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12 Great Tim Robbins Movies And How To Watch Them

Tim Robbins arms raised in The Shawshank Redemption
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Throughout his career, Tim Robbins has proven time and time again that not only is he one of the most prolific actors of his time, he’s also one of the most versatile and likable (even when he’s playing jerks with oversized egos). Seriously, it doesn’t matter if he’s playing a beloved character like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption or the easy-to-hate titular politician in Bob Roberts, the Academy Award winner and two-time Golden Globe winner is perfect in just about everything.

If you are looking for the best Tim Robbins movies that are available either streaming, through online rentals, or on good old-fashioned physical media, look no further, because we have you covered.

Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Quite possibly the role for which he is best known, Tim Robbins plays convicted killer (and innocent man) Andy Dufresne in Frank Darabont’s 1994 prison drama, The Shawshank Redemption. Over the course of several decades, Dufresne, a brilliant accountant and all-around likable guy attempts to prove his innocence while at the same time planning his eventual escape from the hellish penitentiary in this surprising box office bomb.

Seriously, if you had HBO or TNT in the 1990s there’s a chance you’ve seen this classic Stephen King adaptation at least 100 times by now. It’s one of those movies you can’t help but watch whenever it’s on, and a lot of that is thanks to Robbins’ outstanding performance and his on-screen friendship with Morgan Freeman’s Red.

Stream The Shawshank Redemption on HBO Max.
Rent/Buy The Shawshank Redemption on Amazon.
Get it on DVD/Blu-ray on Amazon.

Tim Robbins in Mystic River

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Mystic River (2003)

Tim Robbins received his first (and so for, only) Academy Award for his incredible portrayal of Dave Boyle in Clint Eastwood’s 2003 murder mystery drama, Mystic River. In the movie, Robbins’ character, emotionally and mentally scarred from being kidnapped and subjected to extreme sexual abuse as a young child, is accused of killing the daughter of his longtime best friend, Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), while another buddy, Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), investigates.

Mystic River is admittedly hard to get through, not because it’s a bad movie (it’s not) but because of the dark and depressing nature of its story. To see three childhood best friends torn apart over a parent’s worst nightmare is harrowing to say the least, but there is beauty in this painful narrative.

Stream Mystic River on HBO Max.
Rent/Buy Mystic River on Amazon.
Get it on DVD on Amazon.

Tim Robbins in The Player

(Image credit: Fine Line Features)

The Player (1992)

While Tim Robbins was falsely accused of murder in the previous two titles on this list, there’s no denying the fact that his character, Hollywood producer Griffin Mill is guilty of killing screenwriter David Kahane (Vincent D’Onofrio) in Robert Altman’s 1992 dark comedy, The Player

If the premise, pacing, and cast (Greta Scacchi, Fred Ward, Whoopi Goldberg, Sydney Pollock, etc.) weren’t enough, The Player also features what is perhaps the greatest single shot opening sequence (clocking in at like eight minutes in length) that just gets better each time.

Stream The Player on HBO Max.
Rent/Buy The Player on Amazon.
Get it on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Tim Robbins and Kevin Costner in Bull Durham

(Image credit: Orion Pictures)

Bull Durham (1988)

One of the best baseball movies of all time, and one that will forever have a soft spot in my heart, Bull Durham spends a season with Single-A minor league baseball team the Durham Bulls and the personalities that make up the team. For the most part, the film centers on Ebby Calvin “Nuke” Laloosh (Tim Robbins), a pitcher with “a million-dollar arm but a five-cent head” and his on-field relationship with Lawrence “Crash” Davis (Kevin Costner), and Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), a woman who has her eyes on both.

If you’ve already watched Bull Durham multiple times over the years, give it another spin, but just focus on Tim Robbins whenever he’s on screen. His facial expressions, body language, and everything else about his performance is just perfect, absolutely perfect.

Stream Bull Durham on Prime Video.
Get it on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack in Arlington Road

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Arlington Road (1999)

Although it doesn’t seem to get brought up in conversation nearly as much as it used to, Mark Pellington’s 1999 thriller, Arlington Road, is one hell of a ride. The movie follows Michael Faraday (Jeff Bridges), a college professor who is still trying to come terms with the death of his wife, an FBI agent, at the hands of a terrorist group. Michael’s life takes yet another turn when he meets his new neighbors, Oliver (Tim Robbins) and Cheryl Lang (Joan Cusack) whose stories and behaviors don’t add up.

Arlington Road is one of those movies that is best enjoyed with having very little knowledge about the story going in. But just know it’s going to take you through all sorts of twists and turns before it’s over.

Stream Arlington Road on Starz.

Tim Robbins in Dark Waters

(Image credit: Focus Features)

Dark Waters (2019)

One of the better recent examples of movies based on true stories, Todd Haynes’ 2019 emotional thriller, Dark Waters, follows successful lawyer Rob Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) as he attempts to get to the bottom of an incredible story about sudden and unexplained animal deaths in West Virginia. Risking his career, reputation, and even safety, Bilot goes to Hell and back to make Dupont pay for their supposed crimes.

