best film: Morgan Freeman’s best film is probably Unforgiven (Dark Knight another fine option/masterpiece) but how about the idea that The Shawshank Redemption is his fifth best film? Pretty wild, right? I love Shawshank Redemption so this speaks volumes to just how good Freeman’s films are at the top. I think he, like many actors before him (Welles who I just wrote about, also Brando) took his fair share of paycheck movies but when he decides to be serious there’s a pretty good chance his movie is going to end up in the top 5 of its respective year (six of Freeman’s 12 archiveable films landed in their years’ top 5).

best performance:  The Shawshank Redemption. The voice-over is sublime (he doubles down on that again for Eastwood’s The Million Dollar Baby)—simply one of the best in film history and he plays Red with such authenticity and patience. It’s one of the more likable characters in contemporary cinema. Seven is the next closest as I love Freeman playing against type here with an edge—exacting, determined and intelligent.

stylistic innovations/traits: Morgan Freeman debuted extremely late in the archives. He was 50 years old in 1987 when he made his first appearance with Street Smart. Once he did arrive though he came on like a whirlwind and went on a run scoring three Oscar noms in seven years and starring in two best picture winners. His voice is probably what he’s best known for and basically from Glory on he plays reliably steady characters.

directors worked with:   Nolan (3) but the more important auteur pairing is Eastwood (2) and then once a piece with Fincher and Spielberg

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Shawshank Redemption
  2. Seven
  3. Million Dollar Baby
  4. Driving Miss Daisy
  5. Glory

Archiveable films

1987- Street Smart
1989- Driving Miss Daisy
1989- Glory
1992- Unforgiven
1994- The Shawshank Redemption
1995- Seven
1997- Amisted
2004- Million Dollar Baby
2005- Batman Begins
2007- Gone Baby Gone
2008- The Dark Knight
2012- The Dark Knight Rises