From comedic roles such as Beetlejuice to dramatic ones like Batman, Michael Keaton has done it all. Though it can be argued that the actor is quite underrated when compared to his contemporaries, it is time to change that narrative and highlight his impressive body of work. Here are the best Michael Keaton movies of all time:
15. The Dream Team (1989)
Clinical psychiatrist Dr. Jeff Weitzman has quite a handful while dealing with his patients Billy, Henry, Jack, and Albert at a mental hospital in New Jersey. After all of his medical strategies fail, he decides to take them out while hoping that the drastic change in their scenery might bring forward positive results.
While going to the Yankee Stadium to see a baseball match, hilarity ensues as Dr. Weitzman gets separated from his patients. The movie is a comedic goldmine and owes much to the chemistry of Michael Keaton, Christopher Lloyd, Peter Boyle, and Stephen Furst.
14. Clean and Sober (1988)
Real estate salesman Daryl Poynter is down on his luck after being addicted to cocaine. After a series of unfortunate incidents such as losing $52,000 to his addiction and waking up next to a girl who died of a heart attack stemming from a cocaine overdose, Daryl aims to turn his life around by getting sober and joining a drug rehabilitation program.
The movie was able to do wonders for Michael Keaton as it highlighted his versatility as an actor. Mainly known for his comedic roles, Clean and Sober was able to showcase his gritty side for the first time on the silver screen. The following year, Keaton would be cast as Batman.
13. Mr. Mom (1983)
Owing to the severe economic recession, automotive engineer Jack Butler gets fired from the Ford Motor Company. However, his wife Caroline is able to get a job at an advertising firm and they switch their roles.
As Caroline faces challenges as an executive at the workplace, so does her husband at home. As Jack becomes a stay-at-home dad and takes care of his three kids Alex, Kenny, and Megan, he soon realizes that childcare and daily errands are not as easy as they seem.
12. Live from Baghdad (2002)
Based on Robert Wiener’s book Live from Baghdad, the movie is about CNN reporters putting their own lives at stake to cover the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Featuring Michael Keaton and Helena Bonham Carter, the movie won three Primetime Emmy Awards.
Above all, the movie is about the rise of CNN from a minor league news channel to one of the most reputable mainstream networks. Though Live from Baghdad is barely a television movie, it is definitely worth checking out, especially for perfectly displaying the initial strikes on Baghdad by allies that started the first Gulf War in 1991.
11. Desperate Measures (1998)
Police Officer Frank Conner is searching for a compatible bone marrow donor for his son Matt who is suffering from leukemia. Out of sheer desperation, he searches for a match on the FBI database and finds out that imprisoned criminal Peter McCabe is a perfect match.
Once Conner approaches McCabe to tell him about the entire situation, the latter reluctantly decides to be the donor so Matt can live. Unbeknownst to the relived Conner, the agreement is an elaborate scheme for McCabe to escape from prison. While Keaton has portrayed numerous heroic roles throughout his career, he plays a very convincing villain in Desperate Measures.
10. The Paper (1994)
Henry Hackett is the editor of the tabloid New York Sun and spends long hours working which keeps him away from spending time with his wife, Martha. As the distance grows between them, he decides to change his job.
While contemplating departing from New York Sun, Henry comes across a story of a couple being murdered. The plot thickens as he and his fellow reporters discover evidence of the police covering up the evidence of the suspects being innocent. Seeing it as a story that he simply cannot turn away from, Henry begins to reconsider leaving his job.
9. The Founder (2016)
As one of the most commercially successful fast food restaurant chains in the world, it is not surprising to realize that McDonald’s has quite a shady history. Set up as a burger joint in Downey, California, by brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald, it was eventually franchised by milkshake mixer salesman Ray Kroc.
Impressed by the speedy mechanical cooking system of the restaurant, Kroc joins the brothers in their venture but clandestinely takes over the company and the rights to their last name. The Founder is a far cry from the happy-go-lucky vibes of McDonald’s as it unapologetically shows how lies and deceit are inevitable when it comes to daringly transforming a burger joint into a multi-billion dollar empire.
8. Batman (1989)
Director Tim Burton’s take on Batman was a world apart from the comedic and campy version of the adored superhero as exhibited by Adam West. Staying faithful to the source material, it only made sense for a dramatic actor to be cast as Batman. To everyone’s surprise, Burton chose Michael Keaton who was then primarily known for his comedic roles.
