Dan Aykroyd is an all-around entertainer and a genuinely lovely guy. He's a Canadian actor, comedian, screenwriter, producer, musician, and businessman who's been doing his thing in the limelight since the mid-1970s.
He's undoubtedly best known as an actor and has appeared in almost 80 movies since his credit in 1977's Canadian rom-com Love at First Sight.
In this piece, we'll rank Dan Aykroyd's 22 best films, starting with the finest and working our way down.
1 – Ghostbusters (1984, directed by Ivan Reitman)
Ghostbusters is a supernatural comedy horror movie and the first installment in the eponymous franchise. It's about three eccentric parapsychologists who start a ghost-catching business in Manhattan, New York City, just as paranormal activity increases exponentially.
It stars Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Aykroyd as the eponymous team, which Ernie Hudson later joins. Aykroyd expertly plays Ray Stantz, who has a childlike enthusiasm for his work. Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, and William Atherton round off an outstanding core cast. Ghostbusters is a bona fide classic. It's funny and scary, as any comedy horror should be, with iconic performances, amazing special effects, and some of the most memorable dialogue in film history. It received nominations for two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song for Ray Parker Jr.'s legendary “Ghostbusters.”
2 – Behind the Candelabra (2013, directed by Steven Soderbergh)
Behind the Candelabra is a biographical comedy-drama movie based on Thorson's 1988 memoir, Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace. The film dramatizes the final ten years of pianist Liberace's life and his intimate and turbulent relationship with Scott Thorson.
Michael Douglas stars as Liberace, and Matt Damon portrays Thorson, and both men are superb. The supporting cast includes Debbie Reynolds, Scott Bakula, Boyd Holbrook, and Aykroyd, who brilliantly plays Seymour Heller, the talent agent who represented Liberace for 37 years until his death. Behind the Candelabra is an affectionate, earnest, stylish, and darkly comical film. It's a shame it didn't earn a single Academy Award nomination.
3 – Antz (1998, directed by Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson)
Antz is a computer-animated adventure comedy movie about a nervous worker ant who falls for the ant queen's princess daughter. When the entire worker population gets threatened by the treacherous actions of the ants' army general, the worker strives to save his colony by being uncharacteristically brave.
The impressive voice cast includes Woody Allen, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, Gene Hackman, Jennifer Lopez, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Christopher Walken, and Aykroyd, who adeptly voices Chip, a wasp who befriends the worker ant. The whole cast is fantastic and performs with enthusiasm and energy. Antz has gorgeous animation with stunning visuals and a great story, and it's hilarious and entertaining for adults and children.
4 – Trading Places (1983, directed by John Landis)
Trading Places is a Christmas comedy movie about an upper-class commodities broker and a homeless beggar who unwittingly become the subjects of an elaborate bet to test how each man will perform when their lives get swapped when they inadvertently cross paths.
Aykroyd plays Louis Winthorpe III, the commodities broker who switches lives with Eddie Murphy's street hustler Billy Ray Valentine. Both stars give iconic performances. The excellent supporting cast includes Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Trading Places is an inventive, terrific, well-written, directed, and performed screwball comedy. Some of the material could be seen as offensive today, however. It received a nomination for Best Original Score at the Academy Awards.
5 – Driving Miss Daisy (1989, directed by Bruce Beresford)
Driving Miss Daisy is a comedy-drama movie based on Alfred Uhry's 1987 play. It chronicles the growing and improving relationship between an old Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur in the American South over 25 years.
It stars Jessica Tandy as the eponymous Daisy Werthan and Morgan Freeman as her chauffeur, Hoke Colburn. Freeman reprised his role from the original Off-Broadway production. The starring pair are superb, and their chemistry is outstanding. Aykroyd plays Boolie Werthan, Daisy's son, and is excellent. Driving Miss Daisy is a subtle, heartwarming, and expertly performed film. However, people have been critical of its handling of racism. It received nine Academy Award nominations and won four for Best Picture, Best Actress for Tandy, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Makeup. Freeman received a Best Actor nomination, and Aykroyd received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
6 – Grosse Pointe Blank (1997, directed by George Armitage)
Grosse Pointe Blank is a black comedy movie about an assassin named Martin Q. Blank, who returns to his eponymous hometown, Grosse Pointe, to attend his ten-year high school reunion.
