Movie Reviews

Jonathan Groff's 10 Best Movies & TV Shows, Ranked

Summary

  • Groff’s theater experience shines in film and TV, showcasing his singing voice and charisma on screen.
  • “C.O.G.” explores queerness and religion, nuanced portrayal of inner struggles, and tonal juxtaposition.
  • Groff excels in serious roles, as seen in “Mindhunter,” displaying his range beyond comedy and musicals.



Jonathan Groff made a name for himself early in his career working on Broadway, but the best movies and TV shows he’s been part of demonstrate his skill in equal measure. Most of his first performances in film and TV were extensions of his work in musical theater, showcasing his singing voice and utilizing the charisma that plays so well on stage. It’s this theater experience that makes Groff such a good actor and allows him to play with his characters in every project. Though comedy is a sweet spot for Groff, he’s still capable of serious work.

Even in smaller roles, Groff is a notorious scene-stealer who’s impossible to ignore.


Recently, he won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance in the revival of Merrily We Roll Along. However, he’s still dedicating plenty of time to his work on screen. Groff is part of season 14 of Doctor Who as Rogue, and fans are already hoping to see more of him in coming seasons. However, the movies and series that have given him space to explore new facets of himself as an actor include plenty of characters who lead their stories. Even in smaller roles, Groff is a notorious scene-stealer who’s impossible to ignore.


10 C.O.G (2013)

As David/Samuel

His character, David, or Samuel, as he tells people to call him, graduates from Yale and decides to become an apple picker in Oregon.


Kyle Patrick’s lesser-known film, C.O.G., stars Groff as a disaffected young man searching for a purpose in a story loosely based on the short stories of David Sedaris. The film looks at the intersection between elite intellectualism and the realities of what life is like for the majority of people in the U.S. His character, David, or Samuel, as he tells people to call him, graduates from Yale and decides to become an apple picker in Oregon. As a young man, Groff’s talents are on full display in this film, which features one of his best performances.


C.O.G. is intertwined with the relationship between queerness and religion. The town David travels to is full of people relentlessly trying to indoctrinate him. This clashes with his personal beliefs and internal struggle with his LGBTQ+ identity, but C.O.G. is not a wholehearted condemnation of religion, opting instead to find common ground between its characters. Groff walks a fine line playing David, as he’s supposed to be a bit annoying, but it’s impossible not to empathize with him. However, the beauty of C.O.G. is that it relishes this tonal juxtaposition.

Watch
C.O.G.
on Prime Video or rent on YouTube.

9 Frozen (2013)

As Kristoff


In his best voice acting role, Groff plays Kristoff, the love interest of Anna, in Frozen. Frozen was a turning point for Disney animations in the 2010s, as its popularity cemented the formula for princess movies in the modern era. Although the romance between Kristoff and Anna is important and sweet, it’s not the most compelling part of the story. The relationship between Anna and her sister Elsa is what the conflict hinges on, and it’s their familial bond that ends up saving the day. Kristoff’s affection for Anna and their happily ever after is merely a bonus.


Since Frozen 3 is confirmed, it’s likely that Groff will come back to voice Kristoff for the third time and lend his singing abilities to the movie. Groff has performed in musicals and non-musicals alike throughout his career, but a large part of his fame stemmed from his early work that demonstrated his amazing singing voice. While some Disney voice actors don’t do their own singing, this will never be the case with Groff, as his acting and singing bring Kristoff to life in equal measure.

Frozen

In this animated Disney musical, the newly crowned Queen Elsa accidentally uses her power to turn things into ice to curse her home in infinite winter. Her younger sister, Anna, teams up with a mountain man, his playful reindeer, and a living snowman to change the weather conditions and restore peace.

Director
Chris Buck , Jennifer Lee

Release Date
November 27, 2013

Cast
Edie McClurg , Kristen Bell , Santino Fontana , Idina Menzel , Robert Pine , Maurice LaMarche , Jonathan Groff , Stephen J. Anderson , Alan Tudyk , Josh Gad , Ciarán Hinds , Chris Williams

Runtime
102 minutes

8 Looking (2014–2015)

As Patrick Murray


Groff’s character, Patrick, relies on his best friends for advice and support as he discovers what he wants.

The short-lived but well-loved TV series Looking not only featured Groff getting to play the protagonist of his own show but also allowed him to play an LGBTQ+ character. Looking was canceled after season 2, but the story went on to be completed with the movie in 2016. Set in San Francisco, the show is heavily linked to queer culture, and in 2014 when it premiered, there was far less representation on screen of gay men navigating life and love. Groff’s character, Patrick, relies on his best friends for advice and support as he discovers what he wants.


Groff was cast as a leading man on Broadway, but Looking was a major step for the actor breaking into the television landscape as a main character. The series has become a cult hit and is somewhat of a time capsule of the early 2010s when LGBTQ+ identities were becoming part of the mainstream and when the internet was changing dating and relationships forever. Many shows follow similar formats to Looking, but the show was unique when it premiered and is worth watching today.


