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13 Best Tom Hardy Movies, Ranked

13 Best Tom Hardy Movies, Ranked

tom hardy best movies

Edward Thomas Hardy was born to an artist mother and a writer father in a wealthy London family on Sep 5, 1977. In his teen years, Tom Hardy suffered from alcohol and drug addiction. He confessed that he experimented with hallucinogens at the age of 13. Hardy left boarding school and was arrested for delinquency at the age of 17.  Thankfully, he managed to rescue himself out and enrolled at Drama Centre London. He studied method acting there.

Tom Hardy’s acting debut came with WWII drama Band of Brothers (2001), the acclaimed HBO mini-series. He was considered ‘most promising newcomer’ in his big-screen debut that year in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down. In 2002, Hardy got his first big role in Star Trek: Nemesis. He played the main antagonist Praetor Shinzon alongside the Star Trek veteran Patrick Stewart. But the film’s dismal reception once again pushed him towards drugs and alcohol. In 2003, Hardy checked himself into rehab, and for the next five years, gradually worked his way through movies and TV shows.

He was in Layer Cake (2004), Marie Antoinette (2006) and played Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist mini-series. But the role that announced Tom Hardy’s talent and skills to the world was Refn’s Bronson (2008). His flawless performance as the maniacal Bronson caught the attention of Hollywood. Blockbuster hit Inception (2010) helped Hardy establish himself in Hollywood. From then on, this exciting and one of the finest actors of our generation has given us several incredible performances. 

Let’s then quickly take a look at the best Tom Hardy films:

 

13 Best Tom Hardy Movies, Ranked

13. Inception (2010)

Image Source: Mubi

While Tom Hardy’s bravura performance in Refn’s Bronson (2008) caught Hollywood’s attention, Nolan’s Inception gave the actor his much-needed big-screen breakthrough. Inception’s visual and storytelling complexity would have been lost on the audience if not for the wonderful ensemble cast and their pitch-perfect performances. Tom Hardy plays the quick-witted charmer Eames. He is vital to the dream thief Cobb’s (Di Caprio) team.

Eames, the ‘forger,’ has to study the physical characteristics and mannerisms of people he needs to impersonate in the dreams. In fact, Hardy effortlessly plays this erudite, intellectual character. Moreover, his Eames challenges Cobb at crucial moments, especially when Cobb seems to lose himself in the labyrinth of dreams. Inception is Christopher Nolan and Hardy’s first of the three collaborations thus far.

Where to watch: Prime Video, Netflix

 

12. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Image Source: IMDb

Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a slow-burn espionage drama that’s often labeled as anti-James Bond and anti-Bourne. It’s based on John le Carre’s renowned novel series, which explored the world of Intelligence gathering through the lens of Cold War politics. Spearheaded by Gary Oldman’s George Smiley, Tinker Tailor has a jaw-dropping ensemble cast, including both veterans and young actors. And it’s a testament to Hardy’s talent in how he makes a mark even as a supporting actor in the role of a British Operative.

Hardy’s Ricky Tarr is an acquaintance of Smiley, and this maverick character sets off the complex conflicts in the narrative. The role initially went to Michael Fassbender. Wearing a blonde wig and a dull-colored jacket, Hardy’s Tarr reveals to us the austere nature of real-life spies’ lives.

Where to watch: Apple TV

 

11. Lawless (2012)

Image Source: IMDb

John Hillcoat’s Prohibition-era crime/drama thrills us with its terrific cast. It includes A-listers like Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Jason Clarke, and Shia LaBeouf. The narrative revolves around three brothers, known as Bondurant boys. Hardy plays Forrest, the leader of the group that sells bootlegged moonshine in 1920s Virginia. His intimidating low-key performance and Pearce’s flamboyant antagonist are the best aspects of the film.

Warrior’s Tommy Conlon, alongside Lawless’ Forrest, became Tom Hardy’s signature roles. He continued to play such strong, silent guys who are inclined to use violence when necessary.  Nevertheless, such specific character traits largely shine in the films he is part of. And in Lawless’s rusty and dangerous era, Hardy’s brooding character feels at home.

