Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best - Rolling Stone
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The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

From charming rascals to old coots, ‘The Last Picture Show’ to ‘The Big Lebowski’ – the iconic actor’s greatest hits (and misses)

For decades now, Jeff Bridges has been one of our greatest American actors. But he’s also been, at times, one of our quietest – a workhorse of a performer who rarely draws attention to himself. (Did you know that he appeared in three movies this year?) He is known for his modesty in real-life, and he’s managed to convey that onscreen as well – even when he’s played villains.

But what’s most remarkable about Bridges is how his profile has transformed. When he came of age as an actor in the 1970s, he was the rare, easygoing All-American type in an era defined by forceful, brooding figures like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Gene Hackman. Bridges was energetic without being intense, likable without being pleading, vulnerable without being wounded.

But as he got older, he changed: His characters became more gruff, bitter, plainspoken – without ever quite losing the laid-back style that defined his underlying persona. That’s partly why he was so good in movies like The Big Lebowski, True Grit and Crazy Heart (for which he won an Oscar); these were characters who had quietly given up on the world and needed to be brought back into the realm of the living.

And through it all, he has maintained a consistent level of excellence as an actor. There’s no one specific period in which Jeff Bridges shone; he’s had some serious highs (and the occasional lows) in every decade since he first stepped in front of a film camera. Here are all of Jeff Bridges’ movie performances, ranked from the very worst – R.I.P., R.I.P.D. – to the very best.

(Editor’s note: We’re focusing on his big-screen live-action movies, and not his TV movies or animated-movie voiceovers. All apologies, Last Unicorn fans)

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘R.I.P.D.’ (2013)

We start at the bottom with this dreadful movie that even Bridges couldn’t save. (Did he even want to?) Ryan Reynolds is a crooked cop who gets killed and winds up in the afterlife, working for the police department of the title – they hunt down undead bad guys hiding in the land of the living. His partner is a gruff, long-dead frontier marshal (guess who) who can’t stand city folk and has dialogue that’d make Yosemite Sam look like Noel Coward. It should be enjoyed as a lark, and Bridges seems to understand that this movie would work best as a comedy. But his character is one-note and repetitive, and winds up being as grating as everything else in this misbegotten sci-fi flop. Rest in peace indeed.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Vanishing’ (1993)

Dutch director George Sluizer attempted to do an English-language remake of his own brilliant buried-alive thriller, and he pretty much ruined everything by replacing absorbing austerity with go-for-broke Hollywood hysterics. Bridges plays the menacing, calculating killer, and he’s comically wrong for the part – he reads as neither menacing nor calculating. And there’s no way he or anyone can deliver lines like “Your obsession is my weapon” with a straight face. A catastrophe on every conceivable level.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Yin and the Yang of Mr. Go’ (1970)

Nobody escapes with their dignity intact from this incoherent, racist catastrophe, in which James Mason plays some sort of Hong Kong supervillain. His scheming assistant Burgess Meredith (in full yellow-face) enlists young American writer/traveler Jeff Bridges as a kind of patsy/guinea pig. It’s not actually that easy to tell what’s going on here, and Bridges seems awkward and out of place. It’s a wonder this movie didn’t kill his fledgling career before he got going.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Seventh Son’ (2014)

Ugh. Just ugh. As a former knight and witch-hunter who enlists a young man to become his apprentice while battling demons, Bridges seems curiously out of it in this ill-conceived fantasy adventure. He sports a ridiculous accent – and can’t even be bothered to commit to that. To be fair, the film was in production and post-production for a few years, and was reportedly recut and reshot repeatedly … so maybe the good stuff got left on the cutting room floor. That said, it’s hard to imagine that there’s any version of this movie where Jeff Bridges isn’t completely miscast.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Amateurs’ (2005)

Remember that stretch in the late Nineties and early 2000s when porn was suddenly cool and mainstream? Somewhere out of that mélange came this insane, star-studded film about a small town that decides to produce an amateur skin flick. Observe! The scene where they’re shocked to discover that the three black guys they’ve hired all have ordinary-sized penises. Behold! The scene where they convince a lovesick single woman to masturbate on camera. Watch! As Jeff Bridges tries to ask Lauren Graham to act in his porno and instead gets a date out of it. (It’s only 12 years old but there’s no way this movie could get made today.) As the depressed, unemployable dad at the center of this fiasco – he’s the one who gets the idea, in a burst of stylized ranting and flailing – Bridges hams it up way more than usual. He’s clearly trying to breathe some life into this thing. All he does is make it more bizarre. 

