Andrew Garfield‘s Spider-Man movies may not have been as lauded as Tobey Maguire’s and Tom Holland’s, but there’s no disputing that he’s one hell of an actor. Over the years, the American-born and U.K.-raised actor has appeared in work that should have won him an Oscar, bizarre content that still has fans reeling, and even some schmaltz with Tom Cruise.
As a result ⏤ as is often the case with similar actors ⏤ it can be hard to know what stands today as the best work from this active thespian. As always, dear reader, we’ve got you covered. Below is our list of the best films Garfield has made to date. We did not count all of his performances as Spider-Man since we all know what a hot mess the second film was, and unlike the companion article on fellow franchise actor Tobey Maguire, we promise no surprises later.
10. Breathe (2017)
This 68 percent positive production tells a true story and accomplishes the rare feat of making an actor who is not disabled seem like he is genuinely going through the experience. Garfield brings a lot of respect to the position of someone staring into the abyss and his performance is proof that he never phones it in when given the chance to tackle a challenging new role.
9. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Had this been the first live-action film starring Peter Parker and Spider-Man, Garfield’s tenure would probably be remembered a bit more fondly. Alas, it was not. The movie has a 72 percent positive rating and deserves more praise than it gets. With the multiverse now in play in the MCU, maybe we’ll see this continuity again, but for now all we have are our memories.
8. Boy A (2007)
This 88 percent positive production was Garfield’s second film after appearing in Lions for Lambs with noted Scientologist Tom Cruise. Here he plays a man re-entering civil society after spending time in juvenile prison and makes you believe wholeheartedly that he is who he’s pretending to be. Too often we don’t see what this part of life is like in many countries, or else get a distorted version of it, so praise is warranted for Garfield delivering an honest portrayal.
7. Red Riding: 1974 (2009)
While this portion of a trilogy initially aired on television in the U.K., the line between this medium and theater is increasingly blurred, so it counts. The cocky reporter Garfield inhabits here embodies the best aspects of his later Peter Parker performance and critics agreed by giving this part of the semi-true account of a brutal crime in the U.K. a 100 percent positive rating. Maybe someday we can get Garfield to take on a cool period piece again? We can only hope.
6. Never Let Me Go (2010)
While this is a bit of a critical comedown from Garfield’s earlier works on this list (with a rating of 71 percent), it’s one of his stronger productions simply for being a serious romantic film. Drama is easy, horror can be even easier, but getting at raw and passionate emotions can be vastly complicated. Garfield nails it here and should really lean into more of this moving forward.
5. The Social Network (2010)
Though this 96 percent positive piece is written by a man most likely to have a framed photo of himself in his home before any family members (Aaron Sorkin), Garfield is one of its bright spots as a former friend of a man the whole world knows by now. The scene where he confronts him over corporate decisions is still an example of Garfield’s masterful acting ability, and the film also stands as being ahead of its time for calling out a certain website’s flaws as well as its ability to both positively and negatively impact an eye-popping number of people.
4. Under the Silver Lake (2018)
Some of the best films make you say “what?” repeatedly, like Kevin Malone when asking about beans on The Office. For being one of those kinds of pictures, this 59 percent positive production is worth being high up on this list. Under the Silver Lake is nothing short of bizarre, but it also further demonstrates Garfield’s ability to do literally anything while simultaneously making you wonder what’s really going on over in California.
3. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)
This movie is about 67 percent positive and 20 points higher with audiences. We put it high on this list since it’s always interesting to watch someone known for playing a superhero portray who many consider to be a real-life villain. Garfield does a great job of showing the kind of smiling malevolence that seems to characterize dastardly televangelists and his turn opposite the stellar Jessica Chastain is another welcome foray into the endless expanse of characters he can play.
2. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
This 84 percent positive production showed that Garfield can do some seriously hard-hitting stuff and is a great movie about staying true to one’s convictions. It earns a higher ranking on our list of his best work after earning him an Oscar nomination for his role as Desmond Doss, a man who refused to use weapons in combat and was the first man to receive a Medal of Honor without firing a single shot. If you really want to see what Garfield is capable of doing both physically and emotionally, watch this film immediately.
1. Tick, Tick… Boom! (2021)
It might be cliché for artists to enjoy work that comments on the creative process, but in this instance, the sentiment rings true. This musical production ⏤ inspired by the iconic Jonathan Larson’s struggle to create a great musical work in his lifetime ⏤ has an 88 percent positive rating, made many of us cry when we saw it, and is Garfield’s best work to date. He deserves much praise for putting in the effort to sing and we can see it likely bringing him an award or two in the immediate future.
This concludes our list of the best Andrew Garfield films to date. While his filmography is still relatively young, it showcases the work of a chameleonic talent with unlimited potential and we will be thoroughly unsurprised (but supremely grateful) if and when he continues churning out mesmerizing performances for years to come.