best film:   The last update of the top 500 films of all-time included five (5) films featuring Morgan Freeman between 200-300 on the list. In order, they are Unforgiven (#218), Se7ev (#219), The Dark Knight (#234), Million Dollar Baby (#263) and The Shawshank Redemption (#293). The moratorium did not allow The Dark Knight Rises to be considered but that film will somewhere near The Dark Knight upon the next update. So, even if that top 100 of all-time film escapes Freeman, this is certainly not a category of shame here – there is small treasure trove of high quality films – Unforgiven and Se7en, justifiably, leading the way.


best performance:  The Shawshank Redemption. Freeman’s voice over is sublime (he doubles down on the voice over again for Clint Eastwood’s The Million Dollar Baby in 2004 a decade later) – simply one of the best in film history and he plays Red with such warmth. Red is one of the most agreeable characters in cinema history. Se7en is the next closest option for this category and Freeman plays against his Shawshank likability just a year later here with a hard edge – exacting, determined and intelligent.


Though it may be the fifth (5th) best film he is a part of (though there is not much dividing them at all) – from a sort of win-shares percentage standpoint, Morgan Freeman’s contribution to The Shawshank Redemption (1994) is the highest of the five.


stylistic innovations/traits:  Morgan Freeman’s first archiveable film comes very late in his life. He is fifty (50) years old in 1987 when he makes his first appearance with Street Smart. Once he did arrive though, he came on strong and went on a run scoring three (3) Oscar nominations (he has five total) in seven (7) years and featured in two Best Picture winners (Driving Miss Daisy in 1989 and Unforgiven in 1992). Unlike Sean Connery or Anthony Hopkins (also brilliant during this period of time in cinema history), Freeman is not really reviving anything (he has television and small unarchiveable appearances and credits going back to the 1960s) – his is just a late start.  Morgan Freeman’s voice is probably what he is best known for and basically from Glory on he plays reliably steady characters (Street Smart is an interesting one to go revisit to see his range). He can play affability as well as any actor. He is Eastwood’s more agreeable (opposite Clint’s trademark tough as nails to be around characters) sidekick in their films together, Red is as one for the ages, and his Hoke character in Driving Miss Daisy is so damn sweet – as nice a guy as there could be.


subtle range here – Se7en – his Detective Somerset is a chance for Morgan Freeman to play a hardened son of a bitch type – far closer to a Clint Eastwood antihero here than the affable friend he would play so often before and since


directors worked with: Christopher Nolan (3), Clint Eastwood (2), Brian De Palma (1), David Fincher (1), Steven Spielberg (1). Without a doubt, there is not a special connection here or anything with Nolan. The most notable collaboration is Eastwood as both of these films are masterful – and both won the Best Picture Oscar.


Freeman as Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris in 2004’s Million Dollar Baby – another film where he gives essentially two (2)  performances – the on screen physical performance – and the glorious voice over accompaniment.


top five performances:

  1. Shawshank Redemption
  2. Se7en
  3. Million Dollar Baby
  4. Driving Miss Daisy
  5. Glory


archiveable films

1987- Street Smart
1988- Clean and Sober
1989- Driving Miss Daisy
1989- Glory
1990- The Bonfire of the Vanities
1992- Unforgiven
1994- The Shawshank Redemption
1995- Se7en
1997- Amisted
1997- Kiss the Girls
2004- Million Dollar Baby
2005- Batman Begins
2007- Gone Baby Gone
2008- The Dark Knight
2012- The Dark Knight Rises