The 7 Best Ralph Fiennes Movies

The 7 Best Ralph Fiennes Movies

Ralph Fiennes (pronounced Rafe Fines) is a well-established actor. His performances are varied; while he is skilled in small and subtle roles, he too succeeds in more broadly comedic roles. His naturally sinister brow often gets him cast as the villain — though not always. He is equally capable of giving a sympathetic performance. Sometimes he finds himself somewhere in the middle — not truly evil, but not all that likable either. These obvious contradictions speak to his deftness as a performer. Here are his seven best films to date.

Schindler’s List (1993)

During the reign of the Third Reich, German industrialist Oskar Schindler saved thousands of European Jews by giving them protected worker status in his enamel factory. He risked his life and his fortune to do so. In Steven Spielberg’s dramatization of his life, Schindler is played movingly by Liam Neeson. Fiennes, for his part in the film, plays SS Officer Amon Goeth. Goeth is a central antagonist in the film, stationed in Krakow to oversee the building of a concentration camp. It is a powerfully sickening performance in one of Spielberg’s most important historical films — save for perhaps Amistad.

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Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Joel and Ethan Coen’s silly, outlandish satire of Hollywood’s Golden Age would be incomplete without Fiennes. Josh Brolin plays Eddie Mannix,  a “fixer” for Capitol Pictures. His job, to keep celebrity scandals hush-hush, is much easier said than done. One of his problem children is Fiennes’ snooty European director Laurence Laurentz, who is having an ongoing emotional battle with his latest film’s star, Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich). Hobie is struggling to suppress his thick accent, which is much more suited for his typical Western than Laurence’s latest comedy. Fiennes fits right into the Coens’ absurd world.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Director Wes Anderson is a personality behind the camera all his own. His films are twee and toylike. His sets look like dollhouses and his miniature work is unmatched in the modern era. Stylistically, The Grand Budapest Hotel is perhaps the pinnacle of his achievement. Fiennes plays M. Gustave, the concierge of the prestigious Grand Budapest Hotel. Soon after he takes Zero, a young lobby boy (Tony Revolori) under his wing, things at the hotel start to go awry. A wealthy guest named Madame D. (Tilda Swinton) is murdered. M. Gustave finds her death pinned on him and mad dash begins for her sizeable inheritance. It is Fiennes’ funniest performance yet.

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In Bruges (2008)

Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges is a contemporary action classic. After a botched job, greenhorn assassin Ray (Colin Farrell) and his mentor Ken (Brendan Gleeson) sit for a spell in the titular Bruges, Belgium. While there, the two are able to reflect on their lives so far. Their differing opinions of the city reflect their stage in life. Ken enjoys the quiet city, yet Ray finds himself even more on edge than before. To make matters worse, his boss Harry (Fiennes) is incensed and en route to deal punishment for Ray’s mistake. It is a funny — albeit dark — comedy with great performances all around. McDonagh was rightfully lauded for his script.

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Quiz Show (1994)

Robert Redford steps behind the camera to dramatize the scandal behind the 1950s quiz show Twenty-One. The powers that be at NBC and Twenty-One’s sponsor Geritol are beginning to sour on the show’s perennial winner, Jewish Queens resident Herb Stempel (John Turturro). Their search for a more photogenic and marketable contestant is answered in the form of Charles Van Doren (Fiennes), a Columbia University instructor. When Van Doren comes to contest Stempel’s spot, however, he finds the game rigged in his favor. With Rob Morrow as a Dick Goodwin, the Congressional lawyer tasked with investigating Twenty-One, three great performances come together to make Quiz Show a sometimes-overlooked film of note.

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Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall is the best the Daniel Craig era of James Bond has to offer so far. Taking a page from most of the Mission: Impossible movies, MI6 is compromised. With his back against the wall, Bond has precious few he can trust to aid him. His mission, recover a hard drive containing the identities of covert agents across the world. In the meantime, M (Judi Dench) finds herself the scapegoat of the whole incident, pressured by Gareth Mallory (Fiennes), Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. With a chilling performance from Javier Bardem, the film is all around well-acted and wholly entertaining.

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Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

The filmmakers at Laika are easily some of the most imaginative animators working today. From Coraline to ParaNorman to Boxtrolls, time and time again they’re proven their undeniable skill. Kubo and the Two Strings is no different. Set in a magical feudal Japan, Kubo (Art Parkinson) lives with his mother (Charlize Theron), playing his titular instrument for the townsfolk. His life comes crashing down when he forgets to return before nightfall and is attacked by his mother’s evil sisters (Rooney Mara). Before they can do Kubo harm, his mother sends him on a quest to find his father’s armor so that he may protect himself from them and his grandfather, the Moon King (Fiennes). The acting — as well as the animation, of course — make for an engrossing watch.

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Weekend: May. 23, 2019, May. 26, 2019

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