the film and gave it a 42% rating, while critics were unimpressed and left it with only 20% approval. The mix of spiritual themes and a plot that centers on violence and torture was too uneven for most viewers to enjoy. 

60. The Marsh

This 2006 horror film written by Michael Stokes was the second feature to be directed by Jordan Barker. It stars Gabrielle Anwar as children's author Claire Holloway. Suffering from horrible nightmares, Claire decides to take a vacation in the country, but when she starts seeing the ghost of a little girl, she calls in historian Noah Pitney (Justin Louis) and paranormal investigator Geoffrey Hunt (Forest Whitaker) to help her find out what's really happening.

"The Marsh" doesn't contain any surprises for anyone who's heard a ghost story or two. That's probably why the film failed to take off at the box office and received mostly negative reviews from critics and audiences. There aren't many reasons to circle back to this forgotten movie, but if you're in need of an uncomplicated, low-stakes horror flick with Whitaker in a starring role, "The Marsh" will do the trick.

59. The Fourth Angel

Jeremy Irons stars alongside Forest Whitaker in this action film about the survivor of a terrorist plane hijacking seeking vengeance for his murdered family. When Jack Elgin (Irons) learns that the men who killed his wife and three children are being allowed to return to their home country, he decides to take out the entire terrorist ring himself. Jack is pursued by federal agent Jules Bernard (Whitaker), but when the two come face to face, Jules sides with the vigilante, and they make a move on the terrorists.

John Irvin directed this 2001 film, and Allan Scott adapted the screenplay from a novel written by Robin Hunter. Irons and Whitaker shine in the lead roles, but the film itself is B-grade material at best. That, combined with an unfortunately timed release, doomed the film to relative obscurity. IMDb users rate "The Fourth Angel" a 5.3, which means it isn't going to be riding back on a wave of popularity anytime soon.

58. The Air I Breathe

Sometimes critics and audiences disagree wildly on films. "The Air I Breathe" marks one of those times. The film's critical score on Rotten Tomatoes is just 10%, and the consensus says the film "accomplishes little save for the squandering of a talented cast." If that's the case, audiences were definitely blinded by the stars on the screen. They gave the film a 60% approval rating, and IMDb users were also moderately impressed with the film, giving it a rating of 6.8.

"The Air I Breathe" was the debut feature for Jieho Lee, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Bob DeRosa. Each of the film's four main characters represents a facet of life: Happiness (Forest Whitaker), Sorrow (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Pleasure (Brendan Fraser), and Love (Kevin Bacon). Their lives are connected, and their individual struggles illuminate their shared humanity. The high concept weighs down the film, but the stars' performances still manage to bubble up to the surface.

57. Repo Men

Though it's also a science fiction film, 2010's "Repo Men" has nothing to do with the 1984 comedy starring Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez. Instead, the film is set in a future where artificial organs are just as common as people who are unable to afford them. Remy (Jude Law) and Jake (Forest Whitaker) work for a major conglomerate that sells organs. Their job is to repossess the organs when clients fail to make their payments, but their partnership is threatened when Remy, who himself has organs he needs to pay for, starts to lose his nerve and isn't able to carry out repossessions.

"Repo Men" was the first feature directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who would go on to direct 2021's "Finch." Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner wrote the screenplay based on Garcia's novel "The Repossession Mambo." The film was criticized for its "rote direction" and "mind-numbing gore." Still, it found a home with some audiences and pulled a 6.3 rating on IMDB.

56. Powder Blue

Forest Whitaker plays a priest who's lost his faith and is on the verge of suicide in this 2009 film directed by Timothy Linh Bui, who co-wrote the screenplay with Stephane Gauger. Ex-priest Charlie's life crosses paths with other down-and-out characters living in Los Angeles around Christmas. Velvet Larry (Patrick Swayze, in his final role) is a corrupt strip club owner. Rose-Johnny (Jessica Biel) works at his club to pay for her comatose son's medical treatment. Qwerty Doolittle (Eddie Redmayne) is a mortician who falls in love with her, and disgruntled club employee Jack Doheny (Ray Liotta) is secretly her father.

"Powder Blue" was criticized for its many contrivances and overwrought sentimentality of its script (via Variety). While some praise was given to the film's cast, the consensus was that their talents were poorly used in this attempt at inspirational storytelling. Rotten Tomatoes gives "Powder Blue" just a 25% approval rating. Audiences enjoyed the film more, but even they weren't blown away by Bui's work.

55. A Little Trip to Heaven

Starring alongside Julia Stiles and Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker plays insurance claim investigator Abe Holt in this 2005 film. Abe is assigned to investigate a car crash in Minnesota that appears to be a suicide, but when Abe starts digging deeper, he becomes suspicious of the driver's sister Isold (Stiles) and her husband Fred (Renner). They stand to gain a million dollars from the life insurance policy, and the body in the car was burned beyond recognition. The truth is even more sinister than Abe suspects.

Director Baltasar Kormákur developed the story with co-writer Edward Martin Weinman. Their efforts did not impress critics. One reviewer called the film a "watchable misfire" that survived purely on the merits of Whitaker and Stiles. About a third of reviewers agreed that the film was "watchable," but most rejected the film entirely (via Rotten Tomatoes).

54. Four Dogs Playing Poker

Would you sacrifice your life to save your best friends? That's the question at the heart of this far-fetched film from director Paul Rachman and screenwriters Shawn David Thompson and William Quist. A group of friends attempts to steal a valuable piece from an art collector, but their robbery doesn't go at all as planned. When the dealer catches them, he threatens to kill them all if they don't pay him $1 million in a week. Without any other ideas for getting the money, the group decides to take out a life insurance policy on one member and sacrifice them for the sake of the rest, but the question of who dies isn't easy to answer.

Forest Whitaker has just a small role to play in the film but he shares the screen with notable costars Tim Curry and Octavia Spencer. "Four Dogs Playing Poker" won Best Debut Film at the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival in 2000, but it didn't get much acclaim upon its wider release. IMDb users give it a 5.5 out of 10.

53. Vantage Point

As its title implies, "Vantage Point" is another film that plays around with the different perspectives of characters linked through a single event. This time, that event is an assassination attempt on the President of the United States. Agents Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid) and Kent Taylor (Matthew Fox) are closest to the President when the assassin makes their move at an event in Spain. As the two agents try to piece together what happened, an American tourist named Howard Lewis (Forest Whitaker) realizes that he may have caught everything on his video camera.

