It feels just like yesterday that Will Smith told us the story of a prince from Philadelphia who got kicked out and was forced to live with his rich uncle in Bel Air. Now, over 25 years later, we stand witness to the birth of a cultural icon. From his music to his TV show and movies, Will Smith has become a cornerstone in American pop culture.
On top of his blockbuster movies, Will has to have one of the most inspirational stories and he puts it to use, inspiring millions and motivating more with his wise words. He’s grown and evolved from the goofy character we saw on Fresh Prince to one of Hollywood’s biggest tickets.
With that being said, we here at Def Pen figured that the only way to celebrate the 50th birthday of a legend like Will Smith is to compile a top ten list of his best movies. Check out our list and tell us your favorite Will Smith movie.
We start this list with Will Smith as Hancock. Smith’s performance in this as the nonchalant homeless superhero would captivate any audience. Imagine a homeless person recklessly saving people throughout Los Angeles with a wine bottle in his hand. We wish Smith had another shot at a superhero character which left us disappointed that there wasn’t a sequel to this movie.
9. I, Robot
I, Robot had Will Smith as a detective set in the eerie future of artificial intelligence and robots. This movie has aged extremely well because of the developments we’ve made in terms of robotics and AI and if you watch it now, a lot of the concerns we have as a society are alluded to in the movie. It also takes on the controversial issue of policing, in a world where robots are the ones who police our cities. Plus for 2004, this movie had some amazing CGI and visual effects. Smith as the smart-mouth detective is a classic script that you will see throughout this list.
We’d like to think that this movie is the inspiration for Tinder and other dating apps around the world. In his first attempt at a rom-com, Smith is the love-guru that helps Manhatten’s men find and attract the women of their dreams. This movie had so many memorable moments and a stellar cast including Kevin Smith and Eva Mendes and that’s why it lands in our top ten.
7. Bad Boys
“Bad Boys, Bad Boys, what you gonna do?”. In 1995, Will Smith’s fourth movie became an instant sensation. The pairing up of two opposite detectives in Martin Lawrence & Will Smith made for a dynamic we couldn’t resist on the big screen. They take on the drug-ridden streets of Miami in an action-packed cop movie that had a sequel that could have made this list as well. If you haven’t watched this movie, it is absolutely a must watch. The fact that this movie is seventh on the list goes to show you how great of a movie catalog Smith has.
6. Independence Day
The world is in jeopardy as aliens take over the globe over 4th of July weekend. It takes a group of unlikely heroes (including Will Smith) to claim ‘independence’ for the world. The sci-fi phenomena include Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Vivica Fox in what was a fight for humanity. This is one of the best ‘apocalyptic’ movies and that says a lot because that was the era where doomsday flicks were running rampant. The sequel doesn’t do the original justice and without Will Smith, it was ‘doomed’ to fail.
5. Enemy of The State
In 1998, Will Smith was one of the up and coming actors in the world and ‘Enemy of the State’ helped catapult him to another level. He’s framed for murder after a corrupt politician sets him up and Will Smith is caught on the wrong side of the law, running for his life. Smith had a powerful performance in the suspenseful thriller which pitted him against Jon Voight. After this movie, people started to realize that Will Smith can really act.
4. Men in Black
Another classic movie in Will Smith’s arsenal, Men in Black tells the story of an unexpecting Smith teaming up with Tommy Lee Jones to save the world from Aliens. Smith’s ability to be comedic talent on camera is something everyone knows from his days as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but Will really shows it off in this movie as well. Men In Black went on to become a huge commercial success, generating enough buzz to warrant the creation of a 2nd and 3rd installment in the franchise. No surprise why this movie is so high up on the list.
3. I Am Legend
Carrying a movie all by yourself is a feat that few actors have accomplished. In the post-apocalyptic zombie movie, Will Smith succeeds in the one-man show that had us in tears throughout. The movie had some sensational moments, including a heart-breaking moment with his dog Marley. Recently, a video surfaced of how Smith did the CGI for the zombies in the movie and once you break it down, acting that out is extremely hard. Imagine looking at a doll in a green screen and acting scared to death. But then again, that’s why he’s one of the most esteemed actors in the world.
2. The Pursuit of Happyness
The father-son movie that showed us any dream is possible if persistent. If tears don’t come to your eyes while watching this movie, you might just be an alien. Will Smith pairs up with his son Jaden for the story of a single father who’s evicted from his apartment and forced to manage to pursue his dream and take care of his kid. If you ever need motivation, this is the movie you need to watch. Smith’s performance is also tremendously powerful, offering a realistic take on a father who struggles to create a better life for his family.
In what may be Will Smith’s best performance on screen, the Muhammad Ali biopic ‘Ali’ is his best movie. It ultimately comes down to Smith’s performance but the movie was full of gems. Smith’s acting matched Ali’s swagger and attitude and made for an entertaining movie throughout. Ali both ignited and mirrored the conflicts of his time and ours to become one of the most admired fighters in the world. Forget, now, what you thought you knew. That is why it sits at the top of the food chain when it comes to Will Smith’s movies.
Honorable Mentions: Men In Black 2 & 3, Focus, SharkTale, Bad Boys 2, Six Degrees Of Separation, Seven Pounds, Concussion