Movies with too many characters can sometimes end up hard to follow or lacking in characterisation. However, there are some films that realize less is more, with just a few characters (or just one!) taking up the screen-time. Movies featuring only one actor may be extremely gripping, touching, and otherworldly entertaining – and we’ve gathered 10 of the best.
We’ve combed through the archives to bring together our list of favourite movies featuring only one actor. As always, if you feel like we’ve missed off one of your favourites, do drop us a comment below!
Locke is an absolute masterpiece by Steven Knight, starring Tom Hardy. It’s a man driving a BMW who has freed himself from the clutches of self-disgust at the cost of everything he owns. Hardy, a successful construction manager, has to make sure he does his job right both as a worker and as a family man – before he reaches his destination.
Undoubtedly, Locke is one of Hardy’s best performances ever. The combination of solid acting, a powerful story, and brilliant execution set Locke in a league of its own.
Spoiler alert: Hardy never steps out of his car in the movie!
Based on Aron Ralston’s autobiography Between a Rock and a Hard Place, 127 Hours is a survival story that offers everything to make your stomach churn. During his expedition in Utah, a mountain climber finds himself stuck between two rocks. As Aron struggles to get out, he hallucinates, and important moments of his life flash before his eyes.
127 Hours is a harrowing survival story with deep elements of value, emotion, strength, and inspiration. James Franco’s performance is so intense that it almost feels as though the TV screen emits the emotions felt by the character.
Noah takes the idea of a dystopian fantasy to a whole another level. The story centers on Noah, a soldier who is the last survivor of the earth following a nuclear attack. The suffocating solitude soon begins taking a toll on his mental health, and consequently he experiences hallucinations of various kinds.
Noah is a gripping story that has been executed exactly the way it was supposed to. The story exercises our emotions and manages to touch the chord.
This one is a true treat to watch – especially for sci-fi enthusiasts. The unique story revolves around Astronaut Sam Bell who is all alone on the moon with exception of an AI companion, GERTY. Sam and GERTY collaborate to rid the earth of its energy crisis. Sam has hallucinations towards the end of his term on the moon.
The perfect moonscapes and lighting in the film will have you convinced the movie was shot on the moon!
I Am Legend
Superb direction and Will Smith’s astounding acting result in the creation of one of the best dystopian fantasies released in quite some time.
This post-apocalyptic thriller is one that may leave you pondering the topic of human civilization. A scientist has set out to find a cure after a disastrous plague has wiped out the entirety of New York City. Keeping himself safe, the sole survivor has to battle vampiric mutants in order to restore humanity. Thanks to its smooth progression and pace, I Am Legend captivates even those who aren’t big on dystopian thrillers.
In a sentence, Trapped is an unusual kind of survival thriller. A man accidentally locks himself inside an apartment in an almost abandoned Mumbai high-rise. In absence of food, water, and electricity, he resorts to desperate measures to keep himself alive and try to summon help.
The camera work is such that at times you might laugh at the victim’s situation rather than feel sympathetic. This Hindi-language movie from Bollywood is witty, engaging, and as already mentioned, a bit unusual.
Cast Away is more complete than most survival dramas out there. After a plane crash, a FedEx executive, Chuck Noland, is marooned on a deserted island where he makes desperate attempts to survive and find help. It’s a pretty simplistic survival story presented in a wonderful way.
Tom Hanks’ portrayal is intense enough to keep us hooked throughout the entire duration of the movie. All 2 hours 23 minutes of it!
Buried is someone’s worst nightmare in form of a movie, to say the least. A U.S. truck driver in Iraq finds himself buried alive inside a coffin following a vicious attack. With only a lighter and a cell phone as signs of hope, the man assures his wife he is going to be fine. But, will he really be fine?
Though Buried wasn’t exactly the comfort zone for Ryan Reynolds, he surpassed our expectations by a great margin. As he tries to hold up with death just inches away, it’s definitely going to send a shiver down your spine.
Sam Was Here
Sam Was Here is one of those underrated works that gleam differently in the archive of forgotten films. Sam, a door-to-door salesman suffers an identity crisis following a series of dangerously strange events he witnesses in the Californian desert. As his car breaks down, he is stuck with nowhere to go and the people he finds are nothing but a threat to his life.
The film is shorter than most mainstream films and progresses at a fine pace. Featuring elements of horror, thrill, and mystery, Sam Was Here doesn’t get dull – not even once.
Life of Pi
Life of Pi is a plain and simple piece of art enhanced by CGI and excellent cinematography. A young man is stranded at sea following a disaster, but he is not alone as he has a fearsome companion in the form of a Bengal tiger. During their journey to find land, the man goes against his moral code and begins fishing to keep himself and the tiger alive. Later, he realizes that the tiger’s presence on the boat was important for his survival.
Life of Pi is one of those rare films that gives a knock at its core, hence a must-watch.
So there we have it, our 10 picks for movies focusing solely on one actor for the duration of its run-time.
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!