Owen Wilson’s 10 Best Movies

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  31 Aug 2015 

Indie classics, animated hits, well-reviewed dramas, and blockbuster comedies: Owen Wilson has done it all. He makes a rare foray into action thriller territory opposite Pierce Brosnan in No Escape, so we knew this would be the perfect occasion to take a fond look back at some of the many critical highlights from a very prolific — and impressively varied —filmography. It’s time to pay tribute to the man who brought Marmaduke to life.

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10 The Darjeeling Limited
imdb
rating

7.2

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Reuniting after the six-year layoff that followed The Royal Tenenbaums, frequent collaborators Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson paired up for 2007’s The Darjeeling Limited, a typically quirky dramedy about three eccentric brothers (played by Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman) who struggle — not always entirely successfully — to reconnect by taking a train ride across India in order to reunite with their mother (Anjelica Huston). While a troubling number of critics felt Darjeeling found Anderson settling into a rut, the majority felt that even if he was treading somewhat familiar ground, he managed to do it with style. Calling it “Arguably Wes Anderson’s most compassionate, mature film,” Nick Rogers of Suite101 credited the film with “[dancing] around disconcerting what-ifs: If they weren’t your brothers and sisters, would you voluntarily befriend them, or do you tolerate quirks and annoyances because blood links you?”

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Three American brothers who have not spoken to each other in a year set off on a train voyage across India with a plan to find themselves and bond with each other -- to become brothers again like they used to be. Their "spiritual quest", however, veers rapidly off-course (due to events involving over-the-counter pain killers, Indian cough syrup, and pepper spray).

actors:
Owen Wilson as Francis   Jason Schwartzman as Jack   Adrien Brody as Peter   Bill Murray as The Businessman   Anjelica Huston as Patricia   Camilla Rutherford as Alice   Wallace Wolodarsky as Brendan   Natalie Portman as Jack's X-Girlfriend   Amara Karan as Rita   Waris Ahluwalia as The Chief Steward   Irrfan Khan as The Father   Barbet Schroeder as The Mechanic   Kumar Pallana as Old Man  

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9 Inherent Vice
imdb
rating

6.7

Inherent Vice (2014)

Crime, Drama, Mystery, Romance

It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say Wilson’s had an easy time of it with critics lately — his recent duds include Are You Here and She’s Funny That Way — but he’s also made his mark in a few well-reviewed releases, including a brief appearance in The Grand Budapest Hotel and a more substantial supporting role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s star-studded adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. Here, Wilson appears as Coy Harlingen, a man whose disappearance prompts his wife (Jena Malone) to hire the film’s P.I. protagonist (Joaquin Phoenix) to mount a search. The plot’s a whole lot messier than that — and critics seemed admittedly divided over just how successfully Anderson managed to wrestle it onto the screen — but even if they weren’t quite sure what to make of it, most enjoyed what they saw. “It is no exaggeration to say that this could become the new Big Lebowski,” wrote Helen O’Hara for GQ. “Something that will not just stand up to repeat viewings but positively reward every single rewatch of its twisted, lunatic glory.”

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In Los Angeles at the turn of the 1970s, drug-fueled detective Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of an ex-girlfriend.

actors:
Joaquin Phoenix as Doc Sportello   Josh Brolin as Bigfoot Bjornsen   Owen Wilson as Coy Harlingen   Katherine Waterston as Shasta Fay Hepworth   Reese Witherspoon as Penny   Benicio Del Toro as Sauncho Smilax   Jena Malone as Hope Harlingen   Kevin J. O'Connor as    Maya Rudolph as Petunia Leeway   Martin Short as Dr. Rudy Blatnoyd   Martin Donovan as Crocker Fenway   Sasha Pieterse as Japonica Fenway   Eric Roberts as Mickey Wolfmann   Michael K. Williams as Tariq Khalil  

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8 Cars
imdb
rating

7.2

Cars (2006)

Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family

At a comparatively paltry 74 percent on the Tomatometer, 2006’s Cars represented something of a critical setback for PIxar — but while the reviews that greeted this John Lasseter-directed tale of a young racecar (Owen Wilson) and his quest to wrest the Piston Cup from a pair of challengers (Michael Keaton and Richard Petty) weren’t up to the usual Pixar standard, audiences didn’t mind; it grossed over $460 million on its way to spawning a sequel (and a spinoff), and even if it didn’t measure up to Pixar’s previous, it was still good enough to earn praise from scribes like Chris Vognar of the Dallas Morning News, who wrote, “no other outfit can match Pixar’s knack for plucking heartstrings without tearing them off the frets.”

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Lightning McQueen, a hotshot rookie race car driven to succeed, discovers that life is about the journey, not the finish line, when he finds himself unexpectedly detoured in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. On route across the country to the big Piston Cup Championship in California to compete against two seasoned pros, McQueen gets to know the town's offbeat characters.

actors:
Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen (voice)   Paul Newman as Doc Hudson (voice)   Bonnie Hunt as Sally Carrera (voice)   Larry The Cable Guy as Mater (voice)   Cheech Marin as Ramone (voice)   Tony Shalhoub as Luigi (voice)   Guido Quaroni as Guido (voice)   Jenifer Lewis as Flo (voice)   Paul Dooley as Sarge (voice)   Michael Wallis as Sheriff (voice)   George Carlin as Fillmore (voice)   Katherine Helmond as Lizzie (voice)   John Ratzenberger as Mack / Hamm Truck / Abominable Snow Plow (voice)   Michael Keaton as Chick Hicks (voice)  

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7 Wedding Crashers
imdb
rating

7.0

Wedding Crashers (2005)

Comedy, Romance

Part of the R-rated comedy renaissance of the aughts, Wedding Crashers may not have given Wilson the opportunity to do anything new — here, he appears as John Beckwith, a soft-spoken lech with a heart of gold — but it played squarely to Wilson’s comedic gifts, had a solid Steve Faber/Bob Fisher script, and surrounded Wilson and his co-star, Vince Vaughn, with some terrific supporting talent, including Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, and Isla Fisher. Though some critics had problems with Crashers‘ uneven tone — and the scads of gratuitous flesh on display in the movie’s opening montage — most found it too much fun to resist. “The likes of the sneakily subversive Wilson and Vaughn deserve better,” wrote MaryAnn Johnson of Flick Filosopher, “but this is darn close to a perfect showcase for what they can do, and how much better they do it together.”

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John and his buddy Jeremy are emotional criminals who know how to use a woman's hopes and dreams for their own carnal gain. And their modus operandi? Crashing weddings. Normally, they meet guests who want to toast the romantic day with a random hook-up. But when John meets Claire, he discovers what true love -- and heartache -- feels like.

actors:
Owen Wilson as John Beckwith   Vince Vaughn as Jeremy Grey   Christopher Walken as Secretary William Cleary   Rachel McAdams as Claire Cleary   Isla Fisher as Gloria Cleary   Jane Seymour as Kathleen Cleary   Bradley Cooper as Zachary 'Sack' Lodge   Henry Gibson as Father O'Neil   Keir O'Donnell as Todd Cleary   David Conrad as Trap   Ron Canada as Randolph   Ellen Albertini Dow as Grandma Mary Cleary   Dwight Yoakam as Mr. Kroeger   Rebecca De Mornay as Mrs. Kroeger   Jennifer Alden as Christina Cleary   Kathryn Joosten as Chazz's Mom   Will Ferrell as Chazz Reinhold   Diora Baird as Vivian  

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6 Shanghai Noon
imdb
rating

6.6

Shanghai Noon (2000)

