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The 10 Best Performances Of Hugh Jackman, Ranked

Updated on March 10, 2017

10. Kate & Leopold

The first time director James Mangold and Jackman came together, proved to be a success, at least at the box-office. Although this is a pretty conventional romantic comedy, one of the reasons why its watchable, is the actor himself. Playing a Duke who is transported to 21st century New York, he is an utter delight. He seems completely at home in a role that feels like it was made for him. Although he got his breakthrough in a superhero film,he proves here that he can be funny and charming as well. It is an important film in the actor’s career as he showed he can be banked upon to impress in this genre too. His looks and general attitude in the film, swept many women of their feet.

9. Australia

From Baz Luhrmann, a director known for his visual style, came this epic tale of romance. Set against the backdrop of World War II, the film had all the elements to succeed. Having two excellent leads added to the film’s appeal. Jackman was praised for his portrayal as a Drover. The sweeping romance saga didn’t do well as expected but the performances were appreciated. Despite the character arc being less than compelling, the actor elevates the material with an intense and emotional performance. This ensured that at least parts of the movie resonated with the viewer.

8. X-Men

This is the film that put Jackman on the map. Today he is so closely associated with Wolverine but back then, he was not one of the first choices. There was a huge element of luck involved in him getting the role. The original choice, Dougray Scott had a scheduling conflict which resulted in the Australian getting the part, and the rest is history. The film was seen as a reemergence of the superhero genre, and the cast has to be thanked for that. In particular, Jackman with minimum dialogue and maximum action brought the character to life in thrilling fashion. His dedication and hard work paid off as the film and him received plaudits from all around.

7. The Wolverine

After the lukewarm response to the first installment, ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’, the film had an important task to do. It had to prove that the character deserved another shot at the audience. And they delivered in impressive fashion. Though the film benefited from subdued expectations, the darker tone and increased focus on Wolverine as a person turned out to be its trump cards. Jackman dives into the role with a fresh approach. We all know he is fantastic in the action parts, but what really caught the attention were the emotional beats. Even those not familiar with the story line were moved by how the film dealt with the emotional side. The actor delves into the psyche of the character and it results in an exhilarating as well as affecting film.

6. Eddie The Eagle

As inspirational sports films go, there is a tried and tested formula which this film adheres to. The difference between this and a run of the mill version of this genre, is the heart that is at the center of it. The warmth in the performances helps it overcome the limitations of the genre. And central to this is Jackman playing a mentor to the titular character. Despite being initially dismissive, he warms up to the hero when he sees similar qualities they both possess. The way he helps the protagonist to overcome his hurdles is very endearing to watch. While we’ve been impressed by Jackman’s intensity and charm, we get an opportunity to see a different and warmer side of the actor here.

5. Logan

The most recent entry on this list is here with good reason. By making the finale of Wolverine gritty but thoughtful, ‘Logan’ manages to succeed on all fronts. The film is a fitting sendoff to one of the most iconic characters of our times. Jackman gives his best performance in the entire series. His fight with his inner demons is truly heart-wrenching to watch. The highlight of the film is that, we can feel the human side of Wolverine and that increases our attachment to the character a lot. The R-rating of the film allows it to bring about a bloody climax, yet it doesn’t forget to fully explore the thoughts of the superhero. His battles with the outside world and within himself is brought out with nuance and elegance. If the final moments don’t bring a tear to your eye, you must be made of some stern stuff. For giving us an entertaining but also fully fleshed out character, we are thankful to both the actor and the director.

4. Prisoners

Intensity has always been a strength of Jackman. We have seen that in abundance whenever the actor has played a superhero. But what about a common man, a father looking for his daughter. This is where the actor in Jackman really comes out. The desperation he feels, the helplessness of his situation all lead to a gorgeously unrestrained showcase of his talent. He manages to shine in a top-notch cast. Saying more about the plot will be a disservice to the film. It is an exhibition of a director and actor at the top of their game. The result is one of the best thrillers of this century. The film went on to be successful with the critics and the audience with many people blown away by Jackman.

3. The Prestige

It is one of the first films that showed Jackman as an actor capable of serious performances. His performance in the Christopher Nolan classic, is one of the highlights of his career. The director tapped in the actor’s hitherto unexplored potential to produce a riveting performance. It is a fascinating battle between the two magicians as well the actors to see who gains the upper hand. The acting matches up to the plot and takes the viewer on a twisting journey that is rewarding and interesting. It leaves one wanting to see the actor in more such roles that explore the depth of his abilities.

2. Les Miserables

This is one film where Jackman’s theater background proved to be helpful. Having the songs recorded live is a difficult task but the actor aced the musical portions of the film. As the newly released prisoner looking to improve his life, the actor produces a thoroughly compelling performance. In a film filled with great performances, he makes sure that his presence is felt. His acting received rave reviews and he was nominated for an Academy Award for the first time. The character’s quest for survival and redemption struck a chord with the viewers in particular and helped the film succeed.

1. The Fountain

To begin with, it is one of the most underrated films of this century. It is also without a doubt, Jackman’s most challenging role. He plays three different characters who are connected by a common thread. These three roles are quite different from one another and they require him to express different emotions. The actor pulls of all three roles with real conviction. The film polarized the critics and the audience upon its release, but it has subsequently gone on to gather a large cult following. It is the biggest proof of the actor’s ability to blend into different personas and this adds to the film’s intrigue. The relative failure of the film may have deterred Jackman from doing such roles but when the outcome is this good, we would like to see more of it.


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