Only 34% of critics and 57% of audiences enjoyed the film, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Despite its unique premise, critics agreed that the multiple perspectives of "Vantage Point" did the film no favors and "wooden performances" ultimately undid it entirely. The film's poor reviews might have stung, but its winning box office earnings, which topped $150 million, likely made the pain bearable for everyone involved.

52. Blown Away

This over-the-top action thriller stars Tommy Lee Jones as Ryan Gaerity, an IRA member who escapes from jail to pursue a vendetta against his former partner Liam McGivney (Jeff Bridges). McGivney now lives under the name Jimmy Dove and works on the Boston police department's bomb squad. Forest Whitaker plays Officer Anthony Franklin, who's caught in the crossfire while trying to help Liam.

"Blown Away" was nominated at the MTV Movie Awards for Best Villain and Best Action Sequence. Still, not everyone was as impressed with the film. Roger Ebert described it as "the kind of movie that people should be sentenced to see if they complain that 'Speed' is implausible." Rotten Tomatoes gives the film only a 38% approval rating, but it's still worth at least one watch, especially if campy '90s action flicks are something you return to over and over again.

51. Street Kings

Speaking of "Speed," Forest Whitaker joined Keanu Reeves in 2008 for the David Ayer-directed film "Street Kings." The story focuses on Detective Tom Ludlow (Reeves), a jaded veteran of the LAPD who's recovering from his wife's recent death. Detective Ludlow becomes implicated in the death of a fellow officer, and he teams up with Detective Paul Diskant (Chris Evans) to clear his name. Together the two uncover a ring of corruption that goes all the way up to their captain, Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker).

Three screenwriters worked on bringing "Street Kings" to life, but the story is beyond bare bones. The critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes says that the film "contains formulaic violence but no shred of intelligence." The film barely scored above a 50% rating with audiences, but the star power of Reeves, Evans, and Whitaker helped it sail to moderate success at the box office, earning $65 million worldwide off a $20 million budget (via The Numbers).

50. Winged Creatures

Forest Whitaker apparently has a penchant for films with fragmented stories following disparate characters with a single common link. "Winged Creatures" is about another group of Los Angelinos. Carla (Kate Beckinsale), Charlie (Forest Whitaker), Bruce (Guy Pearce), Annie (Dakota Fanning), and Jimmy (Josh Hutchinson) are all survivors of a shooting that took place at a local diner. The film follows their lives after the shooting, as each of them undergoes personal changes in response to the trauma. 

According to Rotten Tomatoes, critics generally considered the movie "sensitive but not insightful." Opinions were more or less evenly split as to whether the fragmented storytelling of "Winged Creatures" helped or hindered the film's attempt at telling an emotional and deeply human story. Audiences were less conflicted in their opinions and gave the film just a 29% approval rating. With a slow pace and meandering narrative, there's not much to latch onto in "Winged Creatures" aside from some solid performances and familiar faces.

49. Species

"Cocktail" director Roger Donaldson worked with screenwriter Dennis Feldman to release "Species" in 1995. The film gave Natasha Henstridge her debut role, and she was backed by a star-studded supporting cast including Forest Whitaker, Ben Kingsley, and Alfred Molina. After receiving detailed transmissions from an alien race, a team of scientists attempts to splice together alien and human female DNA. The result is Sil, a creature intent on mating and producing offspring that can dominate the human race. When she breaks loose, the race to track her down is also a race to save the planet.

"Species" is sci-fi horror that's heavy on the camp and '90s-era eroticism. The film was a success upon release, earning $60 million at the box office and spawning sequels and comic book spin-offs. Reviews for the film remain mixed, though it has arguably achieved cult status in the decades since its release. There's plenty to dislike about "Species," but the film makes for some solidly mindless entertainment.

48. Pawn

2013's "Pawn" is the debut film from director David A. Armstrong. The screenplay, written by Jay Anthony White, follows a predictable but mildly entertaining plot. Forest Whitaker, playing a cop named Will, once again finds himself on a corrupt police force. When a group of hired thugs is caught trying to steal a gangster's list of secret payments from his diner, a shootout quickly evolves into a dangerous hostage situation.

"Pawn" saw Whitaker working with some familiar faces like Ray Liotta and Nikki Reed. The film also cast Marton Csokas, Stephen Lang, Michael Chiklis, and Common. The talented cast helped raise the profile of the movie, but audiences didn't greet it all that enthusiastically. It has a 29% approval rating according to Rotten Tomatoes, but IMDb users gave it a more generous review of 5.7 stars.

47. My Own Love Song

"My Own Love Song" is powered by the performances of Forest Whitaker and Renée Zellweger. The two of them make a wonderful pair of leads, but their charisma isn't enough to make up for what The Hollywood Reporter called "a sappy, weakly plotted road movie." It seems that most audiences would agree with that take on the film, as only a third of moviegoers said they enjoyed their time with it.

Directed by Olivier Dahan, the film follows best friends Joey (Whitaker) and Jane (Zellweger). Joey suffers from mental health problems and is obsessed with angels. He convinces Jane to travel with him to New Orleans to meet an author on the subject that he admires. The two of them load up Jane's wheelchair and embark on a journey through the South. Their trip leads Joey to a deeper understanding of his beliefs and gives Jane the chance to reconnect with her son. The story is both rambling and predictable, but the leads give strong performances, and the film features music by Bob Dylan.

46. Body Snatchers

1993's "Body Snatchers" is an adaptation of Jack Finney's 1995 science fiction novel "The Body Snatchers." The film, directed by Abel Ferrara, was the third onscreen adaptation of Finney's book. "Body Snatchers" created a divide between critics, who praised the film, and average moviegoers, who were more put off by its tone and distracted by some overwhelming similarities to previous iterations of the story (via Rotten Tomatoes).

The story follows EPA inspector Steve Malone (Terry Kinney) and his family. They relocate to a military base where Steve will be working, but not long after their arrival, they start to notice people on the base behaving strangely. Slowly Steve comes to realize that aliens are occupying the base and taking over the bodies of its inhabitants. Forest Whitaker plays Major Collins, who is finally overwhelmed by his fear of the alien invaders in one of the film's most unnerving scenes. It may not stand above its predecessors, but "Body Snatchers" definitely has moments that are worth watching.

