10 Best Edward Norton Movies

10 best Edward Norton movies

10 Best Edward Norton Movies

He might be most known for his collaborations with Wes Anderson over the years, but Edward Norton is capable of so much more than those twee performances would suggest. Throughout his career as an actor, Norton has delivered plenty of deeply layered performances that have canonized his status as one of the best currently in the business. Norton is easily recognizable as a great performer whenever he’s on-screen (and could have been even more recognizable if he would have continued to reprise his 2008 portrayal of the Hulk in subsequent superhero movies). He can do comedic performances just as easily as dramatic ones, supporting roles just as smoothly as leading ones. Since emerging in 1993, Norton has proved himself to be worthy of plenty of acclaim.

Fight Club

10 best Edward Norton movies

David Fincher’s edgy 90s drama stars Edward Norton alongside Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter. Considered by many to be worthy of being hung up on a college dorm room wall alongside Scarface and John Candy in Animal House, Norton’s unnamed narrator and Pitt’s Tyler Durden remain two of the most iconic movie characters of the 20th century. The movie might be divisive, but Norton’s performance is undeniably a powerhouse.

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25th Hour

10 best Edward Norton movies

Spike Lee’s 2002 drama (based on the novel by eventual Game of Thrones scriptwriter David Benioff) wisely puts Edward Norton at the front-and-center. It’s a gripping story, taking place over 24 hours in the life of a soon-to-be incarcerated convict in New York City following the September 11th terrorist attacks. He’s a total natural, delivering a great performance that sits neck-and-neck with Fight Club.

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Moonrise Kingdom

10 best Edward Norton movies

Of the three Wes Anderson movies on this list, Norton’s performance in Moonrise Kingdom is by far the most excellent. This movie sees the actor as a nice, calm, normal scout leader. When compared to some of his other (heavier) performances, it’s nice to see Norton doing something so pleasant here.

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Isle of Dogs

10 best Edward Norton movies

Not really one for voice acting, Edward Norton does surprisingly well in Wes Anderson’s second stop-motion animated feature Isle of Dogs. He’s not far off from his character in Moonrise Kingdom (granted, he’s an animated dog in one and a human scout leader in the other): calm, pleasant, easygoing. A self-described indoor dog. It’s fluff compared to his more complex stuff, but it’s not any less great.

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Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

10 best Edward Norton movies

Perhaps his casting in this is a comment on both the fact that Norton tends to be quite intense and the fact that he was once a superhero himself — Edward Norton’s character in Birdman is a brilliant method actor who is frustrated with the fact that he has to work with a washed-up comic book movie actor, someone who used to be famous (played [rather ingeniously] by Michael Keaton, a former superhero himself). It’s a great dark comedy that proves Norton isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself and his career.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel

10 best Edward Norton movies

Edward Norton is part of a bigger ensemble cast here, similar to his role in Moonrise Kingdom, but he still gets plenty of time to show off his chops. This is the most Wes Anderson-y movie that Wes Anderson has ever made, but fear not — Edward Norton isn’t playing a two-dimensional character or someone unimportant to the story. He’s an essential and much-needed part of the film.

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Primal Fear

10 best Edward Norton movies

This 1996 crime thriller sees a young Ed Norton playing a teenage altar boy accused of murdering an Archbishop. He comes across as sympathetic for most of the film, but, as with most of Norton’s great performances, there’s a lot more lurking underneath the surface. Richard Gere and Frances McDormand are also acting their butts off here, but no one shines quite as brightly as Norton.

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The People vs. Larry Flynt

10 best Edward Norton movies

The same year he captivated audiences in Primal Fear, Norton played a lawyer in the Oscar-nominated film The People vs. Larry Flynt. Focusing on the legal battle surrounding Larry Flynt’s adult magazine Hustler, Norton’s true-to-life character Alan Isaacman is a strange sort of defender of freedom of speech. Woody Harrelson co-stars here, but Norton once again steals the show.

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The Painted Veil

10 best Edward Norton movies

The third adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s novel of the same name, The Painted Veil follows Naomi Watts and Edward Norton star as a husband and wife — the former as he tries to cure cholera in 1920s China, the latter as she navigates an affair with another man and tries to find herself among the change that surrounds her. Norton’s performance is one half of what makes this movie great, even if the plot is a little dry.

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American History X

10 best Edward Norton movies

At the time, American History X was praised for its powerful message and its incredible performance from Edward Norton. Now, decades after its 1998 release, the film’s subject matter is in desperate need of reexamination. Still, Norton’s performance remains strong despite any problems the film may have in hindsight.

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Weekend: Jul. 25, 2019, Jul. 28, 2019

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