Total Recall

Hugh Jackman's 10 Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Logan star.

by | March 1, 2017 | Comments

After nearly 20 years and a slew of X-Men franchise installments, Hugh Jackman walked away from Wolverine (presumably) with this past weekend’s Logan. In celebration of his impressive run as one of comics’ most popular characters, we decided to devote this week’s list to a fond look back at some of the brightest critical highlights from a wonderfully eclectic filmography that looks like it’s only begun to tap into his prodigious potential. Snikt! It’s time for Total Recall!


10. Real Steel (2011) 60%

Looking at its premise on paper — giant robots boxing! — you might expect Real Steel would be the sort of critic-proof flick that takes a tumble on the Tomatometer while luring action enthusiasts to the cineplex in blockbuster-sized droves. The reality, however, was surprisingly complex; it’s actually a family drama with sci-fi overtones, starring Hugh Jackman as a washed-up boxer who becomes a promoter after robot boxers take over, and Dakota Goyo as the estranged son who helps him build a pugilistic machine that’ll rule the ring. Laced with enough grit to keep from becoming a total CGI fest while still making room for a handful of adrenaline-inducing set pieces, Steel earned a somewhat muted response from audiences, who turned out in respectable but not spectacular numbers — and a surprising amount of admiration from critics like NPR’s Linda Holmes, who argued, “Real Steel is ridiculous, but it is not dispiriting. If you’re going to make this movie, it should be made just this way, with commitment, verve and a complete disregard for physics, robotics and environmentalism.”

Watch Trailer


9. Les Misérables (2012) 69%

Round up a bunch of dramatic actors, hand them a classic musical, and ask them to sing — live in front of the camera, no less — and if nothing else, you’re bound to get points for audacity. Les Miserables director Tom Hooper courted disaster with this approach to his 2012 adaptation of the Broadway favorite, but emerged largely unscathed, winning a pile of Golden Globes and picking up eight Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) while racking up more than $440 million in worldwide grosses. Not bad for yet another version of a story just about everyone had already seen, and although a number of critics were unmoved by the movie’s unabashed efforts to wring tears from the audience, the majority found all that huge drama impossible to resist. An acknowledged singing talent in a cast notably short on them, Jackman earned an Academy Award nomination for his work as the long-suffering Jean Valjean — but Glenn Kenny of MSN Movies thought he “should get a Nobel Prize for the way he carries pretty much the whole undertaking on his shoulders, so protean and virile is his singing and acting throughout.”

Watch Trailer


8. The Wolverine (2013) 71%

The homicidal streak that makes Wolverine such a fascinating character in the comics is also what’s made him relatively problematic on the big screen, and its PG-13 neutering is part of what rendered Hugh Jackman’s previous solo outing as the clawed superhero, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, such a disappointment for longtime fans. Director James Mangold had the benefit of lowered expectations when it came time to helm the follow-up, The Wolverine, but the end result — which drew inspiration from a beloved ‘80s comics story that sent the character to Japan — earned more than a slow clap from critics; as Mick LaSalle enthused for the San Francisco Chronicle, “Somewhere along the line somebody must have had a crazy idea, that The Wolverine required a decent script, and shouldn’t rely only on action, audience goodwill and the sight of Hugh Jackman with his shirt off. The team delivers with this one.”

Watch Trailer


7. The Prestige (2006) 76%

After Batman Begins hit big, Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale had their pick of projects to choose from — and they opted to reunite for The Prestige, a film Nolan had been eyeing since his post-Memento days. In this adaptation of the Christopher Priest novel, Bale stars opposite Jackman in the tale of two early 20th century magicians driven to dangerous lengths in their personal and professional feud. With a plot hinging on a series of progressively more unpredictable twists and turns, The Prestige was bound to provoke a number of divergent responses, but with gross receipts over $100 million and a Certified Fresh 76 percent Tomatometer, it packed enough of a suspenseful flourish to earn praise from scribes such as Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, who observed, “there are nifty tricks galore up the sumptuous sleeve of this offbeat and wildly entertaining thriller.”

Watch Trailer


6. Eddie The Eagle (2016) 82%

An inspirational sports dramedy about a Winter Olympics hopeful with slim chances of success and a coach who also happens to be a disgraced former competitor, Eddie the Eagle has some obvious similarities to Cool Runnings — and in fact its protagonist, real-life British ski jumper Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards, competed at the same Olympics that hosted Runnings‘ Jamaican bobsled team. But no sports movie is purely original anyway, and beyond those undeniable similarities to stories we’ve heard before, this good-natured dramatization of Edwards’ story — starring Taron Egerton in the title role and Jackman as his hard-drinking coach Bronson Peary — has no shortage of individual charm. “A tad sugary sweet,” admitted the Toronto Sun’s Liz Braun, “but thanks to the performances of Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton, the end result is a family film that’s highly entertaining.”