45. American Gun

Like "Even Money," "American Gun" is a movie with a message. It was directed by Aric Avelino, who co-wrote the screenplay with Steven Bagatourian. The film tells three different stories, each focusing on gun violence in America. Forest Whitaker stars as a principal of a school in Chicago struggling to keep his students safe from guns. Marcia Gay Harden plays the mother of a mass shooter, who's become a social outcast in the wake of her son's attack. Finally, Donald Sutherland portrays the owner of a gun store in Virginia.

"American Gun" benefits from strong performances not just from its leads but also from talented supporting actors like Linda Cardellini, Amanda Seyfried, and Nikki Reed. Aside from being a chance for those actors to sharpen their skills, "American Gun" wasn't much of a success commercially or critically. Its theatrical run brought in less than $35,000, and reviewers felt that the film was fatally weighed down by its "melodramatic" message.

44. Hurricane Season

Tim Story directed this sports movie, which is based on a true story. Set in New Orleans just one year after Hurricane Katrina, the film follows a high school basketball team on the path to glory. Coach Al Collins (Forest Whitaker) is in charge of a team of players from five different schools. His vision and their dedication will take their team from barely together to the Louisiana State Championship.

"Hurricane Season" is basically every inspirational sports movie that you've seen before. For fans of the genre and of Whitaker, the film is a real treat. That's probably why audiences give it a 69% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For anyone not drawn to stories about underdogs, there's likely nothing in the film that will truly win them over. Unfortunately for "Hurricane Season" a troubled promotion and release process meant that the film never actually hit theaters and didn't get its chance to make a real impact.

43. Zulu

Orlando Bloom and Forest Whitaker Star in this 2013 crime film set in Cape Town, South Africa. Detective Ali Sokhela (Whitaker) works alongside Brian Epkeen (Bloom) and Dan Fletcher (Conrad Kemp) solving murders in the city. A new case connecting a murder, a popular new drug, and the disappearance of children throughout the city pull the three detectives into a complicated web of intrigue, murder, and profit.

"Zulu" had a strong story, great actors, and a score that won the World Soundtrack Award for Film Composer of the Year. Those elements weren't enough to save the film. It was a financial flop and only managed to earn back a tenth of its production budget. In better news, audiences seem to have enjoyed the film. "Zulu" has a 60% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 6.7 on IMDb.

42. The Experiment

This 2010 film is a remake of the 2001 German film "Das Expirement," which itself was based on the novel "Black Box" by Mario Giordano. Inspired by the Stanford prison experiment, the plot focuses on a group of men paid to participate by acting as guards and prisoners in a jail cell simulation. Travis (Adrian Brody) and Michael (Forest Whitaker) are among the participants confined to a cell block for two weeks. Not long into the experiment, the guards, led by Michael, become consumed by their roles. Violence breaks out among the participants.

"The Experiment" is a tense psychological thriller. The film pushes the boundaries of believability, but an interesting premise and powerful performances from the two leads pull everything together into an entertaining-enough experience. IMDb users have given the film 6.4 stars, and that's about in line with the critical reception. Metacritic currently gives it a 60 out of 100.

41. Lullaby for Pi

"Lullaby for Pi" is the feature-length directorial debut of Benoît Philippon, who also wrote the screenplay. The film stars Rupert Friend and Clémence Poésy, two misunderstood artists who start to form a relationship just when they need it most. Sam (Friend) is a musician whose girlfriend recently died. Pi (Poésy) is an eccentric abstract artist who literally burst into Sam's life one day unannounced. Forest Whitaker plays a supporting role in the film as a hotel clerk named George who works in the building where Sam and Pi meet.

Reviews weren't exactly glowing when "Lullaby for Pi" first opened in 2010. Variety described it as "a song we've heard way too many times before". Still, the charm of the relationship between Sam and Pi was enough for at least two-thirds of general audiences to enjoy the film, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Fans of romantic dramas will likely find themselves right at home here.

40. Article 99

Ron Cutler wrote and Howard Deutch directed this comedy-drama that takes aim at the state of medical care for veterans in 1992. The film takes place at Monument Heights Veterans' Hospital in Washington, D.C., and stars Ray Liotta, Kiefer Sutherland, and Forest Whitaker as a group of caring doctors fighting against hospital administrators and legal policies that get in the way of giving veterans proper medical care. One such policy, called article 99, prevents veterans from receiving care for any injury or illness that is deemed not service-related.

It's difficult not to get behind the message that "Article 99" is pushing, but beyond that, the film isn't particularly enthralling. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 43% approval rating, and audiences only give it a 54%. That might be why the film earned less than $7 million at the box office, but decades later it might be worth revisiting for some fun lead performances, a score by Danny Elfman, and a message that still maintains some relevance.

39. Light It Up

This 1999 film brought Usher, Rosario Dawson, and Forest Whitaker to the big screen together. "Light It Up" follows a group of high school students living in Queens. They have a fraught relationship with their school's administration. One day, their principal calls in police officer Dante Jackson (Whitaker) to take a group of them home. In one student's attempt to avoid being taken home to his abusive father, Officer Jackson gets shot in the leg with his service weapon, and the situation at the school spirals wildly out of control.

Despite a cast of stars and a promising premise, "Light It Up" flopped at the box office, earning less than $6 million off of a budget of $13 million (via Box Office Mojo). According to Rotten Tomatoes, critics weren't thrilled by the film and thought that it felt "like a warmed over after-school special." Not even 40% of critics gave the film a positive review, but audiences disagreed with them wildly, giving it a 75% approval rating.

38. Bloodsport

"Bloodsport" is a 1988 martial arts action film that's light on believability and heavy on amazing fight choreography. Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as Frank Dux, an Army captain who also trains in ninjutsu. He gets invited to a secret underground fighting competition in Hong Kong called Kumite, but his superior officers refuse his request for leave. Not one to let a fight go by the wayside, Captain Dux goes AWOL and takes the competition by storm. While he makes his way to Hong Kong, he's pursued by military officials, including Forest Whitaker's Agent Rawlins.

Here is yet another example of critics and audiences having vastly different opinions on a film. Critics called the film "a cliched, virtually plotless exercise in action movie recycling" (via Rotten Tomatoes). By contrast, 75% of audiences thoroughly enjoyed the film, and people came to the theatrical release of "Bloodsport" in droves. The film earned nearly eight times its budget in ticket sales alone. This was an early role for Van Damme, but it cemented his place as an action movie star, and there's a reason people come back to it all these years later.

