Who doesn't love to see Hugh Jackman grabbing Hollywood by the proverbial scruff of its neck and thriving there? Audiences know the Aussie star for portraying Wolverine in the X-Men movies, of course.
He has appeared in over 40 films since his first credit in the 1999 drama Erskineville Kings, having appeared in action roles, romantic comedies, and musicals, and lent his voice to animated features.
Jackman's impressive filmography includes some brilliant titles, with more to come.
In this piece, we've ranked the best Hugh Jackman movies, starting with the best and working down.
1 – Logan (2017, Directed by James Mangold)
Logan ranks among the finest comic book movies ever made. James Mangold and his crew smashed it out of the park. It marks the tenth X-Men film and Jackman's ninth outing as the eponymous character, and it was supposed to be his last. Marvel, however, tempted him out of superhero retirement to bring Wolverine to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Deadpool 3.
Jackman gives an incredible performance in this gritty, violent, and poignant superhero flick that packs an emotional punch. Inspired by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's “Old Man Logan” comics storyline, it follows an aged Wolverine and a gravely ill Charles Xavier as they attempt to protect a young mutant. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, but Jackman missed out on a nomination for Best Actor for his nuanced career-best performance. What a tragedy.
2 – Bad Education (2019, Directed by Cory Finley)
Crime drama Bad Education stars Jackman and Allison Janney as a public school's superintendent and assistant superintendent. The plot concerns the true story of the largest public school embezzlement in United States history. Robert Kolker's 2003 New York magazine article “The Bad Superintendent” inspired it.
Jackman's range gets tested here, and he passes with flying colors, giving a performance that impressed Frank Tassone, the man he plays. He anchors this movie and rightly received a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie at the Primetime Emmy Awards. The ever-reliable Allison Janney also does superb work, and the intricate detail in the film is highly admirable. If only all television movies were this good.
3 – X2 (2003, Directed by Bryan Singer)
The second X-Men movie, X2, still gets mentioned in conversations about the best superhero films ever made, and rightly so. The movie sees Jackman reprise his role as Wolverine, and borrows inspiration from the 1982 graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills. The story sees the X-Men and Magneto's Brotherhood forced to team up to thwart William Stryker, who believes killing all mutants is the only way to save humanity.
Also known as X2: X-Men United and X-Men 2, this movie set the benchmark for handling an ensemble cast in a superhero flick – many haven't managed it anywhere near as well since X2 (looking at you Spider-Man 3). It surpasses its predecessor in every way. It has a tight script, a compelling story, high-octane action, and impressive special effects that still hold up today. A confident performance from the star makes it one of the best Hugh Jackman movies.
4 – X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014, Directed by Bryan Singer)
Jackman's seventh appearance as Wolverine comes in the seventh installment in the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days of Future Past. The story follows Wolverine back to 1973 when he must alter history to prevent a dystopian future that will ravage the human and mutant populations.
This movie looks fantastic and got nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Jackman gives a confident performance as the film's lead and has support from cast members from the different X-Men timelines. X-Men: Days of Future Past has a genuine feeling of peril that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. Significantly, it revised many sour notes from the not-so-good X-Men: The Last Stand, which went down well with fans.
5 – Missing Link (2019, Directed by Chris Butler)
Missing Link is the most recent animated movie credit in Jackman's filmography. It's a stop-motion adventure comedy about a Sasquatch called Mr. Link, who travels to the Himalayas to meet his Yeti cousins. Jackman voices Sir Lionel Frost, a myth and monster investigator who helps the creature reach his destination.
Nominated for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award, Missing Link has great visuals. It's full of heart, and Jackman's contribution is pivotal to that. Zach Galifianakis performs as Mr. Link, bringing with him an effortless humor and likability that will make audiences smile from ear to ear.
6 – Les Misérables (2012, directed by Tom Hooper)
Based on the stage musical by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, and Jean-Marc Natel, and Victor Hugo's 1862 novel, Les Misérables is an epic period musical film. Jackman stars as Jean Valjean, a man imprisoned for stealing bread to feed his family, alongside Russell Crowe as Javert, the police officer determined to see Valjean back in jail. Both actors give good performances. Jackman shows off a surprisingly impressive vocal range, which makes this one of the best Hugh Jackman movies.
Les Misérables received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor for Jackman. It won three; Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Supporting Actress for Anne Hathaway. It's an emotional, sumptuous feast for the eyes and ears.
7 – X-Men: First Class (2011, Directed by Matthew Vaughn)
Jackman's appearance in this movie – his fifth as Wolverine and the fifth in the X-Men series – is a mere uncredited cameo in which he tells James McAvoy's Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender's Erik Lehnsherr where to go. It's brief but hilarious and features an expletive we can't type here.
