The 20 Best Brad Pitt Movie Performances

10. Moneyball (2011)


American 2011 biographical sports drama directed by Bennett Miller, based on the 2003 nonfiction novel of the same name by Michael Lewis, tells the moving account of the Oakland Athletic’s baseball team’s 2002 season. The film is centered around the team’s general manager Billy Beane and his innovative and resolute attempts to assemble a team capable of winning the world series.

Brad Pitt, playing Billy Beane, delivers an inspirational, memorable, and outstanding performance, leaving audiences cheering tearfully in their seats. Peppered with aspiring misfit athletes searching for their place in the pros, managers rewriting the rules of pro-sports, and the unrelenting courage of some men among our history – this is an inspiring tale that gripped American audiences before there was a film to tell the story.

It’s when this already incredible American tale is paired with Brad Pitt’s brilliant acting that generations to follow are all able to experience, not only a historic moment in sports, but a triumphant film that all can appreciate.


9. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)


Based loosely on the 1922 short story of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald, this romantic fantasy drama tells an extraordinary, strange, and dark fairytale. Directed by David Fincher, like Fight Club, Pitt and Fincher team back up to shape Pitt’s successful career further.

Brad Pitt leads the film as a man who ages in reverse. Cate Blanchett co-stars, working with Pitt again after Babel, as his love interest throughout his backwards life. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a fantastic and beautiful emotional journey, with groundbreaking uses of visual effects and tender moments of affection. Brad Pitt carries this odd tale from start to finish, completely engrossed in his life’s constant forward… maybe backward motion.

This film remains one of Pitt’s most well-known roles as well as certainly one of his most unusual. Although critics don’t count this film among their favorites, many wholeheartedly disagree, preaching this film’s individuality and fervidly impacting story. Fincher’s labyrinths of films are executed with grace, from his visual presence to the acting.


8. Legends of the Fall (1994)

Legends of the Fall

Based on the 1979 novella of the same name by Jim Harrison, this American epic drama is directed by Edward Zwick and stars Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond, and Henry Thomas.

The film is about three brothers and their father living in the remote wilderness of the early 1900’s. Following their lives for many years, audiences watch as nature, history, war, and love affect them.

Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt, like in later Meet Joe Black, steal the stage in this epic drama. Many feel Legends of the Fall is a good and bad film at the same time, being rescued by the acting and the incredible cinematography. The film has certainly received many mixed reviews, but Hopkins and Pitt never fail to keep audiences enthralled and entertained, even amongst trying circumstances.

Legends of the Fall may not be the greatest film ever made, but it’s definitely worth your time.


7. Fury (2014)


Written and directed by David Ayer, and starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, and John Bernthal, this American war film portrays tank crews, fighting on the front lines, in the final days of World War II in Europe.

Fury is Brad Pitt’s most recently released film to appear on this list and his second appearance on the World War II battlegrounds of cinema, a role he seems built to play. Director Ayer, unlike many wishing to visually glorify films, aimed to create a greater degree of realism than other World War II dramas previously released. Perhaps it was partially to do with his eagerness for realism that Pitt landed the lead role.

The entire cast of Fury did an exceptional job in this movie, executing a film reminiscent of many time-honored war dramas preceding. Ayer and his cast show the brutality, humanity, and bravery of war in its most raw form, leaving audiences haunted by its imagery.

Fury is a must-see for all cinema lovers, finally offering the genuine war film we’ve all been anticipating for many years.


6. Meet Joe Black (1998)


Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt reunite after their first film together, previously mentioned on this list, Legends of the Fall. This American heaven-can-wait romantic fantasy was propelled by both Hopkins and Pitt’s outstanding lead performances. Telling the story of a wealthy man finding himself in the unique position of negotiating his own death, under the terms of keeping Death “amused.”

Pitt reinvented the concept of what “Death’s” character would be like, transitioning from the commonly morbid to an oddly comedic childlike innocence – taking a practically unanimously disliked and feared idea and emerging with a character everyone can enjoy. It’s Pitt’s enthralling alteration to something deemed so specifically negative that placed his role in Meet Joe Black high on this list.

This film is unique, not only with its characters stage presence, but Death’s discovery of life after being the grim taker a trillion times over. The consistent commentary on fulfillment, purpose, and love makes for an endearing and powerful storyline.


5. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

This American western drama, written and directed by Andrew Dominik, is adapted from the 1983 novel of the same name by Ron Hansen. Telling the story of Robert Ford, who has idolized Jesse James his entire life, seeking out to join the notorious James Gang.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is an absorbing and spellbinding western drenched in enduring atmosphere and stunning character progression. The film exaggerates the relationship between James (played by Brad Pitt) and Ford (Casey Affleck), concentrating on the events that prelude the so anticipated killing.

Both Affleck and Pitt have received positive reviews for their performances in The Assassination of Jesse James. Affleck specifically has received notable praises, as his earlier work couldn’t have prepared audiences for his remarkable success in this film.

Some have stated that, although Pitt is the A-lister of the film, it’s a toss-up between he and Affleck of who’s the most impressive. Regardless of who takes the gold medal in that argument, both actors emerged with exemplary performances and deserve equal commendation for their efforts.


4. Twelve Monkeys aka 12 Monkeys (1995)

Twelve Monkeys

Inspired by Chris Marker’s 1962 short film La Jetée, this American dystopian science fiction is directed by Terry Gilliam. Starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, and Brad Pitt. Set in the future, where a deadly virus has wiped out nearly all of the human race, a convict (Willis) is sent back in time to gather information about the virus. Needless to say, he runs into some trouble along the way.

Although Pitt doesn’t boast the leading role in Twelve Monkeys, he steals the stage with his honorable execution – even sharing the stage with fellow A-lister Bruce Willis. In fact, Pitt was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and won a Golden Globe for his endeavors. He’s received countless commendations for his unique and unconventional role’s execution. Pitt manages to take an easily wrecked role and deliver an enjoyable, rounded, and unforgettable achievement.

Regardless of Pitt’s performance, Twelve Monkeys is a must see for all cinema lovers.


3. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, the film boasts ever favorable all-star cast Brad Pitt, Christopher Waltz, Mélanie Laurent, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, and Diane Kruger. Telling the fictional alternate history story of two plots to assassinate Nazi Germany’s political leadership.

Although every character appearing in the film plays an important role, as well as a pleasing one, Brad Pitt particularly stole the stage playing Lieutenant Aldo “The Apache” Raine. As the head of the notorious “Basterds,” this was Pitt’s first appearance on the World War 2 battlefields of cinema.

Pitt and Tarantino had wanted to work together for several years, but waited for the perfect project. Once Tarantino had completed the Inglourious Basterds script, he didn’t hesitate to cast Pitt as Aldo Raine. A role many feel was practically made for him.

The film was a great critical success upon its release, being Tarantino’s highest grossing film to date, before Django Unchained.


2. Se7en (1995)


Named due to the film’s narrative relation to the seven deadly sins: gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, lust, and envy – renowned and well-respected Morgan Freeman shares the stage with Brad Pitt in this American psychological thriller. Se7en centers around two detectives who become deeply involved in the case of a callous, calculative serial killer whose precisely planned murders correlate to the seven deadly sins.

Powerfully directed by David Fincher, Seven is worth seeing, not only for its extraordinary style, unrelenting plot, and daring narrative, but for Freeman and Pitt’s showstopping performances that give the provocative film a heartbeat. Pitt actually turned down a role in Apollo 13 to appear in this film, leaving him needing to prove that this was the better role for his career.

This stomach turning, claustrophobic, thought-provoking thriller is a must-see for Freeman and Pitt fans alike.


1. Fight Club (1999)

fight club

Based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club is directed by David Fincher and stars all-star cast Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter. Norton plays the nameless protagonist who’s discontented with his morbidly mediocre life. After a chance meeting with Pitt (Tyler Durden), the two found “Fight Club,” quickly discovering that many other men seek violence recreationally.

Pitt and Norton’s respective roles in Fight Club remain one of their most influential and well-known. Brad Pitt’s role, like the film, is very controversial, but it’s impossible to argue that his performance is overwhelmingly memorable and monument in his stunning career.

Fincher copied the homoerotic harmonics from Palahniuk’s novel to make audiences uncomfortable and keep them from foreseeing any plot twists the film takes. He intended Fight Club’s violence to serve as a metaphor for the clashing struggle between a generation of young people and the complacent value system of advertising. He. The film received mixed critical reviews upon its release, due to its very controversial nature, but quickly became a cult classic.

Brad Pitt and Edward Norton certainly share a great deal of the film’s success with their extraordinary performances, as well as owe some thanks to Fincher and Palahniuk for creating an opportunity that would trickle through cult classic history.

Author Bio: Rhea Shuten is a freelance writer, screenwriter, and photographer. She enjoys films, cooking, and writing about herself in third person. You can view some of Rhea’s work here: