15 Best Ethan Hawke Movies (According To Rotten Tomatoes)

For decades now, Ethan Hawke has been one of the most fascinating actors on screen. From early in his career, he was recognized as an intense and compelling performer who always brought something special to the projects he was in, no matter the size of the role or the film.


Hawke has made his mark on a wide variety of films, often sticking to the independent world which brought him his stardom, but occasionally moving into bigger projects. His filmography is filled with some true classics as well as a few gems you might not have heard of yet. Here are Ethan Hawke’s best movies according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Updated on January 10th, 2023 by Colin McCormick: 2022 was a very critically successful year for Ethan Hawke with a wide range of hit movies. From the surprise horror hit The Black Phone to the Viking epic The Northman to his recent small appearance in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Hawke’s 2022 movies have pleased most critics. Looking at his best-reviewed movies on Rotten Tomatoes there are still plenty of other top-rated projects worth noting, from more recent successes to older gems.

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Predestination (2014) – 84%

Available on the Roku Channel

Though on a smaller scale than other time travel movies, Predestination takes a fun and thrilling approach to the genre. Hawke plays an agent on his last case, pursuing a criminal who has managed to elude him through time.

RELATED: 10 Of The Best Time Travel Movies Redditors Love

Critics found that Predestination managed to pull off the difficult feat of being both an entertaining piece of genre filmmaking while also remaining intelligent. It makes for a surprise sci-fi gem with a standout performance from Succession‘s Sarah Snook.

Dead Poets Society (1989) – 84%

Available to rent on Apple TV

In one of his first movies, Hawke appeared in the classic Dead Poets Society. Set at a stuffy boys’ boarding school, Hawke plays one of the students who are encouraged and inspired to learn more by their unorthodox and passionate new teacher, played by Robin Williams.

While some fans see the movie as inspiring them to be better people, critics were equally captivated. Williams’ lead performance was praised as an inspiring one while Hawke and the young cast were also highlighted under the direction of Peter Weir.

Maggie’s Plan (2015) – 86%

Available to rent on Apple TV

Ethan Hawke isn’t typically the kind of actor you would see popping up in romantic comedies unless there is something special there. Maggie’s Plan is a small film that stars Greta Gerwig as a woman longing to start a family who becomes entangled in a strange love triangle with a married man (Hawke).

The indie film, directed by Rebecca Miller, boasts a great cast that largely impressed the critics. Gerwig was especially highlighted as an excellent lead for the film, and the unusual story was seen as a fun and interesting way to subvert the cliched romantic comedy genre.

The Truth (2019) – 87%

Available on AMC+ and DIRECTV

The Truth might be one of Hawke’s roles that audiences missed out on but is worth seeking out. Catherine Deneuve plays a famous actor who faces her stormy relationship with her daughter who is visiting with her husband, played by Hawke.

The small Paris-set movie charmed critics with the sweet and funny little story from acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda. It touches on relatable and grounded topics while featuring excellent performances from the cast.

Born To Be Blue (2015) – 88%

Available on AMC+ and DIRECTV

Hawke has played real-life figures several times in his career, but it must have been daunting to take the role of famed jazz musician Chet Baker. Born to be Blue is a re-imagining of Baker’s career and specifically focusing on his comeback attempt in the ’60s after an injury threatens to end it.

RELATED: 10 Underrated Ethan Hawke Roles, According To Ranker

Though the film was overlooked by many, critics called it one of Hawke’s best performances and the real reason to watch the film. It was also praised for its inventive and unusual take on the musical biopic, which set it apart from others.

Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007) – 88%

Available on Hulu, fuboTV, the Roky Channel, Hoopla, Tubi, Kanopy, Crackle, Pluto TV and Plex

Hawke has worked with some legendary filmmakers in his long career, including the great Sidney Lumet in his final film before he passed away. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead stars Hawke and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as two brothers who decide to deal with their financial problems by robbing a jewelry store owned by their parents.

Critics called it a return to form and a fitting final film for Lumet, who delivers all the tension and thrills he is known for. The amazing cast was also praised for delivering powerful intensity to this tragic tale.

A Midnight Clear (1992) – 88%

Available on fuboTV, Peacock, Peacock Premium, the Roku Channel, Vudu, Tubi, Rebox, Crackle, Pluto TV and Plex

A Midnight Clear finds Hawke early in his career as part of a cast of talented young actors. The World War II story centers on a small group of soldiers who find themselves bunkering down in a snowed-in cabin as German forces close in on their position.

