15 Best Kurt Russell Movies of All Time

Kurt Russell started his acting career as a teenager, appearing in several movies during the 1960s. He continued with movie and TV appearances throughout the 70s, finishing the decade by playing Elvis (which he did again in a 3000 Miles to Graceland in 2001).

When it comes to the best Kurt Russell movies, there is no particular decade that is his best (like with some other action stars). Whether it’s the 80s, 90s, or the last decade, he has some great movies in any of those.

It was the beginning of the 80s and the role in Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981), that skyrocketed his career. He made several other very popular movies during the 80s, such as The Thing (1982), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), and Tango & Cash (1989).

He did not stop in the 90s. In 1993 he starred in Tombstone, possibly his best movie, and also action films like Stargate (1994), Escape from L.A. (1996), and Soldier (1998). Pretty much every movie that Russell has made during this decade is good (and there are nine of them).

Russell worked with Quentin Tarantino on two occasions. First, in the 2007 movie Grindhouse (Death Proof segment) and later in 2015 in The Hateful Eight. He also made appearances in the latest Fast & Furious franchise as a government agent “Mr. Nobody”, and in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as “Ego”.

Here is our list of the best Kurt Russell movies of all time, ordered by release date:

1. Used Cars (1980)

Genre: Comedy
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Kurt Russell (29), Jack Warden, Gerrit Graham

Kurt Russell plays a car salesman named Rudy Russo, who wants to run for the state Senate. He manages to convince his boss, Luke, to invest money in his campaign if he keeps the car sales business alive. Directly across the street is Luke’s brother, Roy, also a used car salesman and a competitor. When Roy plots and kills his rival brother, he now wants to take over his business too. However, Rudy finds out about his scheme and decides to fight him. An all-out sales war between the two begins.

2. Escape from New York (1981)

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell (30), Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine

In 1997, crime is out of control, and New York City’s Manhattan is transformed into a maximum-security prison. There is no way out; all bridges are mined. After terrorists hijack and crash the plane with the president in New York City, there is only one man who can help. An ex-soldier and current prisoner, Snake Plissken (Russell), is offered a pardon if he rescues the president.

3. The Thing (1982)

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell (31), Wilford Brimley, Keith David

A scientific expedition in Antarctica encounters a parasitic alien life form that is capable of imitating its victims. This means that anyone at the base can be inhabited by “The Thing”, and paranoia overcomes the group.

With a score of 8.1 and more than 350,000 votes, The Thing is the best-rated Kurt Russell movie on IMDb.

4. Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell (35), Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun

After arriving in Chinatown, San Francisco, and winning a card game against his long-time friend Wang, truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) decides to accompany him to the airport to welcome his fiancée. It turns out that she is kidnapped because she has green eyes, and that’s what a cursed immortal creature, Lo Pan, is looking for. Now it’s up to Jack, Wang, and their friends to save her in a daring adventure in the underground of Chinatown.

5. Overboard (1987)

Genre: Comedy, Romance
Director: Garry Marshall
Starring: Kurt Russell (36), Goldie Hawn, Edward Herrmann

A wealthy, spoiled, and rude woman named Joanna Stayton hires carpenter Dean to build a closet on her yacht. When the job is finished, Joanna is not satisfied, even though the job is well done, and Dean ends up unpaid. Things start to get interesting after Joanna falls overboard from the yacht and suffers amnesia. Dean decides to use that to get his revenge. He convinces her that she is his wife and the mother of his four children.

6. Tango & Cash (1989)

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Director: Andrey Konchalovskiy
Starring: Kurt Russell (38), Sylvester Stallone, Teri Hatcher

Russell and Stallone play two rival LAPD detectives who are framed for murder by a crime lord named Yves. Now they must put their differences aside and work together to escape from jail and catch the evil mastermind who put them there.

7. Tombstone (1993)

Genre: Action, Biography, Drama
Director: George P. Cosmatos
Starring: Kurt Russell (42), Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott

Kurt Russell plays the famous lawman Wyatt Earp in this movie, which is loosely based on a gunfight event at O.K. Corral during the 1880s. Wyatt Earp and his two brothers settle in the town of Tombstone to start a new life. Since the outlaws led by the Clanton brothers are causing problems in the region, a confrontation with the Earps and their friend Doc Holliday is inevitable.

