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The 10 Best Clive Owen Movies and Shows, Ranked


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Britain’s national treasure Clive Owen has provided film lovers with an overabundance of memorable movies and television content. From projects such as Sin City, Inside Man, and The International, Owen never ceases to amaze us with his overarching presence on and off the big screen. Known most commonly for his unique roles in underrated and artistic films, the actor seemed to be everywhere for about a decade in the early 2000s, with Clive Owen movies cultivating a very specific persona as both a wild action star (Shoot ‘Em Up, Killer Elite) and an introspective, melancholic character in quite dramas (Gosford Park, Trust), portraying a wide range of characters during the duration of his highly successful career.

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After 2010, however, he seemed to be in less popular (or at least bankable) movies, and film critics excessively speculated that Clive Owen had possibly fallen off the face of the earth, or at least Hollywood. Though there were rumors of Owen being chosen to take over the newest iteration of James Bond due to his naturally suave and debonair disposition, they never materialized. However, what most people hadn’t considered was that actors are just people to, and everyone is allowed to take a step back from whatever they may want to, on their own time.

Clive continued to live his life with his wife Sarah-Jane Fenton away from never-ending tabloids and rumor mills for a good time, but 2021 saw the actor re-emerge in two significant ways; his portrayal of Bill Clinton in American Crime Story was incredible, as was his work alongside Julianne Moore in the Stephen King adaptation Lisey’s Story. Owen’s next buzzed-about project is the upcoming French neo-noir series Monsieur Spade, in which he will take on the iconic role of private detective Sam Spade, a character made famous by the great Humphrey Bogart. With these great recent accomplishments, let’s take a step back and celebrate his fascinating collection of work with a trip down memory lane, remembering the most acclaimed Clive Owen movies and shows.

Updated January 17, 2024: This article has been updated to reflect more of Clive Owen’s brilliant performances and the actor’s most recent work in the thrilling miniseries A Murder at the End of the World and the highly-anticipated upcoming drama Monsieur Spade.

10 Monsieur Spade (2024)

Clive Owen leans on a car in Monsieur Spade
AMC

The most recent entry, and since only one episode has aired, it would be unfair to rank it any higher, but early word of mouth on the whole series and what has been shown clearly makes Monsieur Spade one of Owen’s best. Owen plays Sam Spade, a role made famous by Humprey Boggart in The Maltese Falcon. The series focuses on an older Spade in the 1960’s having retired in the South of France, he is drawn back into the detective life after a gruesome murder.

A Part Clive Owen Was Born To Play

Owen is certainly the right call if anyone was going to play a role that Humprey Boggart made famous. He has the perfect look and is channeling the actor in his performance while also bringing something new, as he is an older version of the character who has had a series of adventures (Spade appeared in four other short stories outside of The Maltese Falcon). So far, the series is off to a great start, and the main draw has been Owen’s performance, which shows that the actor can still deliver some of his best work this far into his career. Currently airing on AMC.

Monsieur Spade poster

Monsieur Spade

Release Date
January 14, 2024

Seasons
1

9 Croupier (1998)

Croupier Clive Owen
British Film Institute 

The British neo-noir film Croupier is well known for being Owen’s breakout role, ultimately going on to launch his career in America. An aspiring writer who’s currently unsuccessful in his pursuits, Jack Manfred (Clive Owen) works as a casino table dealer, a job he got through his father, a hustler residing in South Africa. His job as a croupier negatively impacts his life once Jack becomes increasingly immersed in the dark and unsettling world of gambling, drawing him in and, in the end, consuming his life.

A Breakthrough Performance

Croupier is relatable because the film mirrors aspects of everyday life, initially taking a job with hesitancy in order to make ends meat, and finding sometimes destructive distractions in the fantasy of being someone different. The depiction of London casinos during the 90s and early 2000s is also culturally vibrant and rich on the surface, making this a cool movie as slick as Clive Owen’s hair in it.

Stream on Vudu

8 The Confirmation (2016)

Clive Owen in The Confirmation
Saban Films

Clive Owen headlined the heartwarming drama The Confirmation, screenwriter Bob Nelson’s (Nebraska) directorial debut that chronicles an impactful and formative weekend shared between carpenter and divorced father Walt and his eight-year-old son Anthony (Jaeden Martell), as the pair try to reconnect and work on their relationship. When Walter discovers that his valuable toolbox was shockingly stolen, he sets out to find the culprit with the help of his boy, and together, they learn important things about one another along the way.