Where to watch: Prime Video, Zee5

 

10. Venom (2018)

Tom Hardy best movies
Image Source: Polygon

Tom Hardy’s magnificent performance is the saving grace of Ruben Fleischer’s divisive and critically-panned superhero flick, Venom. Hardy’s Eddie Brock is a struggling investigative reporter who is accidentally bonded to an alien entity. It is one of the many symbiotic aliens that has invaded Earth. The symbiosis provides Brock with superpowers, which messes up his life, but also helps him expose the misdoings of a genetics corporation.

Hardy has tried broad comedy with this anti-hero character and delivered wonderful results. The weird mannerisms and ticks we usually find in Hardy’s performance perfectly portray the hilarious relationship between Eddie Brock and the parasitic alien. The actor was equally brilliant in the 2021 sequel. Nevertheless, the lackluster writing and uninspired direction let down Hardy’s enchanting screen presence.

Where to watch: Prime Video

 

9. The Drop (2014)

Image Source: Indiewire

Michael R. Roskam’s The Drop is a fairly entertaining drama, especially elevated by Tom Hardy’s performance. Based on Dennis Lehane’s short story, Animal Rescue, the film revolves around soft-spoken and handsome Bob Saginowski. Hardy’s Bob is kind to animals and works at a bar run by and named after his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini). Bob seems to be a guy with a checkered past, and soon, unwittingly gets into a conflict with the local mobsters.

Hardy’s protagonist is an enigmatic character in an otherwise ordinary crime drama. It’s a thrilling moment when we finally understand what Hardy’s Bob is capable of. Despite Bob‘s mild-mannered and meek nature, Hardy conveys that the character is hiding something through little gestures.

Where to watch: Hulu

 

8. Dunkirk (2017)

Image Source: Variety

Nolan’s WWII drama is based on the real events that unfolded in a northern France coastal city called Dunkirk. Between May 26 and June 4, 1940, German troops advanced into France, trapping several thousand Allied and British soldiers. Nolan’s film uses an ensemble cast to track down the survival of young soldiers caught up in the conflict. Tom Hardy plays the crucial character of Royal Air Force pilot Farrier. He heroically engages in aerial battle to thwart the German Air Force’s attempts to assault the soldiers stranded on the beach.

Nolan particularly wanted Hardy to play Farrier. The character is mostly confined to the cockpit of his plane and utters a few words. Hence, Christopher Nolan felt only an actor of Hardy’s caliber could transcend such physical restrictions and bring out Farrier’s internal conflicts.

Where to watch: Prime Video

 

7. Legend (2015)

best Tom Hardy movies
Image Source: Slant Magazine

Brian Helgeland’s Legend is a conventional biopic of the notorious Cockney gangster twins, The Krays. In the 1960s London, the psychopathic Ronnie Kray and the playboy Reggie Kray left a trail of bodies to become the kingpins of the underworld. Clearly, the best thing about Legend is the wild, creative energy Hardy brings to portray these strikingly different identical twins.

The bar fight scene that starts with Reggie saying, “A paranoid Schizophrenic walks into a bar,” or the poignant moment when Reggie meets his wife (Emily Browning) in the prison – the narrative thrives due to Hardy’s dual roles. It is well-known that Hardy’s fighting skills aren’t limited to on-screen performances. Since The Krays had boxing experience, Hardy underwent extensive boxing training to prepare for the role.

Where to watch: Prime Video

 

6. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Image Source: Hollywood Reporter

Tom Hardy delivered a chilling performance as the Gotham City villain Bane in Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Sadly, it remains underappreciated, as cited by Christopher Nolan himself. Hardy had a tough task in front of him when he was picked to play Batman’s opponent. He had to follow up an iconic villain performance of all time, i.e., Heath Ledger’s Joker. While there will be debate over the quality of The Dark Knight Rises vs its predecessor, there’s no doubt that Hardy’s Bane is as much a terrifying villain as Joker.

What’s particularly mesmerizing about Hardy’s Bane is his vocal performance. The actor spends the entirety of the film wearing a mask that hides the lower half of his face. Therefore, it’s his powerful voice and eyes that exude the menace of this towering supervillain.

Where to watch: Prime Video

 

5. The Revenant (2015)

Image Source: The New York Times

Tom Hardy managed to get his first Academy Award nomination for playing the chief antagonist in Alejandro Inarritu’s snowbound Western, The Revenant. From shooting in Namibia’s deserts for Mad Max Fury Road to shooting in Calgary winter, Hardy moved from one gruesome shoot to another. The film is set in the 19th-century American wilderness. Frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) barely survives a brutal bear attack. His hunting team, led by John Fitzgerald (Hardy), leaves Glass to die. Moreover, the loathsome Fitzgerald kills Glass’ son in the ensuing conflict.

