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11 Great Chiwetel Ejiofor Movies And How To Watch Them Online

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave
(Image credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

There is no way of getting around it, Chiwetel Ejiofor is one of the best living actors, and one who can easily bounce from playing a shoe-obsessed drag queen with an entrepreneurial spirit to an unlawfully enslaved person on a 12-year crusade to secure his freedom, and a vengeful and overzealous sorcerer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe without even so much as batting an eye. Yeah, he’s that good.

So good, in fact, that it is hard to settle on one, two, or even 10 of Chiwetel Ejiofor's best movies and we had to go and make a longer-than-usual list of his great performances that should all be required viewing for anyone who appreciates films that are better than just great. Let’s dive in...

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave

(Image credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

12 Years A Slave (2013)

After being kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1840s Washington, D.C., talented violinist Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) spends the next 12 years of his life enduring hardships and atrocities no person should endure, while never letting go of his fight for survival, freedom, and reunion with his family back home.

Steve McQueen’s masterpiece, 12 Years a Slave, features one of the most outstanding and heartbreaking performances of Ejiofor’s career, one that sticks with you nearly a decade after its release. The actor’s take on the historical character is so raw and real you almost forget you’re watching an actor and not the real person.

Stream 12 Years a Slave on HBO Max.
Rent/Buy 12 Years a Slave on Amazon.
Get it on DVD on Amazon.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in American Gangster

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

American Gangster (2007)

The lives of Harlem drug dealer Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) and NYPD detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) become intertwined as the former falls under the watchful eye of the latter over the course of a sprawling drug investigation.

The American Gangster cast is full of talented actors from top to bottom, and this includes Chiwetel Ejiofor and his portrayal of Frank’s brother and right-hand man, Huey Lucas. And even though he’s not front and center throughout Ridley Scott’s crime epic, Ejiofor further cemented his place in Hollywood with this gripping and unforgettable performance.

Stream American Gangster on Peacock.
Rent/Buy American Gangster on Amazon.
Get it on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Keira Knightley in Love Actually

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Love Actually (2003)

Nine stories of varying levels of interconnectivity play out over the course of the holiday season, where people explore new beginnings, fresh starts, and one final shot at love before it’s too late. 

One of the best parts of Richard Curtis’ 2003 Christmas classic Love Actually is the story involving a love triangle shared by Juliet (Keira Knightley), her husband Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and his best friend Mark (Andrew Lincoln), who is madly in love with the new bride. It is hard not to feel bad for Peter throughout the course of this story, but it is somewhat comforting to know he has no knowledge of his friend’s obsession with his wife.

Stream Love Actually on Netflix.
Rent/Buy Love Actually on Amazon.
Get it on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Children Of Men (2006)

After a mysterious pandemic leaves the human population infertile and on the brink of disaster, Theo Faron (Clive Owen) finds himself in the middle of the fight for survival when he is tasked with escorting a young refugee with a history-changing secret to safety.

Chiwetel Ejiofor absolutely shines in Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 dystopian thriller, Children of Men, with his portrayal of Luke, a colleague of Theo’s ex-wife Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore) whose role in the plan to deliver Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) to safety isn’t what it seems. And plus, he’s at the center at the movie’s most thrilling sequence, the one-shot escape scene.

Rent/Buy Children of Men on Amazon.
Get it on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in Kinky Boots

(Image credit: Miramax)

Kinky Boots (2006)

With his family’s shoe factory on the verge of going out of business, Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton) teams up with Lola (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a daring and confident drag queen, to come out with a line of kinky footwear in hopes of reversing their fortunes.

Ejiofor is to die for in Julian Jarrold’s 2006 comedy, Kinky Boots, and it's undoubtedly one of the actor’s most confident and lovable characters yet. The way he handles himself as Lola never comes off as anything but genuine. But, he should have won the Golden Globe if we’re being honest.

Stream Kinky Boots on Showtime.
Rent/Buy Kinky Boots on Amazon.
Get it on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in The Martian

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

The Martian (2015)

After it is discovered that astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is not actually dead but fighting to survive alone on the surface of Mars, a global rescue operation is booted up to pull off the impossible and bring him home.

Ridley Scott's The Martian is a team effort through and through, and everyone gets time to shine in this thrilling astronaut drama, including Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Vincent Kapoor, the man in charge of NASA’s Mars program. It is also funny seeing the actor share the screen and work with Benedict Wong just one year before they’d do it again in Doctor Strange.