Watch Trailer


5. X-Men (2000) 81%

Today, Hugh Jackman is pretty much synonymous with the role of Wolverine, but he wasn’t Bryan Singer’s first — or second — choice for the part; in fact, it only fell to him after Russell Crowe’s salary demands and Dougray Scott’s scheduling conflicts kept both of them from bringing the clawed, cigar-chomping antihero to the screen. Jackman, an unknown at the time, represented a bit of a gamble for the long-in-development X-Men adaptation, but with an ensemble cast that included Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto, and Halle Berry as Storm, the summer of 2000 brought Marvel’s favorite mutants to the big screen in style, racking up almost $300 million in worldwide grosses and a healthy stack of positive reviews from critics like New York Magazine’s Peter Rainer, who deemed it “A rarity: a comic-book movie with a satisfying cinematic design and protagonists you want to watch.”

Watch Trailer


4. Prisoners (2013) 81%

How far would you go to find — or find justice for — your child? That dark dilemma sits at the heart of Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners, a taut 2013 drama starring Jackman as Keller Dover, a father frantic with worry after his daughter disappears. When the police release their first suspect, Dover abducts the man (Paul Dano) and holds him captive, intent on gathering information by any means necessary — even though his prisoner has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old and might not even be responsible for the crime. Surrounded by a stellar cast that included Jake Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, Jackman anchored this unflinching descent into every parent’s nightmare with the palpable anguish needed to make the story tick. “The plot raises complicated moral questions about how far an anguished person will go for the love of a child,” wrote Claudia Puig for USA Today. “At the same time, it sets up an intricate, horrifying mystery with breathtaking skill.”

Watch Trailer


3. X2: X-Men United (2003) 85%

Given the long odds it faced just getting to the screen, let alone pulling off the transition so successfully, it seemed altogether unlikely that X-Men’s inevitable sequel would be able to achieve the same standard, let alone exceed it – but that’s exactly what 2003’s X2: X-Men United did, both at the box office, where it grossed over $400 million, and among critics, who praised it even more highly than its predecessor. This was, appropriately, accomplished two ways: One, the screenplay satisfied critics and longtime fans by tackling the comic’s long-running sociological themes, most explicitly the fear of “outside” elements (in this case, sexy super-powered mutants) and how that fear is channeled by xenophobic authority figures; two, the sequel ramped up the original’s gee-whiz factor by introducing characters like the teleporting, prehensile-tailed Nightcrawler – and daring to tease at the Marvel title’s Phoenix storyline, one of the most beloved, brain-bending plots in the publisher’s history. The result was a film that remains both a fan favorite and a critical benchmark for writers like Variety’s Todd McCarthy, who lauded X2 as “bigger and more ambitious in every respect, from its action and visceral qualities to its themes.”

Watch Trailer


2. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) 90%

Unlike the majority of film franchises that reboot themselves with younger casts, the X-Men series has the built-in advantage of drawing from comics mythology that makes room for time travel as well as superhumanly slow-aging mutants — which is how Jackman found himself called upon to once again do battle as Wolverine in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The plot, which involves Wolverine going back in time to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from carrying out a political assassination that spells certain doom for mutantkind, includes all manner of tangled threads that could have sent the movie tumbling into the weeds, but director Bryan Singer tied it all nimbly together in his triumphant return to helming the franchise, uniting the OG X-Men with their younger counterparts in a blockbuster extravaganza that even managed to retcon the much-maligned X-Men: The Last Stand out of the official timeline. “Everything is of a piece,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern, “and it’s dazzling.”

Watch Trailer


1. Logan (2017) 93%

Third time’s the charm. After whiffing on their first opportunity to give Wolverine a compelling solo outing with the calamitous Origins, then inching a little closer to snikt-worthy cinema with The Wolverine, Fox finally gave fans a properly grim and gritty third installment. Logan peers into a dark future for our favorite mutants, with most of the X-Men dead after a mysterious tragedy and Wolverine reduced to working as a driver while caring for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and saving up enough money to buy a boat and sail off into aquatic exile. Fate has less peaceful plans for our heroes, of course; in short order, Logan finds himself embroiled in a dangerous plot involving a mysterious lab and a young girl on the run (Dafne Keen). It’s a classic Wolverine caper, loosely inspired by the Old Man Logan comics arc, and delivered with all the hard-hitting, hard-R panache fans waited patiently to see — not to mention the vast majority of critics. “Entertaining as they are, Marvel movies aren’t expected to be this mature, this dark or this human,” wrote Colin Covert for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “This is a bold, coherent story inspired by a comic book, not slavishly based on it.”