Action, Adventure, Comedy, Western

Westerns and kung fu movies have enjoyed a close relationship for years, and that rich shared tradition is given a tongue-in-cheek salute with Shanghai Noon, an action-comedy that transcends its goofier elements (Lucy Liu plays the female lead, a character named Princess Pei-Pei) and delivers a well-rounded blend of humor, adventure, and — of course — jaw-dropping stunts. Jackie Chan stars as Chon Wang (say it out loud with a drawl), a Chinese imperial guard who is sent to Nevada to rescue the princess, kidnapped by agents of the villainous Lo Fong (Roger Yuan). Of course, no sooner has he arrived in Nevada than he gets tangled up with Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson), a rather inept outlaw who starts out hijacking Wang’s train and ends up becoming an invaluable ally in his quest. For some fans, Shanghai seemed at first like just another Americanized buddy project for Chan, who had already done this sort of thing with Chris Tucker in Rush Hour. Chan and Wilson proved a duo worth watching, though; on their way to a $99 million gross (and an eventual sequel), they earned praise from critics like the New York Times’ A.O. Scott, who wrote, “Shanghai Noon is, in classic western tradition, a celebration of male bonding, unabashedly juvenile, boyishly risqué and disarmingly sweet.”

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Chon Wang, a clumsy imperial guard trails Princess Pei Pei when she is kidnapped from the Forbidden City and transported to America. Wang follows her captors to Nevada, where he teams up with an unlikely partner, outcast outlaw Roy O'Bannon, and tries to spring the princess from her imprisonment.

actors:
Jackie Chan as Chon Wang   Owen Wilson as Roy O'Bannon   Lucy Liu as Princess Pei Pei   Xander Berkeley as Nathan Van Cleef   Brandon Merrill as Indian Wife   Roger Yuan as Lo Fong   Rongguang Yu as Imperial Guard   Ya Hi Cui as Imperial Guard   Eric Chen as Imperial Guard   Jason Connery as Andrews   Walton Goggins as Wallace   Adrien Dorval as Blue   Rafael Báez as Vasquez   Stacy Grant as Hooker in Distress   Kate Luyben as Fifi   Henry O as Royal Interpreter   Russell Badger as Sioux Chief   Simon Baker as Little Feather   Sam Simon as Chief's Sidekick   Alan C. Peterson as Saddle Rock Sheriff   Rad Daly as Saddle Rock Deputy  

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5 The Royal Tenenbaums
imdb
rating

7.6

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Comedy, Drama

A year after breaking the box-office bank in Meet the Parents, Wilson and his frequent castmate reunited for a far less mainstream excursion into the oddball end of the comedy spectrum: Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. Co-writing the screenplay (about a mind-bendingly eccentric family whose overbearing, insensitive patriarch turns the lives of his children upside down) and appearing amidst an eyebrow-raising ensemble cast that also included Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Murray, and his brothers Andrew and Luke, Wilson was at his quirkiest and most neurotic — in other words, at his best. While it wasn’t a huge hit at the box office, Tenenbaums fared well with most critics, including Geoff Pevere of the Toronto Star, who called it “An eloquent, eccentric and surprisingly touching tribute to the comic dignity of failure.”

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An estranged family of former child prodigies reunites when their father announces he has a terminal illness.

actors:
Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum   Anjelica Huston as Etheline Tenenbaum   Ben Stiller as Chas Tenenbaum   Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot Tenenbaum   Luke Wilson as Richie Tenenbaum   Owen Wilson as Eli Cash   Bill Murray as Raleigh St. Clair   Danny Glover as Henry Sherman   Alec Baldwin as Narrator (voice)   Seymour Cassel as Dusty   Kumar Pallana as Pagoda  

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4 Meet the Parents
imdb
rating

7.0

Meet the Parents (2000)

Comedy, Romance

Ben Stiller is one of the kings of uncomfortable comedy, and few films have taken advantage of his gift for squirm-inducing laughs as brilliantly as Meet the Parents, the 2000 smash hit Jay Roach comedy about male nurse Gaylord “Greg” Focker (Stiller) and his painfully awkward (and/or just plain painful) attempts to make a good first impression on his girlfriend’s parents while dealing with the unexpected presence of her annoyingly perfect ex-boyfriend (Wilson). Featuring plenty of guffaw-worthy physical comedy and splendidly antagonistic chemistry between Stiller and Robert De Niro, Parents grossed over $500 million, spawning a franchise and earning the applause of critics like Time’s Richard Schickel, who chuckled, “Alas, poor Focker. He can’t help himself. And we can’t help ourselves from falling about, equally helpless, at this superbly antic movie.”

