Best Adam Driver Performances Ranked From Worst to Best

The actor, Adam Driver, has proven himself to be one of cinema’s most interesting performers for his unique disposition and variety of approaches to an equally expansive breadth of projects. No matter the genre or tone, Driver brings a lot to every new role he takes on and fully inhabits every character he builds. Now, with Driver taking on the role of the real-life Maurizio Gucci in House of Gucci, it is as good a time as any to look back on his best work up until now. Even as he is certain to take on more great roles in the future, here are Driver’s 10 best performances to date.

RELATED: The 7 Best Adam Driver Movies You May Have Missed


10. Frances Ha


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Image Via IFC Films

A work that is one of the best black and white films of the last decade, Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha was also one of Driver’s earliest roles. He plays Lev, a supporting presence to Greta Gerwig‘s Frances and a philanderer of the highest order. From scene to scene, he will introduce yet another partner who he invites back to the apartment that Lev shares with Frances. Driver is quietly charming with a boyish smile and carefree posture that masks a rather humorously meandering character. Lev gets some of the best jokes and scenes in a film that is full of them. An early scene where he goes to dinner with Frances is simple yet engrossing, a testament to the commitment Driver brings to even a straightforward conversation. It is an underrated performance from the actor that indicated that there were only more great roles to come in the future.

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9. Logan Lucky


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Image Via Fingerprint Releasing/ Bleecker Street

An offbeat heist film that could only be brought to life by a director like Steven Soderbergh, Logan Lucky is a story that is brimming with memorable and quirky characters. Key among them is Driver’s Clyde Logan, one-half of a brother duo who come up with a daring plan to undertake a high stakes robbery of the Charlotte Motor Speedway on one of the biggest races of the year. Clyde, a soft-spoken bartender, and veteran who lost an arm while in Iraq is not your typical member of a criminal plot. It is through Driver’s understated performance that he becomes such a standout character, as deeply humorous and engaging as you could ever hope for. He hits all the right comedic and dramatic beats that keep you always locked in on the wild journey.

8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi


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Image Via Disney

A movie that remains divisive for how it subverted and challenged much of the franchise’s existing mythology, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a bold work with Driver at the center as the conflicted Kylo Ren. Just like the film he is in, Driver’s antagonist defies easy categorization while remaining oddly compelling. He keeps you on your toes and constantly makes you question where he will go as he brings a deeper emotional resonance to his performance. Even as the remainder of the new trilogy couldn’t quite figure out what to do with him, it is through Driver’s enigmatic performance that the new series found some interesting new ground. The insecurity and rage he brought to the villain made him all the more terrifying as he was constantly on edge. The sequence in the throne room still represents a high point that hinges on Driver delicately, drawing you into the multiple layers of his swirling emotions. It works even when much of the story doesn’t.

7. BlacKkKlansman


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Image Via Focus Features

A complicated film that marked the beginning of director, Spike Lee’s, return to form, BlacKkKlansman is buoyed by its strong central performances. Key among these is Driver as Detective Flip Zimmerman, the partner to John David Washington‘s Ron Stallworth. The chemistry the two share is unmatched, making the subtle jokes they share all the more impactful when mixed with the stakes of the rest of the film. It lives and dies by their relationship. In a scene where Flip, who is going undercover, is put through a lie detector test by a violent white supremacist, there are moments of dark humor while also being thoroughly tense. Driver navigates moments like these with confidence that ensures he threads the tonal tightrope without missing a step. It is a tough role to pull off, yet he does so with absolute ease.

6. The Dead Don’t Die


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Image Via Focus Features

The first Jim Jarmusch film on this list, The Dead Don’t Die is far from a perfect work, though, it perpetually remains a strangely interesting one. It also features the most off-kilter and fascinating performance from Driver as Officer Ronnie Peterson, a dryly witty man who gets caught up with a bit of a zombie problem. He spends the film cracking jokes and making unique observations all while fighting off the undead that are beginning to attack the town. To call this film eccentric would be an understatement, and it often bites off a little bit more than it can really chew. However, it is through the performances of all the cast that it finds life amongst all the death. Driver and his partner, played by a great Bill Murray, approach the material with a whimsical temperament that is occasionally elusive though consistently charismatic. It is, without a doubt, the strangest entry on this list as well as one of Driver’s most underrated performances.

