From Mr. Mom and Batman, to Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Founder, actor Michael Keaton has appeared in a long list of films. But what are they and what are the best Michael Keaton movies?
Well, today I’m going to answer that question, by taking a look at Michael Keaton’s movie portfolio. During the course of this post I will list all of the actor’s big screen appearances, while highlighting some of his best performances.
This post will look at the movies in release order by the decade, from his first big break during the 1980s through to his more recent pictures.
But before I get started, just a few words about the work Keaton did prior to making it on the big screen…
During Michael Keaton’s early career, the actor got started by appearing in a number of television shows, including the likes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, All’s Fair, The Mary Tyler Moore Hour and Working Stiffs. The majority of these shows aired during the 1970s and it was during this period of time that Keaton appeared in his first movie, Rabbit Test (1978) – albeit in a non-speaking role.
The 1980s was the decade in which Keaton received his big break. He appeared in Night Shift in 1982, which gave him his first speaking role, as well as in 1983’s Mr. Mom, where he played the part of stay at home dad, Jack Butler, in the John Hughes-penned movie.
Both of these films were comedies and yet more comedic films followed, including Johnny Dangerously, The Squeeze, and Beetlejuice. Taking on the title role in Beetlejuice, Keaton was not only able to demonstrate he had the right qualities to make the eponymous poltergeist into a cult icon, but also that he would be perfect for director, Tim Burton’s next big movie – Batman!
And let’s be clear here: No matter what role Keaton takes on, no matter how big or small, his casting as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) will forever remain his signature role. Was it the most important film of his career? Maybe – it was certainly the most iconic.
Here is Michael Keaton’s filmography for the 1980s:
- Night Shift (1982)
- Mr. Mom (1983)
- Johnny Dangerously (1984)
- Gung Ho (1986)
- Touch and Go (1986)
- The Squeeze (1987)
- She’s Having a Baby (1988)
- Beetlejuice (1988)
- Clean and Sober (1988)
- The Dream Team (1989)
- Batman (1989)
So, what is the best Keaton role of the 1980s?
It has to be Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman ’89! Followed very closely by his turn in Beetlejuice, a role which is beloved by so many people today.
Into the 1990s now and Keaton’s appearances in movies was very consistent, with a new film out almost every year. In fact, the only years he didn’t appear in a movie were 1995 and 1999, however, he more than made up for it by appearing in two films released in 1994 and three films released in 1998!
Highlights during this decade include Pacific Heights, Batman Returns, and Jackie Brown, where Keaton played the role of Ray Nicolette. The actor reprised the role of Nicolette for the 1998 movie, Out of Sight.
With so many movies coming out it only made sense that not all of them would hit the mark. It was during this decade that Keaton’s movies received criticism, especially films such as Multiplicity and Jack Frost.
Here is Michael Keaton’s filmography for the 1990s:
- Pacific Heights (1990)
- One Good Cop (1991)
- Batman Returns (1992)
- Porco Rosso – English dub (1992)
- Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
- My Life (1993)
- The Paper (1994)
- Speechless (1994)
- Multiplicity (1996)
- Inventing the Abbotts (1997)
- Jackie Brown (1997)
- Desperate Measures (1998)
- Out of Sight (1998)
- Jack Frost (1998)
Best Keaton role of the 1990s?
Either Pacific Heights or Batman Returns.
It’s a tough call, but Keaton’s turn as Carter Hayes in Pacific Heights deserves more credit, as does the movie itself which boasts a cast that includes Laurie Metcalf, Mako, Tippi Hedren, Carl Lumbly, Miriam Margolyes and Batman actor, Tracey Walter.
During the 2000s, Keaton continued to appear with regularity in film, but unfortunately not many of his movies were particularly well regarded. Perhaps his most notable films were White Noise – a so-so horror movie – and Herbie Fully Loaded – a reboot of Disney’s Herbie series.
Michael Keaton’s filmography for the 2000s included:
- A Shot at Glory (2000)
- Live from Baghdad – TV movie (2002)
- Quicksand (2003)
- First Daughter (2004)
- White Noise (2005)
- Game 6 (2005)
- Herbie Fully Loaded (2005)
- Cars (2006)
- The Last Time (2006)
- The Merry Gentleman (2008)
- Post Grad (2009)
Keaton’s best role in the 2000s?
Jonathan Rivers in White Noise. The film was not that great, but Keaton was a highlight of the movie and he made the best of the material he was given.
While the 2000s might not have been the strongest decade for Keaton, the 2010s brought the actor a number of hit movies and a great deal of praise from critics. His role in 2014’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) resulted in a Golden Globe (for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy), as well as an Academy Award nomination.
More awards followed for 2015’s Spotlight (Best Actor – The New York Film Critics Circle) and 2016’s The Founder (Best Actor – Capri Awards). The actor also took on some fan-favourite roles, including Ken in Toy Story 3, and the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Michael Keaton’s filmography for the 2010s is as follows:
- Toy Story 3 (2010)
- Blindsided (2013)
- Clear History (2013)
- RoboCop (2014)
- Need for Speed (2014)
- Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
- Minions (2015)
- Spotlight (2015)
- The Founder (2016)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
- American Assassin (2017)
- Dumbo (2019)
Keaton’s best role in the 2010s?
It has to be Ray Kroc in The Founder. As Kroc, Keaton was able to play the part of a tycoon, with a gift for selling and the ability to turn McDonald’s into one of the most successful brands in the world. He plays the part well and makes the McDonald’s story so fascinating to watch.
Moving into the 2020s, and Keaton continues to push forward with his career. It’s a little too early to highlight his best roles, but here are his movies:
- Worth (2020)
- The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
- The Protege (2021)
- Morbius (2022)
- The Flash (2023)
- Batgirl (2023)
In addition to his movies and his early TV work, Keaton has also appeared in a number of television shows over the years, including an appearance on Saturday Night Live, as well as a voice role on The Simpsons. If he’s not appearing in a movie, the likelihood is he’s doing TV work.
Are you a fan of Michael Keaton movies? What do you believe is his best (and worst) film? More importantly, if you were to recommend just one of his movies what would it be?
Is Batman Michael Keaton’s best movie? What about Pacific Heights or The Founder? Whatever your thoughts and feelings, sound off in the comments section below.