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Colin Farrell's Best Movies, Ranked by Metacritic

'The Batman' and 'After Yang' are scoring Colin Farrell much-deserved attention, but his film catalog runs much deeper. Discover his best, ranked by Metascore.
by Danielle Turchiano — 
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Colin Farrell

Angela Weiss / Getty Images

Colin Farrell is completely unrecognizable in Matt Reeves' The Batman, donning prosthetics to play Penguin opposite Robert Pattinson's masked and caped eponymous vigilante. But it is far from the only time the Irish actor has had to be a chameleon for a film.

Getting his professional acting start on television, most notably in BBC's late-1990s drama Ballykissangel, it wasn't long before Hollywood came calling, with his official feature film debut considered 1999's The War Zone. Although he only had a small role in The War Zone, which is about the metaphorical war within an abusive family, it led to his first leading man role just the next year, in the soldier training camp-set Tigerland.

Farrell starred in a stretch of thrillers in the early aughts, including Phone Booth and S.W.A.T., but he also stepped into biopics (2004's Alexander, 2013's Saving Mr. Banks), period romance (2005's The New World), horror (2011's Fright Night) and comedies (2008's In Bruges, 2011's Horrible Bosses), and fantasy (2014's Winter's Tale, 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). Prior to The Batman, Farrell played a villain in the 2003 superhero film Daredevil, as well.

For his performance in In Bruges, Farrell won a Golden Globe.

His work isn't relegated to appearing on the big screen, though. In 2015, Farrell starred opposite Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch in the second season of HBO's crime anthology True Detective, and in 2021, he starred in BBC and CBC's co-produced adaptation of The North Water. He's also a credited stuntman, thanks to 2001's American Outlaws, and he has performed musically in films ranging from Cassandra's Dream to Crazy Heart.

Here, Metacritic highlights the top 10 films Farrell has acted in, ranked by Metascore.


Widows

Metascore: 84
Best for: Fans of female-driven ensembles, heist thrillers, and commentary on the state of politics
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 129 minutes

Steve McQueen's 2018 thriller is based on the 1980s British TV show of the same title, with the story following four women who get in over their heads when their husbands steal millions of dollars and then are killed. The women (played by Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo) come together to repay what their husbands stole to a local crime lord (played by Brian Tyree Henry) who wants to use the money for a political campaign. Farrell plays Jack Mulligan, the politician whose family home the women plan to rob. The movie mixes all of the fun of a heist story with some sobering looks at the shadiness of politics.

"McQueen has made a big, pulpy crowd-pleaser, but he uses it to tell a story with real meaning." — David Sims, The Atlantic


Crazy Heart

Metascore: 83
Best for: Fans of character dramas and original country music
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 112 minutes

Scott Cooper made his directorial debut with this 2009 drama that is based on Thomas Cobb's 1987 novel of the same title. It stars Jeff Bridges as Otis Blake, a country music singer and songwriter who is in a rut playing in small bars and traveling alone because he is estranged from his family. However, he quickly meets Jean Craddock, a single mother and young journalist (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal), and their relationship inspires him to try to pick up the pieces of his life and make something for himself again. Naturally, that is easier said than done, and he stumbles both with his relationships and with his alcoholism throughout the film. Farrell plays Tommy Sweet, a musician enjoying the heights of success who Otis has history with and now needs professional assistance from. The film won two Oscars: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Bridges and the original song honor for "The Weary King," which was co-written by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett.

"Think this: The Wrestler. With good songs." — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle


The Lobster

Metascore: 82
Best for: Fans of dark comedy and ruminations on the importance of romance
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 119 minutes

This 2015 Oscar-nominated dark comedy is set in a somewhat dystopian world in which single people are given just about six weeks to find someone to attach themselves to, romantically, or be turned into animals. Farrell stars as David, who says he will become a lobster if he doesn't find anyone. The film centers on David as he adjusts to the rules put in place during this time frame, where they live in a specific hotel to be in close quarters with each other and also earn bonuses of sorts if they bring in "loners," aka single people who have eschewed this system and live in the forest. It's a clever character study, as well as an exploration into the obsession with partnership just for partnership's sake. How it hasn't been turned into a reality show yet is somewhat baffling.

"The Lobster remains strangely romantic throughout, an absurdist take on the notion that great love stories — 
Casablanca, The Way We Were, Gone With the Wind — don't always end tidily." — Steven Persall, Tampa Bay Times


Minority Report

Metascore: 80
Best for: Fans of Philip K. Dick's vision of the future and crime thrillers with sci-fi elements
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 145 minutes

Steven Spielberg's 2002 sci-fi film is inspired by Dick's 1956 short story of the same title but greatly expands the world and characters to look at a future (2054, to be exact) where criminals are apprehended before they actually commit their crime. In this world, there is a special "precrime" unit of the police department that works with psychics calls "precogs" who predict who will commit terrible acts, and then those people are snatched up before they can. Sort of. There are flaws in every system, and this one predicts that the head of the program (played by Tom Cruise) will kill a man he has yet to meet. He doesn't believe there is truth to this, so he goes rogue to get to the bottom of it. Farrell plays a government agent.

