The 15 Brad Pitt movies you need to see now, ranked

The first title on Brad Pitt’s filmography is a 1987 film called Hunk, and his uncredited role was “boy at the beach.” In the most recent of Brad Pitt movies, Ad Astra, he plays an emotionally repressed astronaut literally searching for his father figure. 

Pitt’s hunk status certainly shaped his early roles. However, he went on to have a career ascent that spans genres and characters. In the aughts, as he shifted more into a producer role, he helped bring films like Moonlight and Selma to the screen through his production company, Plan B Entertainment. There are fewer Pitt movies these days, though 2019 saw two back-to-back: Ad Astra and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. In a recent GQ profile, Pitt suggested living life was more important to him than living through movies. “There was just too much emphasis on finding interesting characters,” he said. “I went, ‘Fuck me, man. Live an interesting life and the rest will take care of itself.'”

Still, what makes a movie a Brad Pitt movie is the existence of Brad Pitt. While he might be scaling back his on-screen work, there’s plenty to look back on. Here are some of the best.

The 15 best Brad Pitt movies, ranked

1) Inglourious Basterds 

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, FandangoNow for $3.99, and Vudu for $3.99

Stream it: Netflix 

brad pitt movies Universal Pictures/Netflix

Inglourious Basterds may not be Quentin Tarantino’s most iconic film (that would be Pulp Fiction). Nor is it his most fun (that would probably be Jackie Brown). Nor is it his most stylish (the Kill Bills), his most socially conscious (Django Unchained), his most tightly scripted (Reservoir Dogs), or even his longest (The Hateful Eight). Yet it’s possible that Inglourious Basterds is his best. He says as much with the film’s winking last line, delivered into camera by Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine: “I think this just might be my masterpiece.” Inglourious Basterds is a cinematic declaration for the ages. The performances, writing, and directing are all immaculate. More surprising is that the movie feels almost like a play at moments, with certain scenes stretching on for half an hour at a time. —Chris Osterndorf

2) Fight Club 

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, FandangoNow for $3.99, and Vudu for $3.99

Stream it: Cinemax 

brad pitt movies Movieclips/YouTube

Oh, what fun we have dissecting Fight Club 20 years after its release. As toxic masculinity becomes more and more amplified, Fight Club’s message has been reconsidered. Was it satire of the fragile male ego? A guidebook for lost men? A meditation on self-destruction via capitalism? Brad Pitt’s cocksure Tyler Durden became aspirational for many viewers, though what he actually represents has been twisted to fit more fringe ideologies. Still, Pitt and Edward Norton’s chaotic merger is one that merits revisiting. Audra Schroeder 

3) Se7en 

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, Vudu for $3.99

Stream it: Cinemax, Hulu 

brad pitt movies Cecchi Gori Pictures/Hulu

Though not quite as flawless as David Fincher’s true-crime masterpiece Zodiac, Se7en is still a major work in the thriller genre from the closest thing this generation has to Hitchcock. The script, from Andrew Kevin Walker, is a perfect execution of a brilliant premise. As Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman attempt to track a killer who’s selecting his victims based on the Seven Deadly Sins, Fincher tightens the screws more and more, before everything explodes in the movie’s unforgettable climax. —Chris Osterndorf 

4) Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood 

brad pitt movies Sony Pictures Entertainment/YouTube

Quentin Tarantino’s ninth feature film is an opulent period piece that romanticizes a bygone version of Hollywood that maybe never existed. It glorifies a hyper-masculine, “embattled” anti-hero archetype who still exists today but deserves no deification. It relegates its women to the sidelines other than to exact violence upon them, which it does with disturbing, unadulterated pleasure. Yet from a pure entertainment perspective, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood is an uproarious buddy comedy and languid stroll through its creator’s intoxicating fantasy world, anchored by disarmingly tender lead performances. Whether it’s Tarantino’s masterpiece—or even one of his top-tier movies—is beside the point. It is simply a quintessential (Quentessential?) Tarantino movie. —Bryan Rolli 

5) Snatch 

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, FandangoNow for $3.99, and Vudu for $2.99

Stream it: Netflix

brad pitt movies Movieclips/YouTube

Guy Ritchie’s 2000 heist comedy is full of scene-stealing performances (Jason Statham, Benicio del Toro, Alan Ford) but Brad Pitt’s unintelligible bare-knuckle boxer, Mickey, dominates the field. Ritchie famously wrote Pitt into the script after he expressed his love for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and asked for a role in his next film. There’s been a lot of discussion about that accent, but Pitt recently revealed he lifted it from British sitcom Father TedAudra Schroeder 

6) Twelve Monkeys 

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, FandangoNow for $3.99, and Vudu for $2.99

Stream it: Amazon Prime 

brad pitt movies Movieclips/YouTube

His performance in this movie earned Brad Pitt a Golden Globe for best supporting actor, and his depiction of institutionalized motormouth Jeffrey Goines was certainly the highlight. The time-bending Terry Gilliam thriller feels very much of its era (1995), bolstered by Pitt and Bruce Willis’ performances, and thankfully the TV version didn’t try to just copy it. Audra Schroeder

7) Thelma & Louise 

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, FandangoNow for $3.99, and Vudu for $3.99

Stream it: Netflix

brad pitt movies YouTube Movies/YouTube

The story of Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon), two women who take a vacation from their lives and end up on the run, was aspirational when it came out in 1991—and controversial. It’s the story of women fighting back against their attackers and harassers, against the people who doubt their stories and experiences. Brad Pitt is a small part of this movie as the smooth-talking J.D., but the role was certainly a pivotal one. —Audra Schroeder 

