Over two-plus decades, Jonah Hill has become one of Hollywood's most reliable movie stars, particularly as he proves himself comedically and dramatically with a number of celebrated projects. Whether it's his starring roles in Superbad and the 21/22 Jump Street movies, his standout supporting turns in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and This Is the End, or his Oscar-nominated performances in Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street, Hill has a flair for playing characters broad or mild-mannered, outlandish or intuitive. This is a trend that continues (one hopes) with his latest performance in Don't Look Up. If you love the acclaimed actor and you want to discover his finest films, here are the movies that you should check out!
Two dorky high school seniors (Michael Cera, Jonah Hill) clumsily partake in an all-night rager in an awkward —and eventful — attempt to be in the in-crowd.
Why It's Worth Watching If You Love Jonah Hill: Following a string of notable supporting turns in often less-than-notable '00s comedies, Jonah Hill finally had a chance to prove himself as a leading man with Greg Mottola's warm, endearing Superbad, a coming-of-age high school comedy that was able to be just the right cocktail of raunchy and sweet, thanks to its semi-autobiographical screenplay by Seth Rogen (who co-stars) and Evan Goldberg and its affectionate performances from Hill and Michael Cera. While Cera has the comparatively harder challenge of playing the more refrained, mild-mannered character, Hill is explosively funny, playing up the heightened absurdities of this uncomfortable teenager in broad, outlandish but also appealing and entertaining ways. The results prove to be both exceptionally funny and unexpectedly tender — even gently moving. While it's not the role that would turn Hill into a two-time Oscar-nominee, it's arguably the most pivotal performance of his vibrant and increasingly exceptional career.
The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)
The rise-and-fall of stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) through his epically storied and spectacularly heinous history of criminality and corruption.
Why It's Worth Watching If You Love Jonah Hill: Working with one of the actor's greatest filmmaking influences, Jonah Hill appeared eager to prove himself with his splashy supporting turn in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, and he proved himself in spades, resulting in his second Oscar nomination. While he must work around wide-eyed glasses, a frizzy head of hair, and some wonky fake teeth, Hill makes the pompous performance entirely his own, as he plays up the heightened buffoonery of his looney Wall Street blowhard while also grounding the character just enough in this reality to make us believe that he would exist in Jordan Belfort's already larger-than-life orbit. The result is a splendid turn, filled with vigor and vibrancy, and it remains one of Hill's most famous and infamous.
Moneyball follows Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's (Brad Pitt) bold attempt to re-assemble this struggling baseball team through new-grade computer analytics.
Why It's Worth Watching If You Love Jonah Hill: In the role that would turn the affable up-and-coming comedy star into an A-list Oscar nominee, Jonah Hill gives what remains one of his best performances as Peter Brand, the tech wiz who has a revolutionary new way of predicting the calculated statistical advantages of this flailing baseball team's players, in Bennett Miller's exceptionally great Moneyball. Even a whole decade later, this standout supporting performance remains fresh and proven, as Hill brings his lovable enthusiasm to the role in spades while also capturing the gentle yearning that's evident in this man's eager-hearted desire to prove his wits and his skills. As a result, this award-nominated turn captures Hill's talents at the right place and the right time, resulting in an expansive career that continues to develop in intriguing ways — especially as he pushes himself more.
This Is The End (2013)
Several self-absorbed celebrities are trapped in James Franco's lavish house when the biblical apocalypse happens to befall the sinful city of Los Angeles.
Why It's Worth Watching If You Love Jonah Hill: Shortly after he became an Oscar-nominated actor, Jonah Hill poked fun at his new image by playing a vain, self-important version of himself in Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's This Is the End. Reuniting with the writers that propelled his career in Superbad, Hill doesn't get as many opportunities to shine in this ensemble piece, but his warped self-image allows the actor to have a good bit of fun and play up the strangest of his raunchy comedy career origins. In this commendably bleak and uproarious dark comedy, the actor isn't doing his best work, but he's doing some of his funniest.
The LEGO Movie (2014)
An extraordinary LEGO construction worker (voiced by Chris Pratt) is recruited for an awesome quest when he's believed to be prophesied for epic greatness.
Why It's Worth Watching If You Love Jonah Hill: Though it's not remembered for Jonah Hill's lighthearted portrayal of Green Lantern, it's safe to say that the actor has a small hand in making one of the best animated movies of the past decade with 2014's The LEGO Movie, a buoyant and impressively imaginative take on the popular toy line that proved that writers-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were the real deal, in animation and live-action. Reuniting with his 21/22 Jump Street directors, Hill provides a splashy cameo alongside Channing Tatum. Even with his limited involvement, Hill played a part in building one of the most unexpectedly delightful movies — family-orientated or otherwise — of the 2010s. While it's not on the same level, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is also a good bit of fun.