Longtime Batman fans were outraged and Warner Bros. received more than 50,000 angry letters that demanded Keaton’s withdrawal from the project. However, the actor remained committed to the project and gave one of the most beloved performances of his career.
Even after three decades since Batman came out, Keaton’s name usually comes up when discussing the best on-screen Batman and there is even a chance of him reprising the role in the 2022 Flash movie.
7. Jackie Brown (1997)
Quentin Tarantino is a powerhouse of creativity and the crime thriller Jackie Brown is one of his most critically acclaimed works. Add Michael Keaton to the mix and you got yourself a must-see movie. Based on Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch, the movie received one Academy Award nomination and two Golden Globe Award nominations.
As one of the movies that showcase a strong and independent female character, Jackie Brown is a story of a double-crossing, drug bust, gun violence, and murder. Moreover, the movie revitalized the careers of leading actors Pam Grier and Robert Forster.
6. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
The first Spider-Man flick starring Tom Holland was a historical cinematic moment in more ways than one. It was the beginning of a new franchise and the first Spidey movie under the banner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The movie marked a terrific comeback of the web-slinging superhero after his brief appearance in Captain America: Civil War and due to staying safe from bad reviews unlike previous Spider flicks, Spider-Man: Homecoming truly was one of the best superhero movies of the year. Moreover, the movie would not have been the same without Michael Keaton as the main baddie Vulture.
5. Beetlejuice (1988)
Normally, ghost movies can give chills down the viewers’ spine but director Tim Burton changed the entire game with Beetlejuice. The comedy fantasy film was a blast to watch due to its edgy portrayal of the obnoxious and deceitful ghost of the same name portrayed by Michael Keaton.
Despite Keaton’s character having very minimum screen time, Beetlejuice was able to create a perfect balance of the comedy and scary elements throughout the course of the movie. The move was a box office success and even won an Academy Award for Best Makeup. Even after thirty years since the movie’s release, the long-tenured rumors of a sequel have still not dried up.
4. Night Shift (1982)
Chuck and Bill work as night shift attendants at a morgue in New York City. Being around corpses the entire night is barely adventurous and when Bill finds out that Chuck’s neighbor Belinda is looking for a new place to carry out her prostitution work, he comes up with a bright idea that is less than legal, to say the least.
With the help of Belinda, the duo starts a prostitution service at the morgue. However, the matters get complicated when Chuck deeply falls in love with Belinda, and their business faces threats from notorious local pimps.
3. Batman Returns (1992)
Following the commercial success of Batman, director Tim Burton and lead actor Michael Keaton teamed up once again for the sequel. Unlike the predecessor, Batman Returns was much grittier, edgier, and darker. One can even argue that it was a rare case of the sequel being better than the original.
Stacked against the Penguin, Catwoman, and Max Shreck, it is up to Batman to save Gotham City once again. Though the franchise continued for two more movies, it was the final time Burton and Keaton paired up for a Batman project. The less said about Joel Schumacher’s awful sequels the better.
2. Spotlight (2015)
An investigative team of journalists of the daily newspaper The Boston Globe is bent on finding the truth about the systematic child molestation by Roman Catholic priests that has relatively gone unnoticed for years. Questioning their morals and integrity, the journalists begin to dig further while knowing fully well that they might not like what is ahead of them.
Featuring a star-studded cast of Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, and Brian d’Arcy James, Spotlight is a daring endeavor and deals with a sensitive topic that is barely covered in any mainstream movie out of fear of backlash by religious factions. Out of six Academy Award nominations, the movie won two including Best Picture.
1. Birdman (2014)
It is no secret that Michael Keaton’s acting career faced a downward spiral and he was devoid of high-profile roles before being cast as Riggan Thomson in Birdman. As his career stalled after enjoying the remarkable success as the Capes Crusader in two Batman flicks directed by Tim Burton, he would later be demoted to B-movies.
Once he starred in Birdman which mirrored his real-life imagery of a down-on-his-luck actor who is persistent to revive his A-list status, Keaton not only made an impressive comeback but also earn an Academy Award nomination for the very first time.
- The Merry Gentleman (2008)
- Pacific Heights (1990)
- Johnny Dangerously (1984)
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