X-Men: First Class is the first X-Men installment to feature the younger cast of actors playing younger versions of the iconic mutant characters. There's a heavy focus on Xavier and Lehnsherr's relationship, their transitions into becoming Professor X and Magneto, and the formations of their respective mutant groups. McAvoy and Fassbender have great chemistry, which makes the movie.
8 – X-Men (2000, Directed by Bryan Singer)
The first installment in the X-Men franchise played a considerable part in the comic book movie boom of the 2000s. X-Men focuses on Jackman's Wolverine and Anna Paquin's Rogue getting involved in the longstanding conflict between the eponymous team and Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants.
Given his status as a relative unknown and his lack of physical resemblance to the comic book version of Wolverine, many fans wrote Jackman off. Still, he silenced his critics with an excellent performance in his first Hollywood role. X-Men was once the benchmark for modern superhero flicks, and while a dozen or so movies have now surpassed it, it's still an enjoyable and action-packed romp.
9 – Happy Feet (2006, Directed by George Miller)
Jackman lent his voice to two animated films in 2006 and Happy Feet is undoubtedly the best. It's about an emperor penguin who can't sing well enough to attract a mate but can tap dance like Fred Astaire on steroids. The impressive voice cast includes Elijah Wood as the tap-dancing Mumble, with Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Nicole Kidman, and Hugo Weaving among the support.
Jackman voices Memphis, Mumble's father. After initially being embarrassed by his son, he eventually learns to support him, and Jackman conveys his emotions impeccably. This movie won the Academy Award for Best animated feature, and deservedly so.
10 – Prisoners (2013, Directed by Denis Villeneuve)
Prisoners has an impressive cast, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano. Jackman plays the lead role of Keller Dover, the father of a missing girl in Conyers, Pennsylvania, who takes matters into his own hands after her abduction. His raw performance doesn't get enough credit; Prisoners is one of the best Hugh Jackman movies.
Gyllenhaal also deserves high praise for his role as Detective Loki, who leads the police search for Dover's child and her friend. Prisoners only received one Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography, which is a shame, as it more than lives up to its billing as a thriller from the moment the credits roll.
11 – Eddie The Eagle (2016, Directed by Dexter Fletcher)
Eddie the Eagle stars Taron Egerton as Michael “Eddie the Eagle” Edwards, a British ski-jumper who became the first competitor to represent Great Britain in the sport since 1928 when he appeared at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Egerton is terrific, giving a fun and energetic performance as the entertaining and eccentric Edwards.
Jackman does a great job as Bronson Peary, an alcoholic snow groomer who agrees to train Edwards for the event. It's a sweet, charming film, though it teems with inspirational clichés.
12 – Me and Earl and The Dying Girl (2015, Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon)
This movie doesn't just qualify as the most peculiar credit of Jackman's career; it's also one of film history's most unusual and creative cameo appearances. Based on Jesse Andrews' 2012 debut novel, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl tells the story of a socially awkward teen boy called Greg who, along with his co-worker Earl, befriends a classmate diagnosed with cancer.
Jackman's cameo comes when Greg jokingly suggests to Rachel, the cancer patient, that she should play dead whenever anyone mentions her illness. In Jackman's unmistakable voice, a nearby Wolverine poster lambasts Greg with expletives for suggesting something so inappropriate. It's a beautiful, charming, heartfelt, well-acted comedy-drama that deals with a sensitive subject with humor, class, and care. Jackman's cameo brings a moment of laugh-out-loud hilarity to proceedings.
13 – Free Guy (2021, directed by Shawn Levy)
Free Guy features another Jackman cameo. This creative action comedy stars Ryan Reynolds as Blue Shirt Guy, a bank teller who learns he's an NPC in an online game. Blue Shirt Guy teams up with a female player to unearth evidence that the CEO of the software company who made the game stole the player's source code to do so.
Jackman voices an unnamed masked avatar in an alley. His character provides Jodie Comer's Millie Rusk, AKA MolotovGirl, with vital information in her quest. Free Guy offers heaps of fun and a game cast (pun intended).
14 – The Prestige (2006, Directed by Christopher Nolan)
Based on Christopher Priest's 1995 novel, The Prestige tells a tale about rival stage magicians in Victorian London. It's a complicated, twisty, arty movie with several rabbits in its proverbial hat. It makes its audience think.
Jackman and Christian Bale play the two squabbling magicians, Robert Angier and Alfred Borden. They both give terrific performances. While The Prestige is undoubtedly complex, Nolan deserves praise for making it easy to follow and understand, as does the gorgeous cinematography for being so pleasing to the eye.
15 – The Greatest Showman (2017, Directed by Michael Gracey)
The Greatest Showman fictionalizes the story of the famous showman P.T. Barnum, how he created the Barnum & Bailey Circus, and the lives of its star attractions. Jackman stars as Barnum, giving one of his most well-rounded and effervescent performances as the talented virtuoso. He's the best thing about the film by far, which is why it ranks among the best Hugh Jackman movies.
Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya give Jackman some decent support, but The Greatest Showman still has a mess of a plot. It's flashy, and the rousing musical numbers are unmissable, but that all masks a thin story. “This is Me,” the movie's flagship song, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
16 – Rise of The Guardians (2012, Directed by Peter Ramsey)
Viewers might think the idea of Jackman playing the Easter Bunny would only ever happen in a fever dream. Clearly, they've not seen the movie Rise of the Guardians. The 3D computer-animated offering follows Guardians Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman as they recruit Jack Frost to help them stop the evil Pitch Black from plummeting the world into darkness.
The performances of Jackman, Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, and Jude Law make the film a fun watch. On the other hand, it feels like they all compete for attention, which spreads them all too thin. Rise of the Guardians looks fabulous but is also highly derivative, and by the end, its boisterousness might drive adult viewers crazy.
17 – Flushed Away (2006, Directed by Sam Fell and David Bowers)
Flushed Away is the other computer-animated movie Jackman lent his voice to in 2006, but it's nowhere near as good as Happy Feet. It follows the story of a pampered rat who gets flushed down the toilet from his penthouse apartment, ends up in the sewers of London, and must adapt to an entirely new way of life.
Jackman plays Roddy St. James in a camp fashion. Star-studded support comes from Kate Winslet, Jean Reno, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, Shane Richie, and Ian McKellen. It's the first Aardman project made mainly with CGI and has great visuals. The lack of clay doesn't take away the emotion, either. Still, some of its characters become painfully overbearing by its climax, and its humor isn't as strong as Aardman's previous projects like the Wallace & Gromit titles.
18 – The Wolverine (2013, Directed by James Mangold)
Jackman's sixth outing as Wolverine comes in the sixth X-Men movie, The Wolverine. This one follows the eponymous character to Japan, where he must face an old acquaintance while stripped of his powers and dealing with guilt over Jean Grey's death.
Jackman gives a strong performance, but The Wolverine lacks the fun of the best X-Men films. Wolverine deals with an existential crisis and has plenty of action but gets a bit too ponderous. It falls apart in its climactic battle, which demotes it from being quite an intimate and intelligent movie to CGI-heavy silliness bordering on absurd.
19 – Real Steel (2011, Directed by Shawn Levy)
Based on Richard Matheson's short story “Steel,” published in 1956, Real Steel has a silly but intriguing premise. Jackman plays down-and-out former boxer Charlie Kenton, whose sport is now fought by robots, so he builds and trains a mechanical fighter with his son.
Jackman gives a committed performance as the hardened shyster with a soft center. Youngster Dakota Goyo gives an impressive performance as Kenton's son, and Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, and Kevin Durand add more star power in supporting roles. Real Steel tells a desperately clichéd story and plays out like a poor man's Rocky with robots. It's fun, though, and viewers will root for Atom, the underdog robot, as it pluckily punches above its metallic weight.
20 – The Front Runner (2018, Directed by Jason Reitman)
Jackman plays Senator Gary Hart in the political drama The Front Runner, which depicts Hart's run to be the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee and his downfall when rumors of an extramarital affair became public.
The Front Runner feels like a missed opportunity, and its defense of Hart feels misguided. A talented supporting cast of Vera Farmiga, J. K. Simmons, and Alfred Molina adds to the frustration of what could have been. Still, Jackman gives a commanding performance that further showcases his impressive range.
21 – Australia (2008, Directed by Baz Luhrmann)
Named after Jackman's native country, Australia chronicles the period between 1939 and 1942, dramatizing events across northern Australia at the time, such as the bombing of Darwin during World War II.
Many Aussie stars, such as David Wenham, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson, and David Gulpilil, support Nicole Kidman and Jackman in the lead roles. Jackman plays a hunky independent cattle drover known as “The Drover,” and does excellent work. Australia suffers from an overly long runtime and teems with requisite Aussie clichés that become tiresome. Kidman, however, gives a star turn, blossoming under Luhrmann's direction, just as she had in Moulin Rouge!
22 – X-Men: The Last Stand (2006, Directed by Brett Ratner)
The final movie on our list snuck onto it by the skin of its teeth. X-Men: The Last Stand, the third X-Men offering, ranks among the worst installments in the franchise. Based on two X-Men comic book story arcs, “Gifted” and “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” it focuses on a “mutant cure” with lethal ramifications on the human and mutant populations. Jean Grey also unleashes a dark force following her unexpected resurrection.
Jackman gives one of the few good performances in the film, as do Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Rebecca Romijn, and Patrick Stewart. But even they can't save X-Men: The Last Stand from mediocrity. It lacks the emotional depth of the franchise's finer installments and doesn't handle its large cast of characters as efficiently. Its take on the Dark Phoenix plot is also embarrassingly weak. The choices to kill off so many important characters were so bad that the whole thing got retconned by 2014's vastly superior X-Men: Days of Future Past.