If so, you’re probably familiar with some of his most iconic roles including John McClane in the “Die Hard” series or Butch Coolidge in “Pulp Fiction”. With a career spanning nearly four decades, it can be difficult to narrow down Willis’ greatest films to just a few. In this article, we’ll be covering Bruce Willis’ best: a ranking of his most memorable movies.

What Does It Mean to Be “Memorable”?   

When discussing memorable films, there are a few criteria to consider. Films can become memorable for multiple reasons. It could be that the overall plot was thrilling and exciting or perhaps the dialog was so cleverly written that l achieved cult-like status among fans. In some cases, a scene(s) or character can become so incredibly memorable that the film itself is often associated with that particular feature. 

This article aims to rank Bruce Willis’ films using those criteria. We’ll consider not just the box office success, but also the cultural relevancy and lasting impression each film has had on its audience.

The Glorious 1980s   

1980s cinema was incredibly diverse, and Bruce Willis films were no exception. His career began with small roles in films such as “The First Deadly Sin” and “Blind Date”. This decade was a breakout one for Willis, with some of his most memorable films being released in the closing years. Here are his best films from the 1980s:

  1. Die Hard (1988):
    The action-packed thriller, “Die Hard” is often considered to be one of the greatest films of the 20th century, and is Willis’ first major success. Whether you’re familiar with the film or not, if you’ve ever heard the phrase “Yippee-ki-yay,” you’re probably a fan of “Die Hard”.

  2. Moonlighting (1985-1989):
    Willis first came to public’s attention through the popular romantic-mystery cable series, “Moonlighting.” In the show, he plays a wisecracking private investigator who’s reluctantly partnered with an uptight female colleague, played by Cybill Shepherd. The show was a critical and commercial success, and earned Willis an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama.

  3. In Country (1989):
    In this Vietnam War drama, Willis stars as a returning veteran who, along with his niece (Emily Lloyd), returns to his childhood home to honor his brother who died in the war. The film, based on a novel by Bobbie Ann Mason, has seen a steady increase in popularity in recent years, gaining appreciation from critics.

Shifting to the 1990s  

The 1990s saw Willis transition from television star to a critically-acclaimed silver screen actor. He appeared in some of the biggest films of the decade, and his success only continued to grow. Here are three of Bruce Willis’ best films from the 1990s:

  1. Pulp Fiction (1994):
    Quentin Tarantino’s breakout classic “Pulp Fiction” saw Willis play against type as the affable and bumbling boxer, Butch Coolidge. Willis delivers a captivating and often comical performance and his scenes with Samuel L. Jackson are some of the most memorable in the film.

  2. Armageddon (1998):
    The 1998 sci-fi spectacle was the highest grossing film of 1998 and made nearly $555 million worldwide. Willis stars alongside Ben Affleck as a nasa-hired oil drill operator who has to save the world from an incoming meteor.

  3. 12 Monkeys (1995):
    The science-fiction classic sees Willis as a convict who’s sent back in time to stop the source of a killer virus. Terry Gilliam’s 1995 film was praised for it’s unique aesthetic, coupled with Willis’ believable performance.

Willis in the 2000s and Beyond  

While some of the early 2000s were a bit of a lull in Willis’ career, he made a big return in the mid-2000s with a string of hits, including the legendary “Live Free or Die Hard”. Here are three of Willis’ best films from the 2000s and beyond:

  1. Unbreakable (2000):
    “Unbreakable” marked Willis’ first collaboration with M. Night Shyamalan. In the film, Willis plays a seemingly unexceptional man who learns he may have superhuman powers. While the film wasn’t as successful its successor, “Split”, “Unbreakable” is an underrated classic and still holds up to this day.

  2. The Sixth Sense (1999):
    The precursor to “Unbreakable”, “The Sixth Sense” was one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed films of 1999. Willis plays a child psychologist trying to help a young boy(Haley Joel Osment) who claims to see dead people. The film’s powerful twist ending has been credited with influencing the horror-thriller genre for years to come.

  3. Sin City (2005):
    In “Sin City”, Willis stars as the haggard ex-cop Hartigan trying to protect a young girl from a ruthless criminal. Starring side-by-side some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Willis shines through in the role, delivering a gripping performance with a hint of dry humor sprinkled in.

No matter how you look at it, Bruce Willis is a cinematic legend. His career has spanned decades and seen him take on multiple genres and various types of roles. His impact on cinema cannot be understated and his presence can still be felt in today’s movies. We hope this article helped you to discern a few of his most definitive roles, and that you’ll enjoy watching them.