Bill Nighy may be one of the most underrated British actors of the past several decades. Despite turning in incredible performances in popular films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Detective Pikachu, and Love Actually, Bill Nighy still floats on the periphery of superstardom.
In his incredibly long career, Bill Nighy has starred in some of the most iconic and critically acclaimed movies of the past few decades.
Updated on March 17th, 2022 by Colin McCormick: Bill Nighy may not be a name who is immediately familiar to fans, but he is one of those acclaimed and celebrated character actors who is instantly recognizable. Though he is likely most well-known for his roles in big franchises like Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean, Bill Nighy’s filmography is filled with so many acclaimed projects. For fans interested in delving deeper into his amazing career, here are some more of Bill Nighy’s top-rated movies on Rotten Tomatoes.
15 Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 (2011) – 77%
- Available to stream on HBO Max, Peacock Premium, DIRECTV, USA, and Spectrum on Demand.
Arguably Bill Nighy’s most famous role, the English actor played the Minister of Magic (Rufus Scrimgeour) in the penultimate Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. The film follows Harry, Ron, and Hermione as they prepare for their final showdown with Lord Voldemort with the entire world at stake.
Despite the fact that Bill Nighy wasn’t in the movie for too long, he still did an incredible job in his role as Scrimgeour, perfectly capturing the character as he appeared on the page and translating this magnificently to screen.
14 Sometimes Always Never (2018) – 82%
- Available to stream on Prime Video, Roku, Hoopla, Tubi, and Pluto TV.
Sometimes Always Never is one of 2018’s forgotten gems. The film follows Alan (Bill Nighy), a tailor and Scrabble enthusiast whose son went missing decades ago during a game of scrabble. The film follows Alan as he attempts to repair the relationship with his youngest son and form a bond with his grandson.
The film is a subtle character study that explores the notions of grief in an intelligent manner, using humor very carefully in the process.
13 The Constant Gardener (2005) – 83%
- Available to stream on Peacock and Peacock Premium.
Based on the novel by acclaimed spy thriller writer John le Carre, The Constant Gardener boasts an impressive cast led by Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes plays a British diplomat working in Kenya with his social activist wife (Rachel Weisz). When she is murdered, he sets out to uncover a vast conspiracy. Nighy plays a high-ranking official involved in the conspiracy.
The movie was praised by critics as an intelligent and gripping thriller. It was further elevated by the performances, especially Weisz in her Oscar-winning role.
12 Alive And Kicking (1996) – 83%
Even in smaller roles, Nighy is always a standout member of any cast he is involved with. The intimate story of Alive and Kicking benefits from his supporting role in the story of a dancer (played by Jason Flemyng) coping with the loss of his lover who died from AIDS.
Even with a heart-wrenching premise, Alive and Kicking managed to bring both laugh and tender moments in a movie many critics called saw as a moving love story.
11 Emma (2020) – 86%
- Available to stream on IMDb TV.
Nighy always seems quite at home in a period costume drama like Emma. This adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel of the same name stars Anya Taylor-Joy as the titular character, a well-meaning yet self-involved young woman who meddles in the love lives of those around her. Nighy plays her loving father.
Many critics acknowledged that this is a story that has been tackled many times before. But the fun energy and comedic tone should be enough to please fans of the source material as well as those who enjoy the costume drama genre.
10 Lawless Heart (2001) – 87%
A big part of what makes Nighy’s talents so versatile is how effortlessly he can switch between comedy and drama. He gets to stretch both of those acting muscles in the British movie Lawless Heart.
The movie tells three intersecting stories about love all set around a funeral. Nighy plays a family man who is drawn into an extramarital relationship. The small movie was praised for being a refreshing and unconventional story that was both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
9 Notes On A Scandal (2006) – 87%
- Available to stream on Hulu.
Nighy joined forces with other fellow British actors Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett in the psychological thriller Notes on a Scandal. The movie tells the story of a teacher at a school (Dench) who forms a fascination with a new colleague (Blanchett) and uses a secret to draw her closer. Nighy plays the husband of Blanchett’s character.
The movie was hailed as a sharp entry in the genre, elevated by the fierce performances from the two female leads. It was the kind of gripping and engrossing story that would leave audiences on edge.