37. Two Men in Town

"Two Men in Town" is a story of crime, revenge, and new understanding. Directed by Rachid Bouchareb, this 2014 film is a remake of the 1973 French film "Deux hommes dans la ville." The film stars Forest Whitaker as William Garnett, a felon who's recently been released after serving 20 years in prison. Garnett has converted to Islam and wants to begin a new life for himself, but constant pressure from Sheriff Bill Agati (Harvey Keitel) and Garnett's old criminal contact Terence Saldano (Luis Guzmán) threaten to ruin everything he has planned for himself.

Critics generally agreed that the performances in "Two Men in Town" were strong but that, as one reviewer for Roger Ebert noted, they "can't entirely lift the movie from the rut it has all but plowed into by the end credits." A bloated screenplay ultimately dragged down an otherwise tense crime drama. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 47% percent approval rating, but audiences only gave it 25%. With this film, mileage may vary.

36. The Forgiven

Focusing on a post-apartheid South Africa, "The Forgiven" stars Forest Whitaker as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Eric Bana as the fictional Piet Blomfield. The screenplay was co-written by director Roland Joffé and Michael Ashton, who based the story on Ashton's play "The Archbishop and the Antichrist." Blomfield is in prison for the murder of a young black girl, and Archbishop Tutu is tasked with determining his guilt and deciding whether or not he should be allowed to go free. The film grapples with the legacy of racism in the nation and how that impacts the lives of everyday people.

The best parts of "The Forgiven" come from Whitaker's and Bana's scenes together, with both performers doing wonders to improve what The Hollywood Reporter called an "overly talky" narrative. Unfortunately, those performances weren't enough to save a messy script that didn't manage to finely weave together its many different threads. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 50% approval rating, but "The Forgiven" satisfies a need for a film where Whitaker gets to be front and center.

35. Phenomenon

Released in 1996, "Phenomenon" stars John Travolta as George Malley, a small-town everyman with a big heart. George spends his time hanging out with his best friend Nate (Forest Whitaker) and pining after single mother Lace (Kyra Sedgwick). One day while walking home, George sees a blinding white light, and afterward experiences strange effects—no need for sleep, genius-level intelligence, and even slight telekinetic abilities. George wants to use his newfound powers to benefit his hometown, but researchers are dying to study his brain, and George himself might be just plain dying.

One part superpower movie and one part Hallmark drama, "Phenomenon" split its focus and split reviews right down the middle. It currently has a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, with audiences enjoying it slightly more at 59%. Those are strong ratings, but "Phenomenon" performed well by other metrics. The film won two Blockbuster Entertainment Awards and was nominated for several others, including two MTV Movie Awards and an Image Awards nomination for Forest Whitaker as Best Supporting Actor (via IMDb). On top of that, "Phenomenon" earned over $100 million at the box office.  

34. Finding Steve McQueen

"Finding Steve McQueen" follows Harry Barber (Travis Fimmel), who in 1972 robbed a California bank holding millions of dollars as part of Richard Nixon's secret slush fund. When the robbery becomes public knowledge, FBI agents Howard Lambert (Forest Whitaker) and Sharon Price (Lily Rabe) work to hunt down Harry and his conspirators. Harry manages to evade capture for eight years before he finally decides to quit spending his life on the run and turns himself in.

Fans of heist movies will likely have an enjoyable time with "Finding Steve McQueen," but they probably won't be blown away by what the film has to offer. The critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes maligns the film for being "disappointingly thrill-deficient." While only 46% of critics gave the film a positive review, over 60% of general audiences approved of what they saw. There are definitely some pleasures to be found in this period piece/heist drama.

33. Black Nativity

Langston Hughes wrote the stage classic "Black Nativity" in 1961, and in 2013 writer/director Kasi Lemmons brought the story to the big screen. Starring Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, and Jennifer Hudson, "Black Nativity" is a warmhearted Christmas movie punctuated with musical numbers. Langston (Jacob Latimore), a boy in his mid-teens, is sent to spend Christmas with his grandfather Reverend Cornell Cobbs (Whitaker) after his mother is evicted. Over the holiday, Langston learns some secrets in his family history and gains a deeper appreciation for family and spirituality.

"Black Nativity" flopped when it hit theaters in 2013. The film made back less than half its budget, despite having strong leads and a release timed for the holidays (via Box Office Mojo). Critical response to the film was mixed. Rotten Tomatoes says that the film is "sweetly amiable and solidly performed," but critics took issue with Lemmons' choices when adapting Hughes' play.

32. Out of the Furnace

"Out of the Furnace" is not short on big names. Leonardo DiCaprio and Ridley Scott both worked as producers on the film. The cast includes Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, and Forest Whitaker. Directed by Scott Cooper, the story follows Russell Blaze (Bale), an ex-convict whose brother Rodney (Affleck) gets kidnapped by crime boss Harlan DeGroat (Harrelson). When the police, led by Chief Wesley Barnes (Whitaker), fail to save Rodney, Russell decides to deal with the situation himself.

Star power alone wasn't enough to power "Out of the Furnace" to box office success. The film made just $15 million against its $22 million budget (via Box Office Mojo). The film didn't perform much better critically, with just over 50% positive reviews, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Not all crowds were that tough, though. IMDb users give the film 6.8 out of 10 stars.

31. Vision Quest

Based on a 1979 novel by Terry Davis, "Vision Quest" stars Matthew Modine as high school wrestler Louden Swain. Feeling somewhat directionless, Swain decides to commit himself to dropping 20 pounds so he can go up against the undefeated state champion. Swain's commitment becomes challenged when he strikes up a new relationship with a woman named Carla (Linda Fiorentino). In his third feature film role, Forest Whitaker plays a fellow wrestler nicknamed Bulldozer.

"Vision Quest" wasn't exactly a smash success when it debuted in 1985. The film has only a 57% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Regardless of its initial success, the film's popularity has continued to grow with people over time, and it currently has a 78% approval rating from audiences and a 6.6 rating on IMDb.

30. Jason's Lyric

Directed by Doug McHenry and written by Bobby Smith Jr., "Jason's Lyric" is a drama about family, love, and loyalty. Jason and Joshua (Allen Payne and Bokeem Woodbine) are brothers who have responded very differently to the abuse they received from their late father (Forest Whitaker). Jason is working toward a better life, but Joshua has fallen into a world of petty crime. When Jason falls in love with a woman named Lyric (Jada Pinkett Smith), his new feelings force him to reevaluate his current and past relationships in his family.

The critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes says that "'Jason's Lyric' is a sexually charged film whose violent streak weakens or, depending on your perspective, supports the melodrama." Many critics saw the violence as a flaw in the film and responded likewise, but audiences were thrilled. While the film's critical approval rating is just 58%, audiences gave it a 91%.

29. Mary

"Mary" uses a film within the film to examine spirituality and faith in the age of mass media. Marie Palesi (Juliette Binoche) plays the mother of Jesus in a recently released film that's stirring up controversy around the world. Ted Younger (Forest Whitaker) is a TV reporter struggling with his faith. When Ted decides to interview the film's director (Matthew Modine), all three of them go on a spiritual journey that leads them to a deeper understanding of their beliefs.

Written and directed by Abel Ferrara, the film isn't afraid to really dig into deep issues, but that lack of fear might actually be a detriment to "Mary" as a whole. While critics gave the film a 59% approval rating, many took issue with an overall lack of focus due to the film's disparate storylines. Whether or not the film works for everyone, there's something to be said for its ambition.

28. The Last Stand

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, and Johnny Knoxville all star in the 2013 action flick directed by Jee-woon Kim. Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) was once an LAPD officer but is now the sheriff of a quiet small town on the US-Mexico border. When escaped drug lord Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) tries to make his way through the town with an FBI agent as a hostage, Ray decides to mobilize his own response to stop Cortez in his tracks.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, 60% of critics and over 50% of audiences enjoyed "The Last Stand." The critics consensus hits the nail on the head by calling the film "perfectly undemanding entertainment." There aren't many surprises or innovations to be found throughout its 104-minute runtime, but "The Last Stand" succeeds in delivering fun alongside an interesting pairing of leads.

27. Green Dragon

Timothy Linh Bui would later work with both Forest Whitaker and Patrick Swayze on 2009's "Powder Blue," but their partnership began with this 2001 film. "Green Dragon" tells the story of Vietnamese refugees in a camp in California. The film takes place just after the end of the Vietnam war and follows Tai Tran (Don Duong) as he attempts to improve life at the camp for the refugees. Swayze plays the overseer of the camp, Gunnery Sergeant Jim Lance, and Whitaker plays Addie, a cook who befriends even the most closed-off people living in the camp.

"Green Dragon" is a hopeful story about how people can come together and learn to truly understand and appreciate their cultural differences. The message clearly resonated with many viewers. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 60% approval rating, saying that despite an overly sentimental approach to its material, ultimately the film's "flaws are just outweighed by an affecting — and often overlooked — perspective on the Vietnam War."

26. Johnny Handsome

Released in 1989, "Johnny Handsome" was adapted from John Godey's novel "The Three Worlds of Johnny Handsome." Mickey Rourke plays the titular Johnny, a small-time criminal with a facial disfigurement who's sent to jail after being betrayed by his partners. While in prison, Johnny meets Dr. Fisher (Forest Whitaker) and receives an experimental facial surgery that completely changes his appearance. Now unrecognizable, Johnny leaves prison fully intending to get revenge on the men who sent him there. 

"Johnny Handsome" was moderately successful upon its release. Roger Ebert praised the film's take on noir storytelling and also said that it "benefits from strong supporting performances by an unusually distinguished cast." Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 60% approval rating among critics, but among audiences just 46% percent. The tone of the story won't sit right with everyone, but "Johnny Handsome" makes good use of its different elements. 

25. A Rage in Harlem

This 1991 film was based on the Chester Himes novel of the same name. The story centers on a woman named Imabelle, played by Robin Givens. In an attempt to abandon her life of crime and gang boss boyfriend Slim (Badja Djola), Imabelle leaves Mississippi for Harlem with a trunk full of stolen gold. Once in Harlem, Imabelle strikes up a relationship with an undertaker named Jackson (Forest Whitaker), but their brief moment of happiness is interrupted by the arrival of Slim and his gang. 

"A Rage in Harlem" was well received upon its release. It earned an award nomination at the Cannes Film Festival in 1991, and while it never became a box office smash, the film did break $10 million at the box office. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 65% approval rating, with critics calling it a "stylishly effective period thriller" that did Himes' novel justice without managing to actually be better than the book. Audiences were less impressed, but the film has still found its following. 

24. Southpaw

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this 2015 sports film about a boxer turning his life around. Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) has it all until he doesn't. He loses his wife in a fatal shooting, and his spiral into drugs and alcohol after the fact causes him to lose his daughter and his grip on boxing. When it looks like things can't get any worse, Billy meets Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker), a former boxer who helps Billy turn his life around.

"Southpaw" was a box office success that earned more than triple its budget during its theatrical runs. Critics were pleased with the film but not blown away by it, giving "Southpaw" a 60% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As with many sports films, audiences were much more enthusiastic and gave the film a 75%. Strong performances from Gyllenhaal and Whitaker take an otherwise rote redemption story to another level.

23. Respect

Telling the life story of a beloved artist is no small challenge. 2021's "Respect" delves into the life of Aretha Franklin. Though it doesn't have the same accuracy problems as "Bohemian Rhapsody," the film is more reverential than factual. That did nothing to diminish people's enjoyment of the movie. Audiences gave the film a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, and even critics were mostly impressed by what they saw, giving "Respect" a 68% score.

The film is powered by Jennifer Hudson's stunning performance as Aretha Franklin. Hudson performed all the songs in the film, and she even helped to write an original song for the soundtrack (via Billboard). Forest Whitaker plays a supporting role as C.L. Franklin, Aretha's father. Between its many strong performances and musical numbers, "Respect" managed to earn 34 award nominations. Despite that success, the film's pandemic-era release underperformed at the box office.

22. Phone Booth

Joel Schumacher directed this thriller written by Larry Cohen. Colin Ferrell stars as cocky publicist Stuart Shepard, who's cheating on his wife with a woman who doesn't know he's married. Stuart stops to use a phone booth, but the payphone receives a call. When Stuart answers, he's told by a mysterious voice (Keifer Sutherland) that a sniper is trained on him. Unless Stuart calls all the people he's wronged in his life and confesses his sins, he'll be shot dead. Forest Whitaker plays an NYPD captain who attempts to save Stuart.