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Greg Focker is ready to marry his girlfriend, Pam, but before he pops the question, he must win over her formidable father, humorless former CIA agent Jack Byrnes, at the wedding of Pam's sister. As Greg bends over backward to make a good impression, his visit to the Byrnes home turns into a hilarious series of disasters, and everything that can go wrong does, all under Jack's critical, hawklike gaze.

actors:
Ben Stiller as Gaylord "Greg" Focker   Robert De Niro as Jack Byrnes   Teri Polo as Pam Byrnes   Blythe Danner as Dina Byrnes   Owen Wilson as Kevin Rawley   Nicole DeHuff as Deborah Byrnes   Jon Abrahams as Denny Byrnes   James Rebhorn as Dr. Larry Banks   Thomas McCarthy as Dr. Bob Banks   Phyllis George as Linda Banks   Kali Rocha as Atlantic American Flight Attendant   Bernie Sheredy as Norm the Interrogator   Judah Friedlander as Pharmacy Clerk   Peter Bartlett as Animal Shelter Worker   John Elsen as Chicago Airport Security   Mark Hammer as Greg's Hospital Patient   Amy Hohn as Ticket Agent   William Severs as Father O'Boyle   John Fiore as Kinky  

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3 Bottle Rocket
imdb
rating

7.1

Bottle Rocket (1996)

Comedy, Crime, Drama

Wilson cut his cinematic teeth in style with 1996’s Bottle Rocket, an indie darling that not only kicked off his big-screen acting career, but found him co-writing the first of three highly regarded screenplays (followed by Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums) with director Wes Anderson. Although it was a blip on the commercial radar, this cheerful crime comedy about a trio of Texans (Wilson, his brother Luke, and Robert Musgrave) whose rather inept first foray into armed robbery leads them into the path of an older, wiser thief (James Caan) was a favorite of critics like the Washington Post’s Desson Thomson, who called it “A hilarious, inventive and goofy breath of fresh air.”

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Upon his release from a mental hospital following a nervous breakdown, the directionless Anthony joins his friend Dignan, who seems far less sane than the former. Dignan has hatched a hair-brained scheme for an as-yet-unspecified crime spree that somehow involves his former boss, the (supposedly) legendary Mr. Henry.

actors:
Luke Wilson as Anthony Adams   Owen Wilson as Dignan   Lumi Cavazos as Inez   Stephen Dignan as Rob   Andrew Wilson as Future Man   Robert Musgrave as Bob Mapplethorpe   Haley Miller as Bernice   James Caan as Mr. Henry   Ned Dowd as Dr. Nichols   Shea Fowler as Grace   Brian Tenenbaum as H. Clay Murchison   Jenni Tooley as Stacy Sinclair   Temple Nash as Temple  

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2 Fantastic Mr. Fox
imdb
rating

7.8

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family

These days, it’s a rare animated film that doesn’t boast a star-studded cast, but most of them don’t attract the sort of award-hoarding talent that Wes Anderson lined up for Fantastic Mr. Fox, is stop-motion adaptation of the Roald Dahl book about a rascally fox (George Clooney) whose devotion to his wife (Streep) is tested by his need to have the last laugh against a trio of bloodthirsty farmers. Rounded out by an eclectic list of co-stars that included Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, and Owen Wilson, Fox thrilled critics like Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News, who called it “A visual treasure that successfully blends deadpan quirkiness with a wry realism rarely seen in any film, let alone one for children.”