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Blown Away’ (1994)

For one of our greatest actors, Jeff Bridges has a few
claw-your-eyes-out-with-a-rusty-spoon-stinkers on his resumé. This ridiculous movie was doomed to be known
mainly as The Other Mad Bomber Flick, given that it had the misfortune to come out the
same year as the Keanu Reeves classic Speed.
Maybe that wasn’t such bad luck after all. Listen to Tommy Lee Jones and Bridges both attempting Irish accents – the former is the
crazy bombmaker with a serious chip on his shoulder, the latter is the Boston
explosives disposal expert who was once his student (long story) – and you can tell this one was
doomed to fail right from the get-go. Why even bother to
casting two such great actors if you’re not going to give them anything
interesting to do except make asses of themselves?

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Masked and Anonymous’ (2003)

Another calamity. Bridges does what he can with the faux-poetic lines given him in this grotesque vanity-project indulgence, in which Bob Dylan plays a musician sprung from prison in a futuristic autocracy to sing a benefit concert for the poor. (No, really.) Made during the more contentious days of the George W. Bush administration, this annoying dystopic misfire was clearly meant to be as much a political allegory as a rock fantasy. Maybe that, along with Dylan’s drawing power, explains the insanely star-studded cast. Bridges plays a rock journalist; at least he brings some conviction to the movie’s over-the-top, on-the-nose ideas.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘King Kong’ (1976)

This Seventies remake of the 1933 classic is one of the dumber blockbusters on producer Dino De Laurentiis’s resume, which is saying a lot – it was the film’s hideous and intelligence-insulting script, not beauty, that killed the beast.  As a hippie-dippy primatologist-cum-photographer who seems to have an environmentalist’s sympathy for Kong (while also romancing Jessica Lange, thus making him a perceived rival for the giant ape), Bridges is suitably dashing – at least, in that ruffled, earthy Me-Decade way. And not even the star is immune to the movie’s dopeyness.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The American Success Company’ (1980)

As American cinema changed, so did Jeff Bridges – and this film captures him in mid-career-transformation from good old boy to domesticated schmuck. He plays a weak-willed husband who decides to win back the favor of his wealthy heiress wife and her credit-card–mogul dad by turning himself into a cool, callous ladies’ man. It’s an absurdist satire that feels more like a series of pointed, broad sketches than a proper movie. Bridges is actually called upon to do quite a bit in this, and he gives it the old college try … but it probably would have worked a bit better with a schtick-friendlier actor in the part. He’s ultimately too chill an actor for this.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Cold Feet’ (1989)

Bridges has an uncredited role playing a bartender in this weirdo road movie starring Tom Waits as a looney cowboy and Sally Kirkland as his nymphomaniac partner-in-crime. Our man just gets one scene – he briefly holds the protagonists hostage and makes them pay a huge bar tab – but at least he looks like he’s having fun. (You can catch a quick glimpse of him at the 10-second mark in the trailer; that’s Bridges in the black baseball cap.) Everybody else just seems baffled, or high, or possibly both. That includes the audience.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Winter Kills’ (1979)

Jeff Bridges as Bobby Kennedy? Well, not quite … but in director William Richert’s curious conspiracy comedy, the actor plays the younger brother of a long-ago assassinated President who believes he may be on to the killer. His wealthy tycoon father (John Huston) sends our hero all over the country, where he meets a crazy cross-section of oddball characters played by Eli Wallach, Anthony Perkins, Sterling Hayden and, in an uncredited cameo, Elizabeth Taylor. Bridges looks mystified for much of the movie, which is ideal for both his character and for the average viewer of this perplexing movie. There are some delicious set pieces here (see Huston hanging onto a flag on the side of a tall building) and it’s always fun to watch the likes of the African Queen director chew scenery. But goodness, is this thing all over the place.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Somebody Killed Her Husband’ (1978)

