Jonah Hill's 10 best films ranked in order of greatness
(Credit: Harald Krichel)

From Martin Scorsese to Judd Apatow: Jonah Hill’s 10 best films

“Professionally, I feel like I won the lottery and I am the luckiest person in the entire world.”

Jonah Hill is one fantastic performer whose guffaw-inducing performances, perfect comic timing and honest and raw portrayal on-screen makes him one of Hollywood’s finest actors. Having received Golden Globe nominations as well as two Academy Award nominations within the age of 30 bears testament to his incredible talent. However, in truth, Hollywood has not been fair to him and let us explore why. 

Jonah Hill, perhaps having been typecast for being on the slightly heavier side, has been the victim of incessant fat-shaming and body jokes had crippled Hill’s self-esteem. “I assume everything I do in life is gonna be a failure, and then if it turns up roses, then I’m psyched,” he once said. Later, in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, he admitted that the negative comments which he received from a young age due to exposure to the world of fame, made him feel “fat and gross and unattractive”. So deep were his insecurities that he held “meaningful conversations” with celebrities to try and learn how they loved themselves. 

Somewhat shockingly, the interviewers have not been kind either. While some made fun of his “chonky size”, in a particular French interview, a woman interviewer then disrespected the actor by sexualising and then belittling him. Hill’s visible discomfort at these interviews displays the lack of respect for privacy and boundaries on the part of the media. Take the public perception into his professional life, Hill was also paid the lowest amount wage for his role in Martin Scorsese’s film The Wolf of Wall Street, which stirred up quite the debate. However, the joke’s on them now, for Hill became one of the highest-paid actors from 2014 to 2015 according to Forbes magazine rankings. 

Not content to rest on his acting laurels, Hill made his directorial debut in 2018 with his excellent coming of age film Mid90s. He said that the film derived inspiration from his days as a teen skater. “[There’s] just a general recklessness which I related to. Even though this isn’t my story, I wanted to show someone going through deep pain and a real sense of hope through community.” He said how directing was a “dream”, and he had to thank the “amazing derailment” caused by all the negative comments and hate and criticism that made him take the initiative and reach for the stars.

As fans wait with bated breath for Adam McKay’s upcoming 2021 film Don’t Look Up starring Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio and more, let us fill the time by looking back a selection of Hill’s finest performances to date.

As the actor turns 37th birthday today, let us look at ten best films starring Jonah Hill and appreciate this ray of sunshine which adds humour and honesty to the plastic world of Hollywood. A man who inspires us to be the truest versions of ourselves, here we rank his top 10 Jonah Hill films.

Jonah Hill’s 10 best films ranked:

10. True Story (Rupert Goold, 2015)

Based on Michael Finkel’s memoir, this film explores the complex relationship that a journalist named Finkel develops with an Oregon man named Christian Longo who is convicted of having murdered his wife and children. 

James Franco plays the manipulative Longo while Hill plays the dejected Finkel who is freshly fired from The New York Times. They have a wonderful on-screen chemistry and hold the otherwise muddled narrative together despite the many shortcomings in the coherence of the film. 

“Sometimes the truth isn’t believable. That doesn’t mean that it’s not true.”

9. Funny People (Judd Apatow, 2009)

The film is based on a retired stand-up comic-turned-movie star George Simmons who suddenly learns of his terminal disease which will most likely lead to his death. He thus embarks on a mission to salvage and fix all his previous relationships as well as return to the stand-up stage where he meets and develops a close relationship with another aspiring comic, Ira Wright.

Hill plays one of Ira Wright’s (Seth Rogen) roommates, the rising performer Leo Koenig. Being Hill’s first-time stand-up experience, it was not very well received, as admitted by Hill himself. The film, however, received a positive response for its funny moments.

“If you put “cute kitten” in the title of your YouTube video, you’re gonna get a million hits. And then I link that to my website and you can see my stand-up on my website. It’s genius.”

8. Cyrus (Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, 2010)

Molly and John are in love with each other. Then what is disrupting their union? It is none other than Molly’s 21-year-old son Cyrus who does not want to let John be a part of their mother’s life and uses every opportunity to sabotage their nearly perfect relationship.

Jonah Hill plays the 21-year-old overprotective man-child whose emotional intimacy ith his mother is toxic and hurts her directly. He is scared of having to share her with John and is disagreeable. The audience hates him yet love his adorable face and antics as we know that all of it comes from a good place, love for his mother and anxiety of losing her, which he is unable to deal with properly.

“You deserve someone who can love you the way I can’t love you.”