Everyone in the Dark Waters cast, which also includes names like Anne Hathaway, Bill Camp, and Bill Pullman, is on top of their game here, and that goes for Tim Robbins as well. His portrayal of one of the high-ranking partners at Bilott’s firm is phenomenal and full of surprises.

Stream Dark Waters on Peacock.
Rent/Buy Dark Waters on Amazon.
Get it on DVD on Amazon.

Tim Robbins in Zathura

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

Zathura (2005)

In what is essentially Jumanji In Space, Jon Favreau’s Zathura follows two brothers played by Jonah Bobo and Josh Hutcherson, as they discover an old board game that turns a seemingly normal, boring afternoon into anything but.

Sure, Tim Robbins only appears in the movie for the first 10 minutes (and then again at the very end) as the father of the two boys who has to leave to print out a new drawing of a car, but the movie is just too much fun not to include on this list. It’s full of thrills, chills, and spills, as well as a great supporting cast that includes Kristen Stewart and Dax Shepard.

Stream Zathura on HBO Max.
Rent/Buy Zathura on Amazon.
Get it on DVD on Amazon.

Tim Robbins in War of the Worlds

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

War Of The Worlds (2005)

Steven Spielberg’s 2005 adaptation of War of the Worlds has the same premise as H.G. Wells’ 1897 novel, but both deviates and expands upon the story over the course of the movie. Despite some differences, the movie is an all-out popcorn movie following Ray Ferrier's (Tom Cruise) attempt to get his two children to safety as technologically-advanced aliens known as the tripods start to takeover.

Tim Robbins only appears briefly but he more than makes up for his time on screen with an unforgettable performance. About halfway through the movie, his character, Harlan Ogilvy, shows up and offers Ray and his daughter, Rachel (Dakota Fanning) refuge while they figure out what to do next. But, as the pressure begins to build and the tripods close-in on their location, Harlan goes off the deep end.

Stream War of the Worlds on Netflix.
Rent/Buy War of the Worlds on Amazon.
Get it on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Robbins in The Hudsucker Proxy

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

The Coen Brothers’ 1994 dark comedy, The Hudsucker Proxy, sees Tim Robbins’ character, Norville Barnes, become the figurehead at the top of Hudsucker Industries after a greedy executive named Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman) sees it as a way to tank the company’s value and swoop in and take it for himself.

There is something so earnest and lovable about Tim Robbins throughout The Hudsucker Proxy that makes the movie so much fun to watch. The way his innocent nature is juxtaposed with that of Mussburger creates a hilarious dynamic throughout. Also, the movie had a big influence on Loki, surprisingly enough. 

Stream The Hudsucker Proxy on Kanopy.
Rent/buy The Hudsucker Proxy on Amazon.
Get it on DVD/Blu-ray on Amazon.

Tim Robbins and James Gandolfini in Cinema Verite

(Image credit: HBO Films)

Cinema Verite (2011)

David Seltzer’s 2011 HBO original movie, Cinema Verite provides a fictionalized account of the production the 1970s PBS docuseries, An American Family, with Diane Lane and Tim Robbins playing Pat and Bill Loud (the family at the center of the story), and James Gandolfini as the show’s producer, Craig Gilbert. Over the course of the 90-minute film, each and every one of the family’s flaws are exposed in front of a film crew who then turn the drama into must-watch TV.

Remember how I mentioned earlier that Tim Robbins plays a good jerk? Well, this further backs up that claim. He plays an unlikable, intolerable, and downright awful character in Cinema Verite, but you can’t help but look anyway. These flaws help make the character all the more realized, turning the performance into something great.

Stream Cinema Verite on HBO Max.
Buy Cinema Verite on Amazon.

Tim Robbins in Bob Roberts

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Bob Roberts (1992)

The 1992 politically-charged satirical comedy, Bob Roberts, sees Tim Robbins take on the role of a right-wing millionaire as he runs to unseat an incumbent United States Senator. On the campaign trail, the over-the-top Roberts creates a firestorm by spewing all kinds of nonsensical rhetoric that pleases conservatives and angers just about everyone else.

The movie, which was also written and directed by Robbins, is equal parts hilarious and mean-spirited with its portrayal of populist politicians on the campaign trail and sees the actor playing one of the most ridiculous characters of his career. Oh, and the supporting cast includes Alan Rickman, Jack Black, Giancarlo Esposito, and other great actors.

Get it on DVD on Amazon.

Tim Robbins in Jacob's Ladder

(Image credit: TriStar Pictures)

Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

After returning from the Vietnam War a broken and deeply troubled man, Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) begins to experience incredibly terrifying hallucinations that cause him to further lose touch with the world around him and reality in general. 

One of the most unsettling psychological horror movies of all time, Jacob’s Ladder showed audiences a different side of Tim Robbins upon release and allowed the actor to go all-in on a portrayal of an unhinged yet sympathetic character. And let’s not forget the great performance by Macaulay Culkin as Jacob’s dead son.

Stream Jacob’s Ladder on Paramount+.
Rent Jacob’s Ladder on Amazon.
Get it on Blu-ray on Amazon.

As you can see, the best Tim Robbins movies aren't limited to comedy or drama, but can be found all across the spectrum, which honestly makes his contributions all the better.

Philip Sledge
Philip Sledge

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.