A Poignant & Earnest Tale

Owen delivers a sincere performance as the struggling alcoholic Walt, who along with his son experience some truly unlucky events throughout the course of the day that ultimately helps Anthony let loose a little while reinstilling that paternal instinct in his father. The Confirmation was an underrated cinematic feat that truly showcased Owen’s depth as a performer, with The Australian writing that the actor “with his hangdog handsomeness, brings a fragile sense of legitimacy to our hope that Walt is a good man.”

Stream on Prime Video

7 Impeachment: American Crime Story (2021)

Clive Owen as Bill Clinton
FX

The third season of the anthology series American Crime Story, Impeachment, illustrates the origins of Clinton and Monica Lewinsky’s (Beanie Feldstein) relationship during her time as an intern for the White House staff and throughout the height of their affair, following a magnified amount of breaking media coverage in the late 90s. He is simultaneously as sympathetic and despicable as Clinton, a difficult feat. Clive Owen has done several television shows and movies (mostly in England), but this is certainly one of his best.

Owen’s Uncanny Portrayal

Clive Owen’s depiction of Bill Clinton is striking for a number of reasons, the main being how detailed and mirroring he is onscreen. As a viewer, once Owen steps into the frame, he seems 100% Bill Clinton and not Clive Owen anymore. From Clinton’s southern accent to the way he used his charismatic eyes to intrigue others further, the body movements, tone, and mannerisms, it’s almost scary to watch how perfectly the British Owen plays the part.

Stream on Hulu

6 The Bourne Identity (2001)

Clive Owen The Bourne Identity
Universal Pictures

Doug Liman directed the trailblazing action thriller The Bourne Identity, which famously follows the amnesiac Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) as he attempts to discover who he is and the reason for his memory loss while being relentlessly pursued by deadly assassins determined to see him dead. It is the first entry in the sensational Bourne series and helped make Damon a bonafide action superstar upon its release.

An Unforgettable Antagonist

The Professor (Clive Owens) is a highly skilled Treadstone operative, possessing superhuman capabilities and trained in a variety of killing techniques. Based out of Spain and specializing in sniping, the Professor is ordered by Alexander Conklin, head of Operation Treadstone, to kill Bourne. The overall character of the Professor has to be one of the best antagonists in Bourne franchise history. Not only is he a piano teacher in his sleeper life (major plus), but his backstory is multidimensional; he’s a brilliant killer who’s always calculating as he manages to stay one step ahead of Jason for most of the time.

Buy/Rent on Amazon

the bourne identity

The Bourne Identity

Release Date
June 14, 2002

Rating
PG-13

5 A Murder at the End of the World (2023)

Clive Owen in A Murder at the End of the World
FX

Clive Owen’s most recent small screen endeavor was in the taut psychological thriller miniseries A Murder at the End of the World, which features The Crown breakout star Emma Corrin as savvy amateur detective Darby Hart who, along with eight other strangers, is invited to attend a secluded retreat at a remote Arctic compound in Iceland by the mysterious tech billionaire Andy Ronson (Owen). When one of the guests ends up dead, Darby makes it her mission to prove that the person was murdered and sets out to catch the elusive culprit.

A Spine-Tingling Whodunit

Owen and Corrin impeccably play off one another, and the former actor truly sinks his teeth into the antagonistic and edgy role, showing that there is no character or genre he can’t tackle and make his own. Upon its highly-anticipated premiere, A Murder at the End of the World became the most-streamed title across all video-on-demand platforms and garnered overwhelming praise for its spellbinding storyline, breathtaking visuals, and absorbing performances by its fantastic cast members.

Stream on Hulu

A Murder at the End of the World

A Murder at the End of the World

Release Date
November 14, 2023

Seasons
1

4 Inside Man (2006)

Clive Owen Inside Man
Universal Pictures

In this 2006 crime thriller from director Spike Lee, Owen plays Dalton Russell, the mastermind who orchestrates an elaborate bank heist-turned-hostage situation on Wall Street. Negotiating for the hostage’s safety is Detective Keith Frazier, played by Denzel Washington. Inside Man proved to be a box office hit, grossing $88 million domestically against a budget of $40 million and receiving positive reviews from critics.

Owen Is a Charismatic Criminal

Owen originally was going to turn the part down, as he was worried about having to do so much of the performance, having to have his face covered, and worried it would restrict his acting. While scenes were written to accommodate him to show his face more, the scene where he has his face covered makes his character both terrifying and effortlessly cool. The simple design of the sunglasses with the white shirt over the mouth is something that could be of a rogue vigilante or a supervillain. There is certainly more to his criminal than meets the eye, as he comes off as a Danny Ocean figure but with more fight. He makes for a great sparring partner with Washington in great back-and-forth conversational scenes, which make Inside Man one of the best crime thrillers of the 21st century.