Every once in a while, Jeff Bridges does one of these murder-mystery-romance romps and one wonders if it’s a personal favorite genre of his – because the results never seem to pan out. In this comedy, he plays a Macy’s clerk who falls for unhappy wife/mother Farrah Fawcett. They get together in her apartment; then her husband comes home and suddenly winds up dead. As they try to hide the body, get to the bottom of the crime and evade the cops, all hell breaks loose. Well, sort of. Bridges and Fawcett actually have some nice chemistry – whenever the story veers into understated, soft-focus romance territory, things start to gel. But neither the star nor the rest of the actors seem to know exactly what kind of movie they’re in. Neither do we.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Halls of Anger’ (1970)

In this very early role, Bridges plays a white student who has been bussed in to a black, inner-city high school – where they’re promptly discriminated against for the color of their skin. It’s a disturbing movie that presents a reversal of the historical scenario of black students facing racism at predominantly white schools; it plays like science-fiction, frankly. Alas, the picture is somehow both too muddled and too simplistic to ever land its punches. But the young cast is solid, and Bridges has one of the tougher parts: He’s an easygoing, earnest teen who finds himself driven to extremes as he’s faced with rejection and brutality.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Arlington Road’ (1999)

Bridges plays a widowed professor lecturing about domestic terror groups who becomes convinced that his polite architect neighbor Tim Robbins is actually planning an attack. This highly stylized, hysterically paranoid and twisty-turny thriller begins with the actor in total freak-out mode, and it pretty much never lets up. So much anguish! It’s over-the-top and often quite silly, but Bridges manages to go full ham and still keep it entertaining. You can credit him for giving it his all while also not taking any of this too seriously.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

Giles Keyte


‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ (2017)

As the drawling patriarch of the Statesman, the shit-kicking cowboy American counterpart to Britain’s ultra-debonair Kingsman super spy agency, Bridges is basically there to lend some gruff credibility to this sequel to his 2015 comic-book hit. He gets the job done, though his part consists mainly of sitting around boardrooms and cracking wise in brief snippets of dialogue. One of the many missed opportunities of this film: They’ve got Jeff Bridges right there, and they haven’t given him anything meaningful for him to do. Come on!

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Nadine’ (1987)

Bridges teamed up with his Bad Company director Robert Benton for this awkward romantic-comedy-mystery, in which he plays the womanizing but affable ex of Kim Basinger. She accidentally steals some important plans while attempting to retrieve nude photos of herself from a now-dead photographer; suddenly the two former lovers are thrust back together. It’s supposed to be a romp – the duo bicker and fall back in love while on the run from gangsters and the cops – but there’s serious lack of chemistry between the leads, which is fatal for a film like this. Forced fun is no fun at all.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Simpatico’ (1999)

It’s a wan and wanting adaptation of a Sam Shepard play, with Bridges on hand as a sleazy, successful horse racer confronted by a former bud (Nick Nolte) over a duplicitous act they committed in their youth. It should be a home run – Bridges and Nolte playing diametric opposites is an inspired idea, and the great cast also includes Sharon Stone and Catherine Keener. But for some reason, the whole thing lacks energy, and for all his typical amiability, Bridges can do smug when he sets his mind to it; this plodding film, however, doesn’t really give him (or anyone else) much of a chance.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Muse’ (1999)

As the tanned, confident and successful screenwriter-producer pal who introduces Albert Brooks’s anxious protagonist to his secret muse (Sharon Stone), Bridges effectively plays a variation on his usual nice-guy self. This episodic, cameo-driven showbiz satire is largely toothless and flat (not nearly as ingenious as this meta-trailer; good luck spotting our man of the hour in the 15 seconds of sped-up footage), though Bridges injects a slight dose of Hollywood smarminess in this laid-back comedy.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Kiss Me Goodbye’ (1982)

In this loose remake of the Brazilian hit Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, Sally Field plays a woman torn between the ghost of her larger-than-life – but very much dead – late husband (James Caan) and her milquetoast fiancée (Bridges). There are some rare moments when the film utilizes his gift for physical comedy, though it’s hard to buy Bridges as a total weakling.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘How to Lose Friends & Alienate People’ (2008)

Toby Young’s gossipy memoir about his days at Vanity Fair gets fictionalized – poorly – in Robert Weide’s bubbly-but-annoying comedy. Simon Pegg plays a British literary journal editor who inexplicably winds up with a job at a big, glossy, legendary American celebrity magazine; Bridges plays his mercurial editor, Clayton Harding (get it?), who tells him off one minute, acts chummy the next, and then forgets who he is right after that. The veteran actor certainly seems to be having fun with the part; he’s even got a hilariously smooth mane of hair (which doesn’t quite look like Graydon Carter’s, but still feels right). There’s only so much, alas, that he can do with such an overall weak attempt at irreverence and snark.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Open Road’ (2009)