"Phone Booth" takes its simple and intriguing premise to extreme heights and was a big success when it debuted in 2002. It earned over $94 million from a budget of just $13 million (via Box Office Mojo). Critics gave the film a 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and heaped praise upon Ferrell's performance. On IMDb, "Phone Booth" has a 7.1-star rating.

21. Where the Wild Things Are

Maurice Sendak released the classic children's book "Where the Wild Things Are" in 1963. Over 40 years later, Spike Jonze directed this feature film adaptation of the slim picture book. The story follows a boy named Max (Max Records) who runs away to a fantasy world populated by big creatures called Wild Things. While befriending and eventually ruling the Wild Things, Max gains a deeper appreciation for his life at home and learns how to better get along with his mother. Forest Whitaker plays Ira, one of Max's friendly Wild Things. 

"Where the Wild Things Are" performed much better critically than it did with audiences. The film earned over 50 different nominations for various awards, but it barely managed to break even with its budget. The critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, where the film has a 73% approval rating, praises Jonze's "heartfelt adaptation" and says it is "as beautiful as it is uncompromising." Audiences weren't as taken in by the beauty, however, and gave the film a 57%. "Where the Wild Things Are" may be more for adults who remember the book than children, but the film definitely leaves a lasting impression.

20. City of Lies

This 2018 crime thriller uses a split timeline to examine the events surrounding the murder of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur. Forest Whitaker stars as Jack Jackson, a crime reporter assigned to write about the murders. Jack sits down with retired LAPD officer Russell Poole (Johnny Depp) who opens up about his time spent investigating both cases in the late '90s. Directed by Brad Furman, the film was adapted by Christian Contreras from Randall Sullivan's nonfiction book "LAbyrinth."

Reviewers weren't infatuated with "City of Lies," though one writer for the Chicago Sun-Times praised "the stellar work from Depp and Whitaker." Critics gave the film a 51% on Rotten Tomatoes, but their general lack of enthusiasm did nothing to lessen the excitement of general audiences. The film currently has an 80% audience approval rating, and over on IMDb it's received a respectable 6.5 stars. Fans of true crime, police procedurals, and great actors grappling with big emotions will find themselves entertained through the film's 112-minute runtime.

19. Panic Room

"Panic Room" had the mixed blessing of being David Fincher's follow-up to "Fight Club," and it's often overlooked despite being a fantastic movie in its own right. Jodie Foster stars as single mother Meg Altman. She and her daughter (Kirsten Stewart) move into a New York City brownstone that contains a high-tech panic room built by the previous owner. Just when Meg and her daughter move into the home, three men (Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam, and Jared Leto) break in, intending to steal bonds left in a safe inside the panic room. Meg has to use her own wits and fierce determination to fight off the home invaders.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, "Panic Room" performed nearly as well with critics as "Fight Club." The former received a 76% approval rating, with the latter receiving a 79%. When it came to the box office, "Panic Room" also performed exceptionally well. It earned over $197 million from its budget of $48 million (via Box Office Mojo). Fincher's take on a straightforward thriller is just as powerful today as it was twenty years ago.

18. Lee Daniels' The Butler

This historical drama directed by Lee Daniels was inspired by Wil Haygood's Washington Post article "A Butler Well Served by This Election," which told the real-life story of White House butler Eugene Allen. Forest Whitaker stars as Cecil Gaines, who serves over 30 years in the White House and witnesses all kinds of major historical events from his unique perspective. Star-studded doesn't feel like a sufficient description for "The Butler," which includes performances from Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Mariah Carey, Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, Robin Williams, James Marsden, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber, and more.

By almost every metric, "The Butler" was a major success. The film grossed nearly $200 million at the box office compared to its relatively small budget of $30 million. On top of that, it earned 55 different awards nominations. According to Rotten Tomatoes, just about three-quarters of critics and audiences approved of the film. Despite that success and its plethora of star performers, "The Butler" was completely shut out of the 2014 Academy Awards (via Variety). If anything, "The Butler" deserved even more attention than it received. It remains one of Whitaker's strongest performances.

17. Burden

Writer/director Andrew Heckler based the story of 2018's "Burden" on true events. The film stars Garrett Hedlund as Mike Burden, an orphan who was raised by members of the Ku Klux Klan. At the urging of his girlfriend Judy (Andrea Riseborough), Mike decides to leave the KKK, but its members aren't willing to let go of him that easily. Reverend David Kennedy (Forest Whitaker) and his congregation intervene and attempt to protect Mike from the Klan.

At 129 minutes, "Burden" is as lengthy as it is weighty. Critics took issue with the film's handling of its themes. The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes says, "'Burden' grapples clumsily with its undeniably worthy themes, but its honorable intentions — and strong performances — make it easy to forgive those flaws." Only 50% of critics approved of the film, but audiences were much more willing to forgive the flaws in favor of the performances. The audience approval rating currently sits at a stunning 97%.

16. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" is notable in several different ways. Released in 1982, the film marked the feature-length directorial debut of Amy Heckerling, and it was the first feature-length screenplay from Cameron Crowe to be put into production. "Fast Times" also gave the world its first appearances from Nicolas Cage and Eric Stoltz. It was only Forest Whitaker's second film role, and it remains one of his most popular films. The story centers on a group of high school students navigating sex, drugs, and coming of age in Southern California.

"Fast Times" is almost universally beloved. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a critical approval rating of 78%, with critics calling Sean Penn's performance in the film "legendary" and praising the accuracy of the film's take on high school life in the early '80s. Audiences gave the film 80% approval and a 7.1 rating on IMDb. For a comedy that can be watched over and over again, look no further.

15. The Great Debaters

Inspired by a true story, "The Great Debaters" is set in 1935 and focuses on a debate coach at Wiley College, a historically Black school. Melvin B. Tolson (Denzel Washington, who also directed the film) wants to put together a debate team to rival Harvard University's champion team. Young Denzel Whitaker (no relation to Forest) plays the real-life James L. Farmer Jr., one of the team's best debaters. James's father (played by Forest Whitaker) at first takes issue with the team and Coach Tolson's approach, but he's eventually won over, and the team goes on to defeat Harvard.