7 Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known (2022)

As Himself/Melchior Gabor

The role that set Groff on his path to stardom wasn’t in film and television but on stage in the original 2006 production of Spring Awakening. When the musical premiered, it was highly controversial as it dealt with mature themes surrounding adolescence. However, it was a hit that garnered many Tony Awards and remains popular. In 2022, for the anniversary of the musical, the cast reunited to perform a concert of the show, and a documentary was made about it. Featuring interviews with Groff and the rest of the cast and musical performances, it’s a moving piece of media.


Also featuring Lea Michelle, who would go on to star in Glee alongside Groff, the documentary touches upon how transformative the musical was for the cast and how close they became. Watching clips of Groff from the original run of the musical and comparing it to his performance later in life is a testament to how impactful the show was on his life and how much has changed since. Getting insight into Groff’s personal opinions and experiences outside of a fictional role is one of the best interesting parts of Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known.

Watch
Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known
on Max.


6 Hamilton (2020)

As King George III

Once the popularity of the show became undeniable, Disney picked up a filmed iteration of the musical and made it available for at-home audiences.

Hamilton is one of the biggest crossover hits of the past several years, as audiences who didn’t consider themselves musical theater fans found themselves obsessing over it. The contemporary adaptation of the life of Alexander Hamilton touched many people because of the modern musical style and the show’s dedication to diversity and highlighting the voices of actors of color. Once the popularity of the show became undeniable, Disney picked up a filmed iteration of the musical and made it available for at-home audiences.


While watching Hamilton on TV isn’t the same as seeing it in real life, the movie version did a good job of capturing the atmosphere. Groff’s role as King George III is arguably the smallest part of Hamilton, and his songs are used as a comedic break in the tension and a means of moving the story forward in time. However, delivering exposition while being funny is no easy feat, and Groff does it easily. King George III doesn’t steal the show by any means, but Groff’s ability to make the most of his short time on stage is incredible.


Hamilton Disney Performance Poster

Hamilton

Hamilton is a 2015 reimagining of the 2004 book Alexander Hamilton, written by Ron Chernow. This Broadway musical is split into two acts and follows the rise of Alexander Hamilton, including the array of people that influenced his life and political tenure.

Director
THomas Kail

Release Date
July 3, 2020

Cast
Lin-Manuel Miranda , Leslie Odom Jr. , Phillipa Soo , Renee Elise Goldsberry , Daveed Diggs , Christopher Jackson , Jonathan Groff , Anthony Ramos , Okieriete Onaodowan , Jasmine Cephas Jones

Runtime
160 Minutes

5 Knock At The Cabin (2023)

As Eric

M. Night Shyamalan’s Knock at the Cabin ending has many twists, but this is to be expected from any movie by the director. Joining a psychological horror movie was a pivot for Groff, but after his work in the TV series Mindhunter, Groff started being considered for roles like Eric in Knock at the Cabin. It’s one of the most mainstream projects he’s been a part of, and it shows Groff’s maturity as an actor, as he plays a young father faced with an impossible choice.


Audiences and critics’ issues with the film generally stemmed from inconsistencies within the story rather than the actors’ performances. Groff had a difficult job in Knock at the Cabin, as he had to communicate deep internal struggles and grief in contrast to the actors. However, he took this challenge head-on and didn’t shy away from the emotional realism of his character’s experience, even within the extremity of the film’s premise. Looking to the future, Knock at the Cabin shows a potential trajectory for Groff in the movies.

Knock at the Cabin Poster-1

Knock at the Cabin

M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller, Knock at the Cabin, tells the story of a family who is approached by four strangers while staying in a remote cabin and given an impossible ultimatum. When Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) take their daughter Wen (Kristen Cui) to a remote cabin for a family getaway, their stay is interrupted by the arrival of Leonard (Dave Bautista), Redmond (Rupert Grint), Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), and Adriane (Abby Quinn), who tell them that one of the family must be sacrificed in order to stop the impending apocalypse.

Director
M. Night Shyamalan

Release Date
February 3, 2023

Cast
Dave Bautista , Jonathan Groff , Ben Aldridge , Nikki Amuka-Bird , Kristen Cui , Abby Quinn , Rupert Grint

Runtime
139 minutes


4 Glee (2009–2015)

As Jesse St. James

Though Groff was a recurring character, not part of the main cast, his character, Jesse St. James, was iconic.

Glee has its issues, but it’s something of a cultural phenomenon for those who grew up watching the show and audiences finding it in the past few years. Though Groff was a recurring character, not part of the main cast, his character, Jesse St. James, was iconic. Acting on Glee was one of Groff’s earliest forays into television, and the beauty of being on Glee is that it demonstrated his amazing musical theater abilities. He’s featured most prominently in season 1, which culminates in one of the best performances of the series, Groff’s rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.


Groff had worked with cast members in Glee in the past, as he and Michelle were in Spring Awakening together on Broadway. The tone of Glee was always meant to be satirical, and this humor is something Groff embodied brilliantly. Thanks to his experience on Broadway and in musical theater in general, Groff poked fun at the familiar tropes of this career path. Any episode that included Jesse was singled out as a memorable part of the series. Though he appeared less as the show progressed, his presence in the first three seasons is part of why they’re the best.


