13 Best Ethan Hawke Movies You Must See

Updated December 5, 2017
10 min read

From his early years, Ethan Hawke has proved himself in all areas and genres of the industry. Beginning at the age of 14, Hawke has ameliorated is talent throughout his career and has significantly perked up his skills to do better every time. Nominated for Academy Awards four times, Hawke is also a director and an amazing writer, his two of those four nominations coming for writing credits. With that said, here’s the list of 13 best movies of Ethan Hawke.


13. Explorers (1985)

Ethan Hawke made his debut in feature films in Joe Dante’s 1985 sci-fi teen drama, ‘Explorers’. ‘Explorers’ was the story of three teenagers, who, because of their obsession with aliens, build a spaceship in order to explore the fantasies of the outer world. Also starring River Phoenix (who went on to become an early acting sensation) and Jason Presson, ‘Explorers’ was rushed into production for an early release. As a result, it went on to bomb at the box office, suffering heavy loss.

Ethan was so disappointed at the film’s failure, that he quit acting for quite a time (a fact as he didn’t appear in any film until 1989). He even described his sorrow as a child in later years, saying, “I would never recommend a kid to act”.


12. A Midnight Clear (1992)

After ‘Dead Poets Society’ went on to become a huge commercial success, Ethan came into significant limelight. This led him to star in Keith Gordon’s (director of famous TV shows like Dexter and Homeland) 1992 war drama, ‘A Midnight Clear’. Ethan portrayed young Sgt. Knott, alongside Peter Berg (who became an acclaimed director) and Gary Sinise.

‘A Midnight Clear’, however intriguing, was a box office bomb, but it was commended strongly by critics who went on to turn in some largely positive reviews for the movie, especially praising Ethan’s and Gary Sinise’s performances.

The movie, heavily underrated, is listed among some finest war movies ever produced.


11. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

After his Oscar nomination, Sidney Lumet’s (legendary director, famous for 12 Angry Men) last work, the crime drama ‘Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead’ gave him an opportunity to prove his mantle among some masters like Alber Finey, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Shannon and of course Sidney Lumet’s off-screen mentorship. The story follows two brothers who rob their parents’ jewellery store, however things turn upside down when their father decides to hunt down the criminals.

Shot in the non-linear filming style, movie made into top-ten end of the year list of more than 20 critics and earned a spot in AFI’s top-ten influential films of the year. Ethan did left a major mark with his effectual and fruitful performance and was highly complemented for his entertaining as well as haunting portrayal.


10. Sinister (2012)

In 2012, Ethan also dived into horror film genre for the first time, in Scott Derrickson’s ‘Sinister’, produced by Jason Blum. ‘Sinister’, however not the best horror film, is but certainly Ethan’s one of the finest acting credits. ‘Sinister’ follows Ellison Oswalt (Ethan), a true-crime writer, who investigates gruesome murders in his new house’s garden. ‘Sinister’ was a major commercial success earning $78 million against a $4 million budget, enough to spawn a future sequel. The best thing about the film was Ethan’s much appreciated acting and his cleverly directed solo sequences. Ethan looked awesome as the terrified and scared protagonist, this his new venture proved to be a worthy diversification.


9. Tape (2001)

‘Tape’ was director Richard Linklater’s second film of 2001, which starred Ethan Hawke. The camcorder drama also united Ethan with his ‘Dead Poets Society’ co-star Robert Sean Leonard and also starred his then-wife Uma Thurman. ‘Tape’ is a story of an unpleasant encounter between three high school buddies, which starred Ethan as a small-time drug dealer Vince. The movie, shot in real time, on an HD Camcorder in a single cabin, was tough not the best thing to see, but it clearly showed the ability of Ethan’s acting limits.

Ethan’s performance of very praised for his psychologically acute role, and gained much recognition that bagged him better commercial movies in the years to come.


8. Predestination (2014)

Directed by The Spierig Brothers, ‘Predestination’ is one of the best sci-fi thrillers of recent times. Based on the concept of casual-loop, ‘Predestination’ adjuncts the individual plotlines of two central characters using that concept; and presents you an exhilarating cinematic experience that you can always vouch for. The editing, the cinematography, the screenplay; everything is so profound and proficient that you can’t miss any sequence.

Moreover, along with the sci-fi, the story takes an emotional turn for the better part of the film, when we go down in Jane’s life. What everything leads to, is an absolutely unbelievable and leaves your mouth open.

Ethan Hawke is as always at his best as the mysterious Barkeep. He has a specific charisma in him and his ability to carry out a role in such plain and simple manner makes his perfect choice for the role. The surprise performance by Sarah Snook is the one to vouch for. Her role as the woman, going through a severe sex-change surgery, is both fierce and sentimental at the same time. The blend of sci-fi, time travel, and drama, ‘Predestination’  is a film made for the ages.


7. Training Day (2001)

Ethan’s final appearance of 2001 came with Antonie Fuqua’s ‘Training Day’. Written by David Ayer, ‘Training Day’ revolved around two LAPD Narcotics Officers, who operates in a gang-ridden neighborhood. ‘Training Day’ starred Denzel Washington in the lead as Det. Alfonzo Harris, along with Ethan Hawke as Off. Jake Hoyt. Ethan earned substantial acclaim for his role as a rookie policeman and a father to be. His top-notch performance earned him his first ever Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Ethan’s nomination for Oscars, made him a huge star in the industry and brought his over the years’ hard work, it’s much deserving appreciation. Though he lost it to Jim Broadbent, his co-star Washington won it in Best Actor category.

Read More: Emma Roberts Movies

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