"The Great Debaters" topped $30 million at the box office (via Box Office Mojo). The film was loved by critics and audiences alike. Rotten Tomatoes gives it an 80% rating and audiences gave it an 86%. The critics consensus praises the film's "wonderful cast and top-notch script." From beginning to end, "The Great Debaters" is pitch-perfect.

14. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

In 1999, writer/director Jim Jarmusch created a fantastic combination of hitman and samurai stories. Forest Whitaker stars as the titular Ghost Dog, a New York-based hitman who follows The Way of the Samurai, befriends a little girl and a non-English-speaking ice cream man, and communicates almost solely via carrier pigeon. Louie (John Tormey), a low-level mafia boss, saved Ghost Dog's life years ago, and now employs him on a regular basis. When the mob decides to turn on Ghost Dog, his loyalties are tested nearly as much as his samurai abilities while he fights for survival.

Roger Ebert called the film "weirdly intriguing" and praised "the touching Whitaker performance." Other reviewers were equally intrigued by the strangeness of "Ghost Dog," but they too walked away impressed with what they'd seen. The film has an 83% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and an 86% rating from audiences. "Ghost Dog" offers an incredibly entertaining hitman story that's so strange the world of "John Wick" makes perfect sense by comparison.

13. Bird

"Bird" is a 1988 musical biopic that puts Forest Whitaker in the lead role of Charlie Parker. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film uses nonlinear storytelling to examine the life of arguably the greatest jazz saxophonist who ever lived. "Bird" gives plenty of time to Parker's playing and also digs into his relationship with his wife Chan (Diane Venora) leading up to his heroin overdose when he was 34. The film includes 11 different tracks performed by Parker in his lifetime.

"Bird" was a critical success that secured over a dozen award nominations, including several wins (via IMDb). Forest Whitaker was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actor. Clint Eastwood won the Golden Globe for Best Director, and "Bird" later took home the Oscar for Best Sound. Rotten Tomatoes gives "Bird" an 83% approval rating, with critics writing that "Forest Whitaker inhabits Charlie Parker with aplomb" and praising Eastwood's "moody style."

12. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Released in 2016, "Rogue One" is one of the best-reviewed "Star Wars" films ever. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes give the film an 84% approval rating, and audiences go even farther with an 86% rating. Unsurprisingly, the film was a box office smash, but it likely exceeded even Disney's highest ambitions when it grossed over a billion dollars during its theatrical run. "Rogue One" made the world hopeful for more great "Star Wars" spin-off films until "Solo" mostly dashed those hopes two years later.

"Rogue One" tells the story of the rebel soldiers who secured the plans for the Death Star that eventually allowed Luke Skywalker and his friends to take the Empire down a peg. Forest Whitaker plays a supporting role in the film as an unorthodox rebellion leader called Saw Gerrera. He might not survive to the end of the film, but then again, neither do the main characters. For "Star Wars" fans, "Rogue One" is a must-watch.

11. The Last King of Scotland

In this historical drama based on Giles Foden's novel of the same name, Forest Whitaker portrays Idi Amin, a real-life brutal Ugandan dictator who took power in the 1970s. Whitaker's performance won him the Oscar for Best Actor at the 2007 Academy Awards, and the film earned dozens more award wins and nominations upon its release (via IMDb). It currently sits at well over 80% approval from both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.

The story follows Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy), who goes to Uganda to work in a missionary clinic. A chance encounter with the recently empowered Amin leads to Garrigan becoming the dictator's personal physician. Though Garrigan at first believes in Amin as a leader, he starts to witness firsthand Amin's degradation into paranoia, violence, and viciousness. Before long, Garrigan realizes he needs to leave, but escaping Amin's grasp is no easy task.

10. Platoon

Forest Whitaker stars alongside Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, and Johnny Depp in this 1986 war movie directed by Oliver Stone. The film is set in the midst of the Vietnam War and takes a detailed and nuanced view of the experience shared by soldiers fighting on the ground. "Platoon" dramatizes infighting between soldiers as they struggle to differentiate between real and perceived threats during the war.

"Platoon" is without a doubt one of the best war movies ever put to film. Luckily, the movie was also a massive success. It was made with a budget of roughly $6 million, but the film earned over $138 million during its theatrical run (via Box Office Mojo). On top of being a major financial success, "Platoon" also blew away critics and general audiences. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an 87% approval rating among critics, with the consensus praising both the film's grounded focus and the "no-holds-barred performances" of its leads. "Platoon" is a classic for a reason.

9. The Color of Money

It's not very often that films get a sequel more than two decades after their debut, but 1986's "The Color of Money" continues the story of the 1961 film "The Hustler." Both movies are adapted from Walter Tevis novels and follow the life of pool hustler "Fast Eddie" Felson (Paul Newman). In "The Color of Money," Eddie takes the young Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise) under his wing and ends up making a comeback of his own along the way. Forest Whitaker plays small-time hustler Amos, who takes Eddie for some money late in the film.

Directed by Martin Scorsese and adapted by Richard Price, "The Color of Money" was a critical darling. The film received four Oscar nominations and Paul Newman took home a win for Best Actor. IMDb users give the film 7 out of 10 stars, but critics on Rotten Tomatoes are much more enthusiastic and give it an 89% approval rating. The consensus says the movie's leads are "a joy to watch" and calls out Scorsese for being "typically superb" with his approach to directing.

8. Stakeout

Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez star as Detectives Chris Lecce and Bill Reimers in this 1987 action-comedy. The detectives are assigned to stake out the home of Maria McGuire after her ex-boyfriend "Stick" escapes from prison. Their assignment gets complicated when Detective Lecce finds himself falling in love with Maria. He's forced to balance his budding feelings with his commitment to catching a criminal, and Detective Reimers finds himself in a much more dangerous assignment than he'd intended thanks to his partner.

"Stakeout" marked another early film role for Forest Whitaker, who played a fellow officer on the force with Lecce and Reimers. "Stakeout" was well-received all around. The film made over $65 million during its theatrical run. It also thoroughly impressed critics, at least according to Rotten Tomatoes, where it has an 89% approval rating. Audiences had mixed feelings about the film. The audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is just 56%, but over on IMDb, the film is ranked at a nice 6.7 stars.

7. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Believe it or not, one of Forest Whitaker's best movies is a Christmas musical released by Netflix in 2020. According to Playbill, "Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey" was originally planned as a stage musical before the streaming giant snapped it up. Whitaker stars as Jeronicus Jangle, a jaded toymaker who's lost all passion for his profession and long ago disconnected from his daughter Jessica (Anika Noni Rose). Jeronicus will have his entire life turned around when his granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills) shows up on his doorsteps and reignites his love for toys, invention, and family while helping him take on his rival Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key).

