Movie Reviews

Glen Powell's 10 Best Movie Performances, Ranked

Summary

  • Glen Powell began as a supporting actor but has grown to become a leading man in Hollywood, with a diverse range of projects.
  • Powell’s memorable performances include supporting roles in Hidden Figures and leading roles in hit films like Top Gun: Maverick.
  • Despite varied critical reception, Powell’s performances in films like Set It Up and Hit Man have solidified his status as a rising star in Hollywood.



Now firmly established as one of the hottest prospects in Hollywood, Glen Powell has had several high-profile performances throughout his career. Since an inauspicious debut in 2003’s Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Powell has gone on to feature in some of the most successful movies of the past decade, securing his status as both a leading man and a highly capable supporting star. As a result, his resume includes some extremely varied and often surprising projects.

Prior to 2014, Powell was primarily known for limited supporting roles – often in surprisingly high-profile releases. Memorably, for example, Powell made a fleeting appearance as a stockbroker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises opposite Tom Hardy’s Bane. Since then, his career has gone from strength to strength. Memorable Glen Powell movies include the wildly successful Top Gun: Maverick and the hit romantic comedy Anyone But You. However, while these films are certainly impressive credits, they’re not the only memorable performances of Glen Powell’s career.


Movie

Release Year

Role

Rotten Tomatoes Score

Sex Ed

2014

JT

64%

The Expendables 3

2014

Thorn

32%

Hidden Figures

2016

John Glenn

93%

Everybody Wants Some!!

2016

Finnegan

87%

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Society

2018

Mark Reynolds

81%

Set It Up

2018

Charlie Young

92%

Devotion

2022

Tom Hudner

80%

Top Gun: Maverick

2022

LT Jake “Hangman” Seresin

96%

Anyone But You

2023

Ben

54%

Hit Man

2023

Gary Johnson

96%



10 Sex Ed (2014)

Glen Powell Helps Elevate Mediocre Material

Sex Ed

Director
Isaac Feder

Release Date
November 7, 2014

Cast
Haley Joel Osment , Laura Harring , Glen Powell , Abby Elliott , Lorenza Izzo , George Eads

Runtime
90 minutes

Although Sex Ed is by no means a classic rom-com, the 2014 movie nonetheless provides a useful window into the qualities that Glen Powell is capable of bringing to any role. Starring Haley Joel Osmant, the movie is a low-budget comedy in the tradition of forerunners like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, centering around a misfit teacher, Ed, who begins conducting a sex education program as part of an after-school club. The situation is complicated by the fact that Ed is himself a virgin.

As is the case in many early Glen Powell movie appearances, he does not take center stage. However, as Ed’s roommate JT, Powell helps make a role that could otherwise by unsympathetic and two-dimensional into a surprisingly nuanced portrait. It also highlighted Powell’s aptitude for comedy – a skill that would only become more apparent as his career continued.


9 The Expendables 3 (2014)

Powell Shines In Mediocre Action Sequel

The Expendables 3 Movie Poster

The Expendables 3

Director
Patrick Hughes

Release Date
August 15, 2014

Runtime
131 Minutes

Just like previous installments in the franchise, The Expendables 3 relies upon an impressive ensemble cast as much as it does cohesive storytelling and strong characterization. As a result of this approach, it’s unsurprising that some characters fail to stand out or end up feeling like incomplete sketches. As Thorn, Glen Powell bucks this trend.


Although the movie itself was relatively poorly reviewed, many critics identified Powell’s Thorn as a clear highlight – with some suggesting he might be the ideal person to take the franchise forward. As Thorn, Powell brought the same arrogance and charm that made his turn in Top Gun: Maverick so memorable, making The Expendables 3 function as an interesting preview to the 2022 blockbuster. It may have been badly received on the whole, but The Expendables 3 was a perfect audition for Powell as a prospective action star.

8 Hidden Figures (2016)

Glen Powell’s Minor Supporting Turn Augments The Acclaimed Drama

Hidden Figures Posters

Hidden Figures

Director
Theodore Melfi

Release Date
December 25, 2016

Cast
Taraji P. Henson , Octavia Spencer , Janelle Monae , Jim Parsons , Glen Powell , Kirsten Dunst , Aldis Hodge , Kevin Costner , Mahershala Ali

Runtime
127 Minutes


One of the best movies in Glen Powell’s career to date, Hidden Figures is an Oscar-nominated biopic that won universal praise for the caliber of its performances. The cast was led by the combined efforts of Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, who played the real-life women who played a crucial but often unsung role at the heart of NASA’s space program. Yet while much of the story was understandably devoted to their story, Glen Powell played a crucial supporting role.

