10 Best Movies of Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford emerged from the eighties as the biggest male movie star in the world. Films made by no less than Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski, Ridley Scott, Peter Weir and George Lucas made the actor an international superstar, and an array of fine performances silenced his critics about his abilities as an actor.  His first great film work came in the wonderful nostalgia film ‘American Grafitti’ (1973) and then he was cast as space pirate Han Solo in the original three Star Wars (1977-80-83), making him a household name. But incredibly that was not the peak just yet. His bull whip cracking Indiana Jones in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ (1981) put him into the stratosphere of actors. With the fame that came with those films, came offers from international directors to work with them.

He was Oscar nominated as the tough cop John Book hiding among the Amish in Witness (1985) and the following year gave his finest, and most daring performance in The Mosquito Coast (1986). Both films were directed by Peter Weir, who challenged Ford to go where he had not ever gone as an actor.  Sequels followed with Ford reprising his role as Indiana Jones, and he continued to explore as an actor. Dabbling in romantic comedy, he was superb in ‘Working Girl’ (1988), gave a smashing good performance as a wrongly accused lawyer in ‘Presumed Innocent’ (1990), and as he got older he seemed to deepen as an actor.

Moving easily between major box office far such as ‘Regarding Henry’ (1991), ‘Sabrina’ (1995), ‘Air Force One’ (1997), and a rare role as the villain in ‘What Lies Beneath’ (2000) and small films that challenged him as an artist, he has remained on top for four decades now. Fine work in ’42’ (2014) as the baseball manager who took a chance on Jackie Robinson and changed history should have earned him another Oscar nod, but he was ignored. He has in the last ten years reprised his most famous roles, as Indiana Jones in ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ (2008), as Han Solo in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)’, and best of all as Deckart in the stunning sequel ‘Blade Runner 2049’ (2017).

He is that rare actor who has returned to the same character many times, three after many years had passed. How many actors can lay claim to so many iconic characters who exploded into pop culture and film history? Very few. He remains a much loved actor who is also a major movie star. With all that said now, here is a list of his 10 best movie performances:

 

1. The Mosquito Coast (1986)

A seething performance from Ford as Ally Fox, a brilliant inventor who breaks from society, buying an island in the tropics where he takes his family to live off the land. Ford stalks the film, always talking, always moving, building his own paradise in the jungle, but doing so with an edge, something that should warn us. When a group of soldiers come to his camp, he tries to kill them in the freezer he built, but their weapons destroy the camp. Devastated by his failure, Fox takes it out on his family, who one by one break from him. It is a startling performance because we have not ever seen him like this, then or since. It is a journey into a man’s heart of darkness, and it is a journey from which there is no escape.

 

2. Witness (1985)

Ford was nominated for his only Oscar as Best Actor for his forceful performance as John Book, a tough Philadelphia cop who flees into the world of the Amish to both protect a boy and his mother, and to hide from corrupt cops on his trail. With no thought of killing the boy, Book knows the child is in grave danger so stays to protect him, falling in love with his mother. Ford is superb here, whether violently defending the peaceful Amish, dancing in the barn to sixties music, or fearlessly risking his life to protect the mother and son, he is flawless. We see the yearning between them, the love they share, and long to be together in an impossible world.

 

3. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Years have passed since Deckard fled the city with Rachel, his lady love, a replicant. Was he, is he a replicant? It was more than hinted at in the many incarnations of the first film, released in 1982 to weak reviews and poor box office before finding a life and audience on video and DVD. What the world has become has eaten at Deckard like battery acid, leaving him darker than was, more cynical, and angry at what he sees ahead for the human race. But what can he, what will he do about, once found? It was a genuine surprise to see Ford giving the performance he gave in this film, darker, more complex, more human than ever. A nomination for supporting actor is not out of the realm of possibility.

 

4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Burt Lancaster was among the first to praise Ford for his superb performance, a great physical performance as the cocky hero Indiana Jones (great name). Lancaster understood from his early films that such a performance is indeed challenging and Ford who was not the first choice for the role, delivered. When Tom Selleck could not do the movie due to TV commitments, Ford was cast and the rest is history. From the first moment we see him, through to the last he is the perfect hero, fearless and yet funny. He often says more with the cock of an eyebrow than with words.

 

5. 42 (2013)

Let me state that without doubt, Ford richly deserved to be nominated for supporting actor for his brilliant, compassionate and powerful performance in this under appreciated film. Hollywood had long wanted to make an honest film about baseball great Jackie Robinson and the shattering of the color barrier. As Branch Rickey, the tough but smart owner of the team that brought Robinson up to the majors, Ford is remarkable, and I question his placement, and whether it should be higher here. The actor, the movie star disappears under the skin of the character to become Rickey, Ford is gone, only the character is there. Brilliant.

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