The 10 Best Jason Bateman Movies, Ranked

Jason Bateman - Game Night

CinemaBlend participates in affiliate programs with various companies. We may earn a commission when you click on or make purchases via links.

Though arguably better known for his television work in acclaimed shows like Arrested Development, Ozark, and, most recently, HBO's The Outsider, Jason Bateman has starred in several high-profile movies over the past few decades, many of which have earned the actor-director acclaim as both a comedic and dramatic performer. Notably in the past few years, Bateman has really stepped up and continued showing moviegoers his range and skills as an actor, and we'll take this time to rank Jason Bateman's 10 best films yet, looking back at his best leading/supporting roles throughout his career.

Jason Bateman, Nicole Kidman - The Family Fang

10. The Family Fang (2016)

Based on the book of the same name by Kevin Wilson, The Family Fang served as Jason Bateman's sophomore directorial feature where he also starred alongside Nicole Kidman as an adult pair of siblings who were raised quite untraditionally by two free-wielding performance artist parents (Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett) who discover that their parents have suddenly gone missing. But they're unsure if this is yet another stunt or if there's something more serious going on. Sharply observed and benefitted by nuanced, layered performances from its talented cast, The Family Fang was yet another demonstration of Bateman's growing talents as both an actor and director, and a dramedy that paved the way for his even more ambitious directorial efforts with Netflix's Ozark and HBO's The Outsider. The Family Fang is a keenly-made, emotionally stirring effort from Bateman.

Where To Rent Or Buy: Amazon

Jason Bateman - Paul

9. Paul (2011)

In Paul, the underrated 2011 science-fiction comedy from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, we follow two sci-fi-loving dweebs (Pegg and Frost) who find themselves with an alien who might not exactly fit the bill of intelligent new life. The hard-drinking, constantly-smoking man from another planet (voiced by Seth Rogen) is our title character, and he's hunted by FBI agents who want the out-of-this-world character contained as soon as humanly possible.

As Special Agent Lorenzo Zoil, which is a play on Lorenzo's Oil, Bateman's menacing character is a self-described mix of Yaphet Kotto in Midnight Run and Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive. While Bateman has plenty of experience in comedy, this hard-nosed, exaggerated no-nonsense antagonist served as a mild departure from the more well-meaning everyman characters we typically see from the actor. His dry delivery and stern demeanor was an easy fit for the supporting character, though. While Bateman doesn't get the majority of the zingers in the R-rated comedy, it's a badass role for him.

Where To Rent Or Buy: Amazon

Jason Bateman - Bad Words

8. Bad Words (2014)

In his feature directorial debut, Jason Bateman pulls off double duty and continues to showcase his expansive talents as he provides one of his best performances to date while also proving himself as a burgeoning filmmaker in 2014's dark comedy Bad Words. In the role of Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old eighth grade dropout who enters the National Golden Quill Spelling Bee — a competition meant for young children — due to a loophole, Bateman is at once showing his talents for playing disarmingly cutting characters while also later providing his more soft-sided charm as he becomes endeared by a 10-year-old fellow Spelling Bee contestant named Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand) who helps the man find his humanity amid his hardened exterior.

It falls comfortably into the formula that was established with movies like Bad Santa, making no real bones about it either, and it doesn't quite reach the same acidic-yet-appealing heights of that Billy Bob Thornton-lead R-rated comedy, but at its best, it's a great showcase for Bateman's range as both a rising filmmaker and an established actor. This is the type of role that's not easy to pull off, let alone while you're juggling duties on both sides of the camera, but Bateman's charm seeps through, allowing us to be won over by this hard-edged character who just wants to be accepted. It doesn't break new comedy ground, and some might claim that Bateman found his stride more with his TV work with Netflix's Ozark and HBO's The Outsider, but Bad Words is still a generally pretty good little raunchy comedy, and a lot of credit goes to Bateman.

Where To Rent Or Buy: Amazon

Jason Bateman - Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

7. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

While 2004's Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story isn't exactly Jason Bateman's movie, he arguably stole several scenes in the role of Pepper Brooks, an ESPN commentator who provides lewd, spacey, and just-plain-absurd feedback about the dodgeball games-at-hand alongside Cotton McKnight (Gary Cole). The role is certainly more goofy and rambunctious than the character's we're used to seeing from the actor, but that freedom allows him to be a little looser and, arguably, funnier by fully embodying the sort of wild-and-out side character we rarely get to see him play.

Playing the supporting role back in 2004, when Bateman wasn't a household name yet, despite starring in the beloved, Emmy award-winning dysfunctional family sitcom, Arrested Development, the TV actor provided quotable one-liners like "it's a bold strategy, Cotton, let's see if it pays off for them" and "usually, you pay double for that action, Cotton," among others. While it's ultimately a very brief role in the scheme of things for him, this is also one of Bateman's funniest roles.

Where To Rent Or Buy: Amazon

Jason Bateman - State of Play (2009)

6. State of Play (2009)

Typically, Jason Bateman is called upon to play one of two types of roles. He can be seen as either the sarcastic-but-good-natured sort of everyman, the type of role he perhaps is best known for thanks to Arrested Development, or he can seen as someone who is more insidious, troubled, calculating and working with some sort of malicious intent. While these aren't always the roles that he portrays, State of Play is a pretty good example of the latter.