Although his screen time was limited, (Powell) imbued Glenn with a quiet authority and gravitas in keeping with his standing in the history of American science.


As astronaut John Glenn, Powell was a pivotal presence around whom the wider character’s efforts were concentrated. Although his screen time was limited, he imbued Glenn with a quiet authority and gravitas in keeping with his standing in the history of American science. While his limited screen time prevents Hidden Figures from ranking more highly as an all-round Glen Powell performance, it is nonetheless an impressive entry in his career.

7 The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

Powell Brings Subtlety To Understated Historical Romance

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Director
Mike Newell

Release Date
April 19, 2018

Cast
Jessica Brown Findlay , Tom Courtenay , Michiel Huisman , Katherine Parkinson , Marek Oravec , Jack Morris

Runtime
124 minutes


In many of his later leading roles, Powell has thrived as a romantic heartthrob and hero of the story. His natural easy charm has made him an obvious choice for charismatic protagonists. However, before he rose to real prominence, he demonstrated his range in an understated and evocative performance in 2018’s The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society.

As main character Juliet Ashton’s American fiance, Mark, Powell goes somewhat against type as an unfortunate partner who gets spurned. While it would be easy for such a character to seem superficially malignant and deserving of such treatment, Powell’s turn is nowhere near as cartoonish. In fact, by making Mark less of a villain, Powell helps The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society work as a powerful parable for the intractability of love and romance, instead of a more fantastical melodrama.

Glen Powell And Lily James Dance In The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society


6 Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

Glen Powell’s Richard Linklater Collaboration Hints At Things To Come

Everybody Wants Some Poster

Everybody Wants Some

Release Date
April 15, 2016

Cast
Ryan Guzman , Jonathan Breck , Blake Jenner , Wyatt Russell , Zoey Deutch , Tory Taranova , Dora Madison , Glen Powell , Will Brittain , Tyler Hoechlin

Making just over $5 million at the box office against a budget of around $10 million, Everybody Wants Some!! was a financial disappointment on release. However, that doesn’t stop the movie from being a great showcase for Glen Powell’s talents – as well as an indication of his potential synergy with director Richard Linklater. Not only did Everyone Wants Some!! win general critical acclaim for its nostalgic college story, but the movie helped identify Powell as a future star.


As easy-going baseball player Finnegan, Powell is a natural at capturing college optimism. He also demonstrates his comedic chops – memorably during one party stream where he pretends to be an expert on astrology in order to impress some performing arts students. Although it wasn’t widely seen, Everybody Wants Some!! gave an early indication of Powell’s suitability for charismatic comedy roles.

5 Devotion (2022)

Touching War Drama Is Elevated By Powell And Majors’ Camaraderie

Devotion Movie Poster 2022

Devotion

Director
J.D. Dillard

Release Date
November 23, 2022

Cast
Jonathan Majors , Glen Powell , Christina Jackson , Joe Jonas , Thomas Sadoski , Serinda Swan , Rossy de Palma , Daren Kagasoff

Runtime
138 minutes


While many great Glen Powell performances come in a supporting capacity or as part of a broader ensemble, the Korean War drama Devotion demonstrates how effective he can be as a lead. The biographical narrative centers on the true story of two pilots in the conflict whose experience and growing friendship is interwoven with systemic prejudice and tragedy. Selling such a story effectively requires more than Powell’s usual charm.

As Tom Hudner, Powell successfully balances the pilot’s sense of duty with the character’s changing perspectives on race and privilege. Arguably a more serious role than many of Powell’s previous performances, Devotion is a heartfelt study of mutual respect and male friendship in difficult circumstances. Despite being another box office disappointment, Devotion impressed critics (scoring 80% on Rotten Tomatoes), with many singling Powell out for praise.