8 Rango (2011) – 88%
- Available to stream on HBO Max, HBO, DIRECTV, and Spectrum on Demand.
Rango may be one of the most underrated animated movies of the past several years. The film follows the titular Rango as he arrives in a new town, becoming the sheriff of this Wild West town in the process and uncovering the mystery surrounding its water.
Johnny Depp played the part of Rango, Isla Fisher was Beans, and Bill Nighy played the role of Rattlesnake Jake. It made for a surreal, funny, and wildly entertaining animated adventure.
7 Their Finest (2017) – 90%
- Available to stream on Max Go.
Their Finest is a World War 2 drama that follows Gemma Arterton’s Catrin Cole as she begins work for the UK’s War Office. The goal of the War Office is to increase the nation’s morale and help bring the US into the war, so they bring on writers such as Catrin Cole in order to help achieve this goal.
In addition to starring Arterton as Catrin Cole, the film also stars Sam Claflin as Tom Buckley, Jeremy Irons as the Secretary of War, and Bill Nighy as the actor Ambrose Hilliard.
6 Hot Fuzz (2007) – 91%
- Available to stream on Peacock, Peacock Premium, and Max Go.
The second film in the Cornetto Trilogy, Hot Fuzz represents the second big-screen combination of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright. Hot Fuzz follows a tough London cop as he is relocated to a small, idyllic village as a punishment for bringing the London crime rate down too much.
The film mixes humor and action incredibly well and stands out as one of Edgar Wright’s best movies to date. In addition to Pegg and Frost, the film also stars Jim Broadbent as Inspector Butterman, Timothy Dalton as Simon Skinner, and Bill Nighy as Chief Inspector Kenneth.
5 Pride (2014) – 92%
- Available to stream on Prime Video.
Without a doubt, Pride did not get the recognition it deserved upon its initial release. Based on true events, the film follows a group of lesbians and gays who form a group called Lesbians and Gay Support the Miners in order to show solidarity with the striking miners.
The film mixes between intelligent humor and touching emotion to show the clashes between the working clash mining town in Wales and the group of lesbians and gays. The film stars George MacKay as Joe, Andrew Scott as Gethin, and Bill Nighy as Cliff.
4 Shaun Of The Dead (2004) – 92%
- Available to stream on Starz, DIRECTV, and Spectrum on Demand.
Despite having a poor showing at the worldwide box-office, Shaun of the Dead would receive critical acclaim upon its release and become a cult classic that many would claim to be the best zombie movie of all time.
Shaun of the Dead takes inspiration from the zombie movies that came before it to create a humorous yet intense movie that is a romantic comedy with zombies. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost star in Edgar Wright’s first entry in the Cornetto Trilogy, along with Bill Nighy as Simon Pegg’s stepfather, Phillip.
3 Arthur Christmas (2011) – 92%
- Available to stream on Netflix and Hulu.
Arthur Christmas is another incredible film by Aardman Animations that attempts to answer the age-old question ‘how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?’ The film is a clever and emotional holiday movie that ranks among the best Christmas movies of the 21st century.
In addition to starring Bill Nighy as Grandsanta, the film also stars James McAvoy as Arthur, Hugh Laurie as Steve, and Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Santa.
2 Page Eight (2011) – 93%
Page Eight follows Bill Nighy’s Johnny Worricker, a long-serving MI5 officer who must leave his job behind in order to find out the secrets that threaten the organization he works for. The BBC film explores the moral issues that pertain to intelligence agencies in the 21st Centuries.
The BBC film features an all-star cast, in addition to Bill Nighy as Worricker, the film also stars Rachel Weisz as Nancy Pierpan, Ralph Fiennes as Alec Beasley, Michael Gambon as Benedict Baron, and Felicity Jones as Julianne Worricker.
1 Antonia And Jane (1991) – 100%
An underrated and overlooked movie from the early 90s, Antonia and Jane is a moving and often humorous look into the friendship between two people with opposite personalities. The film explores their relationship and the intricacies of their own personalities.
The film features a strong cause including Bill Nighy as Howard, Imelda Staunton as Jane, and Saskia Reeves as Antonia, with strong performances across the board.
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