The best Ethan Hawke movies, from Training Day to Boyhood

What are the best ethan hawke movies? After nearly 40 years in the film industry, there are so many great roles on Ethan Hawke’s long list of credits that it’s pretty hard to narrow it all down to the best of the best, but we gave it a shot anyway. .

Hawke started young, landing his first big-screen role at age 15, with the 1985 sci-fi film Explorers. Just four years later, Hawke would go on to star in the classic drama Dead Poets Society, alongside Robin Williams. For Hawke, those roles in the 80s were more than just a flash in the pan, they would be the foundation upon which a superb career would be built.

So what are the best ethan hawke movies? We’ve got it all, horror movies, thrillers and even romance movies for good measure, because in such a distinguished career, there’s a bit of something for everyone in Ethan’s eclectic filmography. Hawke. Let’s take a look then, shall we?

What are Ethan Hawke’s best movies?

  • The purge
  • The black phone
  • Claim
  • before sunrise
  • Dead Poets Society
  • Childhood
  • The man from the north
  • First reformed
  • training day

The Purge (2013)

It seems that in the early 2010s, Ethan Hawke took a liking to sinking into his projects, teaming up with horror film studio Blumhouse on several occasions.

The Purge franchise now has five movies and a TV series, but Ethan Hawke was at the heart of the first installment of The Purge movie universe. While the series may have run out of steam by now, the original film was a brilliantly tense and provocative thrill ride.

Best Ethan Hawke Movies: Ethan Hawke as The Grabber in The Black Phone

The Black Phone (2022)

Hawke’s second collaboration with Scott Derrickson doesn’t quite reach the heights of Sinister (see below), but it’s still a delightfully spooky film with a seriously sinister villain.

The Grabber is a chilling mercurial adversary, and Hawke’s messy performance turns what could have been a forgettable villain into something truly terrifying.

Best Ethan Hawke Movies: Ethan Hawke in Sinister

Sinister (2012)

If The Purge wasn’t dark enough for you, then we’re pretty sure Sinister will be the perfect slice of horror for you. Reader be warned, this movie is terrifying, super graphic, and you shouldn’t watch it alone.

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That said, there are some pretty cool kills in Sinister that are worth watching. This film was directed by Scott Derrickson, the director of the MCU film Doctor Strange, and the filmmaker with whom Hawke has teamed up again for his latest film, The Black Phone.

Ethan Hawke's Best Movies: Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise (1995)

Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy is widely regarded as one of the most perfect trilogies in movie history, and the first installment of this beautiful love story is definitely one of the best films of all time.

Before Sunrise is wonderfully simple – just two young souls wandering Venice, getting to know each other on one fateful night, falling in love and then disappearing from each other’s lives. Poetry in motion!

Ethan Hawke's Best Movies: Dead Poets Society

Society of Dead Poets (1989)

Robin Williams is best known for his work in comedies, but whenever he took on dramatic roles, few could put a glove on him. Williams directs a fantastic ensemble in this moving coming-of-age tale.

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A young Ethan Hawke may not have a big role to play, but as a member of the titular company he contributes to the heart and soul of the film. If you’re settling in to watch this for the first time, prepare for tears!

Best Ethan Hawke Movies: Boyhood

Childhood (2014)

Hawke once again teamed up with Richard Linklater for the incredibly ambitious Boyhood project, which took 12 years to film.

Boyhood details the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he grows from a young child to a young man, with Hawke playing his father. As is usually the case with Linklater movies, this is such a simple and sweet story, but it’s guaranteed to get you in the mood.

Best Ethan Hawke Movies: Ethan Hawke as King Aurvandil in The Northman

The Man from the North (2022)

It’s turning out to be quite a year for Ethan Hawke in 2022. Not only has he delved into the MCU timeline as a villain in Moon Knight and starred in the new horror flick The Black Phone, but he’s also played a key role in the epic Viking revenge story The Northman, from visionary director Robert Eggers.

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“I will avenge you, Father,” promises Amleth, as he embarks on his deadly mission to take the life of the man who killed his beloved father. Hawke is the dad in question and brings his captivating screen presence to the role of King Aurvandill.

Best Ethan Hawke Movies: Ethan Hawke as Reverend Toller in First Reformed

First reformed (2017)

It’s funny how some of these Ethan Hawke movies have to come with a warning. Well, we told you Sinister was damn scary, and now we’re here to tell you First Reformed is damn dark. A fun movie it isn’t, but it’s certainly powerful.

Hawke stars as Reverend Toller, a pastor in a small church, who begins to have a crisis of faith. It’s a real powerhouse performance from Hawke, and Paul Schrader (who wrote Taxi Driver among many other great screenplays), directs the hell (no pun intended).

Best Ethan Hawke Movies: Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke in Training Day

Training Day (2001)

Cop buddy movies don’t get any more badass than that. When you get Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington together, you know you’re going to get something pretty special, and Training Day is most definitely special.

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Practice Day is cool, action-packed and it’s a edge-of-your-seat thriller with a finale that will take your breath away. It’s also the source of the iconic Denzel Washington GIF, where he hugs his chest in relief, so the legacy of Training Day is pretty much immeasurable.

There you have it, these are the best Ethan Hawke movies. Why not check out our review of The Black Phone, Hawke’s latest film. Or if you want to delve into more actor filmographies, take a look at our list of the best Chris Hemsworth movies.

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