Glee Poster

Glee

In order to escape the stressful reality of high school, a group of misfits decides to join William McKinley’s glee club. Fox’s Glee was created by Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk, and Ryan Murphy, with Leah Michele, Jane Lynch, and Matthew Morrison leading the cast. The series ran for six seasons between 2009 and 2015 and won six Primetime Emmys.

Cast
Dianna Agron , Chris Colfer , Jessalyn Gilsig , Jane Lynch , Jayma Mays , Kevin McHale , Lea Michele , Cory Monteith , Matthew Morrison , Amber Riley

Release Date
May 19, 2009

Seasons
6

Network
FOX

3 A Nice Indian Boy (2024)

As Jay Kurundkar

After its recent premiere at the SXSW film festival, A Nice Indian Boy has made waves, and though it will be some time before the movie is available online, it’s bound to be a standout in the romance genre in 2024. Groff plays Jay, the love interest of Naveen (Karan Soni), the protagonist. The movie allows each actor to be equally funny and sweet. In many ways, A Nice Indian Boy subverts the pitfalls of the classic rom-com. Naveen is out as gay to his family, and Jay was adopted by Indian parents.

A Nice Indian Boy
premiered at SXSW in March 2024.


In this way, Jay’s not a newcomer navigating Naveen’s cultural identity, and there’s no question that their love story as a queer couple won’t be accepted. By avoiding these tropes, Naveen and Jay get to have a classic romance that explores their deeper feelings about themselves and their place in the world. It’s a great next step for Groff and is a continuation of his dedication to playing great LGBTQ+ characters on screen. As always, Groff’s delightfully charming, and it’s easy to see why Naveen would fall in love with him.

a nice indian boy 2024 film sxsw promo image

A Nice Indian Boy (2024)

Self-effacing doctor Naveen Gavaskar meets Jay Kurundkar, a white man adopted by two Indian parents, when Jay takes his picture at the hospital. Despite initial skepticism on Naveen’s part, the two quickly fall in love. Naveen avoids telling his traditional family—parents Megha & Archit and sister Arundhathi—who accepted his sexuality years earlier and are close to him but increasingly don’t know much about his life. Eventually, inevitably, Jay, with no family of his own, has to meet the Gavaskars, who have never met a boyfriend of Naveen’s. What follows is the comedic & heartfelt collision between the family, Jay and Naveen, caught between the versions of himself his family and Jay know.
 

Director
Roshan Sethi

Release Date
March 12, 2024

Cast
Jonathan Groff , Karan Soni , Sachin Sahel , Dhirenda , Pete Graham , Sean Amsing , Peter S. Kim , James Cousineau

Runtime
96 Minutes


2 Doctor Who (1963–)

As Rogue

Ncuti Gatwa is the fifteenth Doctor, and in the sixth episode of the season, Groff makes his appearance as the alien bounty hunter, Rogue.

The latest season of Doctor Who has seen some of the most exciting character introductions of the new era. Ncuti Gatwa is the fifteenth Doctor, and in the sixth episode of the season, Groff makes his appearance as the alien bounty hunter, Rogue. The chemistry between Groff and Gatwa is incredible, and of all the romances the Doctor has embarked on throughout Doctor Who, the one between Rogue and the Doctor is one of the most well-plotted and satisfying. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt that the episode nods to the hit series Bridgerton by taking place in Regency-Era England.


After an experimental season, the episode “Rogue” has been heralded as a return to the traditional Doctor Who format. Doctor Who is a high-profile series and must evolve and tread new territory to stay relevant. As a character, Rogue represents the next phase of the show, featuring LGBTQ+ plotlines more than ever before. For Groff, guest starring on Doctor Who indicates that he’s open to a variety of genres and introduced him to audiences who might not have been exposed to his work.


Related

Doctor Who’s Rogue Explained: Everything We Know About Jonathan Groff’s Character

Doctor Who season 14, episode 6 introduced a new character. Here is the complete guide to who Rogue is and how he fits into the Whoniverse.

1 Mindhunter (2017–2019)

As Holden Ford

The Mindhunter season 3 story will likely never happen, as Netflix’s cancelation of the show is pretty definitive at this point. However, for two seasons, it was one of the best shows on the streamer and made audiences see Groff in an unexpected light. It’s some of the most serious acting he’s ever done, and his role, Holden, required a lot of him, especially considering the intensive subject matter the series deals with. Additionally, working with a filmmaker as skilled as David Fincher allowed all the actors to give their best performances.


Mindhunter paved the way for Groff to be considered for purely dramatic roles and for him to step outside musical and comedic projects if he wanted. While he excels in these arenas, Groff isn’t an actor who can be pigeonholed, and, similarly, Mindhunter evolved a great deal even within the short runtime of the series. Holden is a completely different man from the start to the end of the show, and it’s because of Groff’s performance that this change is not only believable but relentlessly compelling.


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