Ewan McGregor’s 20 Best Cinematic Performances – Ranked! | Movie
20. Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Lip-syncing in Dennis Potter’s 1993 musical drama Lipstick on Your Collar was very good. Crooning for real against Nicole Kidman, McGregor looks and sounds tense to say the least. But then his entire floundering performance represents a simple wing bump in Baz Luhrmann’s car crash from a musical. “His idea of conveying high emotion is to leave his mouth wide open,” noted critic Anthony Quinn.
19. Little voice (1998)
Found with his director Brassed Off, Mark Herman, for this adaptation of Jim Cartwright’s play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, McGregor has the less interesting role as a telephone engineer in love with a shy songbird (Jane Horrocks). The two are kicked off the screen by Brenda Blethyn as the girl’s showy mother and Michael Caine as the grotesque impresario.
18. Big Fish (2003)
Tim Burton’s Fellini and Circus Style Collection stars McGregor as Edward Bloom, an Alabama dreamer with many occupations from bank robber to traveling salesman of novelty robotic hands. Sharing the role with Albert Finney, he cheerfully responds to whatever the plot has in store for him, including a pair of Siamese twins and a giant with a forehead like a Buick.
17. Trainspotting T2 (2017)
Neglecting its female characters and caught between nostalgia and navel-gazing, the long-delayed sequel is a little depressing. Still, it’s poignant to see McGregor return as a less lively Renton. There are some nice touches – the film starts off with his feet hitting the treadmill in a soulless gym rather than the needle-strewn streets of Edinburgh – though the updated Choose Life monologue is worthy of note. ‘interest.
16. Down with Love (2003)
Taking the Far from Heaven approach to the Pillow Talk era of romantic comedies would have been a good idea if it hadn’t been for Peyton Reed, the recruiter. The film operates at the undergraduate review level, and it’s left to the brave, knowing the performances of McGregor (as a selfish cad) and Renée Zellweger (as a glam writer with a proto-feminist message) from add sparkling.
15. Emma (1996)
It was a shock after his first films with Danny Boyle to find McGregor among the period niceties of this mediocre American adaptation of Jane Austen’s comedy of manners. But not unpleasant: There’s a streak of indiscipline in his portrayal of Frank Churchill that suits the character, while his improvised duet with Gwyneth Paltrow is a silly delight.
14. Brewed (1996)
A coal mine in the early 1990s in Yorkshire is targeted for closure. But wait! Can the local marching band come to the rescue? Pete Postlethwaite is at his best as a group leader fighting the good fight despite his own health; McGregor, fresh out of Trainspotting, is there to attract young audiences. An introduction for viewers not yet ready for Ken Loach.
13. Cassandra’s Dream (2007)
Not actually the rumored disaster, this bizarre thriller dramatically improves on Match Point, Woody Allen’s previous exercise in the London-based murder. A slight praise, perhaps. But at the heart of Cassandra’s dream is a heavy, well-judged sibling dynamic between McGregor, as a broad and arrogant boy, and Colin Farrell, as an uncertain patsy, both drawn into their uncle’s bloodthirsty plans. Questionable cockney accents increase the pleasure.
12. Wire (2011)
McGregor’s forays into action territory have been of varying success: he was listless in The Phantom Menace and functional in The Island, but clearly had fun as the skin-peeling villain in Birds of the Wild. prey. Steven Soderbergh’s eye-catching thriller, however, is Harvest’s Choice. McGregor, Michael Fassbender and Channing Tatum are among the men crazy enough to take on mixed martial arts champion Gina Carano.
11. The Impossible (2012)
This account of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia is a disaster film of a different genre. McGregor is on vacation in Thailand with his family when nature gets mean. Based on the ordeal of a Spanish family, all names have been anglicized to increase the film’s commercial chances.
10. Shallow Grave (1994)
That’s where it all started for the Trainspotting gang: McGregor, director Boyle, producer Andrew Macdonald and writer John Hodge. Their first collaboration was an insensitive semi-comedy thriller about three friends (Kerry Fox and Christopher Eccleston are the others) whose new roommate (Keith Allen) expires in his bed, leaving behind a stash of dirty money. All flash, gory, and offhand, the film makes absolutely no sense, but now looks like a harbinger of the worst excesses of the 1990s: cruel Britannia indeed.
