The 10 Best Adam Scott movies and TV shows, ranked

Adam Scott severance
Photo via AppleTV+

Adam Scott is a very versatile actor, able to play both the tepid nice guy and the unbelievably obnoxious jerk with equal skill. He is also able to be funny or serious when taking on a role as either the straight man or the absurd side character. Perhaps most impressive is Scott’s ability to somehow be both at the same time, walking the tight rope better than most actors working today.

We have ranked the best Adam Scott movies and TV shows, ranked from worst to best.

10. Krampus (2015)

Krampus is good old silly, terrifying fun. It is the kind of movie they don’t make enough of. Scott plays the role of Tom Engel, a father of two and husband to Sarah (Toni Collette). The set-up is fairly familiar and almost seems like it will go straight into Hallmark movie territory, which is kind of the point. Just as we are introduced to Tom and his dysfunctional family, the horror begins when the family is terrorized by the legendary Krampus (described here as the evil shadow of Santa Claus) and his many minions. Soon we are losing one character after another, with Scott trying desperately to keep everything together. Krampus is one of those movies that delightfully toes the line between terrifying and ridiculous, and Scott is very adept at maintaining the necessary mood through the movie.  

9. Flower (2018)

Flower is a black-comedy that mostly serves as a vehicle for young, upcoming actress Zoey Deutch, though the cast is rounded out by comedic veterans like Scott, Tim Heidecker, and Kathryn Hahn. That said, Flower is not exactly a bright and sunny comedy and touches on some truly upsetting subject matter such as suicide and sexual abuse, as Scott plays a teach who may or may not have abused a student. Flower is just the kind of low-budget independent film that Scott has continued to make throughout his career to go along with his big-budget movies and TV shows, displaying his range as both a comedic and dramatic actor.

8. Big Little Lies (2017)

Big Little Lies was a certified sensation upon its release back in 2017. Based on the 2015 Liane Moriarty novel of the same, the series was created and written by David E. Kelley, and features a dizzying cast of very famous actors and actresses, including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and Zoë Kravitz. Scott plays the role of Witherspoon’s supportive but stressed second husband Ed. It’s the kind of role Scott is perfect for, as he is meant to be trusted by the audience but also looked at as a little too nice for his own good. If you’ve seen Big Little Lies, you know that there will be plenty of plot twists and Scott’s character is not exempt from getting mixed up in all kinds of drama.

7. Black Mass (2015)

Black Mass is a biographical crime drama about infamous Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, played here by Johnny Depp who, in typical fashion, does his best to disappear into the role — bald cap and thick accent included — in what many praised as his best performance in years. Based on Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob, the movie also features Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons and, of course, Scott. Black Mass is, at its heart, an excellent crime drama, weaving biographical into a tapestry of violence and intrigue. Though Scott is playing a minor role here, he establishes himself as a character actor worth placing in prestige movies.

6. The Aviator (2004)

Another example of Scott taking on a small role in a big Hollywood is The Aviator, a biographical film directed by Martin Scorsese. The Aviator tells the story of Howard Hughes, an eccentric aviator, filmmaker, and playboy who eventually spiraled into madness. At this point in his career Scott was looking for any role he could get, so to land one in a Scorsese movie starring Leonardo Dicaprio was surely a win. Though Scott only played a small part, he no doubt learned a thing or two watching the many world-class actors involved in this Oscar-nominated movie.

5. The Overnight (2015)

By the time of 2015’s The Overnight, Scott had a little more cache in Hollywood and was in the position to not only star in small-budget independent films, but to help them get made, as he does here both starring and executive producing. The Overnight tells the story of a pair of couples who get together for an evening of pleasantries that also serves as a playdate for their sons. As the night progresses, things become more and more unhinged and strange, as it is soon revealed one of the couple, played by Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche, are swingers. Directed by Patrick Brice (Creep), The Overnight ended up being a modest success and was praised by critics for its well-acted performances.

4. Party Down (2008-2009)

Party Down sits right up there with Freak And Geeks as one the most infamous early cancellations in the history of television comedy. Running only two seasons on Starz, Party Down has since grown a cult fanbase who simply cannot get enough of this hapless group of event caterers serving people in and around Hollywood. Scott stars in Party Down as Henry, a failed actor who has turned to drinking on the job and making smart-ass remarks about his coworkers. A constant thread throughout the series is his relationship with his coworker Casey, played by the always fantastic Lizzy Caplan. Party Down has become such a hit since its cancellation that it was announced it will be returning to screens this February with a brand new six-episode season. 

3. Step Brothers (2008)

Everyone knows that Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly is the main attraction when it comes to Step Brothers, but one of the best aspects of one the best comedy movies of the 2000s is the work of its supporting cast. Scott who plays the role of Derek Huff, Ferrell’s successful and cruel brother. Who can forget the introduction of Derek and his family as they arrive singing a pitch-perfect, acapella rendition of “Sweet Child Of Mine”? Scott often plays nice, docile characters, but when he gets the chance to go full jerk he can be one of the funniest actors working in Hollywood. Scott may not have as many memorable lines as Ferrell and Reilly, but he makes the most of his limited screen time. 

2. Severance (2022)

Severance made waves upon its release early last year, garnering praise from both critics and audiences alike and becoming one of the streamers biggest hits to date. Scott plays the role of Mark S., an employee of Lumon Industries in the Macrodata Refinement division. Though he is one of the employees who has undergone a procedure called ‘severance’, which separates his consciousness into two separate parts, he begins to become aware of a conspiracy within the corporation. This is a more dramatic role than Scott typically takes on television, but he does an excellent job in a difficult part. Severance would go on to top many year-end lists and Scott’s performance was roundly praised. 

1. Parks And Recreation (2009-2015)

Adam Scott has played plenty of memorable characters, but the role of Ben Wyatt in Parks and Recreation is no doubt the one he will be most remembered for. What’s ironic is that Scott was not even a part of the regular cast when she began but instead showed up at the end of the second season as a guest star alongside Rob Lowe. The two fit so well in Parks and Recreation that they stayed on for the remainder of the series. Scott’s Wyatt would even go on to become the romantic partner of the show’s lead character, Leslie Nope (Amy Poehler.)