5. The Last Duel


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Image Via 20th Century Studios

One of the more recent films on this list, Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel sees Driver sinking into one of his most distasteful characters who is made all the more impactful because of how he sneaks up on you. He plays Jacques LeGris, a friend and eventual enemy of Matt Damon’s Jean de Carrouges. It initially appears that the two men are the focus of the film before it shifts to how both the characters have deeply wronged the arresting Jodie Comer’s Marguerite de Carrouges. Grounded in a dire reality that reflects both the past and present, Driver’s eventual heel turn is stomach-turning and uncomfortable. It is a testament to how he was able to embody the seemingly kind figure that was really just another slimy man out for himself. The cruelty and lack of compassion that is boiling underneath the surface make Jacques a truly memorable villain precisely because of how, in the end, he doesn’t care for anyone other than himself.

4. House of Gucci


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Image Via United Artists Releasing

Another film from Scott (the man apparently doesn’t sleep), House of Gucci is a decadent look at the enclaves of the wealthy and the callousness that can be found therein. Driver plays Maurizio of the Gucci family who develops a fraught relationship with Lady Gaga’s Patrizia Reggiani that will soon consume the family. Even as it is Gaga who gets the most boisterous of moments in the film, don’t discount what it is that Driver brings to the table in every scene he gets. It is another film where he goes from being a seemingly kind figure into a far more cruel one. Driver captures that brilliantly, showing how greed and selfishness are key components to what makes him tick, even when he denies it to himself. The longer it goes on, the more it becomes clear how it is his approach to the character that makes the film such an outstanding one. Driver serves as a counterbalance to the chaos and camp, drawing you in despite yourself.

3. Silence


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Image Via Paramount Pictures

A decades-long passion project from one of our greatest living directors, Martin Scorsese, Silence is a painful watch that remains deeply affecting. It follows Driver’s Garupe and Andrew Garfield‘s Rodrigues, two 17th century priests who travel to Japan to track down their missing mentor. What they find there will test their faith and commitment to their cause, forever altering who they were as people. It is quietly devastating with Driver helping to make it so. It is Garupe who is much more disillusioned and uncertain about their quest as he questions whether it is worth the suffering to even continue on. However, the growth he goes through as a character will see him become completely invested in staying true to his faith. It is unexpected, especially when juxtaposed against the path the more devout Rodrigues takes, though fully realized by Driver. The final scene he has in the film is a starkly sad one that he brings to profound heights that are beautiful, even as they mark a major moment of loss.

2. Marriage Story


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Image Via Netflix

A film that reunited Driver with Baumbach, Marriage Story is a masterclass in acting that captures the pain that can come from a relationship falling apart. Driver plays the neurotic theater director Charlie, the husband to Scarlett Johansson‘s Nicole. The two have clearly been drifting apart for some time and begin the process of divorce. Adding to the messy story is that they also have a son named Henry who gets caught up in the fallout of their relationship. The film has become fodder for many a meme with a central argument scene getting edited into several humorous reinterpretations. Don’t be fooled by this, it also is just a really outstanding look at a disintegrating relationship and the impact it has on the two people who still care for each other. Neither are perfect, both wearing their flaws on their sleeves as they try to figure out what the path forward will be. It is through both Johannsson’s and Driver’s performances that it finds an emotional honesty unlike anything else either have done before.

1. Paterson


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Image Via Bleecker Street

Another film from Jarmusch, the poetic Paterson is a story about how the beauty of life can be found in the quietest of everyday moments that is Driver’s best work to date. He plays Paterson, a bus driver working in, well… Paterson, N.J! He lives a life of routine where he goes on his route and listens to snippets of conversations of those he drives. He writes poetry that he doesn’t share with anyone, not even with his wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), who still encourages him to break out of his comfort zone. Yet, Paterson is content in living a simple life. He takes his dog for a walk and has one beer after work at his neighborhood bar before getting up to do it all again. It is a film that flaunts convention and expectations to create something far more unique. It is overflowing with kindness and beauty that masks a sadness that is mixed with the joys of life. Driver is simply outstanding in creating the peaceful character of Paterson as he says a lot with very little. It is a high watermark in his career, commanding every scene with a sublime sensibility that is all his own. It is a sensational subtle work that has yet to be topped.


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Ridley Scott’s family drama works best when it’s an overwrought soap opera.

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