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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)

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‘The Fisher King’ (1991)

Yes, The Big Lebowski
features his most iconic role … but this one is of the greatest acting jobs
by anybody, anywhere. True, Terry Gilliam’s modern-day fable is usually
discussed in terms of Robin Williams’ admittedly wonderful performance as a
former academic who’s lost his mind, but what anchors the movie is Bridges. He plays a mouthy,
shock-jock DJ whose live rants inspires a listener to go on a shooting rampage;
he then finds himself brought cosmically low, stripped of his money and fame,
living out his days as a suicidal alcoholic. Then one fateful night he’s
saved by Williams’ holy fool, and everything changes. The director’s expressionistic style
and Richard LaGravenese’s magical script turn late-Eighties New York into something
out of a fairy tale, but none of it would work without Bridges’ deeply
engaged, end engaging, presence: He has to take this man who seems like the
worst kind of real-life monster and transform him into someone we can not only
relate to, but in whose survival we feel we have a stake. It’s a terrifying,
hilarious, appalling, touching and tense performance. It’s the best of Bridges. Long live the King.

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