Michael Keaton's Best Movies, Ranked by Metacritic

Ahead of 'Morbius,' get to know Michael Keaton's non-superhero body of work with his best films, ranked by Metascore.
by Danielle Turchiano — 

Michael Keaton

Roy Rochlin / Getty Images

Among some audiences, Michael Keaton is still best-known as Batman, after appearing as the infamous DC Comics caped crusader in two movies centered on the character in the 1990s. That the performance was so memorable is a good thing, though. Because although Keaton has taken on dozens of roles in the decades since those films, he is set to reprise that role again, both in Batgirl and The Flash, which are coming to theaters in 2022.

However, Keaton's best work, when judged by critical reviews of the titles, are much wider-ranging, from Oscar-winning dramas to animation kid flicks, and even Morbius, a Marvel Comics adaptation.

Keaton got his acting start on television in the mid-1970s on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, an experience he reflected on in the Emmy-nominated special Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor in 2004. He moved into guest-starring roles on such sitcoms as Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Maude and later a recurring role on The Mary Tyler Moore Hour. By the early 1980s he was firmly working in the feature film world, though, and making only the occasional short-term return to the smaller screen, such as in a two-episode arc on 30 Rock, a two-part episode of Documentary Now!, and starring in Hulu's limited series Dopesick, for which he won a Critics Choice Award, a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Among Keaton's other accolades are an Oscar nomination, a BAFTA nomination, two Critics Choice wins, a Golden Globe, a Gotham Award, and a SAG Award ensemble win, all for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). He has an addition Gotham Award as part of the ensemble of Spotlight and two more SAG Awards (as part of the ensemble of Spotlight and The Trial of the Chicago 7).

He has also executive produced a handful of movies, as well as Dopesick, and he made his directorial debut with 2008's The Merry Gentleman.

Here, Metacritic highlights the best movies Keaton has acted in, ranked by Metascore.


Metascore: 93
Best for: Those who enjoy historical dramas, even when the subject matter might be triggering
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 128 minutes

This two-time Oscar-winning 2015 film is based on a real Boston Globe investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against children by Roman Catholic priests in the Boston area. With cases dating back to the late 1970s, arrests are made but kept quiet due to the church's standing in the public, but in 2011, the Boston Globe's "Spotlight" team begins to dig into the crimes, including who knew and did nothing to stop them. Keaton plays the real-life Walter "Robby" Robinson, an investigate reporter and the editor of this "Spotlight" team.

"For all of its modesty and dedication to process, Spotlight winds up being a startlingly emotional experience, and not just for filmgoers with intimate knowledge of the culture it depicts." — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

Toy Story 3

Metascore: 92
Best for: Fans of friendship adventure stories
Where to watch:

, , iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 103 minutes

This third installment of Pixar's "secret lives of toys" franchise starts with a misunderstanding about how much Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and the rest of the gang are wanted, which leads to them being donated to a daycare. Once there, they meet a whole new group of toys - with their own hierarchy. As they plan their escape, they do make some important new friends along the way. Keaton voices one such friend, Ken (yes, of Barbie and Ken). The film won two Oscars, including Best Animated Feature Film.

"Woody, Buzz and playmates make a thoroughly engaging, emotionally satisfying return." — Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Metascore: 87
Best for: Fans of dark comedies and pokes at Hollywood and those who work there
Where to watch:

, Google PlayiTunes, TubiVudu
Runtime: 119 minutes

Keaton stars as the title character (sort of) in this meta, four-time Oscar winner from 2014. His charatcer, Riggan Thomson, is an actor who became known for playing a superhero named Birdman. Years after he said goodbye to that character, he still can't shake him, though, hearing his voice as a guide to decisions that may or may not be great for him. Case in point: Birdman wants him to focus on movies, but Riggan is trying to adapt one of Raymond Carver's short stories for Broadway. As he struggles internally with who he really wants to be and who he perhaps should be, his play is also challenged by external issues, including a last-minute hire (played by Edward Norton).

"A scalpel-sharp dissection of Hollywood, Broadway, and fame in the 21st century. But more than that, it's a testament to Keaton's enduring charisma and power as an actor." — Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

Out of Sight

Metascore: 85
Best for: Fans of George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, and crime dramas wherein characters get challenged by unexpected attraction
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunesStarzVudu
Runtime: 123 minutes

Steven Soderbergh directs this 1998 movie that sees Clooney as a charming bank robber named Jack Foley and Lopez as Karen Sisco, the U.S. Marshal chasing him after he escapes from prison. However, she finds herself attracted to him, which complicates their dynamic, and her sense of duty. Or does it? Questions arise about her loyalty, but they get answered in a pivotal, criminal moment. Keaton appears briefly in the film as Ray Nicolette, an Elmore Leonard character who Keaton first played in Jackie Brown and then resurrected here.