Watch Trailer

Tag Cloud

GLAAD comiccon justice league VICE Drama Dark Horse Comics TCM Emmys A&E CBS TBS Rocky Funimation finale Film Apple TV Plus The Witch CNN politics true crime RT History cars Mystery ABC Biopics Oscars war Tumblr mission: impossible Lucasfilm Pirates discovery children's TV Crackle Holidays blaxploitation Martial Arts Hallmark Christmas movies romantic comedy screenings period drama spider-man Disney+ Disney Plus Holiday Peacock NBC Music PBS Lifetime Christmas movies video WarnerMedia Western dogs Comics on TV BAFTA Crunchyroll teaser Amazon Prime Video Superheroes OneApp anime CMT natural history Quiz strong female leads joker news classics Trailer Rocketman indiana jones festivals chucky New York Comic Con TIFF SundanceTV independent MCU stoner Lionsgate Acorn TV crime thriller laika Sundance Now Fox News Creative Arts Emmys President Heroines San Diego Comic-Con Hear Us Out Best and Worst Sundance TV BBC One 2020 Stephen King Star Trek Epix Vudu Netflix BBC America sequel Film Festival diversity SXSW Writers Guild of America hispanic Sneak Peek Marathons Sony Pictures E3 cops zombie mutant Tarantino APB south america psycho CW Seed Rom-Com TLC Family spain Ghostbusters cinemax anthology Starz Animation Mary Poppins Returns comedies Superheroe adaptation WGN Food Network 71st Emmy Awards harry potter video on demand Britbox 2015 rotten movies we love Nominations Turner Classic Movies satire GIFs SDCC golden globes 20th Century Fox Spike X-Men reviews miniseries Trophy Talk DirecTV The CW based on movie CBS All Access Logo historical drama dc El Rey Valentine's Day Disney franchise Mary poppins canceled TV shows Awards BET Awards nbcuniversal Amazon Prime television MTV dark vampires Country sitcom transformers streaming Pop Travel Channel thriller boxoffice crossover spanish language 2018 Hulu Syfy indie Endgame 21st Century Fox DC streaming service Extras Academy Awards critics Nat Geo PlayStation Fantasy Grammys cartoon hist composers series worst Columbia Pictures casting Disney Plus binge robots Amazon Studios renewed TV shows Premiere Dates Year in Review HBO Go scary movies DC Comics Pixar ratings jamie lee curtis Freeform green book TCA Awards stand-up comedy rotten VOD Anna Paquin 24 frames cancelled TV series witnail TCA Photos child's play sag awards Apple AMC stop motion social media superhero TruTV political drama crime drama Podcast Binge Guide Hallmark IFC psychological thriller blockbuster Watching Series Musicals concert The Arrangement Marvel Television Musical Summer halloween Disney streaming service game of thrones TCA 2017 YouTube Red Universal slashers 007 GoT Disney Channel what to watch A24 Arrowverse Warner Bros. latino Mary Tyler Moore game show Fall TV Winners free movies Walt Disney Pictures Certified Fresh The Walking Dead Horror 2019 police drama Reality Box Office Brie Larson foreign 2016 singing competition die hard Tubi FOX BBC Sci-Fi mockumentary Bravo comic IFC Films Trivia Mindy Kaling Apple TV+ breaking bad Television Critics Association movie Set visit PaleyFest cooking Discovery Channel Winter TV spinoff best The Purge TV Land cancelled TV shows sports ghosts Cartoon Network toy story Opinion richard e. Grant 2017 TCA Winter 2020 werewolf unscripted Pet Sematary Esquire cults DC Universe revenge movies zero dark thirty dragons Pop TV romance dceu fast and furious Shudder universal monsters Women's History Month Cosplay Paramount Network ESPN Lifetime directors Emmy Nominations YouTube Video Games emmy awards TV tv talk serial killer Ovation facebook Song of Ice and Fire Action screen actors guild cancelled NYCC LGBTQ travel VH1 Paramount quibi Captain marvel Infographic Marvel Studios Ellie Kemper HBO USA Network doctor who DGA biography Interview American Society of Cinematographers documentaries Comic Book Polls and Games USA Black History Month Thanksgiving Rock Mudbound Adult Swim MSNBC Kids & Family Toys Masterpiece HBO Max Classic Film 45 Turner supernatural BET Chernobyl Comedy 72 Emmy Awards Sundance science fiction criterion FX on Hulu obituary LGBT Comedy Central Awards Tour aliens Teen TNT Character Guide National Geographic Christmas award winner asian-american YA Netflix Christmas movies animated YouTube Premium Amazon christmas movies Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Black Mirror versus Schedule Spring TV Pride Month hollywood technology Star Wars cancelled television batman E! elevated horror talk show space cats films OWN a nightmare on elm street TV renewals Showtime ABC Family parents ITV Tomatazos Shondaland Television Academy 4/20 documentary FX History theme song dramedy First Reviews comics Nickelodeon all-time Marvel medical drama reboot Calendar twilight Super Bowl See It Skip It name the review kids disaster Countdown Red Carpet First Look zombies spy thriller Avengers Spectrum Originals book Baby Yoda FXX Election canceled Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt crime RT21 Reality Competition adventure nature Cannes docudrama Elton John