9. Beginners (2010)
Oliver (McGregor), graphic designer and lost soul in LA, bumps into Anna (Mélanie Laurent), an actress with laryngitis, who communicates with pen and paper. You’ve heard of the romcom “meet cute” convention: it’s meet mute. They make a nice couple, but the two actors must have known they were giving the film back to Christopher Plummer, who won an Oscar for playing Oliver’s father, Hal, 75, newly widowed and just out of the closet when cancer strikes.
8. I love you Phillip Morris (2009)
“It really happened – it really happened,” reads the opening title of this crazier-than-life comedy about a crook (Jim Carrey) who keeps getting out of jail to be with his true love. And why wouldn’t he, when this beau is played by McGregor at his highest level? Maybe it’s knowing the lion’s share of the madness rests on Carrey, but McGregor has rarely seemed so relaxed; Philip French compared his shy performance to Richard Beckinsale’s work on the sitcom Porridge.
7. The Pillow Book (1996)
Nagiko (Vivian Wu) wants a lover who can satisfy her between the sheets – of paper, that is. She looks for a calligrapher with lead in his pencil and ink in his jar. Advance McGregor, who offers his body as a parchment she can write on. No price to guess from this synopsis that the director is Peter Greenaway. But the arthouse provocateur is at its sweetest here, as McGregor manages to seem enigmatic despite having spent much of the film naked.
6. The Phantom (2010)
In Roman Polanski’s expert adaptation of Robert Harris’ Blair-era political thriller, McGregor is hooted as a negro hired to deliver the memoir of a Liberal Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan) accused of war crimes after he handed over suspected terrorists to the CIA for torture. McGregor is mildly clumsy, so ill-equipped for derring-do that he fails miserably even to pedal a bicycle in a gravel driveway. Only Olivia Williams, in the role of My Blair Lady, has more fun than him.
5. A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
Times have been good for McGregor’s third collaboration with Boyle, which now looks like their most radical film together: a crazy comedic thriller in which he plays an hapless kidnapper whose hostage (Cameron Diaz) revolves around him; Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo are angels. After that, the paths of actor and director diverged for two decades when Leonardo DiCaprio was cast at McGregor in The Beach. “He feels like we betrayed him,” Boyle said, “and I think he’s right.”
4. Doctor Sleep (2019)
Never mind room 237: the idea of a sequel to The Shining seemed intended for room 101. How surprising then, not only that the film has a distinct sensibility, rhythm and tone of the original, but also that it is part of it. the most patient and annoying horror movies of recent years. McGregor is well underrated as adult Danny Torrance, still struggling with his extrasensory abilities, while Rebecca Ferguson is terrifying as some sort of dapper dementor in a top hat.
3. Trainspotting (1996)
Long before a sweat-soaked McGregor found his way onto the walls of a million dorm rooms, it was clear that this dizzying, bittersweet flick of Irvine Welsh’s novel would persuade the world to choose Ewan. Director Boyle borrows the visual pizzazz from A Clockwork Orange, so it’s only fitting that his lead role evokes the evil mischief of a young Malcolm McDowell. The highlight: his trip to the worst toilets in Scotland, which turns into a euphoric underwater fantasy that Powell and Pressburger would be proud of.
2. Velvet Gold Mine (1998)
Todd Haynes’ glittering version on Citizen Kane was greeted with bemusement by a world that had anticipated Trainspotting in platform shoes. “Nice soundtrack, too bad for the film,” laughed Face magazine. But surely even enemies could find love in their hearts for McGregor’s delusional ride as Curt Wild, an Iggy rocker raised by wolves and slaughtered by ECT. He gets along with Jonathan Rhys Meyers (as Bowie-esque hero) and Christian Bale (as star-eyed fan) and drop his kecks on stage. Gadzooks!
1. Young Adam (2003)
The only undisputed masterpiece on McGregor’s resume is David Mackenzie’s relentless adaptation of Alexander Trocchi’s 1954 novel about Death and Desire. As Joe, an amoral wanderer plodding on a barge between Glasgow and Edinburgh, McGregor is chillingly accurate in bringing up what literary critic John Pringle has called “the narcissistic neurotic disorder that is Joe’s consciousness.” He succeeds in the miracle of convincing the character’s exterior emptiness. The rest of the cast are superb, including Tilda Swinton and Emily Mortimer, with whom McGregor shares some of the most disturbing sex scenes in modern cinema. Fingers crossed, it is within him to become so courageous again one day.