15 Best James McAvoy Movies Of All Time

POSTED BY Omer Ahmed, UPDATED ON November 10th, 2023
15 Best James McAvoy Movies of All Time

The Scottish-born actor made his acting debut at the age of 13 in The Near Room. He continued appearing in television series until 2003 when he got his first role in a feature film Bollywood Queen. After this, he continued to appear in several feature films in all sorts of roles. He has received several nominations, and awards for his brilliant performances. Let’s take a look at the 15 best James McAvoy movies of all time:


15. Becoming Jane (2007)

james mcavoy best movies

The romantic drama is a biography of the renowned author Jane Austen. It takes an overview of her life and her writing career. The film sees Anne Hathaway in the lead role as Jane Austen while James is cast as Thomas Langlois Lefroy, her love interest. The film is an adaptation of Thomas Langlois Lefroy’s book Becoming Jane Austen.

James accepted this role as he loved Austen’s work and was eager to work with Julian Jarrold, the director of the film. Hathaway was appreciated for her performance and the chemistry between her and McAvoy was praised by the audience. The film received mixed reviews from the critics and didn’t perform well at the box office.


14. Rory O’Shea Was Here (2005)

Rory OSHEA Was Here 2005

Rory O’Shea also released under the name Inside I’m Dancing is a comedy-drama starring James McAvoy,  Steven Robertson, Romola Garai, and Brenda Fricker.

The plot revolves around two physically disabled men who meet at a home for the disabled. They form the perfect duo each making up for the shortcomings of the other. They head out into the open world to live independently in an apartment on their own. They find adventures for themselves to discover themselves more and also find a beautiful assistant.

The film was well-received by people and was appreciated for its touching depiction of friendship, and love. It was criticized for not casting an actual disabled person who could have given a more authentic performance.


13. IT Chapter Two (2019)

IT chapter two James McAvoy

The horror film is the sequel to the 2017 film It. The duology is based on the famous horror writer’s 1986 novel of the same name. The film is set 27 years after the events of the first film where the kids who are now adults defeated Pennywise, the evil clown. Pennywise once again returns more powerful than ever to terrorize the town of Derry, Maine. The Losers must once again unite together to face their darkest fear.

The film was a box office success and managed to earn 473.1 million USD worldwide. The film received a critical response on Rotten Tomatoes which says

“It Chapter Two proves bigger doesn’t always mean scarier for horror sequels, but a fine cast and faithful approach to the source material keep this follow-up afloat.”

The film overall received mixed reviews from critics and the audience.


12. The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Them (2014)

The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby Them 2014

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them is a linear combination of the two films The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him & The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her. The film revolves around the relationship of two young individuals, Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) who are married to each other. The  Him version follows the perspective of their relationship while Her follows Eleanor’s perspective. The Them version takes parts from both movies to make a single film.

The film generally received positive reviews and was appreciated for the fine acting skills displayed by both the actors and the touching storyline.


11. Trance (2013)

trance james mcavoy

The psychological thriller revolves around the theft of an invaluable painting from an auction house owned by Simon Newton (James McAvoy).

The plot follows a series of complex events where Simon suffers a head injury that affects his memory. Now only Simon knows where the painting is hidden and the gang of thieves must do anything to retrieve the painting. This then follows the involvement of a hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) to help Simon regain his memory. As the film advances, we uncover a twisted plot that unveils a thread of lies and deception.

The film was very well received by the critics and received praise for its thrilling storyline and brilliant direction. The film has a 68% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


10. Filth (2013)

Filth 2013

Filth is a dark comedy crime film and is an adaptation of the novel by Irvine Welsh of the same name. It stars James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, and Jim Broadbent in lead roles.

Bruce (James McAvoy) is a corrupt, manipulative, and addictive detective whose life takes a serious turn when he is put on a murder case of a Japanese student. The film’s plot progresses as he struggles to catch the culprit and starts to experience serious hallucinations which only make his job more difficult than it already is.

The film received generally positive reviews from critics. James did a splendid job playing his character and lived up to its reputation. The film grossed 9.1 million USD worldwide.


9. Wanted (2008)

action james mcavoy best movies Wanted

The action-thriller is vaguely based on the comic book of the same name by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones. The film revolves around a young man Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) who leads a very regular life. A serious turn of events takes place when his father is murdered, after which he meets Fox (Angelina Jolie) who unveils to him secrets about his father and recruits him to a secret society of assassins his father was a part of. The plot takes a serious turn when he discovers some dark secrets about the secret society.  

The film received positive reviews and was also well-received by the audience. The cast had pretty big names and they all lived up to their reputation and delivered excellent performances. The plot was criticized for being unrealistic. In a survey conducted by CinemaScore, the film received an average grade of B+ on an A to F scale.


8. Atomic Blonde (2017)

Atomic blonde James McAvoy

The action-thriller is an adaptation of Antony Johnston’s graphic novel The Coldest City. The film revolves around a spy, played by Charlize Theron, who is equipped with the challenging mission of retrieving a list of double agents who are being smuggled into the West. She has to fight against all the odds while hell breaks loose, to accomplish her mission.