8. Stargate (1994)

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Director: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Kurt Russell (43), James Spader, Jaye Davidson

Several decades after it’s found and held in a military facility, a strange giant device is finally decoded by linguist Dr. Daniel Jackson. The mysterious object is actually a “Stargate,” a portal that leads to another unknown galaxy. Colonel Jonathan ‘Jack’ O’Neil (Kurt Russell) is sent through the portal to explore the unknown. They find a primitive culture ruled by Ra.

9. Escape from L.A. (1996)

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell (45), Steve Buscemi, Stacy Keach

Snake Plissken is once again forced to work for the president as he wants his freedom back, this time in Los Angeles. The city of L.A. has been separated from the country and, like New York, is now a penal colony. He needs to recover a stolen device and find the president’s daughter.

10. Breakdown (1997)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Starring: Kurt Russell (46), J.T. Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan

Jeff Taylor and his wife are driving across the country when suddenly their new jeep breaks down. A truck driver stops and offers a ride to a nearby diner, so Jeff’s wife, Amy, decides to go while Jeff watches over the car. After he manages to start the car and go to the diner, it turns out that nobody has seen his wife coming in. And when he finds the truck driver, he acts like he doesn’t know him. Reporting the case to the sheriff didn’t help because there is no evidence against the truck driver. Jeff realizes that he must solve this by himself, so he decides to follow the truck driver.

11. Soldier (1998)

Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Kurt Russell (47), Jason Scott Lee, Jason Isaacs

In a futuristic society, soldiers are selected at birth and trained to be killing machines. Sergeant Todd (Russell), a veteran soldier, is defeated in the fight against a new breed of genetically engineered soldiers and left for dead on a waste planet. He is accepted by the survivors of the planet, and eventually, he will need to fight the new soldiers again when they land to eliminate the colony.

12. Dark Blue (2002)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Director: Ron Shelton
Starring: Kurt Russell (51), Ving Rhames, Scott Speedman

Kurt Russell plays a tough and tempered veteran detective named Eldon Perry, who is part of LAPD’s Special Investigations Squad. While working on a homicide case, he tutors rookie Bobby in police intimidation and how they do things. In the meantime, Assistant Chief Holland is the only man who wants to stand up to this department and its tactics.

13. Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Genre: Drama, Horror, Western
Director: S. Craig Zahler
Starring: Kurt Russell (64), Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox

A small-town sheriff (Russell) is on a mission to rescue two people from a cannibalistic clan. Together with a small rescue party, they will soon realize that they are up against a very dangerous foe.

14. The Hateful Eight (2015)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Kurt Russell (64), Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh

A famous bounty hunter named John Ruth (Russell) is escorting a prisoner in a stagecoach to the town of Red Rock. Due to a blizzard, they have no other choice but to find shelter in a tavern with suspicious strangers.

15. The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family
Director: Clay Kaytis
Starring: Kurt Russell (67), Darby Camp, Judah Lewis

When a brother and sister accidentally crash Santa’s sleigh and all the presents are lost, they must help savvy and straight-talking Santa Claus to save Christmas and deliver the presents.

15 Best Kurt Russell Movies According to IMDb

According to IMDb, these are the 15 best Kurt Russell movies in the lead role:

  • The Thing (1982) – 8.1
  • The Hateful Eight (2015) – 7.8
  • Tombstone (1993) – 7.8
  • Miracle (2004) – 7.5
  • Big Trouble in Little China (1986) – 7.3
  • Escape from New York (1981) – 7.2
  • Stargate (1994) – 7.1
  • Bone Tomahawk (2015) – 7.1
  • The Christmas Chronicles (2018) – 7.1
  • Death Proof (2007) – 7.0
  • Overboard (1987) – 6.9
  • Breakdown (1997) – 6.9
  • Used Cars (1980) – 6.8
  • Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story (2005) – 6.8
  • Backdraft (1991) – 6.7

10 Best Kurt Russell Movies According to Box Office

  • Stargate (1994) – $197 million
  • Poseidon (2006) – $182 million
  • The Hateful Eight (2015) – $156 million
  • Backdraft (1991) – $152 million
  • Executive Decision (1996) – $122 million
  • Tequila Sunrise (1988) – $105 million
  • Miracle (2004) – $64 million
  • Tango & Cash (1989) – $63 million
  • Unlawful Entry (1992) – $57 million
  • Tombstone (1993) – $56 million

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