It stars the excellent John Cusack as Blank, alongside Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin, Joan Cusack, Jeremy Piven, Hank Azaria, and Aykroyd, who's terrific as a rival assassin named Grocer. Grosse Pointe Blank is a classic school reunion film with an attention-grabbing hook. It's well-written, witty, intelligent, and buoyed by a game and talented cast on top form.
7 – The House of Mirth (2000, directed by Terence Davies)
The House of Mirth is a drama movie based on Edith Wharton's 1905 novel. It's about a beautiful female socialite who risks losing her chance of happiness with the only man she has ever loved because he's too poor for her to consider marrying.
Gillian Anderson plays Lily Bart, the socialite, and Eric Stoltz plays Lawrence Selden, the poor man she loves. The supporting cast includes Laura Linney, Anthony LaPaglia, and Aykroyd, who brilliantly plays the vindictive and exploitative Gus Trenor. Despite being a period film, The House of Mirth gives a terrifying depiction of social cruelty that still feels relevant in the modern world. It's powerful, gripping, profound, and full of intricate visual details that elevate it.
8 – Get on Up (2014, directed by Tate Taylor)
Get On Up is a biographical musical drama movie about the life of funk and soul legend James Brown. It chronicles Brown's rise from extreme poverty to becoming one of the most influential musicians in entertainment history.
It stars Chadwick Boseman as Brown, with an impressive supporting cast including Nelsan Ellis, Viola Davis, Craig Robinson, Octavia Spencer, Lennie James, Jill Scott, and Aykroyd, who superbly plays Brown's manager Ben Bart. Get On Up is a dynamic, entertaining film that has great music (obviously). However, it takes too many creative liberties and over-mythologizes Brown's life. Boseman did all of the dancing and some singing and deserved an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
9 – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984, directed by Steven Spielberg)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is an action-adventure movie, the second installment in the Indiana Jones franchise, and a prequel to 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark. In this one, when the eponymous hero arrives in British India, desperate villagers ask him to find a mystical stone to save their children from slavery and sacrifice in honor of the goddess Kali.
Although it's the weakest of the original Indiana Jones trilogy, it's still an excellent film and far superior to the later installments. Harrison Ford is always terrific as Jones, and he's supported well here by Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, and Denholm Elliott. Aykroyd has a mere cameo as Weber, a Brit who escorts Jones and his friends from their car to a plane. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is darker than you'll expect, action-packed, romantic, occasionally goofy, and great fun. It received nominations for the Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects and won the latter.
10 – The Blues Brothers (1980, directed by John Landis)
The Blues Brothers is a musical comedy movie about a pair of musical brothers, Jake and Elwood Blues, who reunite when Jake gets released from prison and have days to get their old band back together and save the Catholic home in which they grew up, outrunning the Chicago police as they do so.
It stars John Belushi as Jake Blues and Aykroyd as Elwood. Both men are excellent and share perfect chemistry, as they were real-life friends until Belushi's untimely death. The charming supporting cast is incredible and includes Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Carrie Fisher, Aretha Franklin, Henry Gibson, Steven Spielberg, Twiggy, Frank Oz, John Lee Hooker, John Landis, James Avery, Paul Reubens, Chaka Khan, and the legendary James Brown. The Blues Brothers is too over-the-top to be a great film, but it's an energetic, fun film with excellent musical numbers and superb car chases.
11 – Sneakers (1992, directed by Phil Alden Robinson)
Sneakers is a thriller movie about a security expert whose skilled team gets tasked with retrieving an item of importance, resulting in his past coming back to haunt him.
It stars Robert Redford as Martin Brice, AKA Martin Bishop, the security expert, and Ben Kingsley, Sidney Poitier, David Strathairn, and Aykroyd play his associates and team members. Aykroyd plays Darren “Mother” Roskow, a conspiracy theorist and electronics technician, in a brilliantly nerdy fashion. The impressive extended cast includes River Phoenix, Mary McDonnell, and Donal Logue. Sneakers is an engaging film with an intriguing and complex plot, terrific performances, and technological razzle-dazzle (albeit out-of-date technology now).
12 – The Campaign (2012, directed by Jay Roach)
The Campaign is a political satirical comedy movie about two North Carolina natives competing for a seat in Congress: an incumbent Representative embroiled in a personal scandal and an inexperienced newcomer funded by two immoral lobbyist billionaire brothers.
Will Ferrell stars as Representative Camden “Cam” Brady, and Zach Galifianakis plays his rival Martin Sylvester “Marty” Huggins, and they're well-matched and funny. The impressive supporting cast includes Jason Sudeikis, Katherine LaNasa, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, and Aykroyd, who plays Wade Motch, one of the corrupt businessmen who fund Huggins, and he's terrific. The Campaign is crude and not one of the most intelligent political satires you'll see, but it's well-acted and has many genuinely amusing moments.
