One of the most boring opinions you can have in the year of our lord 2020 is that Keanu Reeves is simply a “bad actor.” It’s an oversimplification of a complex subject, like saying Newton’s law of gravitation is bullshit because it doesn’t rhyme. Over the course of about three decades, Reeves has evolved, from charming lunkhead to unlikely action hero, down to a few low points and then rocketed back up to universally-beloved elder-statesman. But the constant through it all is the fact Reeves possesses a unique set of skills, a quiet blend of physicality, charisma, and vulnerability that lends itself to a wide array of genres but is easy for a filmmaker to bungle. Keanu Reeves is basically the Yin to Nicolas Cage‘s Yang; Cage is misunderstood chaos, Reeves is misunderstood stillness.
It’s been a long career for Keanu Reeves, filled with numerous peaks and valleys, but these right here are his 14 best, most vital movies. But before we jump in, I want to shout out a few films that I wouldn’t classify as “Keanu Reeves Movies” but highly recommend nonetheless.
- The Bad Batch -Filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour‘s dreamy dystopian thriller follows Suki Waterhouse wandering a wasteland of undesirables, running into Jason Momoa as a yoked cannibal, Jim Carrey as a mute vagabond, and Keanu Reeves as a cult leader who throws raves in the desert.
- The Neon Demon – Reeves plays an abhorrent, lecherous motel owner in Nicolas Winding Refn‘s underappreciated fever dream about an aspiring model (Elle Fanning) struggling to not (literally) get eaten alive in Los Angeles.
- Always Be My Maybe – I recommend watching Reeves’ extended cameo in this charming-as-hell rom-com starring Ali Wong and Randall Park to everyone except anyone who wants to keep insisting they aren’t at least a little attracted to dudes.