7. This Is The End (Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, 2013)

James Franco’s party with his friends Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson turns into a living nightmare when a massive apocalypse wreaks havoc on the Tinseltown, confining the friends to Franco’s home. With the world being ravaged outside, the friends battle with hilarious incidents with a rise of cabin fever and the gradual shortage of essentials.

All the actors play their pampered and proud selves who are affected by this carnage. Hill is affected by a series of unfortunate events, including him getting possessed by a demon. With a self-deprecating, humorous tone and wildly entertaining performances, this film is the smartest and most fun production by the duo.

“Does it Jay? Do I look compelled Jay? Let me tell you, its not very compelling!”

6. War Dogs (Todd Phillips, 2016)

Residents of Miami Beach during the Iraq War, opportunistic and shrewd, two friends Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz dabble in small businesses bidding on military contracts when they suddenly land a whopping 300 million dollar deal which brings them in contact with twisted people.

Jonah Hill plays Efraim and delivers a compelling performance as an ambitious sleaze who finds himself is an unavoidable soup after trying to take on the dangerous deal. In this heavily fictionised, serious tale dealing with shocking real-world events, Hill’s performance adds a dash of entertainment and visual delight to the film and even won him a Golden Globe nomination.

The U.S military, motherfucker!… Wanna do a bong hit?”

5. Superbad (Greg Mottola, 2007)

Awkward high school misfits Seth and Evan desperately want to party and finally lose their virginity before going off to college. However, thor plans keep getting disrupted by drunken cops, menstruating fiancees, black eyes, messy brawls and charming naivete.

Jonah Hill and Michael Cera play the lead characters which are based on the real-life experiences of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Hill plays the funny and charming Seth whose nervousness and shy demeanour makes him stupid and adorable. The general air of the film is high on the awkwardness of the teenage phase and the desperation to be popular, the honest and sweet vulgarity as well as the wonderful friendship shared by the two boys where they talk about loving each other and share cute little boops.

“So I gotta sit here and eat my dessert alone like I’m Fucking Steven Glansberg.”

4. 22 Jump Street (Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, 2014)

Schmidt and Jenko return on screen following post their 21 Jump Street-success. They are assigned to go undercover as college students to locate and arrest the spread of drugs’ WHY-PHY’ (Work Hard? Yes. Play Hard? Yes) which leads to a series of funny events. 

Rarely do the sequels of successful films make the cut but 22 Jump Street is as funny as its predecessor with the amateurish and inept duo going off to college to infiltrate the drug scheme. Hill and Tatum’s chemistry is once again, the highlight of the film and has been likened to the iconic duo Laurel and Hardy by Jocelyn Noveck. 

Not the lamborghini, it’s a touch childish.”

3. 21 Jump Street (Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, 2012)

Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko are polar opposites with Schmidt being an awkward yet witty police officer while Jenko is the brawny yet stupid one. They unite over missed proms, police academy, motorcycle gang leaders and last but not the least, disguised as high school students to infiltrate and arrest the spread of HFS (Holy Fucking Shit), a drug in Sagan high School.

Hill, who played the socially-awkward Schmidt was also the screenplay writer of this adaptation. He has described this “R-rated, insane” film as a “Bad Boys-meets-Jon Highes-type”. Both Tatum and Hill have an incredible on-screen bromance which makes the film an entertaining watch.    

“Sir, I know we come off as a couple of lady killers, but i promise you we’ll be super professional at the job.”

2. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2014)

Based on the true story of a stockbroker named Jordan Belfort, Scorsese’s hedonistic saga of sex, drugs and crime chronicles the former’s journey from rags to riches by defrauding wealthy investors in billions, which ultimately harms his life adversely.

At the 86th Academy Awards, the film received five nominations including Best Supporting Actor for Jonah Hill which was indeed surprising and overwhelming due to Hill not being the Academy’s favourite child before.

In the film, Hill played Donnie Azoff, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort’s best friend and business associate in the corrupt company. Hill was given the lowest possible amount for the amount of effort he put in but did not care as he wanted the role real bad.

Jordan, it’s fucking good, right? It’s fucked up.”

1. Moneyball (Bennett Miller, 2017)

Based on Michael Lewis’ nonfiction book, the film sees the general manager of Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane join forces with Peter Brand to reinvent the team and win the championship by defeating the wealthier teams by strategy.

Jonah Hill played the smart and funny Yale graduate who developed the system that would create statistics to help pick the flawed players with potential. He becomes Pitt’s assistant manager and enables the latter to strategise for a sure win. His wonderful performance won him his first nomination at the Academy Awards for the Best Supporting Actor.

“Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players. Your goal should be to buy wins. In order to buy wins, you need to buys runs.”

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