“Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!” No movie fan can properly celebrate the fourth of July holiday without giving their own rendition of Bill Pullman’s iconic speech from Roland Emmerich’s iconic 1996 space adventure epic. Although President Thomas Whitmore is easily the most iconic character that Pullman has ever played, it’s not the only role that he should be known for.
Pullman may have had much of his recent success on television with The Sinner, but he’s been an equally important presence in film. Here are the best Bill Pullman movies, ranked.
Todd Haynes’ 2019 biographical drama Dark Waters exposes a shocking story of industrial corruption that continues to affect public health. The film follows the criminal defense lawyer Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo), who discovers that the chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont has been dumping lethal chemicals into public water. These chemicals lead to significant pollution and life-threatening health damage.
Dark Waters is both infuriating and informative, and Haynes does a great job at showing how the legal system works. Pullman fits into the realistic depiction of events with his grave performance as Bilott’s ally in the court system, Harry Deitzler.
‘Battle of the Sexes’
Battle of the Sexes examines a critical tennis match that changed the nature of television sports forever. After the tennis champion Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) challenged the rising female player Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) to a one-on-one match, they faced off in a televised match dubbed the “Battle of the Sexes.” King’s victory was a historical moment of representation for female athletes.
The film does an impressive job at balancing both characters’ perspectives. Pullman co-stars as Jack Kramer, the promoter who is accused of not equally splitting payments between male and female athletes.
‘A League Of Their Own’
A League of Their Own is another sports comedy based on an incredible true story of female representation. The film explores the historic success of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and shows how the manager Jimmy Dungan (Tom Hanks) pulled together a team of misfits and turned them into champions. While the film takes a comedic slant on the nature of the sport, director Penny Marshall treats the players themselves with respect.
The film takes the time to detail each character’s experiences; the scenes between the catcher Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and her husband Bob (Pullman) are quite sincere.
A League of Their Own
- Release Date
- July 1, 1992
- Penny Marshall
- Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, jon lovitz, David Strathairn
Chris Pine gives one of his best performances outside of the Star Trek franchise in the 2008 biopic Bottle Shock. Based on a true story, the film follows the wine merchant Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman) as convinces the American vintner Jim Barrett (Pullman) and his son Bo (Pine) to share their wine with the world. Spurrier learns to have more respect for the American vintners after seeing the effort that Barrett and Bo put into their work.
The cultural differences between Americans and British expatriates create many amusing scenarios; it’s evident that Barrett’s more casual approach to winecraft is far different than the English practice.
- Release Date
- September 5, 2008
- Randall Miller
- Chris Pine, Hal B. Klein, Alan Rickman, Jean-Michel Richaud, Dennis Farina, Bill Pullman
Watch on Peacock
‘The Accidental Tourist’
The Accidental Tourist is one of the most devastating, yet inspiring dramas of the 1980s. The late great William Hurt gives one of the best performances of his career as Macon Leary, a travel writer who is mourning the death of his son.
As Macon begins writing his book, he finds comfort in the relationship that he forms with the eccentric animal doctor Muriel Pritchett (Geena Davis). Pullman has a brief, yet critical role as Leary’s publisher, Julian Edge. Edge encourages Macon to use his writing skills to move on from the tragedies within his life.
Watch on Kanopy
Many of the best independent films of the 1990s now feel like period pieces; Cameron Crowe’s romantic dramedy Singles now feels like a perfect encapsulation of the grunge movement and its impact upon popular culture. Crowe intertwines the stories of different youthful couples as they attempt to survive the perils of being young adults in New York City. Although there’s a self-awareness to Crowe’s humor, Singles paints a fairly realistic look at this era.
One of the more powerful moments in the film is when Pullman’s character Dr. Jeffrey Jamison, a plastic surgeon, tells Bridget Fonda‘s Janet Livermore that she is perfect the way that she is.
‘Sleepless in Seattle’
Nora Ephron’s films are often amicable and sincere in a way that most modern romantic comedies are not. Sleepless in Seattle doesn’t lampoon its characters or use them as the butt of the jokes; she takes the time to make each of their actions feel rational.
Meg Ryan’s Annie Reed ultimately decides to leave her fiance Walter Jackson (Pullman) as she pursues Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks). However, the last conversation between Walter and Annie is quite friendly; the couple realizes together that they simply weren’t meant to marry one another.
Sleepless in Seattle
- Release Date
- June 24, 1993
- Nora Ephron
- Tom Hanks, Ross Malinger, Rita Wilson, Victor Garber, Tom Riis Farrell, Carey Lowell
Watch on Hulu
Lost Highway is one of the weirdest movies that David Lynch ever made, and that’s certainly saying something! The film follows the jazz saxophonist Fred Madison (Pullman) as he is seduced by an enigmatic woman (Patricia Arquette) and pulled into a mysterious underworld of living nightmares.
Pullman essentially plays the role of the audience’s avatar. He represents their confusion and trepidation as he falls into a world of Lynchian weirdness. With its nonlinear narrative structure, bleak humor, and striking dream sequences, Lost Highway is one of Lynch’s most rewatchable movies.
- Release Date
- January 15, 1997
- David Lynch
- Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, John Roselius, Louis Eppolito, Jenna Maetlind, michael massee
Watch on The Criterion Channel
‘Igby Goes Down’ (2002)
Igby Goes Down gave Succession’s Roman Roy himself, Kieran Culkin, the performance of his career. Culkin stars as the wealthy teenager Igby, who escapes the clutches of his domineering mother Mimi (Susan Sarandon) as he ventures off into New York City to join a group of bohemia artists.
Mimi’s health scare forces Igby to reflect upon the trauma that he experiences in his childhood. Igby realizes that his father (Pullman) was unable to cope with his mental health issues, and descended into alcoholism. The flashbacks to Igby’s father make his emotional development feel more rewarding.
Watch on Showtime
‘Independence Day’ (1996)
Pullman is at his absolute coolest in Independence Day. What’s fascinating about President Thomas Whitmore is that he feels much more realistic than a lot of politicians in action films; he’s struggling with the death of his wife, and faces a public that regrets electing him in the first place. It takes a literal alien invasion for Whitmore to show his true patriotism and personally lead humanity’s defense.
It’s an inspiring performance that will go down in the action movie hall of fame. The less said about Pullman’s unfortunate cameo in Independence Day: Resurgence, the better.
- Release Date
- June 25, 1996
- Roland Emmerich
- Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Robert Loggia
Watch on Starz
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