Top 10 Best Adam Driver Performances



Top 10 Best Adam Driver Performances

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
Does Adam Driver ever turn in a bad performance? For this list, we'll be looking at the best performances from this American actor in film and television. Our countdown includes “Logan Lucky”, “Star Wars” franchise, "Girls", and more!

Top 10 Adam Driver Performances

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Adam Driver Performances.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the best performances from this American actor in film and television.

What’s your favorite Adam Driver performance? Let us know in the comments

#10: Jude

“Hungry Hearts” (2014)
This Italian-produced drama received mixed reviews, but critics overall agreed that Driver’s performance was a highlight. As a father disturbed by his wife's raising of their newborn baby, Driver exudes intensity while also maintaining an undercurrent of inherent sensitivity amidst the film’s more unsettling elements. One of his first starring roles, “Hungry Hearts” earned Driver the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice International Film Festival in 2014. This role might not’ve brought Driver to the A-list, but it did show he had the raw talent necessary to improve just about any movie he’s in.

#9: Daniel J. Jones

“The Report” (2019)
Like all great actors, Driver knows how to show exactly what motivates his characters. In this political drama, Driver plays Daniel J. Jones, the real-life United States Senate investigator who led the investigation into the CIA’s employment of torture tactics, post-9/11. Much of what’s depicted in the film is incredibly graphic, and Driver smartly contrasts this by playing Jones as a man looking not for plaudits but for the truth. And when Jones becomes more incensed by his discoveries, Driver sells the indignation. Political films can sometimes feel dry and dense, but Driver’s performance helps to make “The Report” both riveting and important.

#8: Clyde Logan

“Logan Lucky” (2017)
Adam Driver is also a great comedic actor, and he understands that comedy requires just as much commitment as drama. In director Steven Soderbergh’s comedy about two brothers planning a robbery during a NASCAR race, Driver plays Clyde, an Iraq War veteran with a prosthetic arm. Even with his Southern drawl and hilarious dialogue, Driver resists making Clyde into a caricature. Along with Channing Tatum, playing the other Logan brother, Driver makes things funnier - and more meaningful - by underplaying them. “Logan Lucky” could’ve been just another goofy comedy. But with Driver, it becomes something more.

#7: Toby Grummett

“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” (2018)
Director Terry Gilliam’s take on the “Don Quixote” story spent nearly 30 years in development hell before finally seeing the light of day in 2018. While we wish it hadn’t been such an ordeal to get it made, we’re thrilled Adam Driver got to be part of the finished film. In this ambitious and amusing story, Driver plays a director who finds himself entangled in an adventure with an actor who believes he's famed literary character Don Quixote. This being a Gilliam film, things start weird and only get stranger as things continue. It’s another excellent comedic showcase for Driver, who also has great chemistry with Jonathan Pryce’s quirky actor. Don Quixote might have been delusional, but Adam Driver knows exactly what he’s doing.

#6: Henry McHenry

“Annette” (2021)
Something we love about Adam Driver is his willingness to take on roles in films that are unlike anything we’ve ever seen. “Annette” is one of those films. In director Leos Carax’s surreal musical, Driver plays a father whose life spirals out of control after the birth of his daughter, a gifted singer. And his daughter happens to be portrayed by a marionette puppet. “Annette” will have you equal parts amused and baffled, but, as always, Driver keeps things grounded by creating a fully formed character, one we might not often like, but whom we can’t look away from.

#5: Detective Philip "Flip" Zimmerman

“BlacKkKlansman” (2018)
Few recent movies show that truth is stranger than fiction better than “BlacKkKlansman,” Spike Lee’s film about Ron Stallworth, a real-life Black detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 70s. While the film does take some liberties with the story, it’s lifted by being both thought-provoking and entertaining, and by Driver’s great supporting performance. As Flip Zimmerman, a Jewish detective who stands in for Stallworth at KKK gatherings, Driver shows the struggle of wrestling with the duties of one’s job and their identity. This was Driver’s first Oscar-nominated role, and we expect him to win one sooner rather than later.

#4: Paterson

“Paterson” (2016)
You know an actor is great when they can keep you engaged with a purposefully mundane plot. In Jim Jarmusch’s relaxed film, Driver plays a bus driver named Paterson, who coincidentally lives in the town of Paterson, New Jersey. We see a week of Paterson’s life, as he goes to work, observes his passengers, visits the neighborhood bar, writes poems, and spends time with his wife and dog. If that doesn’t sound particularly exciting, that’s kind of the point. “Paterson” is a movie about finding beauty in the simplicity and predictability of life, and Driver’s everyman presence makes us believe he could’ve been a bus driver in a past life.

#3: Adam Sackler

“Girls” (2012-17)
Before he was known as “Adam Driver: Movie Star,” he was known as “Adam Sackler,” one of the main characters on HBO’s “Girls.” Though Driver didn’t play one of the female foursome, his comedic timing and charismatic nature made him a fan favorite. Adam is a complicated character who isn't always easy to like, but Driver’s eagerness to dive into Adam’s more unflattering traits shows just how fearless of an actor he is. Driver received three consecutive Emmy nominations for “Girls,” and we would happily watch a show just about Adam. No one who watched “Girls” back in the day should be surprised to see how much of a star Driver became.

#2: Kylo Ren / Ben Solo

“Star Wars” franchise (2015-19)
The “Star Wars” films already had plenty of iconic villains before the release of the most recent trilogy. But Adam Driver’s acting chops gave us another top-tier antagonist in a galaxy far, far away. As Ben Solo, son of Han and Princess Leia, a former Jedi-in-training who’s led to the dark side and becomes the evil Kylo Ren, Driver creates arguably the series’ most complex villain yet. Ren is a ruthless killer, but he’s also affected by his emotional immaturity and his struggle with living up to his famed grandfather, Darth Vader. While these films have their share of flaws, Driver’s performance is not one of them.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Francisco Garupe, “Silence” (2016)
Driver Lost Nearly 50 Pounds to Play a Jesuit Priest in Martin Scorsese’s Historical Epic

Lev Shapiro, “Frances Ha” (2012)
Driver Shines in a Small Role in This Dramedy

Jamie Massey, “While We’re Young” (2014)
Driver Manages to Be Charming Even in a Fedora

Maurizio Gucci, “House of Gucci” (2021)
Driver’s Portrayal of the Businessman Has Created Plenty of Excitement for Ridley Scott’s Biopic

#1: Charlie Barber

“Marriage Story” (2019)
Marriages rarely just end overnight, and a divorce doesn’t mean a couple has stopped caring about each other. Noah Baumbach’s intense drama shows how circumstances can turn what was once a loving relationship into a shadow of itself. As Charlie Barber, a New York City theater director and father contending with the end of his marriage and all the complications that ensue, Driver brings unflinching humanity. It’s clear Charlie is heartbroken by what’s happening, but that’s he also struggling to be the best man - and father - he can possibly be. Along with co-star Scarlett Johansson, Driver makes you feel like you’re watching the dissolution of an actual marriage, and the hardest moments to watch are also the most compelling. Here, Driver doesn’t act; he embodies.