The film received great appreciation for the brilliant choice of its cast and ingeniously planned action sequences which made the film very engaging and entertaining. The film was very well received by the critics as well as the audience. It was a box office hit and grossed 100 million USD worldwide against a production budget of 30 million USD.


7. The Last Station (2009)

The Last Station 2009

The Last Station is a biographical drama film that is an adaptation of the biographical novel of the same name written by Michael Hoffman. The plot revolves around the final months of the famous author Leo Tolstoy’s life where he struggles to decide to transfer the copyright of his works to either his wife or his disciple, Vladimir Chertkov.

The film was a success and received positive reviews from critics. Helen Mirren’s performance was widely appreciated and in fact, it was considered one of the most important factors for the huge success of the film. The film also won Mirren the Best Actress award at the 2009 Rome International Film Festival. The film also received several nominations.


6. The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005)

The Chronicles Of Narnia The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe 2005

This film is the first feature film set in the Narnia universe and an adaptation of the fantasy novel by C. S. Lewis of the same name which is the second chronological novel in the series. The film revolves around the fantasy world of Narnia, in which four ordinary children accidentally enter through a wardrobe they find in their house. There they join forces with the lion, Aslan, on an exciting yet dangerous adventure of the battle against the White Witch who has evil intentions of taking over Narnia.

In a survey conducted by CinemaScore, the film received a rare A+ grade. The film was loved by audiences of all ages. The critics lauded each aspect of the film in its production, acting, special effects, or storytelling. It had everything to become the perfect family film. The film was a huge box office hit and earned a whopping 745 million USD worldwide to become the highest-grossing film of the 2005 holiday period.


5. Split (2017)

Split 2017

The psychological thriller is the second installment in the Unbreakable trilogy. The film revolves around a man played by James McAvoy, who possesses 24 different personalities. The man is completely mentally unstable and poses a constant threat to the people around him. The plot progresses as he abducts three teenage girls and imprisons them in an isolated underground facility. The girls eventually become aware of the unstable condition of the man and now must plan out a strategic move to escape the horrors of the man’s final and scariest form.

The film was well-received by critics and has a 78% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. James Mcavoy received strong praise for a marvelous performance switching between the roles so naturally and doing justice to each one of them. The film did receive backlash from the mental health community stating that it stigmatizes dissociative identity disorder and may have an impact on people suffering from it.


4. Starter For 10 (2006)

Starter For 10 2006

The British comedy film is an adaptation of David Nicholls’s novel of the same name. James McAvoy takes the lead role as a university student at Bristol. The plot follows as he steers his way to make it through his first year as he finds himself attracted to two pretty girls there. The plot takes an interesting turn as he makes it into a University Challenge quiz team.

The romance comedy was lauded for its wittiness by the critics and went on to receive a rare 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


3. Atonement (2007)

Atonement 2007

Based on the novel by Ian McEwan of the same name, the romantic war drama film sees James McAvoy and Keira Knightley in lead roles as lovers, Robbie and Cecilia, who become subject to a conspiracy planned by Cecilia’s sister which tears apart their relationship. The two cross paths again during World War II with the hope of restoring their former relationship once again.

The film is marked as a very solid adaptation of the book by critics. The star performances by Keira Knightley and McAvoy went on to become the highlight of the movie, with it receiving praise widely. The film also received several awards and nominations including an Oscar for Best Original Score. It has been named the film of 2007 by several film critics’ associations.


2. X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)

james mcavoy best action movies

Set in the 21st century, X-Men are once again faced with the grave threat of Sentinels, mutant terminators developed by Dr. Bolivar Trask who is convinced that mutants pose a threat to humanity. The Sentinels have now evolved into extremely lethal mutant-killing robots and now mutants face a constant threat of extinction. Wolverine now takes up the responsibility to travel to the past and alter key events that have the potential to change the course of history to secure the future for the existence of mutants.

The film received favorable reviews from critics and was much-lauded by the audiences. With a 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, critics and fans called it the best movie of the X-Men franchise. The film received several nominations and awards.

The film won Jennifer Lawrence an award for Best Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi/Fantasy at the Teen Choice Awards. The film was a box office hit and earned a whopping 262.8 million USD just during the opening weekend making it the highest worldwide opening weekend for an X-Men movie.


1. The Last King Of Scotland (2006)

james mcavoy best movies list

Based on the novel by Giles Foden of the same name, The Last King of Scotland is a historical drama film that sees James McAvoy in the lead role of a Scottish doctor, Nicholas Garrison who travels to Uganda to become the personal physician of the dictator Idi Amin played by Forest Whitaker. The plot takes a dramatic turn as Nicholas discovers some dirty secrets and atrocities of Amin’s rule after which he sets on a life-threatening mission to escape from there.

The film turned out as a remarkable adaptation of the book and received generally favorable reviews from critics. Forest Whitaker received strong praise for his colossal performance. The film received many awards and nominations with Whitaker winning a total of 23 awards including the Best Actor Academy Award and at least one other nomination. The film won the BAFTA awards for Best British Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.


Honorable Mentions

We cannot resist mentioning some of these great performances of James as well:

  • The Conspirator (2011)
  • Bright Young Things (2004)

Hope you liked our list of the best James McAvoy movies of all time. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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