With the war setting, A Midnight Clear is also one of the saddest Christmas movies fans could watch this season, but critics praised the solid take on the genre. The wonderful cast shines in this moving and thoughtful story of soldiers who are not typical brave heroes but remain heroic nonetheless.

Maudie (2016) – 89%

Available to rent on Apple TV

Hawke is often known to use his star power to get small projects off the ground, like this Canadian biopic. Maudie stars Sally Hawkins as Maude Lewis, a housekeeper living in remote Nova Scotia who hones her artistic skills and gradually becomes a beloved figure in her community.

RELATED: 10 Best Ethan Hawke Movies, According To IMDb

Hawkins was given heaps of acclaim for her charming and spirited portrayal of the real-life artist and Hawke was praised for his role as Lewis’ husband. Their performances help elevate this simple story of a fascinating person.

The Northman (2022) – 89%

Robert Eggers sough to make one of the great Viking movies with The Northman. Alexander Skarsgard stars as a brutal and relentless warrior who goes on a bloody quest of revenge against his uncle who betrayed and murdered his father and king (Hawke).

As with all of Eggers’ movies to date, critics were more than impressed with the visual mastery of The Northman. They also pointed to the movie showing growth in the filmmaker, proving he was more than up to the challenge of a movie of his scale and scope without abandoning his unique style.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) – 93%

Following the success of Knives Out, Daniel Craig’s super sleuth Benoit Blanc returns for a new mystery. When a group of wealthy trendsetters gathers for a luxurious getaway, it turns into a crime scene with Blanc looking to get to the bottom of it. Along with the star-studded cast, Glass Onion is filled with cameos, including a small role for Hawke.

Rian Johnson was once again praised by critics for finding a fresh and fun approach to the murder mystery genre. The large ensemble headed by Craig and including Edward Norton, Dave Bautista, and Kate Hudson adds to the fun.

First Reformed (2017) – 94%

Available on HBO Max, Kanopy and DIRECTV

First Reformed is Hawke’s most recent film on this list and one of his most acclaimed roles. Hawke stars as a minister at a small yet historic church. As he struggles with various hardships, the minister begins to question the role he is serving in the world.

RELATED: Ethan Hawke’s 10 Best Movies, According To Metacritic

Hawke was praised for his impassioned performance as a tormented man. Writer-director Paul Schrader was also given a lot of praise for shaping a dark and thought-provoking drama that draws the audience in and gives no easy answers.

Before Sunset (2004) – 95%

Available on the Roku Channel

Hawke is not the kind of actor with a lot of franchises in his filmography, but he did star in a trilogy that remains one of the most celebrated film series of all time. Before Sunset is the second film in the series which picks up nine years after the first film, as Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Julia Delpy) reunite in France.

Critics loved returning to the charming love story all these years later with the two leads continuing their amazing chemistry together. The intelligent script and story draw you in and make you root for this couple all over again.

Boyhood (2014) – 97%

Available on AMC+, Criterion Channel, Kanopy, Pluto TV and DIRECTV

Hawke and Richard Linklater have been key collaborators for years and, as you’ll see with the rest of this list, they make good movies together. Boyhood is an ambitious film shot over the course of 12 years and detailing the life of a young boy and the struggles of growing up. Hawke plays the young boy’s father who also grows over the years.

The incredible way in which the story is told made for a unique and unforgettable cinematic experience according to most critics. The movie avoids melodrama and clichés to tell a real and powerful story.

Before Midnight (2013) – 98%

Available to rent on Apple TV

Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke re-teamed for the third film in their phenomenal series about Jesse and Celine. Before Midnight finds the couple nine years later, married and with kids. During one summer day, we witness how their relationship has changed over the years.

While the first movie was not meant to be a trilogy, Before Midnight proves a worthwhile continuation. Critics were thrilled with the bold and honest take on this couple’s story showing the real-life arguments beneath all the romance. The leads are once again amazing together and the movie is filled with the kind of intelligent conversations that makes the series so wonderful.

Before Sunrise (1995) – 100%

Available on the Roku Channel

The film that started Hawke’s most popular franchise remains his most acclaimed. Before Sunrise finds Jesse and Celine meeting for the first time on a train and deciding to spend the night together, walking around Vienna and getting to know each other.

As with the other films in the trilogy, the chemistry, the intimate direction, and the intelligent script make this a spell-binding and engrossing story that critics loved.

NEXT: The 10 Highest-Grossing Ethan Hawke Movies, According to Box Office Mojo

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