Brad Pitt's Best Movies, Ranked by Metacritic

Brad Pitt has been one of the most sought-after film actors for decades; see his 10 best, ranked by Metascore.
by Danielle Turchiano — 

Brad Pitt

Robyn Beck / Getty Images

When he was first starting down the path of being a professional actor, Brad Pitt's big breaks came in television, first on daytime drama Another Worldin 1987, and then on primetime soap Dallas later that same year. But although he racked up a handful of credits in that medium — including guest-starring on 21 Jump Street, Growing Pains, thirtysomething, and many years later, Friends — he quickly became one of the most sought-after actors for the bigger screen.

Pitt caught the eye of the titular Thelma (of Thelma & Louise) in that 1991 buddy road trip drama, which led to roles in A River Runs Through It, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, Legends of the Fall, Se7en, and 12 Monkeys, for which he received his first Oscar nomination.

During his two-and-a-half decade-long career (thus far), Pitt has been nominated for seven Oscars in total, winning twice. His first Oscar win was actually as a producer, a part of the industry he began working in in 2006, as a part of the team behind 12 Years a Slave, which won the Best Picture Oscar in 2014. His first acting win was for his performance as stuntman Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood; he won the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award in 2020.

Once Pitt began splitting his time between being an actor and a producer (he launched Plan B Entertainment in 2001), he found himself pulling double duty on a number of projects, including Moneyball, World War Z, The Big Short, and Ad Astra. But he doesn't limit himself to only being a multi-hyphenate on projects, which is how he found himself only acting in Deadpool 2 and only executive producing The Underground Railroad, for example. And he certainly doesn't limit himself to only one genre or even one tone within a specific genre (see his subtle humor in the Ocean's trilogy).

With no shortage of talent or industry cred, Pitt certainly shows no signs of slowing his career down. Recently, he has also starred in The Lost City and Bullet Train.

Here, Metacritic highlights the top 10 movies Pitt has acted in, ranked by Metascore.

12 Years a Slave

Metascore: 96
Best for: Fans of character-driven historical dramas
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 134 minutes

Steve McQueen and John Ridley's Oscar-winning period drama is based on Solomon Northrup's memoir titled Twelve Years, which recalls his life as a Black man who was born free in the North but gets kidnapped and sold into slavery. Solomon (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) has to learn to live in captivity, but as tension with those on the plantation where he is working grows, he is often beaten, almost killed, and ignored when he tries to explain that he is a free man. The film is a gut-wrenching look at the conditions these men and women endured. Pitt plays Samuel Bass, a man who Solomon works with and confides in. Pitt won his first Oscar as part of the producing team when this film took home the Best Picture trophy from the Academy in 2014.

"The genius of 12 Years a Slave is its insistence on banal evil, and on terror, that seeped into souls, bound bodies and reaped an enduring, terrible price." — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

Being John Malkovich

Metascore: 90
Best for: Fans of trippy comedies and twists on Hollywood players
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 112 minutes

In Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman's comedy, unemployed puppeteer Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) finds a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich, who stars as a satirical version of himself. The experience proves to be transformative for all involved, including Craig's wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz), and John himself, who feels himself losing control as Craig takes the reins. But soon it's clear John isn't the only one being affected by these portals. Pitt appears in a literal blink-and-you-miss-it cameo as himself.

"A clever and outrageous piece of whimsical fantasy that is unique, unpredictable and more than a little strange." — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Thelma & Louise

Metascore: 88
Best for: Fans of buddy comedies with a crime twist, road trip journeys, and female friendship tales
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, Hulu, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 130 minutes

Callie Khouri's story, directed by Ridley Scott, follows the titular friends (played by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, respectively) on a road trip adventure. Originally just planning to get away from their daily lives for a weekend, they end up on the run, chased by the FBI, after an attempted rape at a bar turns deadly. Pitt plays J.D., a thief out on parole who Thelma connects with. Khouri won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the film.

"It reimagines the buddy film with such freshness and vigor that the genre seems positively new." — Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times


Metascore: 87
Best for: Fans of character-driven sports dramas
Where to watch:

, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, Vudu
Runtime: 133 minutes

Based on Michael Lewis' book of the same title, Pitt stars as the Oakland Athletics' general manager, Billy Beane, in this dramatized look at the team's 2002 baseball season. The story centers on Billy and his assistant general manager, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), as they scout, analyze, and recruit players with a limited budget. Relying on statistical analysis of players, they bring in players including John Mabry (David Hutchison) and Ricardo Rincón (Miguel Mendoza) and begin rising in the ranks, but their methods are not widely accepted or understood, making this a tale of disruptors in the game. Pitt was nominated for a Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar for his performance as Billy Beane and for Best Picture as a producer on the film.

"A film that will thrill and fascinate sport junkies and non-fans alike." — Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald

The Tree of Life

Metascore: 85
Best for: Fans of period pieces, family dramas, and artistic expressions about life with religious undertones
Where to watch:

, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 139 minutes

Jack O'Brien (Sean Penn) is somewhat lost as an adult, and he suffers greatly from the deaths he has experienced in his life, from his brother to two of his friends in Terrence Malick's family drama. The film examines Jack's family structure, with parents played by Pitt (who also serves as producer) and Jessica Chastain; how his view on his family shifts throughout the harder times in his life; and how those memories reflect and explain what really matters most in life.

"Aggressively impressionistic and unapologetically spiritual." — Wade Major, Boxoffice Magazine

Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood

Metascore: 83
Best for: Fans of alternate history and tales from behind-the-scenes of Hollywood
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 161 minutes

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a fictitious Western movie star named Rick Dalton alongside Pitt, who won the Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar, as Rick's stunt double, Cliff Booth, in Quentin Tarantino's alternate take on 1960s Hollywood. The story follows their adventures as Rick struggles to hold onto fame, and they cross paths with everyone from Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) to various members of the Manson family. The result is a bit of wish fulfillment as real people's lives go down different paths, while Rick and Cliff live out a bit of a Western fantasy of their own.

"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has echoes of Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, but it is alive and electric with a beat all its own." — Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

The Big Short

Metascore: 81
Best for: Fans of dramatizations of real historical events, real estate explainers, and controversial male protagonists
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 130 minutes

Based on Michael Lewis' book of the same title, Adam McKay's dramedy examines the 2007 U.S. housing market crash from the perspectives of characters who saw what was coming and exploited it to make themselves wealthier. The film is told in three separate narrative pieces, in addition to explainers in which actors talk directly to the audience to explain some of the more complicated real estate terms and events. Pitt plays Ben Rickert, a retired trader who gets involved with the men who decide to short the market. He also serves as a producer on the film, for which he was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

"A laudable surprise." — Inkoo Kang, The Wrap

Ad Astra

Metascore: 80
Best for: Fans of character-driven space dramas, complicated father-son dynamics, and futuristic science fiction
Where to watch:

, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 123 minutes

Roy McBride (Pitt, who also produces) of the U.S. Space Command, is hell-bent on finding out what happened to his father, an astronaut who is believed dead — until he isn't. Hearing his father may be out there somewhere, Roy sets out on his own mission, to Mars, on which he is stymied by unexpected encounters, the health issues of his partner, and concern that his personal connection is making him unfit for some of the work. As Roy tries to press forward, he also reflects on his past relationships, changing his outlook on life and humanity.

"A remarkably stylish and fascinating space drama." — Candice Frederick, The Wrap

12 Monkeys

Metascore: 74
Best for: Fans of time travel, dystopian drama, and futuristic science fiction
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 129 minutes

Terry Gilliam's dystopian drama about the survivors of a virus that wiped out most of humanity jumps back and forward in time to the near past and near future of that cataclysmic event. In the near future, a prisoner named James Cole (Bruce Willis) is selected to be sent back in time to help scientists work on a cure for the virus. He ends up too far back in time, but as he travels he — and therefore the audience by extension — learns of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys' involvement with the creation of the virus, which gives him a new mission of getting to the bottom of that group and who is in charge of it. Pitt plays Jeffrey Goines, a mental patient with ties to the group; it is a performance for which he received his first Oscar nomination.

"A densely plotted, visually dynamic post-apocalyptic thriller." — Rita Kempley, The Washington Post

Ocean's Eleven

Metascore: 74
Best for: Fans of heists with a comedic twist and ensemble dramas
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 116 minutes

Steven Soderbergh's remake of the 1960s film of the same title centers on the titular crew who plan to rob three major casinos located in big-name hotels in Las Vegas — simultaneously. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) gets out of prison and sets out to enact revenge on the casino owner (Andy Garcia), who is in a relationship with Danny's ex-wife (Julia Roberts). He teams up with Rusty (Pitt), and together they recruit a highly skilled, though somewhat rag-tag team to bring home more than $150 million.

"A scrumptious and dizzy-spirited lark ... made with so much wit and brains and dazzle and virtuosity that the sheet speed and cleverness of the caper hits you like a shot of pure oxygen." — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly