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Ranking the 10 best Jamie Foxx films in order of greatness

“We can’t retract the decisions we’ve made, we can only affect the decisions we’re going to make from here.”

The above quote applies to Jamie Foxx because he remains another leading light of Hollywood to have struggled with addiction through alcoholism and substance abuse. However, for the actor and singer separates himself from the mould remains his determination to emerge stronger by dint of perseverance and willpower. Born in Texas as Eric Marlon Bishop, Foxx has attributed his success to his grandmother who had raised him in a Black community with strong moral and ethical values. 

A top student, he had received a scholarship to the United States and, in doing so, had changed his name to Jamie Foxx in order to maintain a gender ambiguity that would lead him to be called to performer first. The name was a tribute to the black comedian Redd Foxx and, with a successful run in the comedy industry, he first debuted in the film Toys, earning a name for himself with a lead role in The Truth About Cats & Dogs. It was not until 2004 that Foxx was nominated for the role of the Best Supporting Actor in Collateral, before taking home the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in 2004 film Ray

With a successful career and wonderful films to his name, Jamie Foxx has been the epitome of talent, delivering incredible performances, always managing to get under the skin of the character skilfully. As this actor turns 53 today, let us take a look at some of his best films to date.

Here are ten best films starring Jamie Foxx ranked in the order of greatness. 

Ranking Jamie Foxx films from worst to best:

10. The Soloist  (Joe Wright, 2009)

Jamie Foxx plays the schizophrenic cello prodigy Nathaniel Ayers, who is now living on the streets. Robert Downey Jr. plays the disillusioned Los Angeles columnist Steve Lopez who writes about him to discover Ayers’ mysterious past and soon notices a catharsis within himself. 

Foxx who has had enough experience playing dejected musicians is splendid in his performance, as is Downey Jr. According to Ebert, “The Soloist has all the elements of an uplifting drama, except for the uplift. The story is compelling, the actors are in place, but I was never sure what the filmmakers wanted me to feel about it.”

“Beauty is art; music is beauty.”

9. The Kingdom (Peter Berg, 2007)

Based loosely on important events such as the Khobar housing complex bombing in 1996 and the two 2003 blasts of four compounds in Riyadh, this film sees Special Agent Ronald Fleury being assigned with one of the biggest challenges of his career in which he has to assemble a team and then stealthily infiltrate a Saudi terrorist cell. Fleury finds an unexpected ally in a Saudi police captain and embarks on this dangerous mission with his elite squad amidst various hardships.   

Hollywood has always loved vilifying Arabs, and this film is no different, often criticised for being xenophobic. A.O. Scott was particularly brutal in his critical review, stating: “Just as Rambo offered the fantasy do-over of the aftermath of the Vietnam War, The Kingdom can be seen as a wishful revisionist scenario for the American response to Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.” Nevertheless, Foxx as Fleury leaves a good impact, as do the other cast members in yet another film that gives the Islamic world the leeway to absolutely despise the United States. 

“I know you want him caught. We want him caught. So let us help you. America’s not perfect, not at all, I’ll be the first to say that, but we are good at this. Allow us to help your men go catch this criminal.”

8. Jarhead (Sam Mendes, 2005)

Based on US Marine Anthony Swofford’s memoir, the film revolves around Swofford’s training in the boot camp after enlisting as a marine. He is assigned to a sadistic instructor and later takes up a sniper course. When the US becomes involved in the Gulf War, Anthony gets shipped out into an uncertain future, trying o stay calm while battling anxiety and homesickness. 

Although the film deals with a sensitive and political subject, the film has fantastic performances and visuals “but lacks an emotional thrust”. While Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a distinguished performance, as A.O. Scott said, the film was “full of intensity with almost no real visceral impact” which made it “a minor movie about a minor war, and a film that feels, at the moment, remarkably irrelevant”.

I’ll take the fucking pills and a year later my asshole will turn inside out and start talking to me!”

7. Dreamgirls (Bill Condon, 2006)

Ambitious and mercenary, Curtis Taylor Jr. notices the black girl group comprising Deena, Effie and Lorrell, who call themselves The Dreamettes, and realises their potential. He takes them under his wing and guides them towards the spotlight. With control over their cultural and intellectual property, his tactics soon drive a rift amidst the girls when one becomes famous and earns recognition which pushes the other out. 

Amidst the beautiful women like Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx is the showstopper with his brilliant portrayal of the slick and stealthy manager Curtis. Although he is linked with Effie first, he chooses his professional interest over his heart when he gives Deena the centre stage. Jennifer Hudson’s renditions are an olfactory delight. As Peter Travers said, “despite transitional bumps, Condon does Dreamgirls proud”. 

Deena, you know why I chose you to sing lead? Because your voice… has no personality. No depth. Except for what I put in there.”

6. Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton, 2019)

Young, bold and idealistic, Harvard law graduate Bryan Stevenson’s travel to Alabama bears the motive of helping deliver justice to the poor. He meets an African-American Walter McMillian who was wrongly convicted of murdering a white woman. Amidst racial injustice and political oppression, Stevenson fights tirelessly and relentlessly to seek justice.

With breathtaking performances, the film provides a wonderful insight into the systemic racism that exists in society. Jamie Foxx plays the wrongly convicted black man while Michael B. Jordan plays the idealistic lawyer. The film’s message is an urgent and deft call to the people of the world to realise hoe deep-rooted this problem is and how the legal system is equally guilty of perpetuating racial violence and injustice.

“You’re rich boy from Harvard. You don’t what it is down here. When you’re guilty from the moment you born. And you can buddy up with these white folks, and make them laugh, and try to make them like you, whatever that is. And you say, ‘Yes, sir. No, ma’am,’ but when it’s your turn, they ain’t got to have no fingerprints, no evidence, and the only witness they got made the whole thing up. And none of that matter when all y’all think is that I look like a man who could kill somebody.”

5. Law Abiding Citizen (F. Gary Gray, 2009)

During a home invasion, Clyde Shelton is forced to watch the gruesome murder of his wife and daughter at the hands of Clarence Darby. Nick Rice, an ambitious lawyer, strikes a deal with Darby in exchange for a testimony to keep up his high conviction rate. Clyde feels betrayed and, thirsty for revenge, sends Rice an ultimate warning to either fix the corrupt legal system or face his wrathful consequence. 

Gerard Butler plays the revengeful Shelton while Foxx plays the grey character. Violent and gruesome, it is an intense and compelling thriller which gives an intimate insight into the corrupt and unjust corruption in the legal system. As Ebert says, “Law Abiding Citizen is the kind of movie you will like more at the time than in retrospect.” 

“It’s not what you know. It’s what you can prove in court.”

4. Baby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017)

Orphaned at a young age and with an innate love for music, Baby is the go-to getaway driver for the criminal mastermind Doc while he carries on various heists. Baby’s job is to safely get his band of delinquents, Buddy, Bats and Darling, in and out of each place with the appropriate soundtrack playing in the backdrop. However, having fallen in love with Debora, Baby no longer wants to continue living a life of crime and wishes to move on. Yet, Doc has different plans for him.

Raw and original, Wright’s work has been praised by critics for its sheer brilliance and masterful craftsmanship. Jamie Foxx starred as one of Doc’s sadistic and vicious cronies who is devoid of human empathy. While Wright was not sure if Foxx would like to play a supporting character, Foxx was left fascinated by the artistic value of the film. With Quentin Tarantino’s support, he was onboard Wright’s project and modelled this character based on a longtime friend at a LA comedy club.

When your folks name you Bats, you’re gonna end up crazy.”

3. Collateral (Michael Mann, 2004)

Max is a hard-working LA taxi driver who fares a dangerous hitman named Vincent. Impressed by Max’s skilful driving, he offers a whopping $600 to Max so that he would navigate the latter to various places. Max soon realises the dangerous predicament he has embroiled himself into and wonders if he would stay alive when pursued relentlessly by cops and the FBI.

Foxx’s work has been regarded as “a revelation” in this well-crafted film. According to Mick LaSalle, “Foxx can act. He’s up to the role’s demands, conveying fear, confusion and frustration, but more important the exhaustion and recklessness that can easily follow when someone’s been scared for so long”. He blends into his character with effortless ease and stands out amidst the heavyweight ensemble.

“ I can’t drive you around while you’re killing folks. It ain’t my job!”

2. Ray (Taylor Hackford, 2004)

Based on the life of R&B musician Ray Charles, the film witnesses the 30 years of his life, chronicling his journey. Ray loses his sight at the age of nine, but his mother motivates him never to feel sorry for himself. He battles against numerous hardships and rises through the brutal Seattle jazz industry to make a living or himself. He struggles with addiction, infidelity and many other obstacles while being supported by his wife, which leads him to become an inspirational figure, one who would redefine the course of soulful music.

Jamie Foxx played the titular character which won him an Academy Award. Deeply immersed in the role, it is as if Ray Charles and Foxx are but one person. Ebert praised him by saying, “The movie would be worth seeing simply for the sound of the music and the sight of Jamie Foxx performing it. That it looks deeper and gives us a sense of the man himself is what makes it special.”

“Baby, when I walk out that door I walk out alone in the dark. I’m trying to do something ain’t nobody ever done in music and business.”

1. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012)

Rescued by German travelling bounty hunter, Dr King Schultz, Black slave and “the fastest gun in the South”, Django Freeman, sets out on a journey to free his wife, Broomhilda, from a despicable, narcissistic and malicious Mississippi plantation owner and brutal slave-fight enthusiast, Calvin Candie.

Jamie Foxx as Django, does absolute justice to the role. He is indeed the “The Fastest Gun in the South”. With incredible ability to fight the injustice and violence perpetrated by slave masters, bold and daring, Django fights his way through the hierarchy to achieve his goal. As Roger Ebert said, “The film offers one sensational sequence after another, all set around these two intriguing characters who seem opposites but share pragmatic, financial and personal issues.”

“I like the way you die boy!”