Whether he is portraying dashing and swashbuckling masked heroes, playing unsavory and unhinged characters, or providing his voice for one of the most successful animated film franchises in cinematic history, the extremely busy Antonio Banderas gives it his all at every opportunity. Over the years, the decorated actor who can bounce between comedy, drama, and action with little to no trouble at all, has provided for some of the best characters and movie moments the world has ever seen.
I was reminded of this when I, like millions of others, saw Uncharted on opening weekend and was blown away by the sinister yet charismatic performance by the versatile actor. And so I thought now would be a good a time as any to go through the best Antonio Banderas movies, talk about them, and show how you can watch them streaming (as well as buy them). Here are 11 of those movies…
In the wake of his girlfriend’s brutal murder at the hands of the power-hungry drug lord known as “Bucho,” (Joaquim de Almeida) “El Mariachi” (Antonio Banderas) goes on a reign of terror to avenge the love of his life. With a guitar case full of high-powered weapons, the “man in black” leaves behind a trail of blood and vengeance.
The second chapter in Robert Rodriguez’s “Mexico” trilogy, Desperado is often the title people first think about when the neo-western franchise is brought up, and a lot of that has to do with Antonio Banderas interpretation of the character. Both dashing and deadly, El Mariachi will forever be one of the most iconic characters in Rodriguez’s body of work and gives Banderas an opportunity to show off his innate charm, badass action skills, and his heartbreakingly beautiful singing voice.
Shrek 2 (2004)
Upon returning from their honeymoon, Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona’s (Cameron Diaz) relationship is put to the ultimate test when the Fairy Godmother and her son, Prince Charming, hatch a diabolical plan to steal the princess away from the lovable ogre. With potions, scheming, and a swashbuckling feline assassin named Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) among the mother-son duo’s bag of tricks, it’ll be quite the fight.
Improving upon what made the first movie such a success, Shrek 2 keeps what works with some new additions for extra flavor. The best of those additions? None other than Antonio Banderas' adorable and lethal Puss in Boots, who would become one of the franchise’s stars post-release. What works so well with the character is the way in which in plays on Banderas’ best characters while not trivializing his cinematic work.
Pain And Glory (2019)
Pedro Almodovar’s intimate and semi-autobiographical Pain and Glory centers on Spanish film director Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas) as he looks back on his past and contemplates his future as both his body and mind deteriorate. By exploring memories — both good and bad — the aging and closed-off filmmaker attempts to find new meaning in life.
The most recent collaboration between director Almodovar and Banderas (a partnership that goes back to the 1980s), Pain and Glory is near the top of that list. The movie, which was nominated for Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and a spot on numerous best-of lists in 2019, shows the greatness of Banderas’ craft with his introspective and pained portrayal of an artist in conflict.
Julie Taymor’s 2002 biographical drama Frida tells the life story of groundbreaking Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek) as she grows from a talented yet timid painter to one of the most celebrated creative spirits of the early 20th Century.
In addition to featuring a tremendous performance by Hayek and one of Alfred Molina’s best roles with his portrayal of Diego Rivera, Frida also has an amazing supporting cast that includes Edward Norton, Ashley Judd, and Antonio Banderas. The Spanish actor’s portrayal of surrealist artist (and Rivera’s rival) David Alfaro Siqueiros is especially masterful here and is made all the better with the undying flame in the actor’s eyes throughout all his scenes.
Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown (1988)
Equal parts film noir and romantic comedy, Pedro Almodóvar’s 1988 film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown follows Pepa Marcos’ (Carmen Maura), a women whose lover mysteriously vanished from her life, as she and a colorful cast of characters attempt to make sense of the peculiar situation that only seems to get stranger as it carries on.
Although he plays a supporting role in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, it is hard to deny the charm Antonio Banderas brings to the character of Carlos, the son of Pepa’s former lover who gets caught up in this hilariously complicated narrative, one that includes terrorist plots, records and phones being thrown out a window, and a group of women pushed to the edge.
The Mask Of Zorro (1998)
Every hero’s journey has to start somewhere, and for Antonio Banderas’ Alejandro Murrieta, that start happens in Martin Campbell’s 1998 action adventure The Mask of Zorro. With the aging Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins) out of prison but not capable of fighting evil on his own, he takes the tough yet irresponsible Alejandro under his wing in hopes of passing on the moniker to the next generation.
This throwback to the old Zorro stories is a wild, daring, and entertaining experiment that sees Banderas come into his own as the masked vigilante, and the accomplished actor makes the already likable hero all the more enjoyable to watch.
After being fired from a prestigious Philadelphia law firm, Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) sues his former employer for unlawful termination and discrimination because of his homosexuality and AIDS diagnosis. Together with Denzel Washington’s Joe Miller, the courageous attorney attempts to argues his case before he succumbs to the deadly virus.
Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia is remembered for the outstanding performances by the two leads (Hanks did win his first Oscar for his part), but the supporting cast shouldn’t be overlooked. This includes Antonio Banderas and his portrayal of Andrew’s lover and caretaker Miguel Alvarez, who stays by his side until the end, braving everything life throws at him with a great deal of tenderness, respect, and love.
The late Alan Parker’s 1996 musical biographical drama Evita follows Eva Perón (Madonna) as she goes from a beautiful and talented actress and singer to the First Lady of Argentina in the first half of the 20th Century. Each of the various chapters in this sprawling story are narrated by a character simply known as Ché (Antonio Banderas) who sings about the popular figure’s rise and legacy.
What’s really cool about Evita is the way it pays tribute to the stage production on which it was based, especially with Banderas’ various musical numbers that help establish the movie’s most pivotal moments. And even though he has no hand in the film’s plot, his character helps explain the specifics of Perón’s life and he sounds amazing doing so.
Interview With The Vampire (1994)
Neil Jordan’s 1994 adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire follows Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) as he goes from being a member of the Louisiana elite in the late 18th Century to an immortal vampire following a chance encounter with Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise), and eventually centers on his attempts to escape his master by any means necessary.
One of the major players in the story is the mysterious vampire Armand (Antonio Banderas) who offers Louis shelter while teaching him about the life of a vampire but while also taking something very near to his heart. Banderas’ suave portrayal of the sophisticated vampire is up there with some of the best representations of the character-type so far, and can be attributed to manner in which the talented actor brings him to life.
The Skin I Live In (2011)
Driven to the point of insanity after his wife is terribly burned in an accident, plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) dedicates his life to creating a new skin to prevent others from going through so much pain and suffering. But in doing so, he holds a woman (Elena Anaya) hostage as a test subject in Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In.
Antonio Banderas beautifully shows what kind of an impact extreme grief and suffering can have on a person’s psyche, pushing them to the point where they are able to look past the consequences of their actions.
Spy Kids (2001)
When their parents are kidnapped by the diabolical Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming), Carmen (Alexa PenaVega) and Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara) rise to the occasion become spies to save them and prevent a sinister plot from being carried out.
Robert Rodriguez and Antonio Banderas have one of the best collaborative partnerships in the action genre, and they don’t need blood-soaked revenge thrillers to show that. This happens to be the case with Spy Kids, which feels a lot like their previous work but with a lighter tone and loads of comedic elements. And just like the rest of the cast, Banderas looks like he’s having one hell of a time throughout this family-friendly spy flick.
This is just a small portion of the great Antonio Banderas movies you can watch, as there are dozens of other titles worth checking out. After taking a look at all these films, why not check out CinemaBlend's schedule of all the 2022 movie premiere dates so you don't miss a thing?
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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 barking 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.