The Best Movie Ever | Best Harrison Ford Movies List
To many, the name of Harrison Ford conjures images of bullwhips and blasters, incredible stunts and a smirking smile. He is one of the essential movie stars of his generation, and has starred in one classic film after another, like Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner, The Fugitive and maybe even this weekend’s new drama The Age of Adaline. It’s possible, right? Maybe?
But what, dear readers, are The Best Harrison Ford Movies Ever? That’s what we’re here to find out. We’ve asked our three film critics – William Bibbiani, Witney Seibold and Brian Formo – to decide for themselves and defend their picks for the best Harrison Ford movies, based on whatever criteria they choose? The most exciting? The best performance? The coolest swagger? It’s all fair game.
Best Harrison Ford Movies List
So find out what they picked, and come back next Wednesday for an all new, highly-debatable installment of CraveOnline’s The Best Movie Ever!
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Brian Formo’s Pick: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
I do think that the best film that Harrison Ford had a leading role in was Blade Runner. But Rick Deckard is not the best character that Ford has played. No, that’s Indiana Jones, the original sexy, whip-smart archeologist. And like most characters that actors repeat, Ford’s best Jones was in his first impression: when he had to form a bond with the audience, and earn our awe. And so Ford’s best movie is Raiders of the Lost Ark.
As I am thinking about the attributes that Ford brought to Jones, I am cringing at the simple box office equation that’s been floated around (carelessly) that Chris Pratt should be the next actor to don the-hat-that-never-falls off by playing Indiana Jones in a reboot. Indiana Jones isn’t rocket science, but he is also not a simple math equation. To make one of the best characters of all time, it isn’t just x+y=greatness with x) being “the most recent space warrior who won over American audiences” +) being “can become” and y) being “a pre-WWII archaeological professor who can impress British dignitaries (here, Denholm Elliot), arouse a student to encrypt secret messages of lust (here, on eyebrows), and also make Nazis and other archeologists look incredibly lazy because they actually have no idea how to outwit you, so they just wait for you to complete the incredible feats so that they can steal from you.
Sure, Jones is a smart ass, but Ford brings a certain believability to an unbelievable daredevil role. Ford can grow the stubble of a whiskey-infused private detective. He can wear glasses like a professor. And most importantly he can improvise. Which is actually how Ford came aboard Raiders, as he was cast only a few weeks before filming began. Like Jones, Ford had to make quick character decisions. So Ford plays Jones like his familiar Han Solo, except – since he’s essentially a treasure hunter – Ford gives Jones that Humphrey Bogart/Treasure of Sierra Madre/African Queen equal measure of cocksuredness and awareness that when shit goes wrong, you can be rescued by anyone or anything – a woman, a vine, a rope – everything except your mouth. And while the mouth is mostly what Pratt would bring to a fight, Ford brings a complete algorithm of adventure, foolhardiness, and the need to be rescued.
Witney Seibold’s Pick: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Like Harrison Ford I’m getting frantic, like Sting I’m tantric, like Snickers: guaranteed to satisfy. Like Kurosawa I make mad films. K, I don’t make films, but if I did they’d have a samurai.
Sorry, but as a ’90s teen, that had to be done. Harrison Ford’s best film is Steven Spielberg’s 1981 adventure series writ large Raiders of the Lost Ark. There are few action films that capture the scale, the pace, the tone, the joy of on-screen adventure the way Raiders of the Lost Ark does. It’s perhaps one of the best action films of all time, and easily my favorite. And Harrison Ford is one of the primary reasons the film works so well. He has a gruff, hard-edged energy that plays rough-and-grizzled, but fits perfectly into the lightweight, frothy tone of the flick.
It must be acknowledged that Indiana Jones is actually not a complex or realistic character. He’s not meant to be an avatar of the human condition. He’s to be a man’s man. A living archetype. A man with adventures rather than drama. That said, there are actually many actors who could have perhaps played Indiana Jones just as capably as Ford, and some that could have delved into Indiana Jones’ inner turmoil better. But giving the character that sort of depth would have made the movie worse. Ford can balance an affable humanity with an entertaining superheroism. In many ways, Ford invented the type of characters children describe as “awesome.” Believable as an indestructible hero, and charming enough to come across as a real person.
But I want it known that it pains me greatly to leave a few of Ford’s better movies out of the number one spot. It was torture for me to not bring up Peter Weir’s The Mosquito Coast, a Fizcarraldo-like tale of an ice manufacturer setting up shop in a remote jungle. I was also incredibly close to selecting Roman Polanski’s Frantic, an excellent, taut crime thriller. Also, Ford appeared (in very, very small roles) in two of the best films of the 1970s, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now. So my number one spot is Raiders by a mere wisp. But you would do well to watch any of the films I’ve mentioned.
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William Bibbiani’s Pick: The Mosquito Coast (1986)
Harrison Ford and I have three things in common: we are both men, we are both dead sexy, and we are both in agreement that his best film is The Mosquito Coast. His reasons may be a little different than mine, because like many of my generation, I am a Harrison Ford fanboy. I have a hard time not picking genre classics like Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Fugitive and Blade Runner. But when you watch every Harrison Ford movie, you’ll notice that he doesn’t get to really “act” much. He usually plays some variation on “Harrison Ford, The Hero,” so it is both rare and heartening to discover that the actor really can create a wholly new and interesting character, and bring them to live in a movie with only one explosion in it.
Directed by Peter Weir (The Truman Show), The Mosquito Coast stars Ford as Allie Fox, an inventor who gives up on stifling American life (it’s all going to get blown up by the Russians soon anyhow) and forces his family to move to Central America. His plan is to build an ice factory in the middle of the jungle, and become a socialist king amongst the indigenous peoples. The damnedest thing is, his plan actually works for a while, until unexpected tragedy threatens his dream, tempting Allie to lie to his loved ones and endanger their lives, just to prove he was never, not even for the tiniest moment, wrong. About anything.
Harrison Ford is exquisitely mad in The Mosquito Coast, both alluring and dangerous. Watching his family gradually realize that this man they look up to might be a monster in their midst is a harrowing experience. It’s a coming of age tale for Allie’s son, played by River Phoenix, but it’s Ford’s movie and he gives every iota to it. The sly charisma that makes Indiana Jones so appealing warps in front of your very eyes, revealing a pathetic dreamer underneath, who seems destined to do more harm than good.
Folks don’t talk about The Mosquito Coast much. It wasn’t a hit upon its release and critics didn’t care for it at the time either. But time has been very kind to Weir’s film and Ford’s impressive performance. It may not be the action classic Star Wars was, but as a showcase for the actor’s talents, it’s the best Harrison Ford movies ever.
Don’t forget to let us know what you consider to be the best Harrison Ford movies ever in the comment section below!