4 Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Glen Powell Confirms His Status As A Star

Top Gun Maverick Latest Poster Tom Cruise

Top Gun: Maverick

Director
Joseph Kosinski

Release Date
May 27, 2022

Cast
Tom Cruise , Miles Teller , Jennifer Connelly , Val Kilmer , Jay Ellis , Jon Hamm , Bashir Salahuddin , Charles Parnell , Lewis Pullman , Glen Powell , Monica Barbaro , Ed Harris

Runtime
130 Minutes

Probably Glen Powell’s most recognizable blockbuster appearance to date, Top Gun: Maverick helped cement the actor as a global superstar. In a movie where spectacular action could easily overshadow characters, it’s a testament to everyone involved that Top Gun: Maverick became such a success. As the obnoxious, arrogant, yet ultimately heroic Hangman, Powell was a key piece of the jigsaw.

Following the dynamics established in the first movie, Powell’s job was essentially to fill the void left by Val Kilmer’s Iceman. Despite the original character’s legendary status, Powell did so with aplomb – arguably making Hangman a more sympathetic and likable presence than Iceman. While he played second fiddle to Tom Cruise and Miles Teller, Glen Powell was an integral part of Top Gun: Maverick.


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3 Anyone But You (2023)

Sydney Sweeney And Glen Powell Elevate Otherwise Derivative Comedy

Anyone But You Movie Poster

Anyone But You

Director
Will Gluck

Release Date
December 22, 2023

Cast
Sydney Sweeney , Glen Powell , Alexandra Shipp , GaTa , Hadley Robinson , Michelle Hurd , Dermot Mulroney , Darren Barnet , Rachel Griffiths

Runtime
103 minutes


As demonstrated by the movie’s polarized Rotten Tomatoes score of 54%, Anyone But You is far from flawless. However, while the story’s familiar tropes and narrative came in for criticism, many critics (and most viewers) agreed that the dynamic between Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell was central to the film’s success. As a result, while the movie as a whole has its problems, it unquestionably ranks as one of Powell’s personal highlights.

As Ben, Powell is perfectly cast as a smooth-talking Goldman Sachs employee whose relationship woes are a constant source of angst. His chemistry with Sydney is palpable, making Anyone But You a broadly successful modern Shakespeare adaptation. The fact that the movie made over $220 million at the global box office despite middling critical response proves just how effective Powell and Sweeney’s performances are.


2 Set It Up (2018)

An Underrated Netflix Comedy Gem

Set It Up - Poster - Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell & Taye Diggs

Set It Up

Director
Claire Scanlon

Release Date
June 15, 2018

Cast
Zoey Deutch , Glen Powell , Lucy Liu , Taye Diggs

Runtime
105 Minutes

Although Anyone But You ranks as Glen Powell’s most recognizable comedy role, largely due to its box office impact, his best genre performance came five years earlier in the Netflix movie Set It Up. In many ways, Set It Up‘s premise following two over-worked assistants who attempt to set their bosses up romantically is not dissimilar to Anyone But You‘s lovematch story. However, where the 2023 film was criticized for predictability and lack of innovation, Set It Up proved that traditional storytelling can still succeed.


With an impressive 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Set It Up ranks as one of the best-reviewed movies of Glen Powell’s career. However, while the film itself was a resounding success, Powell was a revelation. Made before prominent performances in Top Gun: Maverick, the movie is another example of Powell’s range, since his character is not the charismatic alpha male seen in later performances. His relationship with Zoey Deutch’s Harper Moore is genuinely touching and helps elevate an otherwise formulaic story.

1 Hit Man (2023)

Powell’s All-Round Performance Is A Career Best

Hit Man 2023

Hit Man

Release Date
September 5, 2023

Cast
Glen Powell , Adria Arjona , Austin Amelio , Retta , Molly Bernard

Runtime
113 Minutes


Glen Powell’s complex, charismatic, and frequently hilarious performance in Richard Linklater’s acclaimed 2023 comedy-drama Hit Man is the most complete of his career to date. As fake assassin Gary Johnson, Powell dons multiple personas throughout the story, requiring a degree of flexibility unseen in any previous role. Combined with aspects that play to his natural strengths, Hit Man is the perfect vehicle for Powell to cement himself as a bona fide superstar.

The movie currently holds an enviable 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – the highest of Glen Powell’s career. Not only is the film itself a success, but Powell himself has been consistently singled out for praise, with the Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus declaring: “…Hit Man is an outstanding showcase for leading man Glen Powell — and one of the most purely entertaining films of Richard Linklater’s career.” The fact that Glen Powell is the pivotal presence in a movie that fails or succeeds on the strength of its characters makes Hit Man the obvious choice as his best performance so far.


Source: Rotten Tomatoes

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