10 Best Robert Downey Jr. Performances | TheReviewGeek Recommends

You know Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most talented actors of his generation, but have you seen his best work? This guy has been making movies for over 35 years, so there are some gems you may have missed. In this article, we’re counting down RDJ’s top 10 performances of all time.

From the role that skyrocketed him to fame in the ’80s to his career-defining performance as Tony Stark, this list covers the full range of his talent. Get ready to be wowed as we revisit some of the most iconic characters in movie history. How many of these classics have you seen? By the end of this, you’ll be rushing to stream the ones you haven’t.

Best Robert Downey Jr. Movies

Iron Man (2008)

The movie that really put Robert Downey Jr. on the map as a leading man and global superstar was Iron Man. As Tony Stark, the genius billionaire playboy, Downey found the role of a lifetime. His quick wit and comedic timing were perfect for the charming yet arrogant Stark.

When Stark is captured by terrorists and forced to build a weapon, he instead constructs the first Iron Man suit. The special effects and action sequences from his escape are groundbreaking and hold up today. But the real heart of the movie is Downey’s performance. His ability to show Stark’s transformation from selfish womanizer to selfless hero gives the story depth.

Best Robert Downey Jr. Movies

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Robert Downey Jr. delivered an iconic performance as the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie’s action-packed take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic stories. Set in 1890s London, Downey’s Holmes is eccentric yet brilliant, with a knack for clever disguises and deductive reasoning.

When a secret society threatens Britain, Holmes and his trusty partner Dr. Watson (Jude Law) embark on a dangerous mission to stop their sinister plans. Downey and Law have effortless chemistry and comedic timing, with Downey portraying Holmes as a quirky genius prone to boxing matches and violin solos.

Best Robert Downey Jr. Movies

Tropic Thunder (2008)

In Tropic Thunder, Robert Downey Jr. gives one of his most memorable and hilarious performances. As Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method actor who undergoes “pigmentation alteration” surgery to play a black US Army Sergeant, Downey commits fully to the over-the-top role.

Kirk Lazarus is as outrageous and un-PC as characters come, but Downey plays him with such conviction and comedic precision that you can’t help but laugh. His “dude disguised as a dude playing another dude” is a spot-on satire of self-important method actors who take themselves way too seriously. Downey’s Australian accent and mannerisms are pitch-perfect. And his chemistry with co-stars like Ben Stiller and Jack Black results in some truly funny moments and quotable lines.

Best Robert Downey Jr. Movies

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Robert Downey Jr. reprised his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man for the final time in Avengers: Endgame, released in 2019. After 11 years and 22 movies playing the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, Downey Jr. gave an emotional performance as Iron Man met his end.

In Endgame, the remaining Avengers attempt to reverse the snap of Thanos from Infinity War and bring back their friends and loved ones. After many trials and setbacks, they are able to collect the Infinity Stones and build their own gauntlet. However, the power of the stones proves too much for most to wield and survive. In a heartwrenching scene, Iron Man takes the gauntlet from Captain America and snaps his fingers, wiping out Thanos and his army but sacrificing his own life in the process.

Best Robert Downey Jr. Movies

Zodiac (2007)

In Zodiac, Downey Jr. plays Paul Avery, a San Francisco Chronicle crime reporter who covers the Zodiac Killer case. This chilling thriller is based on the real Zodiac murders that terrified the Bay Area in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Downey Jr. delivers a fantastic performance as the eccentric and hard-drinking Avery. His portrayal of Avery’s obsession and eventual unravelling as he delves deeper into the unsolved murders is mesmerizing. Downey Jr. has great chemistry with Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays Inspector David Toschi, one of the lead investigators on the case. Their odd couple dynamic provides some moments of humour in an otherwise sinister film.

Best Robert Downey Jr. Movies

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of Robert Downey Jr.’s most entertaining and underrated films. In this 2005 neo-noir action comedy, directed by Shane Black, Downey Jr. stars as Harry Lockhart, a thief who stumbles into a role as a Hollywood detective. Paired with a private investigator, Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer), to research for a movie, Harry finds himself in the middle of a twisted murder mystery.

Downey Jr. and Kilmer have perfect comedic chemistry and timing. Their witty, fast-paced dialogue and humorous interactions carry the film. RDJ gets to show off his talent for physical comedy and comedic facial expressions. His sarcastic and self-deprecating sense of humour is on full display.

Best Robert Downey Jr. Movies

Chaplin (1992)

One of Downey Jr.’s most memorable and moving performances was in the 1992 biographical film Chaplin, where he portrayed the legendary British comedian Charlie Chaplin. Downey Jr. brings Chaplin’s charm, humour, and humanity to life.

To prepare for the role, Downey Jr. spent over a year studying Chaplin’s films and life. His hard work and dedication shine in his performance. Downey Jr. nails all of Chaplin’s mannerisms, from his signature moustache and cane to his waddle-like walk. Beyond the physicality, Downey Jr. captures Chaplin’s essence – his passion for his craft, his desire to bring joy to others, and his complex and often troubled inner life.

Best Robert Downey Jr. Movies

Less Than Zero (1987)

One of RDJ’s earliest roles that showcased his talent was in the 1987 film Less Than Zero. Based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name, RDJ delivered a haunting performance as Julian Wells, a young man grappling with addiction in 1980s Los Angeles.

At just 22 years old, RDJ brought a raw intensity and vulnerability to the role that was far beyond his years. His portrayal of Julian’s spiral into darkness with cocaine and heroine was chilling yet poignant. The scenes where he begs his friend Clay for money to fuel his addiction are particularly gripping, highlighting RDJ’s ability to tap into the deepest depths of human anguish and despair.

Best Robert Downey Jr. Movies

Due Date

Due Date is an easy road comedy featuring two eccentric personalities bound together by unexpected situations. RDJ is in the role of man with a short fuse who is forced to travel across the country with a highly irritable man played by Zach Galifianakis.  His wife is pregnant, and he has to be there on time for the birth of his first child. However, nothing seems to go according to the plan, and they fall into all sorts of pits that one can’t prepare for.

Best Robert Downey Jr. Movies

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 continues Tony Stark’s story as the wise-cracking billionaire playboy and genius inventor turned superhero Iron Man. This action-packed sequel improves on the original in every way.

Picking up where the first film left off, Tony is dealing with a dying palladium core in the arc reactor keeping him alive as well as pressure from the government to share the Iron Man suit’s technology. The villains this time around are the father-son duo of Ivan and Anton Vanko, who seek to destroy Tony to avenge Howard Stark.

There we have it, our list 0f 10 best Robert Downey Jr. movies. What do you think about our picks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:


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