10 Best Adam Driver Movies
One of the most gripping new stars of the 2010s, Adam Driver brings a level of intrigue and a massive amount of talent to every role he takes on. He’s only been acting in feature films since 2011, but the man has already worked with more of the greatest filmmakers than other actors get a chance to in an entire lifetime: Clint Eastwood, Noah Baumbach, Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, the Coen Brothers, Jim Jarmusch, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, Terry Gilliam, and even more on the horizon. Driver started out in the Marines but really got into acting after being medically discharged for an injury that kept him from being deployed. With his uniquely handsome look, his gritty voice, and his ability to conform to whatever genre he needs to, Driver is certainly one of the most impressive and profound new voices today. Since 2011, he’s racked up quite the list of greatest hits — and he’s got nowhere to go but up from here.
Inside Llewyn Davis
Hopefully the first of many Coen Brothers projects for Driver, Inside Llewyn Davis features the actor sporadically throughout. Primarily tracking a week in the life of the titular struggling folk singer played by Oscar Isaac, Driver joins the likes of John Goodman, Carey Mulligan, Alex Karpovsky, and Justin Timberlake as the people Davis interacts with as he tries to make it big. Driver hadn’t been in much at this point in 2013, so what better way to make a name for one’s self than to score a great role in a great Coen Brothers movie?
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Was Driver born to play a Star Wars villain? Maybe, maybe not—but his excellence in the role of Kylo Ren is undeniable. Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi is as divisive as can be, but hopefully fans and naysayers can agree on the fact that Driver is absolutely at the top of his game in the film. Kylo Ren has never been more sinister (and more sympathetic) than he is in this film, and Driver is a natural as the beefcake bad guy with anger issues.
Adam Driver starred in two films in 2018 — Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is one of them. Playing one half of the two-cop team united in their efforts to infiltrate and take down their local branch of the Ku Klux Klan, Driver’s character brings an interesting perspective to Lee’s (very loose) adaptation of a true story from the 1970s. With his long hair and thick mustache, Driver looks the part perfectly.
A quiet and reserved film from Jim Jarmusch, Paterson features Driver in the titular role. He’s a bus driver with a heart for poetry and a love for his small family, living the same life from day to day with subtle changes in between. It’s incredibly human and incredibly lovely, showing the little victories and little defeats of daily human existence better than any other film that comes to mind.
His first collaboration of many with the excellent Noah Baumbach, Frances Ha sees Driver playing a character not often explored by him: a normal, everyday New Yorker. There’s no gimmick, there’s no catch — he’s just a regular guy who’s friends with the titular Frances (played by the ineffable Greta Gerwig). It’s refreshing.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The debut of Driver’s Kylo Ren is hard to beat. The character obviously draws parallels to Darth Vader (he’s obsessed with him and idolizes him, it’s one of his biggest character traits), but Ren is easily the second most interesting villain the Star Wars franchise has ever seen. He’s unpredictable, he’s volatile, he’s batting with his inner self as well as the Resistance—it’s impossible to imagine anyone but Driver playing the character.
Martin Scorsese finally got to make one of his many long-gestating passion projects in 2016: Silence, the story of two Portuguese Jesuit priests who travel to Japan to find their missing mentor and spread Catholicism, stars Driver alongside Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson. It’s based on the same novel as 1971’s Silence, but Scorsese’s version undoubtedly has a level of expertise to it that elevates it above the original film and the original source material. Driver’s perfect, easily the strongest of the three leads by far.
In the same way that Driver is endearing as a Midwestern folk singer in Inside Llewyn Davis, the actor is irresistibly charming in Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s 7-Eleven” heist movie Logan Lucky. He’s playing one half of a brotherly duo — the other half is played by the always excellent Channing Tatum — that sets out to rob a NASCAR race in order to reverse a family curse. Here’s hoping Driver ends up in a few more Soderbergh movies sooner rather than later.
While We’re Young
Driver’s second Baumbach sees him playing a more important role than he did in Frances Ha. This time, instead of nailing a supporting role, Driver knocks it out of the park as one-fourth of the main cast of While We’re Young. Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, and Amanda Seyfried make up the rest of the leads, but it’s hard to ignore how nice it is to see Driver playing such a funny role with so many other funny actors.
Adam Driver is sort of put on the back burner in Jeff Nichols’s fourth feature film, but it doesn’t matter: when he’s on screen, he’s clearly having a blast. Nichols’s films are often complicated and unique, two adjectives that perfectly describe Driver, so it’s no surprise to see him fit right in here. Plus, it’s cool to see him in a science fiction film that isn’t a Star Wars movie.
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