- Brad Pitt has had a successful and versatile career in Hollywood, showcasing his talent and range in various genres.
- "Interview with the Vampire" marked a turning point in Pitt's career, proving his versatility as a leading man and launching him to movie star status.
- "A River Runs Through It" showcased Pitt's acting chops and onscreen magnetism in one of his earliest roles.
From Oklahoma heartthrob to Hollywood legend, Brad Pitt has captivated audiences for decades with his dazzling good looks and undeniable acting talent in some of the best movies of all time. Since first bursting onto the scene in 1991’s Thelma & Louise, the bonafide superstar has shown incredible range across every conceivable genre – cementing his status as one of the most bankable and versatile leading men in the business. A far cry from his humble roots in Shawnee.
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Whether he’s getting philosophical about life and love in Meet Joe Black, going on a mind-bending science fiction odyssey in Ad Astra, or kicking Nazi butt in Inglourious Basterds, or even the questionable decisions like The Devil’s Own, Pitt always manages to wholly inhabit the role and keep moviegoers mesmerized.
Now, nearly 90 films deep into his legendary career with no signs of slowing down, it feels like the perfect time to countdown Pitt’s grandest cinematic achievements. From his breakthroughs to his Oscars, here are 13 of the best Brad Pitt movies ever made.
13. Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Kicking off our list of Brad Pitt’s best movies is the 1994 gothic fantasy film Interview with the Vampire. Based on Anne Rice’s bestselling novel, the movie features Pitt in the role of the brooding vampire Louis, who recalls the story of his dark transformation and descent into immortality to an eager reporter played by Christian Slater.
Alongside Tom Cruise as the villainous Lestat, Pitt brings depth and pathos to the tortured Louis, who grapples with his undead existence, the loneliness of immortality, and his uncontrollable bloodlust. With lush set designs and costuming that transport viewers to 19th-century New Orleans, Interview with the Vampire blends horror and romanticism as it explores the grim underworld of Rice’s vampirism.
The film marked a career turning point for Pitt, proving his versatility as a leading man while also launching him to legitimate movie star status after dazzling critics and audiences alike with his emotional and nuanced performance.
12. A River Runs Through It (1991)
Though one of his earliest roles, Brad Pitt demonstrated his acting chops and onscreen magnetism in 1992’s A River Runs Through It. Directed by Robert Redford and based on the autobiographical novella by Norman Maclean, the film follows two sons of a Presbyterian minister – the rebellious, free-spirited Paul (Pitt) and his more intellectually and spiritually inclined younger brother Norman (Craig Sheffer).
Despite their differences, the brothers bond over their shared love of fly fishing, which becomes a metaphor for their complex relationship. Set against the majestic Montana wilderness in the early 1900s, A River Runs Through It earned rave reviews for its cinematography and Pitt’s standout performance as the charismatic yet self-destructive Paul.
11. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
The 2001 remake of 1960’s Ocean’s Eleven cemented itself as one of the most stylish, fun heist comedy flicks of all time – thanks in no small part to Brad Pitt’s magnetic performance as Rusty Ryan. Pitt joins leader Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his crew of smooth-talking thieves for the ultimate Las Vegas casino heist.
With an impossibly attractive ensemble cast including Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, and Bernie Mac, Ocean’s Eleven revived the caper genre with slick stylization, whip-smart dialogue, and a laidback-yet-rivetting casino robbery plot.
Whether bantering with the crew or feigning irritation at Clooney’s last-minute plan changes, Pitt delivers huge moments of charisma and laughs as a pivotal member of this unconventional family of expert swindlers. Ocean’s Eleven is easily one of the best Brad Pitt movies ever made.
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10. Troy (2004)
While not always historically accurate, the 2004 epic Troy featured a commanding performance by Brad Pitt as the legendary Greek warrior Achilles. Loosely based on Homer’s Iliad, this re-telling of the Trojan War saw Pitt bulk up and embrace his inner gladiator to play the fierce, near-invincible Achilles as he goes sword-to-sword with Prince Hector of Troy (Eric Bana).
Also starring Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger, Troy delivered epic battle scenes and visceral combat worthy of the big screen. Though critics took issue with factual inaccuracies, Pitt astonished audiences with his physical transformation and brooding intensity as Achilles, driven by glory on the battlefield while wrestling with rage and his tragic fate.
9. The Counselor (2013)
Though overlooked by many, Ridley Scott’s 2013 crime thriller The Counselor featured a riveting supporting turn by Brad Pitt. With a script by legendary author Cormac McCarthy, Pitt joins Michael Fassbender as the title character – a lawyer who enters the violent world of drug trafficking – along with Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Cameron Diaz.
Serving almost as an inverted version of Tyler Durden – more on that later– Pitt’s seen-it-all, cynical Westray represents the dire fate in store for any outsider foolish enough to cross the cartels. Though often bleak, Pitt stands out – adding moral complexity in a brief but crucial supporting role that lingers as one of his most memorable and against-type performances. It’s because of this that The Counselor has earned a spot in the Hall of Fame as one of the best Brad Pitt movies of all time.
