Few actors have enjoyed the sustained success of Academy Award-winner Jamie Foxx. After a successful stint on the popular comedy sketch series "In Living Color," Foxx rose to the big leagues and teamed up with Oliver Stone for the football drama "Any Given Sunday" in 1999. From there, he would find fortune and glory in the music industry and dramas such as Michael Mann's "Collateral" and Taylor Hackford's 2005 biographical drama "Ray," both of which earned him accolades from critics and a handful of awards.
Since then, Foxx has pivoted to action vehicles such as "Baby Driver," big-budget spectacles like "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," and weightier dramas like the critically-acclaimed "Just Mercy." All told, Foxx's cinematic body of work has amassed over $7 billion at the worldwide box office, making him one of this generation's most bankable stars.
Which of his films is the best? We could debate that question all day, or you could read our list of 12 favorite Jamie Foxx films ranked from good to great and find out for yourself.
White House Down (2013)
"White House Down" may be little more than a "Die Hard" knockoff, but that doesn't make the Roland Emmerich action movie any less enjoyable. Channing Tatum's John Cale dons a white tank top to save Jamie Foxx's smooth-talking President Swayer when terrorists (led by Jason Clarke) invade the White House. That's it. That's the plot. What follows is a predictable cat-and-mouse thriller that works because everyone involved approaches the material with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks.
Cale, for example, causes more destruction to the Oval Office than the bad guys and doesn't hesitate to blast his opponents to bits with a mini-gun. At the same time, President Sawyer spends more time worrying about his Air Jordans than his star-studded supporting cast led by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins, James Woods, and Lance Reddick. At one point, our heroes find a missile launcher stowed in a secret compartment inside the presidential limo and use it to blast a hole in the White House gate. "Oh my God," an onlooker exclaims, "that's President Sawyer, and he's got a rocket launcher." Classic.
Foxx brings an equal dose of charm and gravitas to his role as President Sawyer. While he spends most of the film blowing s*** up real good, he still crafts a character worth rooting for, even when Emmerich's campy style threatens to blow the whole thing down. An action classic this ain't, but thanks to Tatum and Foxx, "White House Down" gets the job done.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Marc Webb's follow-up to 2012's "The Amazing Spider-Man," aptly dubbed "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," is undoubtedly a convoluted mess packed with far too many storylines and characters. Still, the superhero sequel serves up a massive dose of ambitious spectacle that keeps the plot from completely running off the rails.
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone reprise their roles as our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and his love interest, Gwen Stacy, to battle an all-new batch of formidable villains. The story, cobbled together by no less than four writers, follows Peter's continued attempts to woo Gwen despite her deceased father's wishes while simultaneously performing his superhero duties. Complicating matters further is the arrival of Electro (Jamie Foxx), a bad guy born in a vat of electric eels, who focuses his energy on bringing down the webhead.
As Electro, Foxx has the tricky task of playing a character we empathize with and later fear. His early scenes as hapless Max Dillon are tough to watch — no one remembers his birthday, his superiors treat him like garbage, and a Spider-Man obsession alone fuels his happiness. When he finally turns into Electro, the actor brings the menace and believably slides into the role of one of Spider-Man's most dangerous foes. If only we got to see more of him in later films …
Any Given Sunday (1999)
Football movies are a dime a dozen, but occasionally one comes along that transcends the typical sports drama. With "Any Given Sunday," director Oliver Stone tosses a Hail Mary and delivers an ambitious pop culture spectacle teeming with rapid-fire editing, violence, non-stop foul language, and sex. It's trashy art, but art nonetheless.
Al Pacino stars as Tony D'Amato, a veteran coach who finds his antiquated methods challenged by arrogant young quarterback Willie "Steamin" Beamen (Jamie Foxx) and unscrupulous owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz). D'Amato must find a way to return his team to its former glory or risk diminishing his legacy before he has a chance to cement his place amongst the greats.
Foxx appeared in several roles in the early '90s, but Willie "Steamin" Beamen marked his big breakthrough and proved he could act alongside the best. His character enjoys the best arc in the film, evolving from a loose cannon who vomits in his first outing as starting quarterback to a humble man willing to take direction from his superiors. Foxx delivers a star-making performance that sets the stage for future gigs working with some of the industry's most respected filmmakers. Forget "In Living Color" and "Booty Call," this is where Foxx's career trulystarted, folks.
Just Mercy (2019)
On the surface, "Just Mercy" may look like a typical courtroom drama, but spellbinding performances by Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx raise Destin Daniel Cretton's true-life drama to incredibly satisfying emotional heights.
Jordan portrays Bryan Stevenson, an earnest young lawyer who heads to Alabama and ends up working a case involving Walter "Johnny D." McMillian (Foxx), a Black man wrongfully convicted of murdering a white girl a few years prior. Despite his sentence, McMillian continues to plead his case to anyone willing to listen, and it's not long before Stevenson goes to bat for his new defendant to prove his innocence.
Foxx earned a Screen Actors Guild nomination for his supporting turn as McMillian. While the paint-by-numbers script does him few favors, the actor delivers a subdued performance that relies more on subtle glances than out-and-out theatricality. You see the defiance and quiet resolve radiating behind McMillian's eyes, the urge to press forward despite the odds stacked against him. Foxx is magnificent in the role.
"Just Mercy" won't go down as Foxx's best film, but the uplifting drama certainly provides one of his best performances.
Miami Vice (2006)
"Miami Vice" gets a bad rap because it fails to match the astonishing heights of Michael Mann's best work and reimagines the fabled, neon-drenched '80s crime series about two stylish detectives pursuing criminals across Florida into something more grounded and modern. Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx comfortably slide into the roles vacated by Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas and carry a half-baked plot about implausibly powerful drug traffickers on their sturdy shoulders. The dynamic duo oozes cool, even if their onscreen partnership hinges on unspoken admiration rather than out-and-out friendship. These fellas are dangerous. We know because they wear slick sunglasses, are great in the sack, and spend an exorbitant amount of time cruising around in overpriced speedboats.
In particular, Foxx plays Ricardo Tubbs to perfection and delivers the right amount of charm and masculinity in a role he was born to play. There's a great scene in the film where he must rescue his girlfriend (Naomie Harris) from violent criminals, and the actor believably executes a pair of men with masterful precision. Foxx portrayed gun-toting heroes before in films such as "Collateral" and "Stealth," but this was his first go as an action star, and the man doesn't disappoint. He's kick ass!
"Miami Vice," particularly the director's cut, holds our attention with its provocative drama, explicit sex, complex characters, and thrilling set pieces. But make no mistake, this is Foxx's picture through and through. He alone makes this forgotten gem worth watching.
"Soul" lacks the cleverness of earlier Pixar films and occasionally stumbles while trying to blend its serious subject matter with the goofier elements required to cater to a younger crowd. Still, gorgeous animation, terrific voice work, and an abundance of emotional depth are enough to propel this computer-animated effort into must-see territory.
When aspiring pianist Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) dies following a successful audition with a professional band, he must traverse the great beyond to return to his body and continue pursuing his dream. Unfortunately, Joe lands in a cat's body, while another wayward soul, 22 (Tina Fey), lands in his corpse. What follows is an entertaining, often profound journey about life, sacrifice, and holding onto your dreams at any cost.
Foxx slides into the role of Joe and delivers a vocal performance that is simultaneously manic and emotional, even when playing a cat. He brings warmth to the character and has a great rapport with Tina Fey. Is this the best Pixar duo since Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres in "Finding Nemo?" Perhaps, but fans of Foxx will admire the brief foray into the lighthearted, family-centric territory.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
Undeniably exciting, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" infused Phase 4 of Marvel's cinematic universe with a much-needed jolt of energy (and well-crated nostalgia) by uniting Tom Holland with past Spideys Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire. While the plot about Peter Parker's attempts to return a batch of villains to their former state before they broke bad lacks weight, director Jon Watts peppers the sequel with enough high-octane action and well-timed laughs to ensure audiences get their money's worth.
There's truly something for every Spider-Man fan to admire here. For me, the sight of Foxx's Electro produced goosebumps. The villain appears midway through the film amidst Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams' electronic theme lifted from "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" and gets an opportunity to show off his extraordinary powers in an extended climax set atop the Statue of Liberty. Foxx clearly has a blast portraying the villain and delivers some of the film's best lines ("So what, you all going to stand there and act like I'm not butt-a** naked?"). While his limited screen time is unfortunate — a result of the large number of characters stuffed in the picture — the actor makes his mark and, at the very least, sets the stage for future appearances in the MCU.
Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Ray Charles in 2004's "Ray" is one of the great performances of the last few decades. That's not hyperbole. The talented actor perfectly embodies the late iconic singer with eerie precision, capturing his zeal and enthusiastic spirit with aplomb. You can't take your eyes off him.
As for the film, "Ray" bites off more than it can chew in its attempt to tell the singer's entire life story and is occasionally let down by its over-reliance on the biographical formula. Though, in this case, there were few alternative approaches. Ray Charles was far from perfect and wrestled with drug addiction and many complicated relationships. Through it all, he managed to write some of the most beloved songs of our time, including "Georgia On My Mind," "Hit the Road Jack," and "I Can't Stop Loving You." Director Taylor Hackford does a competent job navigating Charles' problematic life, balancing the highs with the lows so that we understand the man behind the music, even if the tale grows a little redundant.
However, this is Foxx's show, and the veteran actor rises to the occasion and all but runs away with the picture. It's fair to say he earned that Best Actor Oscar. He's incredible.