"This film is such a virtuoso high-wire act, daring so much, achieving it with such grace and skill." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


After Yang

Metascore: 79
Best for: Fans of sci-fi infused family dramas
Where to watch: In theaters 
Runtime: 96 minutes

Kogonada wrote and directed this sci-fi drama that is set in a world where robots are purchased by families to be live-in child caretakers. But when the titular robot (played by Justin H. Min) suddenly stops working, the family that bought him isn't ready to just replace him with another one. It is a story that comments on the importance of all kinds of family, bonding, and the lengths to which we'll go for loved ones. Farrell stars as the patriarch of the family, Jake, alongside Jodie Turner-Smith and Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja. After Yang made its official debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021 and was released wide on March 4, 2022, the same day as The Batman.

"After Yang is a soulful and heartbreaking meditation on impermanence full of poignant wonder and riches and human grace." — Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist


The Beguiled

Metascore: 77
Best for: Fans of period dramas, complex relationships, and stories about how war affects those not on the battleground
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, Vudu
Runtime: 93 minutes

Nicole Kidman stars as the headmistress of a girls' school in 1864 Virginia when the Civil War has displaced most of the teachers, students and support staff. However, she, one teacher (Kirsten Dunst), and a few students still remain, so when Union soldier John McBurney (Farrell) is injured during battle and left in the woods by his troop, he doesn't succumb to his injuries. Instead, the women take him into the school to nurse him back to health, but also fight over what they should do with him long-term. And yes, the possibilities include both turning him in and killing him. The 2017 film, directed by Sofia Coppola, is based on Thomas P. Cullinan's 1966 novel of the same title. 

"The Beguiled is a finely crafted, gemlike exercise in surface tension and subterranean stirrings." — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post


The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Metascore: 73
Best for: Fans of Greek tragedies and psychological dramas centering complex male protagonists
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, Vudu
Runtime: 121 minutes

Yorgos Lanthimos' 2017 film stars Farrell as Steven Murphy, a family man and surgeon who seemingly befriends a young stranger (Martin Lang, played by Barry Keoghan) and welcomes him into his home, only it turns out they do have a shared history, and it is a dark one. Martin wants to make Steven suffer as he feels Steven once made him suffer, and to do so, he targets Steven's wife and kids. It's a thriller that messes with Steven's mind, and with the audience's, as Martin opts for bloodless torture, which is slower but even more agonizing. Kidman stars as Steven's wife, Anna, marking the second film she and Farrell starred in together in 2017. 

"The Killing of a Sacred Deer is endlessly watchable but only intermittently arresting." — Tim Grierson, Paste 


The Batman

Metascore: 72
Best for: Fans of dark crime dramas and epics
Where to watch: In theaters
Runtime: 175 minutes

After Gotham City's mayor is murdered, Batman (Pattinson) springs into action to assist the police department with the case. But he is also being taunted by that killer, who happens to be a serial offender, who has a lot more violence planned for this epic DC Comics adaptation. As Batman and the Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) work to restore order and justice to the city, they investigate the gritty criminal underworld of it, which includes Farrell's Penguin, who works for the mob. This 2021 version of the iconic comic characters is the latest reboot of the Batman franchise.

"This grounded, frequently brutal and nearly three-hour film noir registers among the best of the genre." — Peter Debruge, Variety


The New World

Metascore: 69
Best for: Fans of period romance and dramatizations of historical people and events
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 135 minutes

Writer and director Terrence Malick takes a stab at imagining what the founding of Jameston, Va. looked like in this 2005 period drama. Set in the early 1600s, Farrell stars as a version of the real-life John Smith who traveled from England to establish a colony in the new world. Once a respected captain, John ends up sentenced to death, but upon arrival is pardoned and captured by the Native Americans, which allows him to meet and fall in love with Pocohontas (Q'orianka Kilcher). She convinces her father, Chief Powhatan (August Schellenberg), to spare him, but wen it is clear the English are not there temporarily, the chief orders an attack, banishes his daughter, and sends John away too. Pocohontas grows close with another Englishman, John Rolfe (Christian Bale), which creates a culturally complicated love triangle. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki received an Oscar nomination for his work on this film.

"The New World achieves an emotional payoff unlike anything else in Malick's work." — Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun


The War Zone

Metascore: 68
Best for: Fans of unflinching tales of sexual abuse and familial violence
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Tubi
Runtime: 98 minutes

Tim Roth made his directorial debut with this 1999 family drama from a script from Alexander Stuart, who also wrote the novel on which the film is based. The film centers on Freddie Cunliffe's Tom, a teenager who discovers his father (played by Ray Winstone) is sexually abusing Tom's sister, Jessie (played by Lara Belmont). While he knows it isn't right, when he sets out to do something about it, confrontations turn violent and he comes to the realization that even his mother (played by Tilda Swinton) knows his father is dangerous but can't do anything about it. It's a rare and frank depiction of abuses of all kinds, but it likely will be triggering for many viewers. Farrell plays Jessie's boyfriend Nick.

"Roth has crafted for his first film one of the most bluntly graphic and disturbing movies ever done on the subject." — Jack Mathews, Daily News