Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese called Adam Driver, “one of the best, if not the best, actors of his generation”. Renowned director Terry Gilliam suggested Driver is the best after working with him on the criminally overlooked, long-gestating The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.
After a whirlwind few years, he has become one of the best actors around. With so many movies under his portfolio, all with varying genres, it’s hard to nail down which are some of his best movies. Comedies, historical dramas, and more, these are the best Adam Driver movies that you should watch.
Who is Adam Driver?
Bron in San Diego, California, Adam Douglas Driver started acting at an early age during his attendance in high school where he appeared in plays. Soon after high school he enlisted in the Marines, but after two years he was medically discharged after suffering from an injury which prevented him from being deployed.
He then changed directions and started studying drama at Juillard School in New York City, thus graduating in 2009. He started acting on Braodway soon after, with one of his first performances being cast in Lena Dunham’s series Girls as Adam Sackler, a love interest.
What Was His First Movie?
While his first appearance on the big screen was during the TV show, Girls, a comedy about a group of girls in their early 20s, his first film was during smaller roles in J. Edgar (2011) and Lincoln (2012).
In J. Edgar, Driver players Walter Lyle, a gasoline attendant who is given a questionable bill from a man later identified as Bruno Richard Hauptmann. And in Lincoln, Driver players Samuel Beckwith, a telegraph and cipher officer.
Which Movie Made Him Famous?
Since his start in 2011, Adam Driver really grew in the industry fast. His first major roles were in This is Where I Leave You (2014), and Silence (2016) as well as iconic Kylo Ren in the Star Wars saga The Force Awakens (2015).
It only took him a few years to receive his first major role, and then quickly became an icon in the films that he was part of.
Since then, he’s been in some great major role movies such as 65 (2018), Blackkklansman (2023) and The Last Duel (2021), all recieving high praise for his stunning performances.
Best Adam Driver Movies
It’s shown that Adam Driver is someone that is here to stay, so what are some of his best movies for those that want to deep-dive into his filmography? There are several films that you can pick from, all with several different genres and stories.
Adam Driver has proven that he can work with any film handed to him, from science fiction, action, romance to even historical dramas. So, let’s go through some of the best Adam Driver movies and where you can find them.
16. Lincoln (2012)
Known for being one of Adam Driver’s first films, Lincoln is a historical drama that is set in 1865 during the American Civil War as it’s coming to a conclusion. The film follows U.S. president Abraham Lincoln as he tries to forever ban slavery from the United States.
It’s a race against time as Lincoln deals with a crisis of which avenue to take first, end slavery or end the war. In the film, Driver plays Samuel Beckwith, a telegraph and cipher officer to Ulysses S. Grant. He was present as Grant’s telegraph officer on Lincoln’s visits. While he only had a few lines, he was able to make a strong impression at a very early start of his career.
15. Hungry Hearts (2014)
This is a harrowing story of a couple who decides to try to make it work after a chance meeting in a bathroom abroad and a sudden, accidental pregnancy not long thereafter.
Without spoiling too much, suffice it to say Driver’s Jude and Alba Rohrwacher’s Mina do not see eye to eye when it comes to how to raise their child.
Driver won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor (and Rohrwacher for Best Actress) at the Venice International Film Festival where Hungry Hearts premiered back in 2014, and for good reason. Many world-class actors have earned the distinction such as Oscar winners Sean Penn, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Colin Firth, Javier Bardem, and Jack Lemmon, to name some.
CHECK OUT: Best Pedro Pascal Movies and Shows
14. 65 (2023)
One of the most recent films by Adam Driver is also one of his best. 65 follows an astronaut, Mills, who crash lands on a mysterious planet and is stranded. In order to get rescues, Mills has to traverse across the unknown planet in hopes to find a way to communicate with someone.
Soon, Mills realizes that he’s not alone, and that the planet is riddled with dangerous prehistoric creatures. The film quickly becomes an epic fight to survive. This science fiction thriller will make sure that you stay on the edge of your seat.
From the writers of A Quiet Place, this is one of the best Adam Driver movies around right now.
13. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)
This is one of the most charismatic lead comedic performances of the 21st century.
Driver plays Toby, a precocious, temperamental, misanthropic director who’s attempting to assemble an ad campaign with a Don Quixote theme. He eventually meets Jonathan Pryce’s character, Javier, a shoemaker who starred in Toby’s student film when the young man was in college abroad.
Now, Javier actually believes he’s Don Quixote. Pryce is hysterical, and Driver deals with him in hilarious ways. Just to state something obvious yet amazing: both men received Best Actor Oscar nominations this year. They work together in this film. It’s as awesome as it sounds.
This really is a Terry Gilliam special. After so many years in development hell, believe it or not, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote lives up to the hype.
12. The Report (2019)
This is based on the true story of a report that covered the CIA’s torture program of extreme interrogation techniques. Much of that torture report is redacted, yet the revelations unearthed in this movie are stunning enough.
Driver portrays Daniel Jones, who went through thousands of government documents over a five-year period to compile the report. He worked closely with Dianne Feinstein, played wonderfully by Annette Bening.
There’s a ton of information flying around in this dialogue-heavy affair, yet it’s presented in a digestible way. Well, sort of, because you do see some of the torture referenced in the report, and it’s hard to watch.
Without getting any more detailed than that, definitely check this out, especially if you’re a history buff. Or check it out if you just enjoy watching Driver crush it.
11. Silence (2016)
Silence is a lengthy-marinating project from an even more legendary director. Martin Scorsese directed this film of 17th-century Jesuit priests, portrayed by Driver and Andrew Garfield, who quest forth on a mission trip to Japan and face brutal religious persecution.
For his supporting role — Garfield is definitely the central character — Driver lost over 50 pounds. His physical transformation is stunning, and it’s one of the more raw, unnerving roles he’s had.
10. While We’re Young (2014)
Co-star Ben Stiller compared Driver to a young Marlon Brando after working with him on this film, which is some of the highest praise an actor can get. We’re seeing a trend here, no?
Playing a slithering, rather ill-intentioned hipster and pseudo-filmmaker named Jamie in While We’re Young, Driver’s character, along with his wife Darby (Amanda Seyfried), coax their way into socializing with Josh (Stiller) and his wife Cornelia (Naomi Watts) and make the older couple feel young again.
It’s a lot of really cerebral dialogue, and especially the beginning of this movie feels perhaps better suited for the stage. However, whenever Driver pops up, like in many of his roles, you never quite know what’s going to happen or where exactly he’s coming from. And that’s meant to be a compliment.
One highlight is a mini-retreat where the quartet trips out on ayahuasca. This is a film that may well grow on you after you’ve seen it, but again Driver is must-see viewing, especially for those fascinated by the craft of acting.
9. The Last Duel (2021)
This historical action drama is based on true events of France’s last trial by combat in the Middle Ages. Based on the 2004 book sharing the same name, The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in medieval France by Eric Jager, the film is set in medieval France and was directed by Ridely Scott.
The story follows the Knight Jean de Carrouges, played by Matt Damon, who challenges his former friend, squire Jacques Le Gris, played by Driver, to a judicial duel after Jean’s wife Marguerite accuses Le Gris of rape. The events leading up to this duel are divided to show the contradictory perspectives of the three main characters.
8. The Last Jedi (2017)
The Last Jedi follows The Force Awakens and is a continuation on the story of Rey and Finn on their journey to save the galaxy from Kylo Ren. In this episode, Rey, a desert scavenger, seeks out Luke Skywalker in hopes of turning the tide for the Resistance in the fight against Kylo Rent and the First Order.
Finn, an ex-stormtrooper, and Poe Dameron attempts to escape a First Order attack. This was also the first posthumous film performance by Fisher, who died in December 2016. The film is dedicated to her.
7. Logan Lucky (2017)
There’s no question Driver does funny well, but this is a far different flavor of humor than he’s offered before. Yes, his character does have some neurosis going on, yet Clyde Logan’s thought process is so deliberate that it alters Driver’s characterization so drastically from any other role he’s played.
What a fun cast this is, too. As was the case in ‘What If?’, Driver shares scenes in Logan Lucky with another franchise giant, James Bond himself: Daniel Craig’s bleach-blond Joe Bang.
There’s an elaborate heist plot that Bang has to help Clyde and Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) execute. Director Steven Soderbergh channels his experience in the Oceans films to deliver another great caper comedy.
Tatum proved he could be incredibly funny in the 21 Jump Street reboot. He and Driver are outstanding as brothers from West Virginia whose hearts are ultimately in the right place despite their illegal activities.
6. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Playing a small but memorable supporting role as musician Al Cody in the Coen Brothers’ gloomy portrait of the folk music scene in early 1960s New York City, Driver’s comic timing really stands out here.
The best scene is easily in the recording studio. Driver’s Cody is seated around a microphone with guitar-playing Oscar Isaac’s eponymous character and none other than Justin Timberlake.
JT’s character Jim writes a corny, poppy song about the space race titled, “Please Mr. Kennedy,” to which Al Cody contributes pre-recording grunts and strange vocal warm-up techniques. Once the session officially clears for liftoff, the song is highlighted by Cody’s interjecting “Outer!” “Space!” and “Uh-Oh!” backing vocals.
