Adam Driver is one of the greatest actors of his generation. He first appeared on the scene in 2010 in an episode of Law & Order. Since then, this Julliard-trained actor has become a favorite of many modern-day auteurs and has been involved in both blockbusters and independent cinema. Here are my top 5 performances of Adam Driver so far.
- Marriage Story (95% RT): Is this even a surprise? Noah Baumbach’s 2019 film Marriage Story is such a perfect showcase role for an actor. Everyone is aware of the often-memed screaming match between Charlie and Nicole, but there are so many smaller, quieter moments that he’s able to execute perfectly and break your heart. He has wonderful chemistry with Scarlett Johansson and the young actor who plays their son Henry, Azhy Robertson. One day we will look back at 2019 and wonder how he didn’t win an Oscar for the role. Marriage Story is streaming on Netflix.
2. Star Wars Sequel Trilogy (93%, 91%, 52% RT): I couldn’t choose just one film from the franchise. Despite being a ridiculously tall and large man, he’s so believable as a temper-tantrum-throwing man-child that feels the pressure of his family legacy. He plays the menace and the emotional conflict so well. There should also be a shoutout for the short time he got to be Ben Solo in The Rise of Skywalker. Purely through his physical performance was he able to tell us everything we needed to know about redeemed Ben. It felt like he was channeling Han Solo without imitating him. Driver was the best part of the sequel trilogy, and it’s Disney’s biggest mistake leaving no option for him to return in the future. The trilogy can be streamed on Disney+.
3. The Last Duel (85% RT): How unfortunately under-seen and under-appreciated this movie was 2 years ago. Driver’s looks are perfectly suited for this medieval “me-too” tale. The film is divided into three separate parts, with each character’s point of view slightly different from the others. The level of nuance needed to properly tell this story is very high. A slight hesitation and a moment of eye contact can completely change the narrative, especially since we see the same story unfold three separate times. The Last Duel can be streamed on HBO Max.
4. Annette (71% RT): This musical by French director Leo Carax is very strange, but if you can get on the wavelength of the film, there’s a big chance you’ll like it. It is slightly less accessible and compelling than most of Driver’s films, but his performance in Annette is completely dedicated and singular. It is a sung-through musical with songs by The Sparks Brothers. Driver plays a stand-up comedian with a penchant for pushing the envelope. While this isn’t my favorite Adam Driver movie, his performance here is one of his most brilliant. Annette can be streamed on Prime Video.
5. Paterson (96% RT): This is one of those independent darlings that Driver has blessed us with. This Jim Jarmusch picture is a perfect slice-of-life film that shows the week of Paterson (Driver), who lives in Paterson New Jersey, drives a bus, and writes poetry. Despite much of Driver’s filmography being large, extroverted performances, this is a completely quiet, pure performance in a movie about the beauty of daily life. This is a wonderful gem of a movie that completes the Driver filmography. It can be streamed on Prime Video.