Bridges has some touching moments playing a baseball legend and deadbeat dad on a road trip with his estranged son (Justin Timberlake) to go see his ailing ex-wife (Mary Steenburgen). It’s a role totally in the actor’s wheelhouse – a charismatic hotshot wasting away, shirking his responsibilities. But there’s not much Bridges can do with a predictable script that gives him nothing surprising or interesting to do. It’s hard to believe that the actor and Timberlake are in any way related, or that they even care about one another. Close it down.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Tideland’ (2005)

Yes, he plays a corpse for much of his Fisher King director Terry Gilliam’s most controversial production – but you have to hand it to Bridges, he’s pretty good at it. He’s the junkie musician father to a troubled, imaginative young daughter; when he OD’s on heroin, she retreats further into a wild, demented fantasy world. The film was divisive – widely derided by many, hailed as a masterpiece by a few. Thankfully, Bridges got off relatively easy, even with all the indignities visited upon his lifeless body.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Giver’ (2014)

Bridges was reportedly trying for years to adapt the first book of Lois Lowry’s acclaimed Y-A dystopia, so it was heartbreaking to see the mess that eventually resulted. He plays the Receiver, soon to be the Giver – a kind of oracle-slash-wise-man who is the only person to have any knowledge of the world or history in the story’s antiseptic futuristic wasteland. And we can see that he’s enjoying himself – he can be as unkempt and gruff and emotive as he wants, because he’s effectively the only character allowed to breathe any real life into this colorless dystopia. Too bad the movie falls apart around him.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘K-Pax’ (2001)

Kevin Spacey [weary sigh] is a mental patient who claims that he’s a visitor from another planet. Jeff Bridges is the psychiatrist who has to discover what’s actually wrong with him. The marketing for this suggested a kind of sentimental sci-fi movie (think The Fisher King meets Starman) but in truth, it’s a sentimental psychological drama (think The Fisher King meets Awakenings). It’s the kind of treacle that Hollywood specialized in once – and while these types of films were often terrible, you occasionally miss them now. Bridges might not seem like he has a lot to do here since it’s supposed to be Spacey’s show, but look again. He has to show equal parts open-mindedness and skepticism, and ultimately, it’s his character that does the growing – the one who discovers who this strange man really is and has to decide how to handle it. It’s a nice, subtle performance in a not-very-subtle picture.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Jagged Edge’ (1985)

A wealthy socialite is viciously murdered, and her husband (Bridges), a powerful publisher, is accused of the crime. He then falls in love with the beautiful, driven attorney (Glenn Close) defending him. For her part, she has to decide if the man that she’s romancing might also be a cold-blooded killer. This is a thriller that is designed to keep us guessing, and as a result Bridges has to be alternately charming, menacing, vulnerable, cold – because every scene in the movie essentially turns on how we feel about him at that very moment. And he pretty much nails every beat: We never know what to make of him. We hope against hope that he’s innocent. And like Close, we can’t help but entertain the very real possibility that he might be a twisted psycho.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Men Who Stare at Goats’ (2009)

What if you crossed the Dude from The Big Lebowski with Ron Kovic from Born on the Fourth of July? You might get something like Bridges’ character in this odd little loosely-based-on-fact movie, in which our man plays a Vietnam veteran who develops a method of New Age warfare: use the power of, like, the mind. Bridges is seen mostly in flashbacks, and his scenes might actually be the highlights of this surreal film that doesn’t quite know if it wants to be a drama or comedy. It’s an excellent demonstration of his range – a combination of military-man authority and flower-child sincerity.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Morning After’ (1986)

For some reason, Jeff Bridges made a number of movies in which he has to help out a woman who has wound up in the middle of an unexplained murder. In this one, it’s black-out alcoholic Jane Fonda who needs saving: She’s an actress who wakes up next to a man with a knife stuck in him and has no memory of what happened. He’s an ex-cop who runs into her at her lowest point. She’s a brittle and edgy Hollywood type; he’s loose, happy, and a bit of a bumpkin (not to mention somewhat bigoted). The plot is a bit of a tangle, and director Sidney Lumet seems to know it, so he spends much of his time focusing on the weirdly compelling relationship between his two imperfect leads, who luckily deliver in spades.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Tron’ (1982)

