Culture

Benicio del Toro’s Birthday: His Best Movies Ranked

Born in Puerto Rico on February 19, 1967, Benicio del Toro turns 52 today. Described by Esquire magazine as “the thinking man's Hollywood badass,” he has carved out a unique niche in moviemaking.

After a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in Madonna’s "La Isla Bonita" video in 1987, del Toro gained attention playing the mumbling Fred Fenster in 1995 neo-noir The Usual Suspects, establishing him as one of the most talented character actors around.

He underwent a physical transformation to play Dr. Gonzo in 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, putting on weight and burning himself with cigarettes in a punishing exercise in method acting. Academy recognition followed in 2000, when he won a Best Supporting Actor for his role as a Mexican border policeman in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic.

He would get a second Best Supporting Actor nomination in 2003 for his role as a religious former convict in 21 Grams. He memorably played Che Guevara in the two-part 2008 biopic Che, and an FBI agent in 2015’s Sicario and its 2018 sequel. In between the latter two movies, he also appeared in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

With several projects due for release this year, he’s not slowing down. He will star alongside Robert Downey Jr. and Gerard Butler in Jamie Foxx’s comedy-drama All-Star Weekend, and he’s lending his voice to a big-screen adaption of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon Dora the Explorer. The French Dispatch, an upcoming Wes Anderson movie without a release date, will also feature del Toro.

As he turns 52, Newsweek has collected data from review websites Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb to find Benicio del Toro’s most critically acclaimed movies so far.

01 Snatch Columbia Pictures

16. Snatch (2000). Total score: 65%. IMDb users: 8.3. Metacritic: 55. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.4. Rotten Tomatoes users: 4.

Directed by: Guy Ritchie. Starring: Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro, Vinnie Jones, Lennie James, Ewen Bremen.

Plot summary: Unscrupulous boxing promoters, violent bookmakers, a Russian gangster, incompetent amateur robbers and supposedly Jewish jewelers fight to track down a priceless stolen diamond.

What the critics said: "The story motors like a car driven by a chatty maniac who somehow stays on the road." Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine.

02 Things We Lost in the Fire Paramount Pictures

15. Things We Lost in the Fire (2007). Total score: 66%. IMDb users: 7.2. Metacritic: 63. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.5. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.6.

Directed by: Susanne Bier. Starring: Halle Berry, Benicio Del Toro, Alison Lohman, David Duchovny.

Plot summary: A recent widow invites her husband's troubled best friend to live with her and her two children. As he gradually turns his life around, he helps the family cope and confront their loss.

What the critics said: "Berry gives a riveting performance, but as a deeply decent man trapped in a hell of his own making, Del Toro gives the kind of career performance Berry gave in Monster's Ball." Jack Mathews, New York Daily News.

03 Che- Part One IFC Films

14. Che: Part One (2008). Total score: 66.25%. IMDb users: 7.2. Metacritic: 64. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.4. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.7.

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Rodrigo Santoro, Demián Bichir.

Plot summary: In 1956, Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and a band of Castro-led Cuban exiles mobilize an army to topple the regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista.

What the critics said: "A potentially great title-role performance by Benicio Del Toro, which won him the best actor award at Cannes, is buried beneath Soderbergh's stylistic tics and a defiant lack of dramatic tension." Peter Howell, Toronto Star.

04 Che- Part Two IFC Films

13. Che: Part Two (2008). Total score: 66.375%. IMDb users: 6.9. Metacritic: 64. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.6. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.6.

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Demián Bichir, Rodrigo Santoro, Benicio Del Toro.

Plot summary: In 1967, Ernesto 'Che' Guevara leads a small partisan army to fight an ill-fated revolutionary guerrilla war in Bolivia, South America.

What the critics said: "If there’s a problem, it’s that the film at times feels too academic ... or insights into the mechanics of revolution come at the expense of a more fluid, involving drama. But saying that a film has too much insight is hardly damning." Time Out.

05 The Funeral October Films

12. The Funeral (1996). Total score: 68.125%. IMDb users: 6.6. Metacritic: 66. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.1. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.4.

Directed by: Abel Ferrara. Starring: Christopher Walken, Chris Penn, Annabella Sciorra, Isabella Rossellini, Vincent Gallo, Benicio del Toro.

Plot summary: After the funeral of one of their own, a criminal family decides to embark on an emotionally unnerving journey in an attempt to exact bloody revenge.

What the critics said: "Though directed in different style, thematically, this period movie is a companion piece to King of New York and Bad Lieutenant, forming an urban crime trilogy and representing Ferrara's best work." Emanuel Levy, Variety.

06 The Pledge Warner Bros.

11. The Pledge (2001). Total score: 69%. IMDb users: 6.8. Metacritic: 71. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.9. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.2.

Directed by: Sean Penn. Starring: Jack Nicholson, Dale Dickey, Aaron Eckhart, Benicio Del Toro, Patricia Clarkson.

Plot summary: A retiring police detective pledges to catch the killer of a young child.

What the critics said: "Those looking for a 'feel-good' movie are advised to go elsewhere—unless watching artists working near their peak leaves you soaring." Gene Seymour, Newsday.

07 21 Grams Focus Features

10. 21 Grams (2003). Total score: 73%. IMDb users: 7.7. Metacritic: 70. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.5. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.6.