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The Fantastic Mr. Fox bored with his current life, plans a heist against the three local farmers. The farmers, tired of sharing their chickens with the sly fox, seek revenge against him and his family.

actors:
George Clooney as Mr. Fox (voice)   Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox (voice)   Jason Schwartzman as Ash (voice)   Bill Murray as Badger (voice)   Wallace Wolodarsky as Kylie (voice) (as Wally Wolodarsky)   Eric Chase Anderson as Kristofferson (voice) (as Eric Anderson)   Michael Gambon as Franklin Bean (voice)   Willem Dafoe as Rat (voice)   Owen Wilson as Coach Skip (voice)   Jarvis Cocker as Petey (voice)   Wes Anderson as Weasel (voice)   Karen Duffy as Linda Otter (voice)   Robin Hurlstone as Walter Boggis (voice)   Hugo Guinness as Nathan Bunce (voice)   Helen McCrory as Mrs. Bean (voice)   Roman Coppola as Squirrel Contractor (voice)   Juman Malouf as Agnes (voice)   Jeremy Dawson as Beaver's Son (voice)   Garth Jennings as Bean's Son (voice)   Tristan Oliver as Explosives Man (voice)   James Hamilton as Mole (voice)   Steven M. Rales as Beaver (voice) (as Steven Rales)   Rob Hersov as Pilot (voice)   Jennifer Furches as Dr. Badger (voice)   Allison Abbate as Rabbit's Ex-Girlfriend (voice)   Molly Cooper as Rabbit Girl (voice)   Adrien Brody as Field Mouse (voice)   Mario Batali as Rabbit (voice)   Martin Ballard as Fire Chief (voice)  

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1 Midnight in Paris
imdb
rating

7.7

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

Following a fairly dire year that saw him surfacing in Little Fockers and providing the voice of Marmaduke, Wilson enjoyed a huge critical rebound with his starring performance in Midnight in Paris — a late-period smash hit for writer/director Woody Allen, who enjoyed some of the warmest reviews (and the highest grosses) of his career with the fantasy-infused comedic tale of an ennui-addled screenwriter who heads out for a melancholic walk on the streets of Paris and ends up taking much more of a journey than he bargained for. “Woody Allen seemed to have lost his fizz as a filmmaker of late,” observed Jason Best for Movie Talk, “and then he uncorked the sparkling Midnight in Paris, a comic fantasy with all the effervescence of vintage champagne.”

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A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.

actors:
Owen Wilson as Gil   Rachel McAdams as Inez   Kurt Fuller as John   Mimi Kennedy as Helen   Michael Sheen as Paul   Nina Arianda as Carol   Carla Bruni as Museum Guide   Maurice Sonnenberg as Man at Wine Tasting   Thierry Hancisse as 1920's Partygoer   Audrey Fleurot as 1920's Partygoer   Marie-Sohna Conde as 1920's Partygoer (as Marie-Sohna Condé)   Yves Heck as Cole Porter   Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald   Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald   Sonia Rolland as Joséphine Baker   Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway   Daniel Lundh as Juan Belmonte   Laurent Spielvogel as Antiques Dealer   Thérèse Bourou-Rubinsztein as Alice B. Toklas   Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein   Marcial Di Fonzo Bo as Pablo Picasso   Marion Cotillard as Adriana   Léa Seydoux as Gabrielle   Emmanuelle Uzan as Djuna Barnes   Adrien Brody as Salvador Dalí   Tom Cordier as Man Ray   Adrien de Van as Luis Buñuel   Serge Bagdassarian as Détective Duluc   Gad Elmaleh as Detective Tisserant   David Lowe as T.S. Eliot   Atmen Kelif as Hotel Doctor   Yves-Antoine Spoto as Henri Matisse   Laurent Claret as Leo Stein   Sava Lolov as Belle Époque Couple   Karine Vanasse as Belle Époque Couple   Catherine Benguigui as Maxim's Hostess   Vincent Menjou Cortes as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec   Olivier Rabourdin as Paul Gauguin   François Rostain as Edgar Degas   Marianne Basler as Versailles Royalty   Michel Vuillermoz as Versailles Royalty  

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