10 Best Michael Keaton Movies
Perhaps best-known for his collaborations with Tim Burton in the late 80s, Michael Keaton is a witty and inventive actor with a knack for dramatic and comedic roles. He’s played superheroes both seriously and satirically (and even a supervillain or two in recent years), but he’s never lost the ability to nail a leading role. Michael Keaton remains one of the most chiseled and interesting actors well into his later years — and he’s got a stellar filmography to prove it.
Tim Burton’s finest and most original film contains Michael Keaton’s greatest and most exceptional performance to date. 1988’s Beetlejuice sees Keaton playing the titular demon, sent straight from the Netherworld to scare away anyone and everyone who tries to live in the beautiful home that he seems to be tethered to. It’s funny, it’s one-of-a-kind, and it’d be nothing without Keaton’s stupendous commitment to the part.
Another Tim Burton film starring Keaton, 1989’s Batman is considered by many to be the greatest movie about the Dark Knight so far. Keaton plays the role with the wit and the charm of Adam West’s Batman and the grit and the strength of Christian Bale’s, proving to be the most sympathetic and likable Batman across all of film and television. Keaton plays the hero with ease, proving to be made of star material.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
An interesting contrast to Batman, 2014’s Birdman follows Keaton as he plays a washed-up has-been who used to play a superhero and now strives for relevancy as he tries to reinvent his image by starring in a Broadway play. Costarring Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, and Naomi Watts, the film is filled with great actors and anchored by a darkly comedic turn for Keaton.
Defining Quentin Tarantino’s style depends on which of his films you’re looking at — he imitates the B movies that inspire him more often than not, which is why Jackie Brown ends up feeling so unique (even if he is far the most appropriate person to tackle a Blaxploitation movie). Jackie Brown has Michael Keaton playing detective Ray Nicolette, a character who appears in a few Elmore Leonard novels — one of which, Rum Punch, serves as the main source material for the film. It’s among the best Tarantino films and the best Keaton films in one.
Out of Sight
Steven Soderbergh is a director partial to many different genres and styles. Out of Sight is no exception. George Clooney is a smooth and savvy criminal who hopes to pull off one last heist (a genre that Soderbergh always seems to return to without fail). Like Jackie Brown, Out of Sight comes from an Elmore Leonard novel. As a result, Keaton returns to reprise his role as Ray Nicolette in an uncredited performance.
Typically, real-life dramas based on true stories are a cinematic goldmine. Whether they actually prove to be good movies or not depends on the film — Spotlight is one incredibly successful example of this type of story working out for the best. Michael Keaton stars as Boston Globe reporter Walter “Robby” Robinson, one part of the team responsible for investigating the many reports of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
Clean and Sober
Released the same year as Beetlejuice, Clean and Sober sees Keaton playing a real estate agent with a drug problem. It’s not very unconventional when it comes to the plot of the film, but it’s an early indication of the sheer talent and skill that the actor possesses. It’s the type of performance that can make or break a career — Thankfully for Keaton, Clean and Sober proves to be the former instead of the latter.
Much Ado About Nothing
William Shakespeare has been an endless source of inspiration for generations of storytellers — whether filmmakers choose to do a creative twist on his work like with Amy Heckerling’s Clueless or they decide to do a direct adaptation like with 1993’s Much Ado About Nothing, the result is always sure to impress critics and audiences alike. This version of Shakespeare’s play features Keaton in a fun role as Dogberry, the loyal constable who isn’t as smart as he thinks he is.
Live from Baghdad
Technically a TV movie, Life from Baghdad aired on HBO during the prelude to the Iraq War in 2002 (despite taking place during 1991). Keaton plays real-life CNN producer Robert Wiener and focuses on the media’s questionable coverage of war and the implications it has on audiences.
An all-time classic role for Keaton (released in the early 80s before Keaton had the chance to prove himself capable of serious roles and was often stuck with comedic ones), Mr. Mom is archaic in its message but lighthearted and humorous in its delivery. Keaton’s charm proves to be enough of a distraction from its questionable politics. He took many roles like this during this time, and Mr. Mom is no doubt the best.