The 10 Best Ned Beatty Movies

The 10 Best Ned Beatty Movies

Ned Beatty is a one-of-a-kind character actor. In spite of his somewhat diminutive stature, he could command the control of any scene he wishes because of his powerful, booming voice. This was often necessary because he frequently took on the role of the antagonist. In a career spanning more than 40 years, Beatty had a number of great performances — some of them truly unforgettable. He worked with generational talents during the peak of their respective careers, from Robert Altman to Alan J. Pakula, from Sidney Lumet to Steven Spielberg. He has also received some revived interest from contemporary audiences because of his vocal performance as Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear, from Toy Story 3, the teddy bear with a soft but imposing southern twang. Indeed, Beatty’s career is certainly one deserving of retrospection.

Network (1976)

Network is one of the best films of the American new wave. Director Sidney Lumet fosters the deep cynicism of Paddy Chayefsky’s satirical script to shine through from start to finish. What’s more, Beatty gets to give perhaps the greatest single scene of his entire career as Arthur Jensen, the chairman of the Communications Corporation of America.

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All the President’s Men (1976)

All the President’s Men is the most famous of a great spiritual trilogy of films about conspiracy and paranoia in contemporary America by director Alan J. Pakula. The other two films are Klute (1971) and The Parallax View (1974), which are both fictional, unlike their successor. Pakula dramatizes the investigation of what would be known as the Watergate Scandal by Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford). Beatty plays Martin Dardis, an investigator who provided key info to the two journalists.

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Nashville (1975)

Robert Altman’s magnum opus Nashville features a big ensemble cast, among whom Beatty is featured. The film is set in the Tennessee city for which it is named and shows various characters involved its main exports: country and gospel music. The film takes place over the course of a few days leading up to a musical political rally. Beatty plays Delbert Reese, a local lawyer who is married to a gospel singer named Linnea (Lily Tomlin).

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Deliverance (1972)

Deliverance, Beatty’s feature film debut, documents four men (Beatty, Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, and Ronny Cox) searching for meaning to their lives in the rivers of northern Georgia. It is a brutal film and features content that some audiences may find difficult to watch. However, it also has moments of simple beauty. Such is the nature of rural life in the untamed wilderness.

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1941 (1979)

1941 is probably director Steven Spielberg at his absolute zaniest. The film parodies the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, particularly in California, which was believed to be Japan’s next target. The film’s cast of characters includes John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy as well as Christopher Lee and Toshiro Mifune. Beatty plays Ward Douglas, a civilian who agrees to allow the armed forces to place an anti-aircraft turret in his yard.

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Rudy (1993)

Rudy is often regarded as one of the most uplifting sports films ever made. It dramatizes the real-life story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, a man who, in spite of being below-average height dreamt of playing for the University of Notre Dame football team. The film follows Rudy, played by Sean Astin, throughout his struggles to achieve his lofty goal. Beatty plays Daniel Ruettiger Sr., Rudy’s father.

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Toy Story 3 (2010)

Though there is a fourth Toy Story film on the way, Toy Story 3 was initially written as the third and final act of the eponymous sentient playthings. Animation-wise, the series had never looked so beautiful. More than ten years had passed since the previous film, and computer animation had taken quite a leap in that time. Beatty gave voice to the patriarch of the daycare to which the main cast of toys goes once their owner gets too old.

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Superman (1978)

Well before superhero films became the pop monolith they are today, Richard Donner’s Superman was an early entry into the genre. Christopher Reeve plays the eponymous hero with Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and Marlon Brando as Superman’s father who speaks to him from beyond the grave. In one of the most broadly comedic roles of his career, Beatty plays Otis, Luthor’s inept henchman. It is a campy time capsule of a film.

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Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (2006)

As devotees to the Superman already know, director Richard Donner was fired during production of the Superman II back in 1979. He was replaced by Richard Lester, who had a less antagonistic relationship with the film’s producers. In 2006, Donner was able to recut the film to his liking. Audiences and critics alike tend to prefer this cut over the Lester version. Beatty reprises his role as Otis.

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Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)


Charlie Wilson’s War portrays the real-life story of partying Democratic Congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) and his efforts to arm the Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. It’s a stylish film — it’s written by Aaron Sorkin, whose writing tends to be quick and flashy. That said, it is somewhat reductive to the actual events it is portraying. Such is always a risk with biographical pictures and trying to turn history into a digestible narrative. Beatty plays fellow Democratic Congressman Doc Long who shares Wilson’s goal.

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Weekend: Aug. 29, 2019, Sep. 1, 2019

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