Liam Neeson may have admitted to crying while filming Qui-Gon Jinn’s force ghost scene in Disney’s Obi-Wan Kenobi series, but the characters he typically plays are often more reserved. This isn’t to say that the 70-year-old star hasn’t taken on the odd heartfelt role in his lengthy and impressive career, only that what he’s really known for tends to be no-nonsense characters.
For those eager to see Neeson’s particular set of skills, Redditors have supplied their picks for his ten best films. Within these picks is everything from voice acting to dramatic fare to over-the-top but completely lovable action roles. For Neeson fans who haven’t fully dedicated themselves to exploring this great actor’s work yet, this list serves as a great jumping-off point.
10/10 Seraphim Falls (2006)
As a lifelong fan of Westerns, Neeson was reportedly thrilled to star in this 2006 take on the genre. The story of two rivals in an ever-evolving cat and mouse situation, Redditor Tr1ckery_ isn’t about to be swayed by the film’s poor box office results, saying, “Seraphim Falls is a really underrated movie.”
Neeson certainly portrays his Carver character well, but the film likely failed to gain any sort of significant acclaim thanks to its genre. Westerns simply don’t command the degree of attention that they once did, and the rivalry between Carver and Pierce Brosnan’s Gideon often feels a little far-fetched. Nonetheless, the film is worthwhile viewing for Neeson fans.
9/10 Chronicles Of Narnia (2005-2010)
The wildly successful The Chronicles of Narnia books were adapted into three feature films starting in 2005, with Neeson as the voice of Aslan, King of Beasts. Redditor ykey80 makes the first film in the series their top Neeson pick, saying, “If I need to pick 1 movie, it would be Chronicles of Narnia.”
Once again Neeson finds favor as a voice actor, though this time it’s in what was otherwise a rather underwhelming trilogy. As Aslan, Neeson did manage to impart a sort of authority to the character and while this made the series stronger, overall it’s difficult to consider this as one of his best performances – despite the fact that it’s a perfectly fine effort.
8/10 Husbands and Wives (1992)
This Woody Allen film about the difficulties of marriage and fidelity didn’t fare well at the box office upon its release, though it still remains a critical hit. Despite its ensemble cast, Redditor totallynotsexpervert feels that it can still count as Neeson’s best, saying, “It’s an ensemble cast, but he’s an important part of Husbands and Wives.”
Neeson’s role as Michael isn’t exactly a huge one and there’s no denying that he is an important part of the film. That being said, it’s difficult to pit this performance against some of his larger, more comprehensive work. The characters in Husbands and Wives are all on the same wavelength in terms of the film’s central theme, but Neeson still feels underused.
7/10 Rob Roy (1995)
As far as historical biographies go, Rob Roy generally failed to arouse any interest in both a man and a time that offer plenty to be interested in. Neeson starred as the eponymous 18th century Scottish folk hero in a performance that Redditor SamuraiJackBauer ranks as the star’s best, saying, ‘Rob Roy comes to mind.”
While Neeson’s performance in the film is a decent one, Rob Roy was largely overshadowed by Mel Gibson’s multi-Oscar winning historical drama, Braveheart. Both films have been widely criticised for historical inaccuracies (and bad attempts at Scottish accents), but Neeson tends to get more credit for portraying a Scottish hero without the Hollywood sensationalism.
6/10 The Grey (2011)
The story of a group of oilmen who find themselves stranded in the wilds of Alaska after their plane crashes, The Grey marks another action packed outing for Neeson. Redditor TripleG2312 can’t resist the film’s intense Neeson action, stating, “The best I’ve seen is The Grey.”
It’s hard to deny that there’s a certain amount of fascination in watching a 59-year-old man fight wolves after a plane crash. Yet as ridiculous as the concept is, Neeson once again pulls it off. It’s a role that few actors could actually take on and find success with, and although it wasn’t a massive hit, The Grey is worth a look for anyone who enjoys Neeson’s work.
5/10 Ponyo (2009)
One year after the original Japanese language version of this Hayao Miyazaki film broke records at the Japanese box office, an English language version was released. This featured Neeson as the voice of Fujimoto, prompting Redditor the-splendid-ninja to declare, “I really liked his voice acting as the father in Ponyo.”
It’s a testament to the diversity of Neeson’s talents that his career has included a considerable amount of variety. While more recent Neeson films feature him as an action hero, it’s often easy to forget just how varied his work has been. His talents are in no way diminished by a voice acting performance, ultimately enhancing Miyazaki’s beloved animated tale.
4/10 Batman Begins (2005)
Christopher Nolan kicked off a massively successful trilogy with this 2005 effort. Neeson plays a dual role as the villainous Henri Ducard and Ra’s al Ghul, offering a strong enough performance for Redditor squirtsmacintosh to comment, “Batman Begins is arguably the best Nolan batman and he was really a strong villain in that movie.”
It isn’t particularly often that Neeson has portrayed a villain in his lengthy career, and his performance in Batman Begins is wonderful quite simply because he plays both hero and villain. It’s through this duality that audiences get to see Neeson’s strengths as an actor, delivering a performance that was essential to Batman Begins and its engaging plot.
3/10 Taken (2008)
After his teenage daughter is kidnapped by an Albanian sex trafficking ring, former Green Beret and CIA official Bryan Mills (Neeson) takes matters into his own highly capable hands. A now-deleted Redditor account picks this action-thriller as Neeson’s best, saying, “Taken, not his best acting job, but my favorite.”
Neeson took what was arguably the biggest leap of his career with this massive hit, returning for two sequels. As more or less the beginning of his time as an action movie hero, Taken gave audiences a strong look at what he’s capable of within the genre. It might not be high art, but the Taken franchise has certainly been good to Neeson.
2/10 Darkman (1990)
After finding considerable success with two Evil Dead films, filmmaker Sam Raimi delivered this outrageous superhero romp starring Neeson as the eponymous hero. Redditor ScrapMetalDrone has no doubt at all that this Neeson’s best, saying, “Darkman for sure.”
Because of Darkman’s unique set of skills, he’s able to transform into anyone. This might limit Neeson’s actual screen time slightly, but it doesn’t negatively affect the performance he gives. There’s gritty brutality to the character, something that Neeson will learn to harness in the years to come as his career leans increasingly toward the action genre.
1/10 Shindler’s List (1993)
The unfathomable inhumanity of the Nazis and the courage of industrialist Oskar Schindler in saving Jewish citizens from certain death makes this Steven Spielberg film a vital work. Neeson’s turn as Schindler is hands down Redditor wpmason’s pick with, “I mean… Schindler’s List.”
For many Neeson fans, it simply doesn’t get any better than this. The emotional range needed to portray a character like Schindler – who does business and fraternizes with Nazis while secretly striving to save Jewish prisoners is substantial, to say the least. Neeson delivers a superb performance, the likes of which earned him his first (and only) Oscar nomination.