Jeff Bridges was the original movie hacker … wait, that can’t be right, can it? As a former programmer-turned-renegade-arcade-owner in Disney’s revolutionary sci-fi classic, he was the very picture of rumpled cool. In fact, when he winds up getting teleported into the video game itself – thanks to a sinister, sentient program that’s begun to control it – he’s still his jokey self. (It’s kind of remarkable just how calm Bridges manages to remain after finding out he’s trapped inside an actual video game.) One might even say that he brings the ideal amount of levity to this ridiculous and entertaining scenario. His sense of humor tempers the fact that everyone else in this movie is largely stone-faced, since most of them are not, y’know, human.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Texasville’ (1990)

No, Jeff Bridges was not the lead of The Last Picture Show. By the time this sequel to the original film came about, however, he had become a bigger star and his character Duane had gone from teenage dead-ender to professional oil man. This long-after-the-fact follow-up has none of the power of the original – it feels more like a check-in with the characters than a story in its own right. But Bridges does get to shine in it. As a formerly successful guy who’s now struggling to keep his life and business afloat, he takes his usual affability and sneaks in a hint of slippery con-man charm.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Tron: Legacy’ (2010)

Years after the original trapped-inside-a-video-game classic Tron, Bridges co-starred in this aestheticized, brooding, often oddly beautiful sequel. The movie asks quite a bit of him: In its opening scenes, his (awkwardly) digitally altered presence played a younger version of his character. Then, after his grown son Garrett Hedlund is once again teleported into the video game, that same young visage was seen on the film’s chief villain: CLU, a sentient version of himself Bridges had left behind many years ago to watch over the game (and who’s become a digital dictator). And finally, a grizzled Bridges played the older Flynn, the man who has been living inside the game all these years. It’s not as fun a part as the original – it’s a far more stern-faced movie – but the actor still exudes quiet authority.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Door in the Floor’ (2004)

Bridges has to tamp down his usual charm for this adaptation of John Irving’s beloved novel A Widow for One Year. He’s a philandering, self-obsessed children’s book author going through a slow, agonizing break-up with mourning wife Kim Basinger. In the film, however, he’s viewed through the eyes of the young man hired to be his assistant. Hence, we don’t quite know what to think of him, and know even less the more we find out about his past. Basinger arguably out-acts him, but Bridges is impressively physical: He can convey more with a simple gesture or a change of posture than most actors can with reams of dialogue.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Lolly-Madonna XXX’ (1973)

Two feuding, dirt-poor rural families come to a violent
impasse when one side kidnaps a young woman passing through town. Director Richard C. Sarafian’s hicksploitation drama is a nasty, gruesome little number,
with passages of odd lyricism thrown in. Bridges plays one of the younger,
saner members of one of the clans; he eventually strikes up a romance with
Season Hubley, their young captive. The movie itself is riveting and repulsive
in equal measure. Playing a likable character in deeply detestable
circumstances, Bridges brings a welcome innocence to his part.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Contender’ (2000)

A female Vice Presidential
candidate (Joan Allen) is hounded by sneering, snarling Republican lawmakers after
sleazy rumors emerge about her past. This may be one of the silliest movies made
about American politics in the last quarter century, but… it’s
got Jeff Bridges playing the President of the United States of America. And
he’s so incredibly refreshing, sensible and charismatic in the part that you
might just walk away from the film wanting him to be your President (now more than ever). The character was reportedly Barack Obama’s favorite movie President, too. It’s
easy to see why.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘White Squall’ (1996)

Bridges is the very model of authority as a boat captain in
1961 determined to turn a group of prep-school blue-blood boys into men
through his Ocean Academy in this underrated Ridley Scott drama. Sometimes his
character is the quiet voice of reason, sometimes he’s an Ahab-like taskmaster.
It’s a fine turn, both driven and human; thanks to him, it even shines during the peculiar,
monologue-laden trial hearing that ends the film, which could have easily become

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Wild Bill’ (1995)