Rent/Buy The Martian on Amazon.
Get it on 4K/Blu-ray on Amazon.

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordor in Doctor Strange

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Doctor Strange (2016)

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) goes from having everything he could want in life to having nothing at all after losing the ability to use his hands following a near-fatal accident. But, his fortunes are changed when the meets a powerful sorcerer who can give him what he lost and more.

Although not the best Marvel movie, Doctor Strange does lay a great deal of groundwork for what was to follow in the MCU, as well as introduced several memorable characters, including Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). We’ll avoid all the details of his arc for those who haven’t seen the movie, but it is a tremendous turn with a prospect of an interesting future, especially in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, one of most anticipated 2022 movies.

Stream Doctor Strange on Disney+.
Rent/Buy Doctor Strange on Amazon.
Get it on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in Dirty Pretty Things

(Image credit: Miramax)

Dirty Pretty Things (2002)

Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is an illegal immigrant living in London who makes his living driving a cab during the day and working at a hotel at night. If life couldn’t be any more complicated enough for the young man, things take a turn when he discovers a human heart clogged in the toilet of one of the hotel’s rooms.

Although he had appeared in a number of movies and shows by this point, Ejiofor became a force to be reckoned with thanks to his brilliant performance in Stephen Frears’ incredible 2002 thriller, Dirty Pretty Things, a movie that also starred French superstar Audrey Tautou.

Stream Dirty Pretty Things on HBO Max.
Rent/Buy Dirty Pretty Things on Amazon.
Get it on DVD on Amazon.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in The Old Guard

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Old Guard (2020)

When a group of centuries-old mercenaries with amazing regenerative powers learns they are being hunted by a mysterious organization, they do everything in their power to preserve their secret, their lives, and the only family they’ve ever known.

There is just so much to love about Gina Prince-Bythewood’s 2020 Netflix superhero film, from its thrilling story, exceptional cast, and all those incredibly choreographed and painful-looking action sequences. But, one aspect that grounds the movie and gives it a lot of heart is Chiwetel Ejiofor’s portrayal of James Copley, a former CIA agent who goes to very extreme (and questionable) lengths to come to terms with his own grief. Let's hope this is the same when the upcoming The Old Guard 2 lands on the streamer.

Stream The Old Guard on Netflix.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in Amistad

(Image credit: DreamWorks Pictures)

Amistad (1997)

In the aftermath of a slave uprising aboard a ship heading from Cuba to America, those involved are held prisoner and forced to go trial in 19th-century Connecticut. When the matter reaches new levels and becomes one of the biggest topics of discussion, everyone from freed slaves (Morgan Freeman) to a former President of the United States (Anthony Hopkins) become involved.

Although Steven Spielberg’s historical drama is mostly remembered for the performances by Freeman, Hopkins, Matthew McConaughey, and Djimon Hounsou, there is a tremendous early show of talent by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays James Covey, the man who served as an interpreter for the defendants during the heated trial. 

Stream Amistad on Paramount+.
Rent/Buy Amistad on Amazon.
Get it on DVD on Amazon.

Chiwetel Ejiofor on Tsunami: The Aftermath

(Image credit: BBC/HBO)

Tsunami: The Aftermath (2006)

Set in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that claimed the lives of more the 227,000 people, the stories of multiple survivors, government officials, and journalists are told in great detail as they fight for survival and understanding against a ticking clock.

Bharat Nalluri’s 2006 two-part disaster film Tsunami: The Aftermath (which came out more than a half-decade before the emotionally taxing The Impossible) features a tremendous cast who tell all sides of the tragic story, including Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sophie Okonedo, who play a married couple searching for their young daughter who was swept away in the wave. The way in which Ejiofor captures the pain, confusion, and anger of a father searching for his missing child is gut-wrenching to say the least.

Stream Tsunami: The Aftermath Part 1 on HBO Max.
Stream Tsunami: The Aftermath Part 2 on HBO Max.
Buy Tsunami: The Aftermath on Amazon.
Get it on DVD on Amazon.

As you can see by the sheer number of impressive roles that touch just about every genre, there’s a strong case to be made for Chiwetel Ejiofor being one of the all-time greats. Let’s just hope he finally receives an Oscar and Golden Globe one of these days. If not that, maybe he'll receive some accolades for his performance in Showtime's The Man Who Fell to Earth, just one of the major series coming to the 2022 TV schedule.

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.