With the long-awaited October 2021 release of Dune and that fantastic first Being the Ricardos trailer, there is no better time to stop for a moment and dive through some of the best Javier Bardem movies. Over the years, the Academy Award-winning Spanish actor has terrified moviegoers in thrillers like No Country For Old Men and Skyfall, made audiences fall in love with his charisma in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and taken everyone on a ride to the edge of death in titles like Biutiful and The Sea Inside.
But, picking a movie from Bardem’s vast filmography is no easy task because there’s just so much greatness within it. Fear not, as we have put together a list of Bardem’s best movies and how you can watch them streaming or on tried and true physical media.
No Country For Old Men (2007)
The Coen Brothers’ 2007 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men tells the story of Vietnam veteran Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) and the dangerous situation he finds himself in after stumbling onto the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong in the West Texas desert. After picking up a satchel containing a large sum of cash (and a tracking device, unbeknownst to him), Moss is tracked down by cold and methodical contract killer, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). Like something out of Terminator, Chigurh stops at nothing to recover the drug-money.
Javier Bardem became the first Spanish actor to win an Academy Award when he was named the Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars in early 2008, but No Country For Old Men would be worth a watch even if he wasn’t recognized for his iconic performance. Nearly a decade-and-a-half after the film’s release, Anton Chigurh remains one of the most terrifying and recognizable villains in cinematic history.
Sam Mendes’ Skyfall picks up when a hard drive containing the identities of MI6’s undercover agents is stolen, forcing a retired James Bond (Daniel Craig) to get back into the field and recover the device before it’s too late. But things aren’t as simple as they may seem, and the journey digs up ghosts of M’s (Judi Dench) past, including Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a former MI6 agent and cyberterrorist who has come back for revenge after she left him for dead years earlier.
The final movie to feature Judi Dench as James Bond’s superior, Skyfall is one of the most personal and emotional additions to the beloved spy franchise. Javier Bardem’s portrayal of a bitter and broken man is one of the reasons for this. His desire to expose all of M’s secrets before killing her comes from the pain (both physical and emotional) that was caused by her betrayal. Plus, he is almost as terrifying as Anton Chigurh here.
Alejandro González Iñárritu’s psychological drama, Biutiful, follows Uxbal (Javier Bardem), a down-on-his-luck single father who helps Chinese immigrants find work in his Spanish town while also communicating with the spirits of the recently deceased. Uxbal’s life, which is already hard enough, is made all the more difficult when he is diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer that will kill him in a matter of months. Following the shocking news, Uxbal attempts to tie up all loose ends and come up with a plan for his children before his time comes.
Javier Bardem received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a tortured man trying to make sense of his life in his final days, and it’s honestly a shame he did not win (Colin Firth took home the prize for The King’s Speech). Still, his performance here is further proof of Bardem being one of the best living actors.
Mondays In The Sun (2002)
The 2002 Spanish drama Mondays in the Sun, which was directed by Fernando León de Aranoa, follows a group of recently laid off shipbuilders who spend their days floating through life and taking up shop at a bar while trying to determine their next step. The movie spends a great deal of time with Santa (Javier Barden), the group’s ringleader who attempts to keep his friends motivated and optimistic despite a bleak future that only appears to get darker by the day.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
The 2008 Woody Allen romantic comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona follows American travelers Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) as they spend a summer exploring all that Spain has to offer. Little do they know, but they will soon find themselves tied up in the complex relationships of artist Juan Antonio Gonzalo (Javier Bardem), whose talent as a painter is only matched by his undeniable charisma. But, just when the situation looks as if it could not get more complicated, things take another wild turn.
Everything about Vicky Cristina Barcelona makes it a movie worth revisiting time and time again, but one of the standouts is Javier Bardem’s effectiveness in his role. It never feels like Bardem is an actor playing a part, but instead the character at the center of the complicated romance.
Everybody Knows (2018)
Asghar Farhadi’s 2018 crime thriller Everybody Knows starts off simple enough: Laura (Penélope Cruz) travels from Argentina to her hometown in Spain with her two children to attend a wedding. But, after a chance encounter with an old friend named Paco (Javier Bardem), the vacation turns into something darker and much more intense. Following the wedding, Laura’s daughter, Irene (Carla Campra) is kidnapped, setting off a series of events that uncovers a myriad of long-forgotten secrets.
The way that Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz play off one another as former lovers here is something to behold and really makes the characters' struggle all the more realistic.
Michael Mann’s neo-noir crime thriller Collateral follows Los Angeles cab driver Max Durocher (Jamie Foxx) on what appears to be just a normal night of taking people to the airport and various locations around the City of Angels, but one that quickly unfolds into one he’ll never forget. After picking up a mysterious rider named Vincent (Tom Cruise), Max becomes wrapped up in the city’s criminal underbelly as he drives the contract killer from one job to the next.
One of the strengths of Collateral is the film’s outstanding cast, which includes Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, and Javier Bardem as the powerful drug lord Felix Reyes-Torrena. Although only in the movie for a few scenes at most, Bardem’s performance carries a certain weight to it that sticks out and also makes you want to check out more of his work.
Before Night Falls (2000)
Julian Schnabel’s 2000 biographical drama Before Night Falls tells the story of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas (Javier Bardem) as he found his voice, learned to accept his sexuality, and went from supporter of the Cuban Revolution to one of its biggest critics. Over the course of this celebrated film, which earned Bardem his first Academy Award nomination, Arenas struggles to find his place in society, one that doesn’t support his work or his identity.
If anything, Before Night Falls is a story of ambition, determination, and the potential of the human spirit, especially in those who will do anything to make a better life not just for themselves but others in their situation.
The Sea Inside (2004)
The Alejandro Amenábar-directed biographical drama The Sea Inside follows Ramón Sampedro (Javier Bardem) as he goes from brave adventurer to one of the most prominent voices in support of assisted suicide, following a diving accident that left him paralyzed. Throughout the course of the movie, Sampedro encounters various people and has a profound impact on their lives both during and after his death.
The Sea Inside was named the Best Foreign Film at both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes in early 2005, with Javier Bardem receiving a nomination for Best Actor — Motion Picture Drama at the latter.
Live Flesh (1997)
Pedro Almmodóvar’s Live Flesh is one part gripping crime thriller and one part sultry love story involving several cops and junkies in Madrid, Spain in the late 1990s. When a report of a shooting leads clean-cut police officer David (Javier Bardem) to an apartment complex, he is shot in the leg trying to protect a young woman, leaving him confined to a wheelchair. Despite being paralyzed from the waist down, life is good for David as he enters a deeply committed relationship with the woman, Elena (Francesca Neri). But, when the man responsible for his condition is released from prison several years later, life becomes much more complicated for everyone involved.
With so many great Javier Bardem movies coming out in the not-so-distant future, expect to see some great additions as time goes on. In the meantime, check out CinemaBlend's list of 2021 movie premiere dates.
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.
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