Following his breakout performance in "Any Given Sunday," Jamie Foxx teamed up with Michael Mann for the biopic "Ali," which focuses on the life of iconic boxer Muhammad Ali (Will Smith) from 1964 to 1974 and culminates with his legendary "Rumble in the Jungle" showdown with George Foreman. The picture earned awards and accolades from critics, who praised Smith for his incredible transformation into the legendary sports figure. Still, Foxx deserves plenty of credit for his turn as Ali's problematic but loyal cornerman, Drew Bundini Brown.
Brown is both a luxury to Ali and a thorn in his side throughout the film. At one point, the man sells Ali's championship belt for $500 to fund his alcohol and drug addiction, resulting in a terrific scene in which Ali asks, "Why are you shaming yourself?" "God don't care about you. Don't care about me," Brown responds. "In all of everything, we don't mean nothing. He don't know us. We be." Few actors could have brought the same degree of charisma, vulnerability, and machismo to the role as Foxx, who paints Brown as an opportunistic but dutiful servant. While he gets overshadowed by Smith and, to a lesser extent, Jon Voight, whose turn as Howard Cosell likewise drew praise, Foxx manages to make a mark with a quietly effective performance that stands as one of his better efforts.
Baby Driver (2017)
Wildly imaginative and endlessly fun, Edgar Wright's "Baby Driver" dances to its own beat and expertly weaves a dark tale about a young getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) who gets caught up working for some dangerous goons. The soundtrack rocks, the action scenes pop, and the supporting cast, consisting of Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, and Lily James, is terrific.
Foxx radiates menace as Bats, a trigger-happy madman capable of unimaginable violence. He's utterly terrifying and damn near drives off with the film. There's a great bit set in a diner where the character cuts down Jon Hamm's Buddy using nothing but flawlessly executed dialogue. So when Buddy's girl, Darling (Eiza González), returns the favor, Bats erupts into applause, startling the group with his unpredictable nature.
"Baby Driver" features an abundance of bad people doing bad things, but Bats takes the cake as the de facto villain of the piece. It's almost a shame when the character quickly exits before the third act kicks into high gear. Indeed, while Wright lays the track on which "Baby Driver" achieves greatness, Foxx's performance props this endlessly entertaining picture up alongside some of the all-time classic crime dramas.
Django Unchained (2012)
Quentin Tarantino explores slavery in "Django Unchained," a violent, even repulsive piece of cinema that entertains as much as it shocks — in a good way! The film follows Django (Jamie Foxx), a former slave who teams up with German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to kick a** and take names throughout pre-Civil War America. Together, the pair travels to Candyland, a plantation headed by ruthless slave owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), to free Django's wife (Kerry Washington).
Co-starring Samuel L. Jackson, "Django Unchained" delivers all of Tarantino's trademark dialogue and violence but also features a surprisingly hefty dose of heart thanks to Django and Schultz's budding relationship. We empathize with these two strange characters so that when the bullets start to fly, the blood-soaked carnage carries weight. Waltz, in particular, expertly delivers Tarantino's snappy dialogue, resulting in the actor's second Oscar win, while Jackson delivers his most menacing performance since "Pulp Fiction."
Still, "Django" is nothing without Jamie Foxx's robust presence. His performance is cool and calculated but ultimately heroic. We see Django grow from a frightened, enslaved person to a polished gunfighter throughout the film, culminating in a fabulous final scene in which the character exacts righteous vengeance on his enemies.
While Foxx had already emerged as a talented actor capable of sharing the screen with the best of them, it's fair to say "Django Unchained" is the film that turned him into a bonafide superstar.
Michael Mann and Jamie Foxx's greatest collaboration arrived with 2004's "Collateral," a superb crime drama centered on a hitman named Vincent (an excellent Tom Cruise) who forces lowly cab driver Max (Foxx) to drive him to his "appointments." During the journey, the men form a unique bond, even while trying to kill each other.
Mann makes great use of the Los Angeles backdrop, shot mostly on digital camera, and stages several impressive action sequences, including a violent nightclub brawl that ranks alongside the director's finest work. Cruise and Foxx (who earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination) play off each other surprisingly well and display natural chemistry. Their non-stop banter carries the film and serves up a hefty dose of existentialism that occasionally gives way to the type of comedy usually reserved for buddy films like "Lethal Weapon."
What's more, the finale sees Mann perform his best Alfred Hitchcock impersonation and borrow heavily from "Rear Window" as Max and gal pal Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith) flee from Vincent's wrath following a complicated (and very coincidental) series of events.
"Collateral" doesn't knock 1995's "Heat" off the top of Mann's greatest hits. Still, thanks to Cruise and Foxx, an intelligent script, and some truly astounding visuals, this overlooked thriller stands tall.
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The post The 12 Best Jamie Foxx Movies, Ranked appeared first on /Film.