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The Best 10 Will Smith Movies Of All Time, Ranked

It’s easy to overlook that Hollywood actors used to be the major appeal behind great films in an era where intellectual property is the most reliable predictor of box office performance. That was likely never more true than in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Will Smith dominated the box office. Smith, in the height of his powers, could demand massive box office figures regularly.

Smith has demonstrated throughout his long career that he understands what it takes to be a great actor. He’s nearly always eager to be himself on television, but that doesn’t mean he can’t put in a strong performance. Will Smith’s finest films know how to make use of his acting abilities while also pushing him out of his safety area. Here are his ten top performances throughout his career.

#1 I Am Legend – 2007

Will Smith’s defining performance is the one that reveals he is a singularly fascinating film presence beyond all others. Smith is the sole actor on screen for more than half of I Am Legend, and his only screen companion is a dog. He’s fantastic as a man anxious to find treatment for a sickness that has already robbed him of everything. In I Am Legend, the actor gets to play a wounded, valiant, hilarious, and completely enthralling character. It’s the crowning achievement of a long and illustrious career.

#2 Ali – 2001

Will Smith gives his most passionate performance in Ali, and it resonates. In the character of Cassius Clay, the fighter who would become Muhammad Ali, an actor who has built a career out of letting his personality shine through on-screen essentially vanishes. In part, because Ali is concerned not just with the magnificence of its eponymous performer but also with all of the political problems surrounding his run of success, Smith is outstanding in the role, which won him his first Oscar nomination.

#3 King Richard – 2021

Smith was nominated for his third Academy Award for King Richard, and he earned it. He may skip the glitz of many of his most well-known performances in favor of a gritty character study of the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams in this role. The film King Richard is largely about Richard Williams’ advocacy for his children, but it isn’t afraid to make him more nuanced than a simple hero. Finally, it’s because of these complexities that Smith’s performance soars.

#4 Hitch – 2005

Will Smith, to his credit, knows when he needs to be serious about a project and when he can just be pleasant. Smith plays a skilled dating impresario in Hitch, who assists other guys in finding love. The real fun of the film is seeing Smith get destroyed by a lady who finds all of his fantastic date ideas terrifying for one reason or another. It’s because Hitch debases Smith just a little that it’s so much enjoyment.

#5 Men In Black – 1997

In Men in Black, Will Smith is in complete movie star mode, and he finds an odd but ideal collaborator in Tommy Lee Jones’s Agent Jay. Men in Black is the prototypical action-comedy, and it’s a wonderful example of a genre that feels largely gone in 2022. Smith plays a nice officer who is recruited into a secret group entrusted with investigating extraterrestrial life on the earth, and his skepticism of such an organization is half the pleasure.

#6 The Pursuit of Happyness – 2006

The Pursuit of Happyness would be far too corny in most people’s hands to ever succeed as a viable film. The film is not only watchable but also rather intriguing, thanks to Smith’s unwavering devotion. It also benefits that he cast Jaden as his son in the movie, and we get to see the two of them strive to realize their hopes of a better life in America. The wider problems regarding the film’s political message are worth considering, but it’s impossible to deny that Pursuit of Happiness succeeds as the corniest type of feel-good film.

#7 Independence Day – 1996

Independence Day, the film that launched Will Smith’s career, is essentially an ensemble piece, but it’s impossible to dispute that Smith is the star. The film depicts the aftermath of an extraterrestrial invasion, and Smith’s military pilot is instrumental in bringing the invaders down. Independence Day is a simple and generally adored film that also serves as a significant milestone in Smith’s career as a cinematic superstar.

#8 Bad Boys – 1995

Michael Bay used to create films that didn’t feature any Transformers, and Bad Boys was the greatest of them. The film, which stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as two hot-headed Miami officers who think their department is engaged in a cocaine robbery, works in part because it’s prepared to mix action movie tropes with lots of humor. There’s also a key storyline moment in which Smith and Lawrence trade identities, which has hilarious effects.

#9 Enemy of the State – 1998

Enemy of the State, directed by Gene Hackman, is a paranoid thriller that, despite its obsolete technology, feels more relevant than ever. Will Smith’s first effort at playing an ordinary person was Enemy of the State, and the results were impressive. Smith plays a labor lawyer who is suspected of murder after obtaining very damning audio. He is required to defend his innocence while also ensuring that those who committed serious crimes receive the punishment they deserve.

#10 Focus – 2015

Look no farther than Focus for confirmation that Will Smith still possesses the charisma necessary to lead a blockbuster motion picture. Smith plays a con guy who decides to take in a young hustler under his wing. Smith’s character decides to break up with her when they become too close, but when she reappears on a job years later, their entire relationship threatens to undermine the delicate scam he has put out. Smith is fantastic in the starring role, and he and co-star Margot Robbie have incredible chemistry.

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