8. Legends of the Fall (1994)
One of Pitt’s most sweeping romantic dramas came in the 1994 Western epic Legends of the Fall. Set against the backdrop of World War I and the plains of Montana, Pitt stars as Tristan – the wild, enigmatic middle son of retired Colonel William Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins), who raised his three sons on a remote ranch.
Also starring Aidan Quinn and a radiant Julia Ormond as the woman who threatens to come between the competitive brothers, Legends of the Fall cemented Pitt as a brooding, masculine heartthrob. With his flowing golden mane and piercing eyes, Pitt brought smouldering passion and emotional depth to the tortured, war-shaken Tristan.
7. Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
While the spy action comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith earned mixed reviews, there’s no denying the white-hot chemistry between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie – a romance that began in real life on-set. At the time, married to Jennifer Aniston in 2005, gossip tabloids closely followed Pitt’s divorce and blossoming relationship with co-star Jolie in what became the celebrity story of the decade.
As married suburban contract killers hiding their double lives from each other, newly single Pitt and Jolie – and their characters – sizzle with palpable tension, jealousy, and sexual frustration as their secrets unravel. While a familiar action concept on paper, director Doug Liman’s stylish execution paired with the megawatt star power of Brangelina’s real romance made Mr. & Mrs. Smith true tabloid gold.
6. World War Z (2013)
Just as the zombie trend hit peak popularity, Brad Pitt headlined the 2013 apocalyptic thriller World War Z based on the hit novel. As former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane, Pitt anchors this globe-trotting action spectacle spanning the onset of a rabid zombie pandemic threatening mankind’s survival.
In one of his most physically demanding roles, Pitt carries the large-scale production with an intensity befitting the stakes as Gerry races against time and chaos to trace the viral outbreak back to its source. Bolstered by heart-pounding action set pieces and hordes of frenzied CGI undead, World War Z thrills with suspense despite some narrative issues.
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5. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Featuring one of Brad Pitt’s most haunting performances, the 2007 Western drama The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford depicts the outlaw’s tragic end. As the legendary Old West outlaw Jesse James, Pitt mesmerizes with a weathered portrayal in Andrew Dominik’s visually poetic psychodrama.
Also starring Casey Affleck as Robert Ford, James’ obsessive acolyte turned assassin, the film explores the uneasy dynamic between the two men leading up to James’ brutal murder.
4. 12 Monkeys (1995)
Proving his incredible acting range, Brad Pitt earned his first Oscar nomination as best supporting actor for his unhinged supporting turn in 1995’s 12 Monkeys, so it would make sense to have it on this list of movies. Set in a dystopian future devastated by a lethal virus, Pitt stars opposite Bruce Willis as Jeffrey Goines – a mentally unstable animal rights activist who may hold clues to the virus’ origins in 1990.
With shaggy hair and bulging eyes, Pitt disappears into the abnormal psychology of the off-kilter anarchist to deliver a performance of livewire intensity. 12 Monkeys announced Pitt’s arrival as a serious actor while also foreshadowing his attraction to edgy material centred on strange but compelling characters.
3. Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Re-teaming with Quentin Tarantino after a memorable cameo in True Romance, Brad Pitt battled Nazis with vengeful glee in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. As Lt. Aldo Raine, Pitt leads the “Basterds” – a squad of Jewish American soldiers sowing fear in World War II behind enemy lines with ruthless attacks on German soldiers.
With his Appalachian accent, menacing scowl, and famous carved swastika wounds left on Nazi prey, Pitt embraced his inner anti-hero vigilante. Though some might prefer his turn as Cliff Booth opposite Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton (his second of two Academy Award nominations in his career, and the one that finally netted him the prize), there’s no denying that Aldo Raine will forever be one of his most memorable characters.
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2. Se7en (1995)
One of the most chilling and influential thrillers of the 90s, David Fincher’s heavy noir Se7en paired Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman on the hunt for a diabolical serial killer. As hotshot Detective David Mills, Pitt simmers with ambition and impatience, clashing with Freeman’s seasoned, zen-like veteran Somerset.
The unlikely partners traverse the grim urban decay pursuing the murderer inspired by the seven deadly sins, culminating in the iconic, devastating finale that’s been seared into pop culture memory. The two detectives learn along the way the meaning of evil, as Pitt’s character’s life is forever changed after his encounter with John Doe.
1. Fight Club (1999)
Our list of Brad Pitt’s greatest onscreen roles fittingly culminates with his electric, unhinged turn in David Fincher’s 1999 cult classic Fight Club. As Tyler Durden, the devilish id to Edward Norton’s unnamed narrator, Pitt delivers a career-defining work – helping anchor one of cinema’s most subversive takedowns of modern society and consumerism.
Whether spewing nihilistic rhetoric while ruling their underground fight ring or haunting Norton’s unravelling psyche, Durden represents the pent-up rage within the average Joe.
Exuding danger, charisma, and unexpected humour as an agent of delicious chaos, Pitt’s Tyler Durden became his most iconic character: overcoat flapping, cigarette dangling, and a gleeful smile spread wide. Both disturbed and irresistible, Durden cemented Pitt as an unlikely Generation X anti-hero – channelling society’s existential angst into cinematic history with fists flying and rules gleefully subverted.
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What do you think are the best Brad Pitt movies of all time?