13 – Bright Young Things (2003, directed by Stephen Fry)
Bright Young Things is a British comedy-drama movie based on Evelyn Waugh's 1930 novel Vile Bodies. It looks into the lives of a young novelist, his would-be lover, and many individuals – the eponymous young and carefree London aristocrats and bohemians – who added beauty to London, England, in the 1930s.
The fantastic ensemble cast includes James McAvoy, Michael Sheen, Emily Mortimer, Stephen Campbell Moore, Fenella Woolgar, Stockard Channing, Jim Broadbent, David Tennant, Simon Callow, Imelda Staunton, Peter O'Toole, and Aykroyd, who adeptly plays tabloid newspaper magnate Lord Monomark, based on Lord Beaverbrook, who once employed Evelyn Waugh as a writer for his newspaper, the Sunday Express. Bright Young Things is chaotic and zany but dives headlong into and embraces it. It's brilliantly performed, intelligent, funny, and energetic but lacks drama.
14 – Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021, directed by Jason Reitman)
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a supernatural comedy horror movie, sequel to 1984's Ghostbusters and 1989's Ghostbusters II, and the fourth installment in the Ghostbusters franchise. It's set 31 years after Ghostbusters II. It follows a single mother and her children who move to an Oklahoma farm inherited from the woman's estranged father, original Ghostbuster Egon Spengler.
It stars Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, and Paul Rudd, who do great as the fresh cast members. Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver, and Aykroyd appear as their original characters in lovely cameos. The late Harold Ramis also appears as a respectful CGI likeness of his ghost. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is an enjoyable nostalgic film with plenty of love for and homages to the original movies. It's funny, charming, witty, and largely child-centric, meaning it lacks true horror. It doesn't tarnish the Ghostbusters legacy but offers nothing new.
15 – Chaplin (1992, directed by Richard Attenborough)
Chaplin is a biographical comedy-drama about the life of the legendary English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer Charlie Chaplin and features an elderly Chaplin recounting his remarkable journey from a poverty-stricken childhood to being a worldwide success.
Robert Downey Jr. stars as Chaplin and is terrific in the role. The impressive supporting cast includes Chaplin's Geraldine Chaplin as his mother, Anthony Hopkins, Milla Jovovich, Kevin Kline, Diane Lane, Marisa Tomei, Nancy Travis, James Woods, and Aykroyd, who perfectly plays Mack Sennett, the comedy producer who first employed Chaplin in the United States. Chaplin is flawed, a little misguided, overly glossy, and formulaic but still thoroughly entertaining, largely thanks to Downey Jr. It received three Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Original Score, and Best Actor for Downey Jr., but it won none.
16 – Ghostbusters II (1989, directed by Ivan Reitman)
Ghostbusters II is a supernatural comedy horror movie, the sequel to 1984's Ghostbusters and the second installment in the Ghostbusters franchise. It's set five years after the first film and finds the Ghostbusters sued and put out of business after their battle with the godly Gozer caused mass destruction. When a new paranormal threat emerges, the team reunites to save the world by fighting it.
Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and Aykroyd reprise their roles as the Ghostbusters, and they're all great again. Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, and Annie Potts also return and do fine. Ghostbusters II lacks the edge of its predecessor as it's aimed more at children. It has excellent special effects, some funny moments, and some great dialogue, but it lacks the scares and surprises of the first film. The villain, Vigo the Carpathian, is also a big step down from Gozer.
17 – Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983, directed by John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, and George Miller)
Twilight Zone: The Movie is a sci-fi horror anthology film based on Rod Serling's 1959-1964 television series. It consists of four segments directed by Landis, Spielberg, Dante, and Miller – the latter three are remakes of episodes from the series, while Landis' segment is original.
Akyroyd appears in the prologue as the passenger to Albert Brooks' driver, who turns into a monster and devours the driver as the title sequence begins. It's a fantastic and terrifying opening, and Aykroyd is tremendous. Other prominent stars who appear in the segments include Scatman Crothers, John Lithgow, Vic Morrow, Kathleen Quinlan, Nancy Cartwright, and Dick Miller. Twilight Zone: The Movie is an okay film with some decent moments. The prologue and first segment are the best parts of it, and the second, third, and fourth segments aren't anything to shout about.