Inside Llewyn Davis is a rather depressing movie overall, and Llewyn is not the most likable character in the way that central protagonists often are. But even the bit of time Driver is on the screen is worth the watch.
5. The Meyerowitz Stories (2017)
This comedy drama was directed and written by Noah Baumback. With big stars like Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Thompson, the film follows a group of dysfunctional adult siblings trying to live in the shadow of their father.
Each sibling has their own concerns and faults and must come together to help with their father, Harold’s recent diagnosis of chronic subdural hematoma, which is a collection of blood that gathers between the inner layer surrounding the brain.
Critics praised the film, applauding Baumbach’s writing and also praising Sandler for his performance. Unfortunately, Driver only played a smaller role of Randy, a client of Matthew. The film competed for the Palme d’Or and also won the Palm Dog at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
4. The Force Awakens (2015)
One of Driver’s most well known roles was in one of the many Star Wars films playing Kylo Ren, the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa Skywalker. Kylo Ren is seduced to the dark side of the force and is the main antagonist in this series. The film follows Rey, a young desert scavenger, and Finn, ex-stormtrooper, as they join forces with Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Rey and Finn are thrown into the middle of a battle between the Resistance and the daunting legions of the First Order and must do everything in their power to find the one hope of restoring peace.
3. Marriage Story (2019)
Driver stars as Charlie, whose character is going through a divorce with Nicole (Scarlett Johansson). She’s an actor who met Charlie by chance and has seen him emerge as a successful theatre director in New York.
All the supporting players in this film are phenomenal as well. Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, and Alan Alda all play divorce lawyers, with Dern figuring in most prominently. But the two leads really shine in Marriage Story. Writer-director Baumbach is meticulous about his cerebral dialogue in that what’s on the page is what’s said. There’s very little improvisation, and it’s more like theatre acting in that way.
There’s an argument scene between Driver and Johansson that will go down as one of the best sequences ever in a domestic drama. It’s that good.
2. Paterson (2016)
In a role that’s quite a departure from his obnoxious, impulsive breakout character on the TV show Girls, Driver takes the measured lead in this quiet film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch.
Set in Paterson, New Jersey, Paterson follows a bus driver named Paterson (Driver) who finds beauty in the simplicity of a structured daily schedule in a small Northeastern town.
In most of his spare time, be it on a lunch break or on off days from work, Paterson writes poetry that he keeps to himself in a notebook. Paterson’s domestic partner Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) encourages her intensely private man to at the very least print off the poems from his notebook, which he’s reluctant to do.
Meanwhile, Paterson encourages Laura’s various creative endeavors and her big dreams, creating a delightful, supportive dynamic. Their conflict stems primarily from their dog, which I won’t spoil here.
This slice-of-life portrait doesn’t follow a three-act structure with a cathartic climax, so don’t go in expecting anything of that variety. It’s largely a showcase for Driver’s ability to communicate without speaking as he quietly observes the world around him.
1. Blackkklansman (2018)
Blackkklansman came out in 2018 and is a biography, comedy and crime drama that follows Ron Stallworth in the early 1970s. He was the first Black officer in the Colorado Springs, Colorado Police Department. When he was initially assigned work in the records room, he started to recieve racial slurs from coworkers.
Soon, Stallworth requests a transfer to go undercover, and is soon assigned to infiltrates the local Ku Klux Klan branch led by a Jewish Surrogate. All of which, are based on true events. Driver plays Stallworth’s colleague, Flip Zimmerman, who Stallworth recruits to attend the meetings in his stead.
The movie received very high ratings, with 83% for audience review on Tomato Meter, and 7.5/10 on IMDb. Critics state how the film offers a “bitingly trenchant commentary on current events”.
Upcoming Film, Ferrari (2023)
The most anticipated upcoming film of Adam Driver is coming Christmas 2023. Ferrari is set in the summer of 1957 and follows Enzo Ferrari (Driver), who’s auto empire is currently in crisis.
He will do anything in his power to hold control and pushes himself to the extreme by betting all of his losses on one race, 1,000-mile race across Italy known as Mille Miglia.
Adam Driver has shown his talent throughout the years, and it’s obvious that he isn’t slowing down the momentum any time soon. Thankfully, there are several films on the horizon for fans, under several different styles and genres.
While Ferrari is one of the most anticipated films coming to theaters, there are also two unknown projects in the works that this time with not many details. Hopefully, we can get more information next year at some point. For now, check out these best Adam Driver movies to watch in the meantime.