While Hardy has played villainous roles before, Fitzgerald is his most despicable. It’s a tic-filled performance that somehow reminds us of Mad Max. Yet, among the supporting characters, Fitzgerald gets fine character development, and the actor’s distinctive physical presence haunts us. 

Where to watch: Prime Video, Apple TV

 

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4. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Image Source: The Guardian

Tom Hardy has often played roles that demand him to be intense and physically dominant. But even for a mercurial performer like Hardy, working on George Miller’s Mad Max Fury Road was very challenging. Apart from the extremely difficult shoot, it would be an understatement to say that Hardy had issues with the filmmaker, technicians, and even Mad Max Fury Road co-star. Tom Hardy’s Max Rockatansky is unlike the charismatic anti-hero played by Mel Gibson in Miller’s original Mad Max franchise. The actor essentially reinvented the character through his astoundingly nuanced performance.

Tom Hardy presents us with a deeply traumatized man wandering the post-apocalyptic wastelands while trying to retain his humanity. Hardy wears a stoic expression, yet his powerful eyes offer a glimpse into Max’s inner turmoil. The film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

Where to watch: Prime Video, Apple TV

 

3. Warrior (2011)

tom hardy movies netflix
Image Source: Letterboxd

Gavin O’Connor’s sports drama tells the tale of two estranged brothers, Brendan (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy). They enter into a Mixed Martial Arts tournament and eventually fight each other for the championship title. Though Warrior features a fairly narrative arc, the enriching performance at its core elevates the drama. Hardy’s character is a troubled military veteran who seeks his alcoholic father (Nick Nolte) help to train him for MMA bouts.

Similar to Raging Bull (1980), Warrior is a moving study of violent masculinity. And Tom Hardy brings the right amount of resolve and vulnerability to the part. As usual, Hardy intensely prepared for his role. He went through seven days-a-week training for months and turned himself into a full-fledged MMA fighter.

Where to watch: Prime Video

 

2. Locke (2013)

Image Source: The Metaplex

Steven Knight’s Locke is largely set inside a car, documenting the words and actions of a single character. It’s not a thriller or a crime drama. The film is rather about a flawed working-class family man having the toughest night of his life. Tom Hardy’s Ivan Locke drives his SUV and makes a bunch of phone calls on his hands-free mobile device to sort out the problems in his professional and personal life.

Hardy effortlessly constructs this image of Locke as a dedicated family man with a great work ethic. Yet, on this particular night, we see Locke on the verge of losing things that are precious to him. Frankly, if not for Hardy’s mesmerizing, low-key performance, it would’ve been tough to stay invested in this 85-minute drama.

Where to watch: HBO Max, Apple TV

 

1. Bronson (2008)

Image Source: Mubi

Nicolas Winding Refn’s polarizing drama Bronson revolves around the titular brawny prison inmate, who is dubbed as ‘Britain’s most violent prisoner.’ Refn’s film is not a run-of-the-mill biopic/true story about a criminal. It’s rather a terrifying and hyper-stylized self-portrait of a volatile and demented individual. Apart from physically transforming himself to play Bronson, Tom Hardy offers an exhilarating theatrical performance. Refn and Hardy’s idea is to explore how the prisoner sees himself. The prisoner sees violence as an art. Hence, as an artist, Bronson always looks out for an opportunity to stage his most vicious and attention-grabbing performance.

Hardy’s magnetic performance makes such a fascinating glimpse into Bronson’s twisted mind possible. This was Hardy’s most unrestrained, yet his most charismatic and entertaining performance.

 

Where to watch: Apple TV, Vudu

 

Conclusion

There you go! These are the best Tom Hardy movies ranked. The actor has also been part of several TV series throughout his career. He played Heathcliff in the 2009 mini-series Wuthering Heights, on the sets of which he met his co-star and future wife, Charlotte Riley. However, Tom Hardy’s defining performances in a TV series are Peaky Blinders (2014-2022) and Taboo (2017). Other special mentions that didn’t make our list include Child 44 (2015), London Road (2015), and Capone (2020).

What are your favorite Tom Hardy movies? Let’s talk in the comments section.

 

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