18 – Neighbors (1981, directed by John G. Avildsen)
Neighbors is a black comedy movie based on Thomas Berger's 1980 novel. The film sees a quiet man's peaceful suburban lifestyle under threat from the new, obnoxious couple who move in next door to him.
John Belushi plays Earl Keese, the quiet man, and Aykroyd plays Victor “Vic” Zeck, who moves in next door along with Cathy Moriarty's Ramona Zeck. Kathryn Walker also appears as Earl's wife, Enid Keese. Belushi and Aykroyd play against type, and it feels a little off, but they do okay. Neighbors is an offbeat, intriguing, and occasionally funny film, but it's often dull, and some of the ideas are tired.
19 – My Girl (1991, directed by Howard Zieff)
My Girl is a coming-of-age rom-com drama, the title of which refers to the iconic 1964 song of the same name by The Temptations. It's about a pre-teen outcast girl whose life turns upside down when she befriends an unpopular boy with countless allergies.
Anna Chlumsky and Macaulay Culkin play Vada Sultenfuss and Thomas J. Sennett and perform maturely. Aykroyd plays Harry Sultenfuss, Vada's father, and Jamie Lee Curtis plays his love interest and Vada's future stepmother, Shelly DeVoto. Their chemistry is excellent, and they do terrific jobs. My Girl is beautiful, touching, and funny. However, it's also overly morbid and sometimes clumsy. A sequel, My Girl 2, was released in 1994, in which Aykroyd also appeared, but it was terrible.
20 – Casper (1995, directed by Brad Silberling)
Casper is a fantasy movie based on the Harvey Comics cartoon character Casper the Friendly Ghost. In the film, an afterlife therapist and his daughter meet the eponymous child ghost when they move into a crumbling mansion to rid it of evil spirits.
Malachi Pearson voices Casper, and Devon Sawa portrays him as a human. The enthusiastic main cast includes Christina Ricci, Bill Pullman, Cathy Moriarty, and Eric Idle. Aykroyd makes a humorous cameo as his Ghostbusters character, Ray Stantz, gets called in to exterminate three nasty ghosts. Casper is the first feature film to have an entirely CGI character in the lead role, and it does it well. It's a technical achievement with some decent and funny moments, but it's mindless and relies too much on its impressive special effects.
21 – Dragnet (1987, directed by Tom Mankiewicz)
Dragnet is a buddy cop comedy movie and a parody of and homage to the radio and television crime drama of the same name. It's about a strait-laced and “by-the-book” Los Angeles police detective and his cocky laid-back streetwise new partner working together to solve a mystery.
Aykroyd plays Sergeant Joe Friday, the strait-laced nephew and namesake of the original series protagonist. Tom Hanks plays his cocky new partner Detective Pep Streebek. The star duo's chemistry is decent, and the talented extended cast includes Christopher Plummer, Harry Morgan, Alexandra Paul, and Dabney Coleman. Dragnet is well-cast, occasionally funny, and highly entertaining up to a certain point. Still, the ending is predictable and bog-standard, and it isn't as good as its source material.
22 – Ghostbusters (2016, directed by Paul Feig)
Ghostbusters is a supernatural comedy horror movie, a reboot of the 1984 film, and the third film in the eponymous franchise. This one's about three eccentric women interested in parapsychology who start a ghost-catching business in Manhattan, New York City, just as strange things happen in the city.
It stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon as the eponymous team's founders and Leslie Jones, who joins them soon after. Chris Hemsworth, Charles Dance, and Michael K. Williams also appear in prominent roles. Aykroyd has a fun cameo as a taxi driver who is oddly well-versed in parapsychology. Ghostbusters is an underrated film – its treatment has been genuinely harsh – but it undoubtedly fails to live up to the standards of the original. The cast does just fine, it's pretty fun, and the special effects are nice, but it lacks originality and has no scary scenes.
Editor in Chief, Wealth of Geeks & Media Decision
Paul Rose Jr has been a Journalist and TV News Producer for MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Paramount.
Currently, in addition to his management duties, he manages the Associated Press syndication program for The Insiders network.
Paul is the former TV Editor for InfuzeMag and has worked as a SEO for Small Businesses Trainer, Forensic Analyst, Train Conductor, and Licensed Financial Principal, among many other things.
He owns more books, DVDs, and comics than most people have seen in their lifetimes.
When he’s not writing or editing on Wealth of Geeks, he exercises his creative muscle writing screenplays and acting in film and television in Los Angeles, CA.