21 Jump Street (2012)
A pair of down-and-out cops (Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum) are recruited for a retro operation to go undercover in order to track down a synthetic drug ring.
Why It's Worth Watching If You Love Jonah Hill: Though perhaps not as pivotal to his career as Superbad, The Wolf of Wall Street, or Moneyball, 21 Jump Street and its 2014 sequel, 22 Jump Street, were key to Jonah Hill's stardom, notably as these R-rated studio comedies showed Hill's talents as a screenwriter in addition to being an affable action-comedy star opposite a surprisingly buoyant Channing Tatum. With its fast and, of course, funny mix of action, lewd jokes, meta-humor and pointed commentary on the sad state of Hollywood and the wobbling genre-at-large, 21 Jump Street surpassed the understandably uncertain expectations to become one of the freshest comedies of the year — quite ironically — while also continuing to demonstrate Hill's quick-to-prove-himself versatility as a lead actor.
Hail, Caesar! (2016)
A Hollywood fixer (Josh Brolin) works to keep the studio happy in the 1950s.
Why It's Worth Streaming If You Love Jonah Hill: Though he's only one part of an expectedly impressive A-list ensemble, Jonah Hill's Joseph Silverman provides a warmly flustered bit of fun in this fussy period farce's proceedings, playing up the part of an overdressed and overworked busy-man who finds himself easily flummoxed in the presence of a very beautiful woman. It's a glorified cameo in the midst of this gorgeously crafted and reverently produced movie's high-strung antics, but it's another reminder of what Hill can do when he works with writers and directors as immensely talented and well-proven as Joel and Ethan Coen.
Upon forming a mid-life relationship with a beautiful single mother, Molly (Marisa Tomei), divorced John (John C. Reilly) must get over the love affair's biggest hurdle yet: meeting Cyrus (Jonah Hill), Molly's dependent adult son.
Why It's Worth Watching If You Love Jonah Hill: It would take the following year with 2011's Moneyball for audiences to appreciate Jonah Hill's dramatic talents, but they were already on display in 2010's underseen Cyrus, an affectionately funny, nicely sad character dramedy that doesn't reach the heights of its star's greatest triumphs, but it's elevated by their affable screen presences. In the lead role, Reilly is given the most flexibility to stretch, but Hill is its biggest success story. In the title role, Hill plays up and leans into the man's oddball tenacities, but never without the recognition of what makes this man grounded in reality, while also being divorced by common society. It's an impressive performance that relies on him being both endearing and off-putting, uncomfortable yet also entertaining. Thankfully, Hill is more than able to find that right balance, and he would continue to impress with similarly nuanced parts. Cyrus isn't his peak, but if you love this talented Oscar nominee, you would be remiss if you didn't see it.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Following a devastating break-up, Peter (Jason Segel) takes a trip to an exotic resort, only to reconnect with his ex (Kristen Bell) and her cool new boyfriend (Russell Brand).
Why It's Worth Watching If You Love Jonah Hill: Though he's stuck in supporting character mode, Jonah Hill's scene-stealing work is particularly notable in 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Only a year after the wonderful success of Superbad, this happy-go-lucky performance became an instant favorite — so much so that Hill got a spin-off film alongside Russell Brand with 2010's Get Him to the Greek (though Hill, confusingly, plays a different part). With his childlike enthusiasm and his warm-hearted desire to make the most of an uncomfortable situation, Hill was far from the star of this movie, but his growing star power was already becoming apparent — even with rather minor roles like this scene-stealing turn.
How To Train Your Dragon (2010)
A hapless young Viking (voiced by Jay Baruchel) becomes an unlikely friend to a toothless wyvern — at a time when dragons are a grave threat to humanity.
Why It's Worth Watching If You Love Jonah Hill: Similiar to The LEGO Movie, the How to Train Your Dragon movies only see (or, more accurately, hear) Jonah Hill in a minor supporting role. Specifically, he lends his voice to the role of Snotlout Jorgenson, a boastful young man who's eager to strut his stuff as a dragonslayer. Nevertheless, while only a small portion of this franchise's success, he played a part in making one of the most celebrated series of the past decade, particularly by DreamWorks Animation standards, and his comedic chops were well-utilized in this fiery supporting turn. While it's not the role that he'll be remembered for, it's arguable among movie fans that these are some of Hill's very finest movies.
If you're looking for more good Jonah Hill movies, I'd also recommend Funny People, Knocked Up, Django Unchained, and The Beach Bum. He also gives one of his best performances in War Dogs. Away from acting, Hill became a multi-hyphenate with 2018's mid90s, which the actor wrote, produced, and directed.
Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.
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