Top Ten Performances Of Brad Pitt, Ranked

Brad Pitt has been one of the most recognizable names and faces of Hollywood in recent times, especially due to him being one of the most attractive men around today. But one seems to overlook his career graph as a very dependable actor who does not fear taking up challenging and unorthodox roles and working with various acclaimed filmmakers of varied cinematic sensibilities and ranging from renowned auteurs and contemporary greats. Even after having such a fan following, he has not let that persona affect his film choices, and it can be seen especially in various films where he prefers playing a supporting role or a role that does not have him in the limelight solely. As we celebrate his 59th birthday today, on the 18th of December, here is a list of the top 10 Brad Pitt performances (ranked):


10. Burn After Reading (2008)

The film “Burn After Reading” (2008) can be considered among one of the weaker films made by the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan Coen), yet it gives us a terrific performance of a uniquely outlandish character, a gym trainer named Chad Feldheimer, played with the perfect amounts of quirks and eccentricity by Brad Pitt. The actor perfectly manages to pull off the very quirky comedic style of the Coens and is hilarious and absurd to watch. Furthermore, even though the film consists of a heavily star-studded ensemble, Pitt’s portrayal manages to shine above the rest and is definitely one of the major reasons to watch the film.

9. Moneyball (2011)

In this Bennett Miller directorial, Brad Pitt plays the real-life character of former baseball player Billy Bean on the big screen. Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant writing is perfectly translated by Brad Pitt through a relaxed and at the same time intense portrayal, that perfectly captures the essence of the character’s both professional and personal life. He further manages to showcase a sense of humanity and vulnerability, which makes the viewers root for and empathize with him. It also consists of some excellently written and acted monologues, and being a sports drama, it perfectly gives Pitt and Sorkin the space to try out their brilliance.


8. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

In this Quentin Tarantino revisionist historical drama set in the Second World War, Brad Pitt plays the role of the very zany character of Lieutenant Aldo Raine, who is also the perfect embodiment of the resistance against the Nazis. Even though in “Inglorious Basterds” (2009) his screen time is comparatively less, through his brilliant portrayal, Pitt brings out a character who is quite over the top, in a good way, and filled with deadpan humour, and that through a very quirky accent that the actor adopts perfectly for this role. In addition to that, it is just simply fun to watch and cheer for the character, especially through his endeavors of killing and collecting Nazi scalps.

7. Se7en (1995)

“Se7en” (1995) is the first collaboration between Brad Pitt and acclaimed filmmaker David Fincher, and here he plays the role of an idealistic cop, Detective David Mills, who, along with his partner William Somerset (portrayed by Morgan Freeman), is in search of a serial killer. Here, Pitt perfectly portrays the impulsiveness of the not-so-experienced, short-tempered, idealistic detective, along with bringing out the great chemistry between both cops with contradicting sets of beliefs. This is also one of his most emotionally harrowing performances and perfectly portrays the disturbed psyche of the character. Furthermore, the film contains one of the finest acted scenes by Pitt during the very shocking climactic scene.


6. Snatch (2000)

“Snatch” (2000) itself is a whack crime comedy thriller with an interesting cast of characters, as one can see in a typical Guy Ritchie film. The character that stands out from the rest is that of Mickey O’Neil, an Irish traveller who is a bare-knuckle fighter, portrayed in a brilliantly fun and flamboyant way by Brad Pitt. Even though it is highly difficult to understand what the character says without subtitles due to a very uncommon accent, it is the ease with which the actor carries out this role that makes it memorable, and one cannot resist rewatching the film mainly to revisit the characters, especially the one played by Pitt.

5. The Tree Of Life (2011)

In this masterpiece of a film by the visionary filmmaker Terrence Malick, the interesting choice of casting Brad Pitt pays off and showcases a different side of the actor. Here Pitt perfectly sheds his star-like aura and perfectly fits himself into the shoes of a middle-aged suburban father during the 1950s. Along with the lyrical quality of Malick’s films, Brad Pitt’s brilliant acting performance showcases a sense of maturity and is on a different level altogether. Compared to other films, this is a much more underrated performance that one seems to miss out on and his character is portrayed in a very uniquely tender and silent way where the expressions of the actor are enough and there is less dependence on dialogue. Furthermore, the astonishing performance will perfectly bring out the father-son dynamic, making each and every frame scream cinematic brilliance.