If you want to watch Jeff Bridges kill people for 98
minutes, here’s your chance. That’s not actually fair to Walter Hill’s
ambitious, elliptical, ultra-violent re-telling of the Wild Bill Hickok legend.
But the film works on repetition and stasis: Over and over, we watch the gruff,
unchanging Wild Bill gun down anyone who dares cross him. We eventually become
de-sensitized to all this killing – and then Hill turns the tables on us, with
an extended finale in which Hickok faces off against men who’ve
come for retribution. It’s an interesting experiment, but it doesn’t always
work. But Bridges plays the myth more than the man, which seems to be the idea.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Only Living Boy in New York’ (2017)

This recent coming-of-age comedy-drama has Bridges playing a mysterious,
alcoholic writer-sage who gives the jaded young protagonist advice about life
and love. We’re not entirely sure the kid – a spoiled rich brat who laments the
passing of the old New York like any good hipster-in-training – is worth all
that effort, but veteran actor’s sincere take on the mentor role resonates. And there’s a reason for that,
too: As the film proceeds, Bridges’s character begins to take
center-stage, and we get to see just what the star can do. It’s a lovely
performance drifting in a wildly uneven movie.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Seabiscuit’ (2003)

As the wealthy businessman and breeder who buys the famous
hard-to-manage horse and helps turn it into an unlikely champion, Bridges mixes brash showmanship with an undercurrent of
pathological relentlessness. His Charles Howard is a man who, for all his
success, has experienced unimaginable loss, and he knows that the struggling
nation – like himself – needs something to believe in. He brings real
heart to his role.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘8 Million Ways to Die’ (1986)

The late, great director Hal Ashby ended his career on this occasionally
fascinating crime flick, in which Bridges plays a disgraced ex-cop struggling
with alcoholism who gets involved with a deadly prostitution ring. The plot
doesn’t make much sense, but the film is filled with lovely little moments courtesy of Bridges, who brings a casualness to this character
that feels right. So much of the story turns on a dime that his devil-may-care
energy helps sell us on the tale’s weirder elements.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Heaven’s Gate’ (1980)

Bridges reportedly took the whorehouse set from Michael
Cimino’s notorious 1980 flop – the runaway production that many credit with
destroying the New Hollywood – and put it up on his ranch after the shoot had
wrapped. You can see why he carries such fond memories of the movie, especially since he
plays one of the few likable characters: a local man who sides with the
immigrants who’ve been targeted by wealthy landowners. The film feels a
lot less phony whenever he’s onscreen, and his dynamic presence is a welcome
respite from the deliberately paced, manicured melancholy of this epic

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Iceman Cometh’ (1973)

John Frankenheimer directed this American Film Theatre version
of Eugene O’Neill’s classic booze-soaked play of disillusionment and delusion;
these were cinematic but faithful adaptations of classic stage works, offering
the chance to see great, veteran actors (like Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Fredric March) in famous parts. And playing the young, troubled anarchist Don Parritt, Bridges gives
a volatile and somewhat theatrical performance. But this film held a special
place for the actor: Before this, despite having an Oscar nomination under his belt, he didn’t
know if he wanted to continue with acting. Working alongside these lions rejuvenated
his love for the profession, he’s said, and reconnected him with his art.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Stay Hungry’ (1976)

Bob Rafelson’s amiable comedy casts Bridges as the scion of
a wealthy Alabama family who falls in with the cute receptionist (Sally Field)
and the friendly bodybuilder (Arnold Schwarzenegger) at the gym he’s attempting
to buy. The movie goes a little nuts from there, but its freewheeling
atmosphere is hard to resist, and Bridges embodies its shifting tonalities: His
character drifts through the movie, and comes off as something of a child – a one-percenter who’s never really had to earn a
living and never got a chance to grow up.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘The Mirror Has Two Faces’ (1996)

Bridges plays a Columbia math professor whose handsomeness
has gotten in the way of his finding domestic happiness – he’s looking to find
a partner who isn’t interested in just sex.
Into his life comes fellow teacher (and the film’s director) Barbra
Streisand, who is ordinary-looking, unglamorous, shy and, naturally, brilliant. A
high concept romance of the sort they don’t really make anymore, this is an
enthrallingly strange movie – but more importantly, it’s a solid showcase for Bridges’ irresistible

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Stick It’ (2006)

