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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
65

‘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
64

‘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
63

‘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
62

‘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
61

‘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
60

‘Blown Away’ (1994)

For one of our greatest actors, Jeff Bridges has a few
honest-to-goodness,
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
59

‘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
58

‘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
57

‘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
56

‘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
55

‘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
54

‘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
53

‘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
52

‘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

51

‘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
50

‘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
49

‘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
48

‘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
47

‘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
46

‘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
45

‘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.