As a PR executive who works as a subsidiary for a company with checkered principles, Bateman is more smarmy and cold-cutting than his more, well, affable characters. But he suits the well-suited character well, playing a finely-tuned dramatic role in the well-executed, undervalued 2009 drama. It is a role that works to his dependable strengths, depending on what he's called to do. But as we've noted, Bateman can be relied on to play this mean role.

Where To Rent Or Buy: Amazon

Screenshot from Zootopia

5. Zootopia (2016)

As a sly, sharp-witted fox who finds himself compelled to help bright-eyed Officer Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) in her investigation, Zootopia found Jason Bateman in a rare voice-only role, though the actor fit into the animated role well. Playing up the clever, cunning wit of the character while also showing a good bit of emotional depth as we learned more about the character, Bateman was a charismatic turn for the performer, and one that certainly boosted his resume for younger audiences. The Oscar-winning animated movie became a billion dollar hit for Disney, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at, and it remains the actor's biggest critical and commercial success to date. It's very easy to see why it found so much success.

This inspired, intelligent animated family movie takes big swings with its message and it tells a story that's impactful and relevant in our current media age. Thanks to its sharp animation and winning performances from our lead actors, Zootopia is one of the most beloved animated films of the 2010s.

Where To Rent Or Buy: Amazon

Rebecca Hall, Jason Bateman, Joel Edgerton - The Gift (2015)

4. The Gift (2015)

Though better known for his comedies, Jason Bateman has a mean streak that really plays to his advantage in the right roles. In 2015's investing The Gift, the feature directorial debut of Joel Edgerton, we start the movie seeing the sort of role we're prone to expect from Jason Bateman. He seems like a sarcastic, well-meaning common man who seems content with his life, until a mysterious figure from his past proves that his darker side lingers on. It is a dynamically layered performance from Bateman, one that serves him well and showcases his range as a performer. While Ozark gave fans a better look at the sort of darker, more menacing roles we could expect from Bateman, The Gift gave Bateman a versatile character that worked to his talents.

Where To Rent Or Buy: Amazon

Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams - Game Night

3. Game Night (2018)

Comedy is a tough game. Particularly when it comes to studio comedies, it's hard to make a truly gut-bustlingly funny romp. Very few movies bring the house down nowadays, but one recent example is 2018's surprisingly clever and enormously funny Game Night. Co-starring Rachel McAdams, the comedic thriller (or thrilling comedy) brings together elements of mystery and suspense into the lighthearted proceedings, but it surprisingly doesn't tip the scales over. Instead, this balance of dark comedy and violent intensity builds up the stakes in a stylish, sophisticated way, while the multi-talented actors bring the laughs in regular rotations. It's a tricky scale to keep even-keeled, but when it works, it works. And Game Night is an absolute winner.

Where To Rent Or Buy: Amazon

Jason Bateman - Juno

2. Juno (2007)

A bright, warmly funny coming-of-age teen pregnancy comedy that's celebrated for its bristling writing, sharp direction, witty humor, folksy soundtrack, and engagingly emotional performances, Juno was a Sundance darling that became one of the biggest critical hits of 2007 and a box office smash to boot before it turned into a major awards season contender, garnering four Oscar nominations in total, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress for Ellen Page, with Diablo Cody walking away with the Best Original Screenplay prize. It was the little movie that could. For good reason, too.

This heartfelt, charming and winning indie dramedy is richly lived-in, wonderfully assured, freshly inspired, and popping with quotable one-liners. While Jason Bateman is just one part of the Juno ensemble, the talented star nevertheless does some of his best work to date in the role of Mark Loring, the protective adoptive father of Juno's soon-to-be-born child. While everyone shines in the sweet-natured film, Bateman only continued to prove himself.

Where To Rent Or Buy: Amazon

Jason Bateman - Up in the Air

1. Up in the Air (2009)

Reunited with his Juno director, Jason Bateman once again worked with Jason Reitman and appeared in one of his best films yet in the filmmaker's acclaimed 2009 follow-up, Up in the Air. In Reitman's third (and arguably best) movie, we follow corporate downsizer Ryan Bingham, a strictly-business man who constantly flies around the country laying folks off from their long-standing office jobs for managers too afraid to do it themselves. But as we follow him throughout the course of the movie, Bingham realizes that living a life without the company of others can, well, leave something left desired.

In another ensemble piece, one that includes possibly career-best performances from co-stars like Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman plays Craig Gregory, owner of Career Transition Counseling, which might not constitute as his showiest, most prominent role, but it's another example of Bateman putting his disarmingly good looks and dry wit to good use, in a punchy supporting turn that plays well with the movie's fast pace and stylish delivery. In a career that's filled with many winning titles, notably within the past decade-plus, Up in the Air remains one of his best movies yet.

Where To Rent Or Buy: Amazon

What's your favorite Jason Bateman movie? Let us know in the comment section below!

Will Ashton

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.