Bridges as a tough-as-nails gymnastics coach? Sure, why
not. In this rousing, deeply underrated sports movie, Missy Peregrym plays a
young tomboy-slash-disgraced-gymnast who returns to competition under the
tutelage of her hard-ass (but ultimately caring) coach. Though Bridges generally
excels in laconic parts, he’s somehow also a perfect fit for this colorful,
stylized, boisterous film. His no-bullshit style matches up with Peregrym’s
too-cool-for-school demeanor. And he gets one brief emotional moment near the
finale that’s shockingly powerful.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Iron Man’ (2008)

After all the mystical and/or intergalactic villains that
Iron Man and the Avengers have had to fight over the years, it might be easy to
forget that his first villain was one of the best: Obadiah Stane. The former partner of Tony Stark’s dad was a ruthless capitalist willing to waste entire
villages and kill countless people in an effort to keep his business going.
Nearly unrecognizable with a shaved head and a big beard, Bridges is an ideal
mix of chummy smarm and snarling cruelty – and a fine foil for Robert Downey
Jr.’s jokey heroics. The cast is one of the main reasons why this is still one
of the best Marvel movies, and Bridges – even though he should have more
screen time – is one of its MVPs.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘See You in the Morning’ (1989)

Alan J. Pakula’s comedy-drama pairs Bridges and
Alice Krige as two people who start a new relationship after their previous marriages go kaput. He’s a therapist who can’t help but analyze
everything; she’s a photographer
racked with guilt over her pianist husband’s suicide. The film refuses to judge any of these characters, and playing a man who oscillates
between confusion and cold-eyed clarity, Bridges makes his distant doctor relatable.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Against All Odds’ (1984)

Taylor Hackford’s cross-breeding of Out of the Past and Chinatown
may not have the smarts to live up to the immense legacy of either of its
forebears. But it’s still a sleazy delight thanks to the sexual tension
between injured football-player-turned-amateur-detective Bridges and rich
girl-on-the-lam Rachel Ward. She’s hiding out in Mexico from her scuzzbucket
boyfriend James Woods; Bridges is hired to find her, and of course, falls head
over heels. It’s a wet, sticky, atmospheric affair – and one of the few
films that makes thorough use of Bridges’ considerable sex appeal.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Only the Brave’ (2017)

This year’s powerful firefighter drama, about the tragic
story of the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots of Arizona, was the kind of film Bridges might have starred in when he was younger. Instead, he got to play
the veteran who served as a mentor to Josh Brolin’s take-no-prisoners fire chief.
It might have been a throwaway gig, but in the actor’s hands it becomes a portrait of restrained bureaucratic authority. Until we get to the breakdown scene near the end, when he learns of
the fates of his men and gives audiences one of the most emotionally devastating scenes in any 2017 film.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Rancho Deluxe’ (1975)

Bridges and Sam
Waterston play two modern day cattle rustlers who run afoul of a wealthy,
stuck-up rancher – who in turn sics two dopey, double-crossing ranch hands
(Harry Dean Stanton and Richard Bright) and an aging, incompetent
bounty hunter (Slim Pickens) after them. With a plot like that, you’d
expect some sort of rip-roaring, broad comedy, right? But this is the kind of movie where plot takes a backseat to
character and mood, and Bridges is lovably jovial throughout – the wild-man
counterpart to Waterston’s somewhat more serious-minded outlaw.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Thunderbolt and Lightfoot’ (1974)

Bridges was nominated for an Oscar for Michael Cimino’s
ambling heist flick, in which he plays a boisterously cocky foil for Clint
Eastwood’s tough-guy bank robber. It’s an odder work than its outlaw-road-movie
reputation would have you believe, filled with homoerotic subtext (Bridges
spends part of the film in drag …and he actually looks pretty good) and a WTF plot
built almost entirely on random, unlikely circumstance. But the performances
make this one stand the test of time – and Bridges in particular is quite excellent,
taking his character’s surface sweetness to at times almost psychotic extremes.

The Dude Abides: Every Jeff Bridges Movie, Ranked Worst to Best

‘Cutter’s Way’ (1981)

Beach bum/gigolo
Jeff Bridges and disabled, embittered Vietnam vet John Heard investigate the
grisly death of a teenage girl and decide that a local oil tycoon is the
culprit. Not quite a mystery and not quite a drama, this is one of those movies
that feels different every time you see it – which may explain why it’s
heralded as a cult masterpiece today, despite flopping upon release. While Heard has
the more showy part, Bridges is fascinating to watch: His usual
languorous, carefree spirit transforms into an apathy and recklessness that’s symbolic
of his lost generation.

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