The Best Movie Ever | Best Jeff Bridges Movies List

For a long time, Jeff Bridges was the greatest actor that no one seemed to talk about. Consistently great, always inventive, but lacking the critical attention and trophies that belied a thespian of his talents. All that changed at the turn of the century, when iconic roles in films The Big Lebowski and True Grit cemented him as one of the most respected actors of his generation, and ushered in a new era of eccentric, and often very zen characters that have cemented his place in the cinematic firmament.

With his latest creation entering the world stage in Seventh Son this weekend, we thought now was an ideal time to ask a question: what are The Best Jeff Bridges Movies Ever? We challenged our three film critics – William Bibbiani, Witney Seibold and Brian Formo – to look over Bridges’ lengthy filmography and decide, once and for all, which films should go down as the best Jeff Bridges movies of all time. And no, they didn’t ALL pick The Big Lebowski.

Best Jeff Bridges Movies List

Find out what they picked, vote for your own favorites and the bottom of the page, and come back next Wednesday for an all-new installment of CraveOnline’s Best Movie Ever.


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Witney Seibold’s Pick: The Last Picture Show (1971)

Jeff Bridges’ most iconic role is most certainly that of Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski from The Coen Bros. 1998 cult hit The Big Lebowski. The Dude is one of those wonderful movie characters that appears on the screen fully formed, completely un-eager to learn lessons, have dramatic changes, or even have a slight interruption in his low-rent, booze-filled life. He is the laziest man alive, and Bridges embodies The Dude’s offputting sloth and lack of focus with an appealing ease and affability that has made him into a weird sort of aspirational antihero. I love The Big Lebowski a lot. 

So I hope you will forgive me when I select Peter Bogdonavich’s 1971 film The Last Picture Show as the best Jeff Bridges movie ever. In it, Bridges (then only 22) plays a young man desperate to get laid and to start his adult life in earnest in a tiny, tiny town in Texas. This is a town so tiny, time stands still, and clumsy, catty sexual release is the second best way to assure something is happening in this purgatory. The best thing is to go to the movies.

The Last Picture Show centers – spiritually and earnestly – on the ritual of attending films, and the inherent magic therein. In this town with no money, no character, and no culture, the lone movie theater stands as a window to the infinite. It’s a rundown movie house, and only stands on legacy, but it’s all they have. And sometimes, the movies can offer a salve that’s bigger than the universe itself. Bogdonavich and Bridges (as well as the rest of the hugely impressive cast) capture all that glory and frustration in this awesomely big, little drama. 


Brian Formo’s Pick: The Big Lebowski (1998)

This is the most staunch that I will get in Best Movie Ever. The best Jeff Bridges movie is, unequivocally, The Big Lebowski. If you say anything else, you’re not only wrong, but your effort is showing. Stop straining yourself. The Dude has. The Dude abides.

The Dude (Bridges) is introduced to us in his bathrobe at the supermarket, writing a check for a carton of milk, set to the song “Drifting Along With the Tumbling Tumbleweeds.” When he returns to his apartment he is assaulted for having the same last name, Lebowski, as a very rich man. And to add insult, his rug is pissed on. 
That’s the set-up for the noir comedy, which lovingly nods at dense L.A. detective classics such as The Big Sleep. But what makes Lebowski one of the rarest of movies — the kind that gets better every time you watch it — is that introduction. The Dude is unemployed, lacks direction, but is entirely zen. He has his bowling nights, his White Russians, and his joints. He’s achieved internal feng shui. His external feng shui is ruined by the pissing incident. And in his journey to get a better rug from the real Lebowski he has to engage with all kinds of people who are most certainly not zen — they are jealous, they are deceptive, they are fornicators who feel no joy — and to get by, he repeats various oddities he overhears in their topsy-turvy world of deceit and dinero.
Whether wordplay inspiration comes from an assistant (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an abstract conceptual artist (Julianne Moore), a porno director (Ben Gazzara), or sections of George H. W. Bush address speeches admonishing Saddam Hussein, The Dude can get by. And Bridges doesn’t play him as a dunce. This isn’t Dumb & Dumber and this isn’t Shakespeare, either. The Dude has ascended to the most quotable man in film because he’s so calming.
When The Dude is celebrated by two old-school film archetypes of manhood — a private detective (Jon Polito) and a cowboy (Sam Elliott) — it’s obvious that the Coen Brothers are giving us the new new cinematic archetype: the bumbling slacker who’s able to exist on his own terms. And thus, existing outside of their practice, their town, their society, they all share an outlaw quality. But The Dude would be way more fun to have a beer with.


William Bibbiani’s Pick: The Big Lebowski (1998)

Basically, what Brian just said.

Alright, alright, that’s a bit of a cheat. But he eloquently stated the reason why The Dude, as he must always be called, has caught on not just as a comic hero, but as an actual one, and despite the absurdity of his circumstances. The Dude is not absurd. The Dude is sane in a world that is mad. The Coen Bros. found heroism in somebody who just abides, and in The Big Lebowski they put that man in a situation that would baffle anybody, and make us yearn for the calm, benevolent resolve that would be necessary to weather life’s many turbulent, roiling storms and come out – if not on top – then at least with a new rug.

I remember seeing The Big Lebowski when it first came out, opening weekend, having decided to myself that the quirky Coen Bros. had entered a new, serious phase of their career with Fargo less than two years earlier. Instead, they rebounded with their funniest comedy to date, and many critics – including myself, although not yet a critic – didn’t know what to do with it. What we missed (and what the legions of Big Lebowski fans immediately glommed onto) was that the humor in The Big Lebowski was quite serious indeed. Laughter is the only rational response to the greedy, self-indulgent, apathetic and often inexplicable world in which we live. We can laugh at the situation, we can laugh at The Dude’s reactions, but everything he actually does is totally genuine, and often very admirable, at least in spirit.

The Dude is a hero we can all believe in, and whom everyone has the capacity to be. You just have not try so hard. That is greatness, and Jeff Bridges embodies that greatness in a performance that is absolute perfection.

What do you consider to be the best Jeff Bridges movies ever? Let us know in the comments below!


Best Jeff Bridges Movies