4. Fight Club (1999)

Even though “Fight Club” (1999) is an example of perfect filmmaking as it is, after all, being directed by the contemporary great David Fincher. Interestingly, the film has some of the most iconic cinematic characters of all time, with Taylor Durden, which is a pitch-perfect portrayal by actor Brad Pitt. Interestingly, it is also done through a perfect casting choice that uses the persona of Pitt as a part of the mise-en-scène. Pitt, through his performance, perfectly reflected the cynical nature of the character along with its unpredictability, anarchy, and a person dealing with the consumerist mundanity. Furthermore, Pitt uses his entire physicality to give this character the necessary thrust, which helped in the creation of such an iconic character.

3. 12 Monkeys (1995)

This time Brad Pitt collaborated with one of cinema’s most unique minds, Terry Gilliam, in his La Jetée (1962) inspired dystopian sci-fi film, for which he also received his first Oscar nomination. Here, in “12 Monkeys” (1995), Brad Pitt portrays the unique and eccentric character of Jeffrey Goines, a person whom the protagonist, played by Bruce Willis, meets inside a mental asylum. Pitt’s portrayal of Goines is filled with raw, undiluted energy and the perfect essence of unpredictability that perfectly reflects the very unique and psychotic nature of both the film and the character. At the same time, Pitt manages to walk the perfect line between putting up a riveting performance and being overindulgent, helping to shape the tonality of this film.


2. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

Once again, Brad Pitt teams up with a contemporary great, Quentin Tarantino, and successfully delivers a performance that fetches him his first Oscar for Acting as he won Best Supporting Actor. In “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” (2019), Pitt plays the role of a stunt double who may have killed his wife, a washed-out actor struggling in the late 1960s in Hollywood. Here, his character of Cliff Booth perfectly complements the vulnerable actor portrayed by Leo DiCaprio through Pitt’s portrayal of a kind of witty along with showcasing swagger, always maintaining a very positive and confident tone at the same time is very cool, and even so that one will end up cheering for his use of cathartic violence.

1. The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Unlike a majority of the films on this list, where the characters played by Brad Pitt are quite whacky and zany and also not the major protagonist, this one differs entirely and is more of a layered and meditative approach. Here Pitt reprises the role of the protagonist, Jesse James, based on the renowned robber of the same name. Pitt manages to perfectly capture each intricate and minute detail of the character in a very deep, detailed, and melancholic portrayal. Furthermore, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (2007) showcases the range of the actor, which has many a time been stereotyped as matching his flamboyant real-life persona, and Pitt perfectly seizes this opportunity to showcase his prowess and make it probably his best performance till now.


Through this list, one can see that Brad Pitt has never shied away from trying out quite interesting roles irrespective of the screen time and, at the same time, backed various filmmaking visions ranging from master auteurs like Terrence Malick and Terry Gilliam to contemporary greats like Quentin Tarantino, The Coens, and David Fincher, making his filmography consist of various memorable films and characters, further showcasing the range he possesses as an actor. So, it becomes quite a difficult job to pick just ten performances from such an intriguing body of work, and there remain future works and many other films that one should not miss. The Special Mentions: “Thelma & Louise” (1991), “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001), “Babel” (2006), “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008), “Killing Them Softly” (2012), “The Big Short” (2015), and “Ad Astra” (2019).

See more: Top 10 Emerging Filmmakers In Hollywood, Ranked

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Riddhadev Bandyopadhyay
Riddhadev Bandyopadhyay
Riddhadev has a major interest in watching various kinds of films, knowing about history, playing varied video games, and having a knack for politics. He is also a football fanatic. He is very opinionated but sometimes finds it difficult to express himself. Moreover, he has a piece of paper that people refer to as a degree in journalism and mass communication. At present, he is pursuing a Master's in Media Science while also trying out different activities to figure out which he does best.

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