Ryan Reynolds is hard to beat when it comes to effortless charisma and wry wit. Even though the Vancouver-born actor is mostly unrivaled in those categories, he took a while to establish himself as a legitimate movie star. Reynolds’ most notable early role was as a co-lead on ABC’s ’90s sitcom Two Guys and a Girl (for which he was frequently compared to Jim Carrey), but his transition to the big screen wasn’t an easy one.
Reynolds ventured into the superhero genre after a decade of hit-or-miss comedies. After 2011’s Green Lantern fizzled, he’d eventually hit the jackpot with 2016’s Deadpool (his second time playing the “Merc with a Mouth” after X-Men Origins: Wolverine), utilizing Reynolds’ naughty humor and comic delivery to perfection.
We’ve compiled a quick Top 11 of Ryan Reynolds’ best films and performances. These are Reynolds’ best films, ranging from dramas to rom-coms to high-octane action flicks.
10. Definitely, Maybe (2008)
Ryan Reynolds plays a father who tells his ten-year-old daughter (Abigail Breslin) the tales of his previous romantic relationships, including how he ended up marrying her mother, to help explain his impending divorce in a rom-com that resembles CBS’ How I Met Your Mother just a little bit. This film is a delightful, clever romantic dramedy with Isla Fisher, Rachel Weisz, and Elizabeth Banks as well.
9. Adventureland (2009)
Adventureland is a comedy about summertime park employees in 1987 that was written and directed by Greg Mottola of Superbad and is loosely based on the theme park in upstate New York.
Reynolds plays the older maintenance man for the Fun Zone, which is a supporting role, but it’s still a fantastic way to use him in the ensemble (while also nodding to his previous “big fish in a small pond” performances he’d had in Waiting and Van Wilder). Along with Reynolds, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and Martin Starr, Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart play the lead roles.
8. The Proposal (2009)
2009’s The Proposal from Anne Fletcher of Step Up and 27 Dresses was like a charisma explosion. In this romantic comedy, which starred Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, a female executive convinces her assistant to pose as her fiancé in order to prevent being deported to Canada.
Here, Reynolds and Bullocks had incredible chemistry because they both had perfect comedic timing and had the unique ability to play off one another. Malin Akerman, Craig T. Nelson, Mary Steenburgen, and Betty White are also featured.
7. Buried (2010)
Claustrophobic suspense Reynolds’ 2010 album Buried was another risky departure. It paid off, however, by utilising very little to generate a great deal of tension.
As an American truck driver in Iraq was kidnapped and buried alive in a coffin with only a lighter, flask, flashlight, knife, glow sticks, pen, and pencil. Reynolds gave a frantic, tense performance as a man desperately attempting to survive this real-time trial.
6. Deadpool 2 (2018)
Even though Deadpool 2 was not the lightning-in-a-bottle success that the first film was, it was still a ferociously funny film that was grosser and bloodier than its predecessor.
Deadpool 2 depicted Ryan Reynolds’ sassy superhero reeling from a tragedy and attempting to rebuild his life with a surrogate family of supers, including Josh Brolin’s future warrior Cable, Zazie Beetz’s “luck isn’t a superpower” Domino, and Julian Dennison’s pyrokinetic Russell (whom Deadpool is intent on saving from a heel turn).
5. Free Guy (2021)
Ryan Reynolds gave a riotously entertaining performance in an eye-popping, imaginative setting as an NPC in a GTA-style MMO who gains sentience and falls in love with a real-world player character for the film Free Guy, which emerged after several pandemic delays to a healthy box office gross.
Free Guy demonstrated that Reynolds could create an original character with a catchy concept and charming self-aware humor. The cast also includes Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery, and Taika Waititi.
4. Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)
In the 2019 adventure-mystery Pokemon Detective Pikachu, Ryan Reynolds lent his warm whimsy to the Pokemon universe by providing the voice of Pikachu. Detective Pikachu, co-starring Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe, and Bill Nighy, was a rare delight within the realm of video game movies, thanks largely to Ryan Reynolds’ appeal (and facial-motion capture) as the coffee-obsessed detective, in an endearingly comedic performance that was closer to his subversive Deadpool persona than you’d expect from a Pokemon film.
3. The Adam Project (2022)
The Adam Project, helmed by Shawn Levy of Stranger Things and Free Guy, is a futuristic family comedy that captures the spirit of 1980s science fiction.
Reynolds portrays a pilot from a dystopian future who travels back in time to discover the truth behind his wife’s disappearance, only to find himself in the wrong year and face-to-face with his 12-year-old self (Walker Scobell). Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, and Zoe Saldaa co-star in The Adam Project, which is a thoughtful mash-up of films such as Back to the Future and The Last Starfighter. Check out our list of the best Netflix sci-fi films for additional recommendations.
2. Mississippi Grind (2015)
One of the smaller films on this list, Mississippi Grind, from (future) Captain Marvel directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, stars Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn in a drama about a gambling addict on the road to a high-stakes poker game in New Orleans who believes that his newfound friend (Reynolds) is a good-luck charm.
Reynolds and Mendelsohn collaborate to create a timeless tragicomedy character study.
1. Deadpool (2016)
Ryan Reynolds has discovered the role he was destined to play. In 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where Reynolds first portrayed mercenary Wade Wilson, fans were cruelly teased by the casting of Reynolds as Deadpool (who was robbed of his ability to speak and snark in the third act).
However, Tim Miller’s Deadpool got everything right, and the perfection of this actor/IP pairing became immediately apparent. Deadpool was a triumph of comedy-action, filled with hilarious one-liners, stylish action, and loads of entertaining fan service.
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Disclaimer: The data presented pertains to Netflix in the United States. May not reflect the complete Netflix catalog.