Directed by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Starring: Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts, Danny Huston, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Eddie Marsan, Melissa Leo.

Plot summary: A freak accident brings together a critically ill mathematician, a grieving mother, and a born-again ex-con.

What the critics said: "Acting does not get much better than the work done here by Penn, Del Toro and Watts" Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

08 Sin City Dimension Films

=8. Sin City (2005). Total score: 73.75%. IMDb users: 8. Metacritic: 74. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.4. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.3.

Directed by: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino. Starring: Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Carla Gugino, Josh Hartnett, Rutger Hauer, Brittany Murphy.

Plot summary: A film that explores the dark and miserable town, Basin City, and tells the story of three different people, all caught up in violent corruption.

What the critics said: "I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. I loved every gorgeous sick disgusting ravishing overbaked blood-spurting artificial frame of it." David Edelstein, Slate.

09 Inherent Vice Warner Bros.

=8. Inherent Vice (2014). Total score: 73.75%. IMDb users: 6.7. Metacritic: 81. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.2.

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio del Toro, Maya Rudolph, Katherine Waterston.

Plot summary: In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles private investigator Larry "Doc" Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.

What the critics said: "An aggressively weird movie, which you should take not as a warning but as a compliment and an invitation to see it, to let its stoner vibes wash all over you." Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic.

10 Avengers- Infinity War Marvel/Disney

7. Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Total score: 75.875%. IMDb users: 8.5. Metacritic: 68. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.6. Rotten Tomatoes users: 4.5.

Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro.

Plot summary: The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

What the critics said: "It's the epitome of a summer blockbuster. The explosive action is practically nonstop, breaking only occasionally for jokes and a touch of romance—though without ever breaking its grim, apocalyptic tone." Britton Peele, Dallas Morning News.

11 Escape at Dannemora Showtime Networks

6. Escape at Dannemora (2018) TV. Total score: 76.375%. IMDb users: 8.1. Metacritic: 78. Rotten Tomatoes: 7. Rotten Tomatoes users: 4.3.

Created by: Brett Johnson, Michael Tolkin. Directed by: Ben Stiller. Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Patricia Arquette, Paul Dano, Bonnie Hunt, David Morse.

Plot summary: An employee at a prison in upstate New York becomes romantically involved with a pair of inmates and helps them escape.

What the critics said: "Del Toro walks off with the show by seeming not to do anything in particular, even though every move, glance, and silent pause was doubtless precisely calibrated to achieve a specific effect." Matt Zoller Seitz, New York Magazine/Vulture.

12 Star Wars- Episode VIII - The Last Jedi Walt Disney

5. Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017). Total score: 78.25%. IMDb users: 7.2. Metacritic: 85. Rotten Tomatoes: 8.1. Rotten Tomatoes users: 2.8.

Directed by: Rian Johnson. Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o, Domnhall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro.

Plot summary: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order.

What the critics said: "Falls right behind Empire Strikes Back and maybe the original film in providing the thrills and the heartbreak, the heroism and villainy, and the romance and betrayal that makes these films such a treat." Alonso Duralde, TheWrap.

13 Guardians of the Galaxy Walt Disney

4. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Total score: 78.875%. IMDb users: 8.1. Metacritic: 76. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.8. Rotten Tomatoes users: 4.4.

Directed by: James Gunn. Starring: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Glenn Close, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Benicio del Toro.

Plot summary: A group of intergalactic criminals are forced to work together to stop a fanatical warrior from taking control of the universe.

What the critics said: "Blessed with a loose, anarchic B-picture soul that encourages you to enjoy yourself even when you're not quite sure what's going on, the scruffy Guardians is irreverent in a way that can bring the first Star Wars to mind." Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times.

14 The Usual Suspects Gramercy Pictures

3. The Usual Suspects (1995). Total score: 79.375%. IMDb users: 8.6. Metacritic: 77. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.8. Rotten Tomatoes users: 4.2.

Directed by: Bryan Singer. Starring: Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Pete Postlethwaite, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio del Toro.

Plot summary: A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which began when five criminals met at a seemingly random police lineup.

What the critics said: "It's a nerve-shredding suspense movie about corruption, a bravura actor's show full of deliciously twisted cops and robbers, and a complex riddle packed with unexpected turns." Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune.

15 Sicario Lionsgate

2. Sicario (2015). Total score: 80.625%. IMDb users: 7.6. Metacritic: 82. Rotten Tomatoes: 8.1. Rotten Tomatoes users: 4.

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve. Starring: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Daniel Kaluuya.

Plot summary: An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by a government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.

What the critics said: "We can thank Villeneuve and rookie screenwriter Taylor Sheridan's tight script, but also Blunt, Brolin and Del Toro, each of whom has never been better." Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail.

16 Traffic USA Films

1. Traffic (2000). Total score: 81.125%. IMDb users: 7.6. Metacritic: 86. Rotten Tomatoes: 8.1. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.6.

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Luis Guzmán, Don Cheadle, Miguel Ferrer, Albert Finney.

Plot summary: A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron's wife attempts to carry on the family business.

What the critics said: "As Javier Rodriguez, a Mexican policeman caught between overwhelming corruption and his granite-encased integrity, Del Toro's the best reason of all to watch the movie." Desson Thomson, Washington Post.

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