Norton Nostalgia: 15 Best Films for a Solid Dose of Edward Norton

fight club3 1

Few actors today deliver so consistently that you can convince yourself to watch any film they're in. Edward Norton is one of those rare few.

Whether it's a 90s classic or an underrated 2000s flick, do yourself a favor and stream one of these Norton-led treasures tonight.

1. American History X (1998)

American History X
Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

Arguably Ed Norton's grittiest role to date, American History X addresses sensitive realities about race in the United States with a deft touch. 

2. Birdman (2014)

Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

It's a bird! It's a man! It's Birdman, a masterfully controlled but chaotic film starring Edward Norton, Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, and a host of other talented performers. A movie about a play, Birdman is literally an acting class.

3. Primal Fear (1996)

Primal Fear
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

I don't want to spoil anything about Primal Fear. The movie's title is apt, and Norton's performance is why.

4. The Illusionist (2006)

The Illusionist
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The Illusionist fell by the wayside for many who saw Christopher Nolan's similar film, The Prestige. However, The Illusionist is not The Prestige. The Illusionist is, however, excellent.

5. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Moonrise Kingdom
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Wes Anderson. Ensemble comedy. Ed Norton as “Scout Master Ward.”

Wanna smile tonight? There's your elevator pitch.

6. The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

The People Vs. Larry Flynt
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Milos Forman's The People vs. Larry Flynt tells the unbelievable account of Hustler Magazine founder Larry Flynt. Norton plays Larry Flynt's lawyer, more than holding his own in this cinematic ode to hedonism.

7. Rounders (1998)

Image Credit: Miramax Films.

If there was ever a believable role for Edward Norton, it's that of a degenerate gambler. With a buddy like Matt Damon to serve as an enabler, you have one heck of a thriller on your hands.

8. Fight Club (1999)

Fight Club
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

I'll abide by Rule Number One of Fight Club and refrain from discussing the plot. Just know that Fight Club has earned its cult-classic status legitimately.

9. Red Dragon (2002)

Red Dragon
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

In a list of films where Norton so often plays the bad guy (or at least, morally questionable guy), Red Dragon is a welcomed flip of the script. Don't take that to mean Red Dragon is a feel-good movie, though.

10. Death to Smoochy

Death to Smoochy Edward Norton
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

One of the lesser-seen Norton films, Death to Smoochy opened to polarized critical opinion. But with Robin Williams and Edward Norton embroiled in a revenge plot revolving around a children's TV show, how could you not check out Death to Smoochy?

11. 25th Hour (2002)

25th Hour
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

The 25th Hour is a film about a convicted dealer's last day of freedom before doing a bid. With Norton taking the lead, Spike Lee behind the lens, and Game of Thrones' David Benioff penning the script, takes two hours and 15 minutes for this heavy dose of Ed.

12. The Score (2001)

The Score
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Is The Score Edward Norton's best film? No. Does The Score fall within Robert DeNiro's top-five all-time roles? Not by a long shot. But The Score is a heist movie pairing Ed Norton and Bobby D, and for that reason alone, it is worth your time.

13. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2002)

Edward Norton in Glass Onion
Image Credit: Netflix.

Norton does a great job in the sequel to Knives Out, where he really brings to life his billionaire tech CEO character. Norton confirmed he was inspired by Elon Musk when thinking about this character in Glass Onion.

14. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

grand budapest hotel 1
Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

If there's one thing about Edward Norton, he's going to be in a Wes Anderson movie. While he's been in a slew of them, one of his best roles is in the whimsical, hilarious The Grand Budapest Hotel.

15. Frida (2002)

frida 1
Image Credit: Miramax.

Frida is based on the real-life Frida Kahlo, but Edward Norton plays Nelson Rockefeller who is looking for new art for his building in New York City. He does a great job of bringing this historical figure to life.

Source: Reddit.

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Pop Culture Writer, Life Hack Aficionado

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Experience: Sam Mire is a freelance writer with over seven years' experience writing about entertainment, global events, American law, and sports. He got his start as a journalism major at the University of South Florida, and has since spent weeks in the Alaskan wildlands, immersed himself in the world of Florida's homeless population, covered live sporting events, and served as a linchpin for media outlets in the legal, tech, and entertainment spaces. Sam has written news stories and Op-Eds featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Entrepreneur, AP News, Fox News, and, most notably, Wealth of Geeks.

Sam focuses on popular culture, film and television, and general life advice in his role for Wealth of Geeks. He strives to turn readers onto the directors, actors, and other creatives who deliver compelling content outside of the box-office top-ten. In his free time, he enjoys boxing, woodwork, engaging in battles of strength and wit with his dog, and spending time with good company.