From performing Oklahoma! on stage to his numerous roles as The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman has gone from Australian TV to being one of the most popular superheroes on-screen.
Here is my ranking of his performances (not of the films themselves) to date:
1. The X-Men franchise
The origin films may bot be as good as the rest of the X-Men franchise, but we love Jackman as Wolverine all the same. He’s been the character from the very beginning and has stuck with it right up until his final film, Logan, in 2017.
I couldn’t possibly pick my favourite performance from him in any of these films as it’s great to see how he progressed from the original X-Men films to his shorter cameos in the more recent films. Most of all, I enjoy watching him get more and more muscley with every instalment.
2. Les Miserables (2012)
Every time I watch this film, I’m in a constant flux between singing at the top of my voice and then crying my eyes out. I’ve seen the London stage production of the show, but I found this adaptation just as powerful.
The whole of the cast are incredibly talented, and it’s just a beautiful film to watch. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are absolutely incredible in the main leads, and it is their characters who give the most impact. The fact that the cast all sang their songs live on set means that you get to hear every choke in their voices, and therefore feel every emotion that their characters are feeling. This is why scenes of Jackman and Hathaway stand out above all else; their characters aren’t made to look pretty when the cameras are put so close to their faces, and the actors aren’t made to sing every key perfectly (though they do a bloody good job of it despite their range of emotions whilst singing), instead their performances are all about looking and feeling as real as they can. The two undeniably deserve the awards they have received for their performances so far, but the whole cast is worthy of appraisal, though.
3. The Greatest Showman (2012)
The casting of this film is perfect. Hugh Jackman is the only man for the job. I love that he can go from all singing and all dancing to one of the best superheroes around, without any question, and that he has such passion for these projects and puts everything that he has into his performance and into getting a film like this off the ground.
The Greatest Showman is now my go-to feel-good film. It may be highly fictionalised but it is the perfect family film, and most definitely one that I am going to watch over and over again for many years to come.
4. The Prestige (2006)
Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale make brilliant leads and it is their performances that entrap you in this ingeniously crafted puzzle that’s full of twists and turns. Even many watches later, I still forget how it comes together at the end and am forever blown away by it.
With the excellent supporting roles from the likes of Michael Caine, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, and even David Bowie, as well, The Prestige is a truly masterful film from the outstanding director that is Christopher Nolan.
5. Prisoners (2013)
Prisoners is a chilling, dark, and at times terrifying, dramatic thriller that will result in you questioning your own morality.
The direction is fantastic, with the somewhat disturbing story being handled excellently and the character studies breaking through, Most of all, Prisoners is a great mystery, not letting anything slip and keeping you guessing until the very last minute, literally. The performances are all fantastic, too, with Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal giving excellent leads.
My Rankings Continued:
- 6. The Fountain – – The Fountain is quite complicated on a first viewing, so it’s definitely worth a second watch. The end comes together really well and brings the film together perfectly, but I did feel that the film gave the impression that it was trying to be more clever than it actually was. Weisz and Jackman have a brilliant chemistry, though, and both are extremely compelling. The cinematography is pretty incredible, too.
- 7. Van Helsing – – I don’t want to call it a guilty pleasure because I can’t find anything THAT bad to feel guilty about. There’s Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, werewolves, lots of action, humour, and it all works together quite well. It’s not boring because Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale have a lot of fun with their roles, and David Wenham is always hilarious in support. I really can’t find anything to fault, unless I was going to take it too seriously.
- 8. Scoop – – Much like Woody Allen’s Match Point, which also stars Scarlett Johansson, I really like his modern-day comedy crimes. I do prefer Allen working on this combination of genres, with Manhattan Murder Mystery being my favourite film of his, compared to his beautifully located romances, because he knows how to make the genres work together so well. Allen is completely tolerable co-leading his own film, which sometimes I find irritating, and Hugh Jackman is fantastic, too.
- 9. Eddie The Eagle – – There really is no more heart-warming, uplifting story than that of Eddie the Eagle. Taron Egerton gives an absolutely amazing performance and it’s no wonder that’s gone on to do such brilliant things since this film.
- 10. Kate & Leopold – – Well, that was all rather ridiculous, wasn’t it? I know that Hugh Jackman is handsome but would you really give up your entire life to go back in time to be with him? I just don’t know – it’s a pretty rubbish storyline from that point of view. This film is one of those horribly cheesy rom-coms, but that’s what it’s good for.
- 11. Chappie – – I found the concept a little creepy at first with a robot so desperate for a ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’, but once he’s grown up into a wanna-be gangster Chappie is a lot of fun. Hugh Jackman’s character doesn’t have a big enough impact – why is he so evil anyway?! – but Neill Blomkamp how to create brilliantly bizarre futures.
- 12. Deception – – A fairly clever film that has its original moments. I thought that it was an interesting role for Hugh Jackman, but Ewan McGregor was very average and whilst Michelle Williams was the reason I watched this film at all, she has done far better. It was all pretty mediocre but it still had its surprises and remained interesting for the most part.
- 13. Swordfish – – This feels a lot older than 2001, but I liked watching a young (ish) Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry. As a computer hacker thriller, Swordfish is decent enough, but it feels a lot longer than it’s 100-minute runtime and I won’t be watching it again any time soon.
- 14. Real Steel – – A good family sci-fi that is a lot of fun your the younger audience. It’s nice to see Hugh Jackman as a father figure dancing around with robots and it makes a nice change to see him in such a laid back role. It may be cheesy and sentimental but there’s a lot to like about Real Steel, despite it being nothing extraordinary.
- 15. Pan – – Joe Wright is one of my favourite directors, but this is the only film of his that I won’t be watching again. Even Hugh Jackman didn’t help me to enjoy this, although I did like Garrett Hedlund and Rooney Mara. I just didn’t feel any of the adventure, fantasy, or fairy magic that a film about Peter Pan needs.
- 16. Someone Like You – – Ahh, a young(ish) Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman. This should have been an adorable early 00’s rom-com, but the script wasn’t there for the two to work off.
- 17. Australia – – I’m finding it hard to believe that the same Baz Luhrmann directed this. With him behind the camera and Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in the romantic lead, I thought I would have been in for a right treat with this. I was severely disappointed. I will admit, though, I did enjoy the final ten minutes or so, as this was the only point where I felt any kind of emotional engagement with the characters. At nearly three hours long, however, there just wasn’t enough story there to keep you interested for even half that long.
- 18. Paperback Hero – – Back in the days when Hugh Jackman was a real Aussie! Let’s just be glad he went on to better things.
- 19. Movie 43 – – All I really have to say is that if I went to the cinema to see this, I would have walked out in the first ten seconds. Why do films like this need to be made?
Note: I still need to watch Bad Education, The Front Runner, Butter, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and Erskineville Kings.