When it comes to comedy and improvisation, only a handful of performers could rival the late Robin Williams. Beginning his career as a stand-up comedian and gradually transitioning to sitcoms, the actor eventually built a rich legacy due to starring in one mega-hit movie after another. Take a look at the very best Robin Williams movies of all time:
15. Flubber (1997)
In order to save Medfield College from being closed, Professor Philip Brainard attempts to create a new source of energy. While hoping that it would raise enough money to stop his college’s closure, the experiment goes awry.
The result is a green slime with a seemingly endless amount of kinetic energy and elasticity. To make matters worse, the substance has a life of its own. Apart from Robin Williams, Flubber has a star-studded cast of Marcia Gay Harden, Ted Levine, and Christopher McDonald.
14. Hook (1991)
Although Peter Pan is known as the boy who would never grow up, Hook takes a glimpse at what would happen if the fictional icon would one day become an adult. As it turns out, he completely forgot his childhood memories and became a lawyer.
On the other hand, his arch-nemesis Captain Hook is still the same age and bent on taking revenge. Once Peter’s children are kidnapped, he returns to Neverland with Tinker Bell but has to rebuild trust with the Lost Boys and regain his memory.
13. Bicentennial Man (1999)
When the Martin family purchases an NDR-114 robot with the intention of conducting housekeeping from him, they soon get shocked by its abilities. Much to their surprise, the robot begins to experience emotions and desires to become human.
Whenever the topic of best Robin Williams pops up, Bicentennial Man barely appears in the list. It was overlooked at the time of the release and became a commercial flop but this should have never been the case as the movie explores complex issues such as love, mortality, and sentiments. Do not let its poor reviews fool you as the movie is definitely worth your while.
12. What Dreams May Come (1998)
Chris Nielsen and Annie Collins were happily married but spiral into grief when their young children Ian and Marie died in a car crash. Tragedy surges for Annie when her husband dies in a car crash as well.
When Chris enters heaven after his death, he longs for his wife who committed suicide due after becoming a widow. As a result, she is condemned to hell for eternity. When Chris finds out about her fate, he embarks on a heroic mission to find her in hell.
11. Popeye (1990)
As one of the most iconic cartoon characters of its time, Popeye the Sailor Man was a global icon and is probably the only reason kids are willing to eat vegetable spinach. Although Robin Williams did not have the muscular physique of the cartoon character, his comedic chops were more than enough to own the role.
From pipe smoking to hyper-activeness, the actor showcased an extremely precise portrayal of the beloved cartoon character. Believe it or not, Vanity Fair called Popeye the best movie Williams ever made.
10. Jumanji (1995)
A movie that needs no introduction, Jumanji is one of the most beloved movies to star Robin Williams but surprisingly, director Joe Johnston was initially hesitant to cast him in the lead role. Due to Williams’ tendency to deviate from the script and constantly improvising, several other A-list actors such as Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Sean Penn, Harrison Ford, and Bryan Cranston, etc. were considered for the role.
After being cast, Williams knocked it out of the park and his performance left a lasting impact. Jumanji spawned one standalone spin-off movie and two direct sequels starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, and Kevin Hart.
9. Patch Adams (1998)
Based on the book Gesundheit: Good Health Is a Laughing Matter by the real-life Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams, the movie revolves around the unconventional procedures of a medical doctor who treats his patients with humor but is criticized by the medical community.
Although Patch Adams was slammed by critics, particularly due to deviating from the source material, the movie went on to become a gigantic commercial success by earning $202.3 million on a measly budget of $80 million.
8. The Fisher King (1991)
Dissatisfied with his life, radio jockey Jack Lucas is on the verge of suicide and soon encounters a few thugs who are about to set him on fire. As fate would have it, he would be saved by a homeless person named Parry, and the due form a solid bond.
For his unforgettable dramatic role, Robin Williams received his third Academy Award nomination for Best Actor but lost to Anthony Hopkins who portrayed the demented Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.
7. Dead Poets Society (1989)
Who doesn’t love an unconventional teacher who dares to deviate from worn-out educational methods? As exemplified by English teacher John Keating, who encourages his students through thought-provoking poetry to be in charge of their own path. Dead Poets Society also features early performances of then-unknown actors Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard.
Although it is hard to imagine anyone Robin Williams portraying John Keating, other actors considered for the role include Tom Hanks, Liam Neeson, and Dustin Hoffman. Dead Poets Society was a massive commercial success, earning $235.9 million on a $16.4 million budget. Nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, it won one for Best Original Screenplay.
6. Moscow on the Hudson (1984)
Vladimir Ivanoff is a saxophonist in a Moscow circus but deeply longs for a better life. He hopes to achieve it by staying in New York when he and his colleagues have defected from Russia. However, adjusting to the customs of the United States is not as easy as he thought it would be.
Unbeknownst to the viewers, Robin Williams did not rely on dubbing or sound effects when his character spoke Russian and played the saxophone. As a matter of fact, the actor actually learned the language in a crash course for the sake of the movie and how to play the instrument as well.
5. Insomnia (2002)
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it was Christopher Nolan’s very first time working with a major Hollywood studio and he did not disappoint. Above all, Insomnia starred not one but three Academy Award-winning actors i.e. Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank.
Nolan was still a rookie by this point yet he made the bold move of casting beloved actor Robin Williams as the villain of the movie. As risky as the move was, it paid off despite the actor being well-known for comedic roles. Insomnia was well-received by critics and serves as one of the earliest stepping stones to Nolan’s status as one of the most unique directors in Hollywood.
4. Awakenings (1990)
Based on the naturalist and writer Oliver Sacks’ memoir of the same name, Dr. Malcolm Sayer comes up with a cure for the encephalitis lethargica epidemic and the catatonic patients grow hopes of living a normal life again.
However, there is no time to rejoice as the cure is responsible for much more complications. Robin Williams’ performance as Dr. Sayer was heavily praised by Sacks himself as he claimed that the way the actor’s mind worked was a “form of genius.”
3. Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Amid the Vietnam War, Adrian Cronauer aims to lighten things up after being assigned as the DJ in the United States Armed Services radio station. If there is one movie that highlights the incredible acting talent of the late Robin Williams, then it is undoubtedly Good Morning, Vietnam as he improvised most of the scenes.
Although the Academy Awards committee rarely nominates an actor for his comedic role, Williams was more than capable to impress them with his performance in Good Morning, Vietnam. His efforts did not go unnoticed as he received his very first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor but lost to Michael Douglas who portrayed the corporate raider Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.
2. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Undoubtedly one of the most beloved children’s movies of all time, Robin Williams stars as Daniel Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire. He goes through a heartbreaking divorce and his ex-wife Miranda takes their three children away from him.
Undeterred due to being the dedicated father he is, Daniel disguises himself as an old female Scottish housekeeper and goes by the name of Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire. Once hired by his ex-wife as a nanny, he proves that he would go to any lengths to spend time with his children.
1. Good Will Hunting (1997)
The late actor Robin Williams always won the hearts and smiles of audiences whenever he got the chance to shine. Though he is predominantly known for his comedic roles even after his death, it is his performance as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting that is still regarded as his most stunning role.
His philosophical demeanor in the movie turned the heads of viewers and critics; paving the way for Williams as a credible actor with several shades of talent. At the end of the day, he would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his marvelous performance.
Here are some of the best performances of Robin as well that we cannot resist mentioning:
- The World According to Garp (1982)
- World’s Greatest Dad (2009)
- Jack (1996)
Did we miss any of the best Robin Williams films on our list? Let us know in the comments below!