Robert Redford turns 85 today. As an actor, director and producer, his films earned him global movie-stardom and an array of awards including Oscars.
To wish the film icon a happy birthday, we’ll share our 10 favorite films of his.
We’ll cover plenty of the hits you know and love, but also include some lesser celebrated titles that deserve the love. Note: This list will only includes movie he acted in, so that means no films he only directed, like “Ordinary People” or “Quiz Show.” Read our picks (and honorable mentions) below:
10) Indecent Proposal (1993)
Redford plays a billionaire who offers $1 million to a young married couple (Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson) for one night with the wife. Three decades later, the film certainly plays differently, but Redford’s sleazy rich guy was never perceived as a hero. The star lends a gravitas that fools you into thinking the guy might be charming after all, even when he’s forcing a couple into prostitution that might ruin their marriage. From “Fatal Attraction” and “Unfaithful” director Adrian Lyne.
9) All is Lost (2013)
After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor finds himself, despite all efforts to the contrary, staring his mortality in the face. Redford barely says a word in writer/director J.C. Chandor’s harrowing lost-at-sea drama, giving the actor a physically demanding and emotionally satisfying part in the twilight of his career.
8) Three Days of the Condor (1975)
As a bookish CIA researcher who finds all his co-workers dead, Redford must outwit those responsible until he figures out who he can really trust in Sydney Pollack’s tense spy thriller co-starring Faye Dunaway and a menacing Max Von Sydow. You might also remember it referenced by George Clooney while he was stuck in the trunk of a car with Jennifer Lopez in “Out of Sight.”
7) The Horse Whisperer (1998)
The mother of a severely traumatized daughter enlists the aid of a unique horse trainer (Redford) to help the girl’s equally injured horse. Gorgeously film, tender adaptation of Nick Evans’ novel with Redford in clear control behind and in front of the camera, playing opposite Kristin Scott Thomas and a young Scarlett Johannson. Thomas Newman’s musical scores also shines.
6) The Candidate (1972)
Redford plays Bill McKay, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from California who has no hope of winning, at least until he does in a fickle political climate that opts for change when he tweaks the establishment. From director Michael Ritchie, this vehicle lets Redford’s star-power bloom as the idealistic politician who only thinks he wants to win his race.
5) Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Your dad thinks this is too low on the list. In this cult classic directed by the late Sydney Pollack, Redford plays a mountain man who wishes to live the life of a hermit, becoming the unwilling object of a long vendetta by the Crow tribe on the early frontier. Beautiful scenery and cinematography give this a grand scale, matched with Redford’s charisma and commitment to the adventurous role.
4) The Natural (1984)
Redford stars as an unknown who comes out of nowhere to become a legendary baseball player with almost divine talent. Features several iconic sports movie moments, culminating in one of the most thrilling and sentimental sequences in film history. Sappy? Sure, but you can’t help but romanticize baseball. As Robert Redford as a film role gets. Your dad’s favorite sports flick, probably.
3) The Sting (1973)
In 1930s Chicago, two grifters team up to pull off the ultimate con after a high-rolling mob boss offs one of their pals in George Roy Hill’s second go-around with Redford and his famous co-star Paul Newman. The chemistry was no fluke, charming the film to a best picture Oscar victory. Two hours of pure delight punctuated by the stars wattage but also David S. Ward’s snappy script and Robert Shaw’s crime boss Doyle Lonnegan. You follow?
2) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
“I can’t swim!” Redford’s typically too-cool-for-school Sundance Kid confesses to his partner Butch Cassidy in their hour of desperation, on the run from from an aggressive posse after robbing a series of banks and trains. The actors’ chemistry penetrated the vulnerability of the tough guy cowboy mystique you rarely saw in Westerns up to that point. George Roy Hill’s surehanded direction of William Goldman’s timeless (and hilarious) script might have made a classic no matter whom they cast, but — yeah, right — you can’t imagine anyone else as Butch or Sundance.
1) All the President’s Men (1976)
Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in what has become the standard-bearer in movies about journalism, no offense to “Spotlight.” Perhaps just as prescient in 2021 as it was in 1976, it emphasizes the importance of accountability in government in the role the American press plays in holding our leaders to that, no matter their level of power. Redford is the driving force behind Alan J. Pakula’s action-packed political thriller. Yes, the “action” is mostly phone calls and secret meetings in parking decks, but they squeeze more excitement out of that than most would-be action flicks now.
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