From great performances to spectacular visuals and a wonderful soundtrack, there's a lot to love about "Jingle Jangle." The film earned dozens of award nominations and plenty of wins, including two for actresses Phylicia Rashad and Madalen Mills from the NAACP Image Awards (via IMDb). Rotten Tomatoes lists the film at 89% and calls it out for having an "exuberant spirit" and "uplifting message." There aren't many modern Christmas films that can stand up to the classics, but "Jingle Jangle" demands to be seen.

6. Good Morning, Vietnam

Just a year after appearing in "Platoon," Forest Whitaker starred in another, much more lighthearted, movie about the Vietnam War. "Good Morning, Vietnam" is a comedy directed by Barry Levinson and starring Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer, who's sent to Saigon to work as a radio DJ for the Armed Services. Forest Whitaker plays a soldier assigned to be Adrian's driver and guide to Saigon, who often finds himself defending the DJ's irreverent approach to programming. 

"Good Morning, Vietnam" may be just as good as "Platoon," but it takes a wildly different approach to its material. Williams' performance earned him an Oscar and BAFTA nomination for Best Actor and a win for the same category from the Golden Globes. It currently sits at a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics calling the film "a well-calibrated blend of manic comedy and poignant drama" and heaping praise on Williams. This is a perfect war movie for a day when outright drama just seems like too much to bear. 

5. Sorry to Bother You

Writer/director Boots Riley made his directorial debut with the 2018 film "Sorry to Bother You." The movie is a surrealist satire about corporate corruption and the dark underside of capitalism's appeal. LaKeith Stanfield stars as Cassius Green, a young telemarketer who manages to vault himself into corporate success by using the magic of his "white voice." Unfortunately, Cassius finds that his newfound success has actually pulled him into a corporation that plans to transform humans into animal hybrids called Equisapiens in order to make them more productive workers.

Forest Whitaker doesn't have a large part to play in "Sorry to Bother You," but the film stands out as one of the best in his entire filmography. It brought in over $18 million at the box office off of a budget that was barely over $3 million (via The Numbers). The film also picked up over 50 award nominations from organizations and film festivals all around the world (via IMDb). According to Rotten Tomatoes, critics found the film to be "fearlessly ambitious, scathingly funny, and thoroughly original," and audiences tended to agree with them.

4. Smoke

With stars like William Hurt, Giancarlo Esposito, and Forest Whitaker, along with a script from acclaimed novelist Paul Auster, "Smoke" had a lot going for it when it was released in 1995. This marks another time Whitaker joined the cast of a film concerned with following multiple characters and plot threads with unlikely connections, though "Smoke" was considerably more successful than some of the other ventures. Critics raved about the film, which is why it has a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it even managed an 89% rating from audiences.

The characters in "Smoke" are all connected by Brooklyn Cigar Co., a smoke shop run by Auggie Wren (Harvey Keitel). Rashid Cole (Harold Perrineau Jr.) saves Paul Benjamin (Hurt) from being hit by a bus just outside the shop. The near-death experience causes Paul to reevaluate his life, and he gets even more inspired by learning about Rashid's attempts to reconnect with his father (Whitaker). The stories in "Smoke" are deeply personal, interestingly woven together, and leave viewers with plenty to think about when credits roll.

3. Arrival

"Arrival" is a stunning science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and adapted by Eric Heisserer from Ted Chiang's sci-fi short story "Story of Your Life." When alien ships arrive on Earth, Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) are brought in by the US military to help humanity learn how to communicate with the strange creatures. Colonel G.T. Weber (Forest Whitaker) oversees the arrival site when Louise and Ian get to work learning the language of Earth's new guests. As Louise fully invests herself in understanding how the aliens communicate, she starts to notice her perception of reality changing subtly but surely.

From beginning to end, "Arrival" is a breathtaking experience. Villeneuve nails the visuals elements of the story, and powerful performances from everyone involved ground the events and give the film an emotional resonance it might not have achieved with a different cast. Rotten Tomatoes rates the film at 94%, calling it a "must-see experience for fans of thinking person's sci-fi." IMDb users give the film 7.9 stars, and anyone who enjoys first contact stories will probably walk away thinking "Arrival" was nearly perfect.

2. Black Panther

"Black Panther" is actually the highest-rated film in Forest Whitaker's filmography, according to Rotten Tomatoes. It takes the penultimate spot in this list simply because Whitaker doesn't have a central role in the film's plot. He plays Zuri, a spiritual leader among the people of Wakanda. The film follows T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), who takes the Wakandan throne and the role of Black Panther after his father is killed. T'Challa barely has time to get settled into his new position before he's facing threats from outside Wakanda that may destroy the nation forever.

The success of "Black Panther" can't be overstated. Directed by Ryan Coogler, the film was nominated for seven different Academy Awards (via IMDb). It was the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture, and though it didn't win that category, the film still walked away with three Oscars—Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design—making it the first Oscar-winning film in the MCU. In addition to its critical success, "Black Panther" also earned well over a billion dollars at the box office. A sequel has been imminent since the film's debut, but because Chadwick Boseman tragically died in 2020, no one knows what to expect from "Black Panther 2."

1. The Crying Game

In 1992's "The Crying Game," Forest Whitaker stars as Jody, a British soldier who gets kidnapped by members of the IRA. Jody forms a bond with Fergus (Stephen Rae) and asks the young man to visit his girlfriend Dil (Jaye Davidson) to explain what happened to him if he dies. The IRA's plan goes awry. After Jody is killed, Fergus decides to take his leave and seek out Dil in London. Fergus soon finds himself falling in love with Dil, but when his IRA contacts come back into his life, their budding relationship is jeopardized.

"The Crying Game" was nominated for six Academy Awards and dozens of others. Writer/director Neil Jordan ended up taking home the Oscar for Best Screenplay. Rotten Tomatoes rates the film at 94% and says of the film, "This thoughtful, haunting mystery grips the viewer from start to finish." While much of the film focuses on the relationship between Fergus and Dil, they are forever haunted by the specter of Whitaker's Jody, whose presence is felt all the way to the very end. That's what makes "The Crying Game" the best Forest Whitaker movie.