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8) Babel 

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, FandangoNow for $3.99, and Vudu for $3.99

Stream it: Netflix

brad pitt movies YouTube Movies/YouTube

Alejandro González Iñárritu has never been a subtle director. Nowhere is this more evident than in Babel, his best picture nominee from 2006. Spanning multiple continents and languages, the sprawling drama connects the lives of a couple vacationing in Morocco (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett) with different sets of characters around the world. Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza both received Oscar nods for their revelatory supporting performances in this narrative of interlocking stories (think of a global Crash, with all the loaded connotations that carries with it). Iñárritu haters, beware: Babel is similar to many of his other films and just as polarizing. But perhaps even more than the rest of Iñárritu’s catalogue, Babel is trying to leave you emotionally wrecked. —Chris Osterndorf 

9) Moneyball 

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, FandangoNow for $2.99, and Vudu for $2.99

Stream it: Starz 

brad pitt movies Movieclips/YouTube

Moneyball is a baseball movie, but it’s also a movie about instincts. Brad Pitt plays Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, who joins forces with Jonah Hill’s statistician Peter Brand to scout players in a more cost-effective way. Pitt and Hill work together naturally as two men from different skill sets bonding over a New Way, and Moneyball shows how information gathering had to evolve as the new century clicked over. Audra Schroeder

10) The Big Short 

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, FandangoNow for $3.99, and Vudu for $3.99

brad pitt movies Paramount Pictures/YouTube

Adam McKay’s The Big Short is not the best film about Wall Street. It’s not even the best film about Wall Street this decade (that honor would have to go to Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street). But what makes The Big Short a standout entry in this subgenre is its unparalleled desire to educate.

McKay inserts many a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down (see: Margot Robbie), never straying too far from his comedic routes. But his screed on the mechanisms that led to the collapse of the credit and housing bubble remains didactic throughout, always seeking to inform the people who were affected and scold those who let it happen. The Big Short is self-aware regarding the liberties it takes, to the point where the movie’s meta streak can be overwhelming. Fortunately, the movie ensemble including Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, and many more does its best to keep the audience entertained through a mass of technical jargon. This is a preachy film, but not one without a sense of humor. After all, what can you do sometimes other than laugh in the face of tragedy? —Chris Osterndorf 

11) Burn After Reading 

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, FandangoNow for $3.99, and Vudu for $3.99

Stream it: Netflix 

brad pitt movies Focus Features/Netflix

This 2008 film isn’t often held up when we talk Coen brothers essentials, but the cast is a dream: Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, John Malkovich. It’s a caper that, in 2019, seems like it could be reported as real news. Pitt and McDormand are two fitness instructors who happen upon a CD containing the memoir of a fired CIA official and use it for a big, dumb grift. Audra Schroeder

12) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford 

Rent it: Amazon for $2.99, FandangoNow for $3.99, and Vudu for $2.99

brad pitt movies Movieclips Classic Trailers/YouTube

Brad Pitt plays Jesse James opposite Casey Affleck’s Robert Ford in this period piece about what goes unspoken between men. The action is there in the title, but director Andrew Dominik makes getting there the journey. Audra Schroeder

13) Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, FandangoNow for $3.99, and Vudu for $3.99

brad pitt movies Movieclips/YouTube

The 1994 movie adaptation of Anne Rice’s vampire novel cast Tom Cruise as Lestat, a charming vampire who kills with gusto. Brad Pitt stars as Louis, a lost soul whom Lestat turned immortal and who has agreed to a present-day interview with a journalist (Christian Slater). Louis recounts the blood feasts and erotic adventures, but the film also conveys the eternal sadness of being a vampire. Rice reportedly slammed Cruise’s casting as Lestat, but she apologized after seeing the film. I can’t imagine what a John Travolta–led film would have looked like. Audra Schroeder 

14) World War Z

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, FandangoNow for $3.99, and Vudu for $3.99

Stream it: FX 

brad pitt movies Movieclips/YouTube

A sequel is reportedly coming for this 2013 zombie film, in which Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane has to save the world from a zombie virus. It doesn’t do much new with the genre, considering the book it was adapted from offered an “oral history” of a fictional “zombie war,” and there are so many ways you could frame that. But there are certainly some grand anxiety-inducing scenes of zombie pile-ups and societal collapse, plus lots of time with Pitt’s iconic-yet-distracting haircut. Audra Schroeder 

15) Cool World 

Rent it: Amazon for $3.99, FandangoNow for $3.99, and Vudu for $3.99

brad pitt movies Movieclips Classic Trailers/YouTube

A more adult take on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Ralph Bakshi’s Cool World was panned when it debuted in 1992, but close to 30 years later, there seems to be a more appreciative audience. The half-animated, half–live action film stars Kim Basinger as a cartoon who wants to become a real woman and Brad Pitt as the cop who’s trying to stop Bakshi’s stand-in (Gabriel Byrne) from being seduced by her. Audra Schroeder 

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Audra Schroeder

Audra Schroeder

Audra Schroeder is the Daily Dot’s senior entertainment writer, and she focuses on streaming, comedy, and music. Her work has previously appeared in the Austin Chronicle, the Dallas Observer, NPR, ESPN, Bitch, and the Village Voice. She is based in Austin, Texas.