Stream on Peacock

inside man

Inside Man

Release Date
March 17, 2006

Rating
R

Runtime
128

3 The Knick (2014 – 2015)

Dr. John W. Thackery prepares for surgery
Cinemax

Set in 1900 New York City at a fictionalized version of the influential Knickerbocker Hospital, the medical period drama The Knick features Owen as Dr. John W. Thackery, the head of the surgery staff who strives to be the very best in his field and yearns to make groundbreaking medical discoveries, all the while secretly battling a consuming addiction to opium and cocaine. When Thackery’s status as chief surgeon is challenged by the brilliant newcomer Dr. Algernon C. Edwards (André Holland), a Black American surgeon, tensions run high at the crucial healthcare facility.

Compelling Television Gold

The Knick superbly addressed heavy topics like racism, addiction, class, and gender over the course of its acclaimed tenure, and it serves as an honest and realistic look at the overall social climate at the turn of the century. Owen flawlessly depicted Thackery’s admirable attributes as well as his glaring shortcomings, a role for which he won a Satellite Award and earned a Golden Globe nod. The riveting program was also awarded a Peabody but was shockingly canceled after just two seasons due to Cinemax’s desire to shift their focus to action dramas.

Stream on Max

The Knick

The Knick

Release Date
August 8, 2014

Seasons
2

2 Closer (2004)

Clive Owen broods in Closer
Sony Pictures Releasing 

An impactful love story is something fellow romance film fanatics can’t live without; well, a relationship that actually works out, that is. Stay connected, because the film’s infamously convoluted plot is going to take a few minutes to comprehend. American stripper, Alice (Natalie Portman), has moved to London and meets Dan out of the blue (Jude Law) while on the street. During this interaction between the two, Alice gets hit by a taxi and Dan rushes her to the hospital.

A year into dating, Dan then becomes bored with Alice and begins a flirtatious relationship with Anna (Julia Roberts). Because Dan has a girlfriend and should refrain from being unfaithful to her, he sets Anna up with Larry (Clive Owen), a dermatologist in an existential crisis. As years pass, both relationships dismantle and become filled with deception and cheating once the two couples interact.

Related: Best Mike Nichols Movies, Ranked

An Award-Winning Drama

Filled with chance meetings and emotional betrayals, Clive Owen’s representation of Dan is ego-driven yet layered with an extensive range of emotional ties. Dan wants love and loyalty but is not really sure of who he is as a person, and for many, one has to be able to say “I” before they can say “I love you.” Owen is such a hot mess in the film, literally and figuratively, and he gives Closer its aching heart, making it a true Clive Owen movie.

Not only did Owen rightfully earn an Academy Award nomination for his complex portrayal, but he also took home the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, with critics and audiences alike being blown away by his candid and complex performance. Many felt that Owen completely stole every scene he was in and outshined his talented co-stars, and it’s no wonder that Closer remains one of the illustrious actor’s most prominent pictures.

Rent/Buy on Prime Video

Closer

Closer

Release Date
December 1, 2004

Rating
R

1 Children of Men (2006)

Children of Men - Clive Owen
Universal Pictures 

An immersive and life-like science-fiction film from the master director Alfonso Cuaron, Children of Men brings to the surface fears of impending doom and the end of Earth as everyone knows it (how pleasant; at least Owen looks incredible while the world burns). Based on P. D. James’ 1992 novel The Children of Men, the 2006 thriller highlights the state of a 2027 United Kingdom on the verge of worldwide destruction due to a decade of human infertility, war, global depression, and the revolt against an oppressive governmental hierarchy.

Related: 10 Best Apocalyptic Movies, Ranked

Cuaron & Owen Are Simply Exceptional

The film tackles serious existential questions, showing the nihilism which arises when people realize that there will be no future (in the film’s case, due to universal infertility; in audiences’ case, the threat of climate change). With society edging toward the threat of extinction, Theo Faron (Clive Owen), a governmental official, fights for the survival of the earth’s population. Nearly two decades since the last child was born, Faron is faced with the task of escorting a miraculously pregnant woman to safety so that she can provide a better life for her offspring.

This dystopian future is filled with a deteriorating world, prompting violence, despair, and wide-spanned rage, but Owen’s melancholic performance eventually leads to something beautifully hopeful. Both Children of Men and Owen achieved universal praise and appreciation, with the actor once again earning an Academy Award nod. At the same time, the film landed on countless critics’ lists for the best releases of the year. There is no doubt that this is Clive Owen’s best role, and likely the one he will be the most remembered for.

Rent/Buy on Prime Video

children of men

Children of Men

Release Date
September 19, 2006

Cast
Juan Gabriel Yacuzzi , Mishal Husain , Rob Curling , Jon Chevalier , Rita Davies , Kim Fenton

Rating
R

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