"Two gorgeous leads and a good story are usually the best one can expect from a popular movie. Out of Sight has all that in Clooney and co-star Jennifer Lopez." — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

Porco Rosso

Metascore: 83
Best for: Fans of
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: minutes

Hayao Miyazaki writes and directs this 1992 animated film from Studio Ghibii that is set in the 1930s and follows a former World War I pilot that was turned into a pig during the war. Now, he and a couple of others are taking on a group of sky pirates. The titular pilot/pig is voiced by Shūichirō Moriyama in the original Japanese version and Keaton in the English version.

"The plot fits, starts and digresses at will, taking in the textures of pre-fascist Italy, details on the history of aviation and a lucid discussion on gender equality and physical beauty. Oh, and the kids will love it too." — David Jenkins, Time Out

Much Ado About Nothing

Metascore: 80
Best for: Fans of William Shakespeare
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 111 minutes

Kenneth Branagh writes, directs, and appears in this 1993 version of Shakespeare's play of the same title. In it, Kate Beckinsale and Robert Sean Leonard star as the betrothed Hero and Claudio, who scheme to set up Benedick (Branagh) and Beatrice (Emma Thompson). They have their work cut out for them, as that duo despises each other, which creates a complicated distraction from their own nuptials, which is jeopardy due to Don John (Keanu Reeves). Keaton plays Dogberry, a constable.

"I'm not sure if 'feel good' has ever been used to describe a picture based on the Bard's work, but the expression fits." — James Berardinelli, ReelViews

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Metascore: 76
Best for: Fans of activism, legal dramas, and Aaron Sorkin's dialogue
Where to watch: Netflix
Runtime: 129 minutes

Sorkin's Oscar-nominated 2020 period drama based on real-life anti-war activists is set in the late 1960s when a group of protestors are arrested and subsequently put on trial. The film explores the prejudice these men experience at the hands of the legal system and the brutality they experienced at the hands of police. The star-studded cast includes Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden, Alex Sharp as Rennie Davis, Jeremy Strong as Jerry Rubin, John Carroll Lynch as David Dellinger, Noah Robbins as Lee Weiner, Daniel Flaherty as John Froines, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale.

"Writer-director Aaron Sorkin takes the 'trial' part to heart, leading to a largely courtroom-bound affair that — while entertaining and splendidly cast — at its best echoes his early triumph with A Few Good Men." — Brian Lowry, CNN


Metascore: 73
Best for: Fans of
Where to watch:

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 117 minutes

Pixar's 2006 animated film that picked up two Oscar nominations follows Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) as he travels across the country to participate in the final race of the Piston Cup season against veterans Strip "The King" Weathers (Richard Petty) and Chick Hicks (Keaton). Being a rookie who is already caught up in a rivalry with the other two, there's a lot on the line for Lightning to prove himself, but he gets lost on the way to the race and ends up in Radiator Springs. The small, rural town is a much different (ahem) speed than he is used to, and the adjustment and the new relationships he makes there prove to be good for him. This is only the first film in what became a lucrative franchise for the studio.

"Cars leaves the animated competition in the dust, even if it is a tad slower and more predictable than Pixar at full throttle." — Lou Lumenick, New York Post

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Metascore: 73
Best for: Fans of
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunesStarzVudu
Runtime: 150 minutes

Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, in this 2017 film that follows his superhero character working with Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), to learn how to harness his powers for good and be a valuable member of the Avengers team. However, he tries to be a regular guy on the side, living with his aunt and continuing to be a student. Juggling both sides of himself gets increasingly complicated as he has to take down an arms dealer known as Vulture (Keaton), who also happens to be personally connected to someone important in Peter's life.

"There's wit, smarts, and a nifty, inventive plot that serves as a reminder of what buoyant fun such films can bring. It might have taken three attempts, but Spider-Man has finally spun gold." — Benjamin Lee, The Guardian


Metascore: 70
Best for: Fans of the undead and physical comedy
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 92 minutes

When a young couple dies in a car accident and gets stuck haunting their home in Tim Burton's 1998 feature, they decide they have to keep it to themselves. Their plan to scare away the family trying to buy the home backfires a bit (OK, a lot), though, when they end up attracting another spirit, Betelgeuse (Keaton), who causes as many complications for them as he does for the new family. The presence of the ghosts, which the daughter of the family (played by Winona Ryder) can see, also threatens to turn the town into a tourist attraction, leaving both the living and the dead to come together to put an end to their troubles.

"For all the film's popped eyeballs and severed limbs, Beetlejuice retains an innocence that makes the grotesque humor very appealing." — Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

The Paper

Metascore: 70
Best for: Fans character-driven dramas and journalism
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 112 minutes

The internet was still young in 1994 when Ron Howard directed The Paper, but the fictional dramedy was predictive about the print journalism industry. Keaton stars as Henry Hackett, an editor at a New York tabloid that is undergoing hard times, which naturally means overworking and underpaying its employees, leading to layoffs. Over the course of only one day, the film follows Henry as he becomes obsessed with the case of two Black teenagers arrested for the murder of two white men in Brooklyn, convinced they didn't do it and putting everything on the line for the story.

"The bad news is that The Paper ... is unabashedly contrived, hopelessly simplistic and overly romantic about its target subject. ... The good news is that all of the above results in a spirited if sometimes awkward big-screen entertainment." — Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle