The Black Phone hit theaters worldwide in July and it's a great example of how versatile Ethan Hawke can be as an actor. He now plays the enigmatic killer known as The Grabber, but in contrast to this terrifying role, he often delivers performances that make him look like he is the sweetest person in the world.
One of the most talented contemporary working actors, Hawke has become popular due to his amazing partnership with independent director Richard Linklater, but has been starring in many other classics since the 80s, starting his acting career when he was only 14 years old in the family-friendly sci-fi Explorers.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
10 Maudie (2016) - 7.6/10
Maudie might be Ethan Hawke's best movie for viewers who want to feel things. Lighthearted and heartfelt, the film follows Maud, an arthritic woman who works as a housekeeper and refines her skills as an artist in her spare time. As she becomes a beloved figure in the community, Maud finds herself also exposed to the possibility of love.
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Maudie is an emotional true story about the Canadian artist Maud Lewis and the peculiar relationship she strikes up with the sharp, independent Everett, played by Hawke. Knowing about the influence of real events makes the movie an even more rewarding experience for the viewers, adding color and substance to such and sensitive story.
9 Lord of War (2005) - 7.6/10
Lord of War presents one of Nicolas Cage's most enigmatic characters, and it's a great underseen movie in his filmography that deserved more recognition. He plays Yuri, an anti-hero kind of character: he is an arms dealer who comes to the attention of an agent and all of a sudden must find a way out of Interpol's sight, business rivals, and the pressure of his dangerous work.
Ethan Hawke plays a notorious antagonist of the film, an Interpol agent called Jack Valentine, and the first obstacle to appear in Yuri's snowballing situation. An intense crime thriller but also filled with an acidic social commentary on war and armament, Lord of War is definitely worth the watch.
8 Waking Life (2001) - 7.7/10
Linklater's inventive animated feature Waking Life feels the closest thing to a dream. The movie follows a young man in a constant lucid-dram state, playing both the role of the observer and the performer as he encounters a series of strangers, engaging in philosophical discussions about existence and the fragile relationships that move the contemporary world. The dialogues are sharp and beautifully conducted through the ethereal atmosphere transmitted by the animation.
In a disorienting, yet emotionally charged meta-narrative, Waking Life floats at ease between reality and dream, and evens offers a cameo from Linklater's most memorable characters, Jesse and Celine.
7 Training Day (2001) - 7.7/10
Training Day might be one of the best choices of actors for a cop duo, although the duo depicted definitely isn't the "buddy" type. Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington's chemistry onscreen is so thrilling and captivating that both of them ended up nominated for the Oscars, with Denzel bringing the statuette home.
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Set over the course of 24 hours, Training Day follows Hawke as a rookie cop on his first day as a narcotics officer. Assigned to work with the truculent detective Alonzo Harris, he must face challenges that put all his personal values at stake. It's a brutally crude depiction of the public security system that guards the streets of America: and the police pair represents two sides of the coin.
6 Gattaca (1997) - 7.8/10
Every sci-fi fan will say that Gattaca might be Hawke's best movie yet. Taking place in the near future, the film portrays a society where the course of each person's life depends on their DNA. Ethan Hawke's character is Vincent, a young man determined to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel, even though he's born with a genetic condition that would prevent him from doing so.
Hawke carries the movie alongside Uma Thurman, whom he met on set and married one year later. The chemistry between the characters is evident and gets the plot going at ease, with Jude Law also offering a great addition to the cast. With a stunning and convincing immersion in a future that might as well happen, Gattaca remains one of the most thoughtful sci-fi thrillers of the past century.
5 Before Midnight (2013) - 7.9/10
Linklater's two most likable characters, Jesse and Celine, deliver a roller coaster of feelings in Before Midnight. Different from the lighthearted atmosphere of the previous two movies of the Before Trilogy, the third installment is here to prove that even the most perfect of couples struggle sometimes.
Almost two decades after meeting by chance in a train in Vienna, Jesse and Celine enjoy a holiday in Greece, but what starts as a promising, calm evening turns into an emotional, upsetting argument that makes viewers question whether or not the couple will remain together in the next day.
4 Boyhood (2014) - 7.9/10
Dealing with time seems to be Richard Linklater's specialty, and he overcame filmmaking barriers in order to get an accurate coming-of-age portrayal. Linklater started filming Ellar Coltrane when he was only 6 years old and went on for over 12 years, but Boyhood isn't a documentary. Viewers follow Coltrane physically change with the passing of time, but he plays Mason, a fictional character. His whole family is also fictional, which makes the task of gathering everyone throughout the years even harder.
Ethan Hawke plays Mason's father, and watching him change over time is fascinating for every fan. In conclusion, Boyhood is an unforgettable achievement on the beauty of growing up, and how our own personal experiences directly influence the lives of the people who raised us.
3 Before Sunset (2004) - 8.1/10
Nine years after spending an unforgettable night together in Vienna, Jesse and Celine unexpectedly meet once again in Paris. Together they reminisce and wonder how their lives have changed: Jesse is now a successful writer and a married man, with a son named Hank, while Celine has become an environmental activist and is dating a photojournalist.
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Before Sunset might be the most charming of the Before trilogy, as the two protagonists quickly reconnect and through the course of one day try to catch up to what they have become. Most importantly, it offers one of the most satisfying ends of all time.
2 Before Sunrise (1995) - 8.1/10
It's interesting that 5 movies from IMDb's top 10 Ethan Hawke movies are from Richard Linklater, it showcases the quality of their partnership. In Before Sunrise, viewers can see both Hawke and Linklater at their best; the former playing his most iconic character, and the latter delivering his most praised feature film.
The first movie from the classic Before Trilogy follows a young man played by Ethan Hawke who convinces a woman he just met on a train to jump off with him and spend the evening together. As they walk around Vienna's streets, they share emotional conversations, genuine thoughts, and ultimately fall in love.
1 Dead Poets Society (1989) - 8.1/10
One of the most inspiring 80s classics, Dead Poets Society tells the story of promising students shaken by the arrival of a maverick English teacher in an antiquated boarding school in New England. Robin Williams takes the lead as the iconic professor Keating, who inspires in his students a mix of awe and ingenuity, challenging the young men to rebel against pre-established conventions and seize the day.
While Dead Poets Society is remembered for its truly life-changing quotes, the movie only works due to the incredible novice performances by Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard as students so moved by Keating's teaching that they decide to set up a transgressive poetry group called "Dead Poets Society."