The best Ethan Hawke movies and how to watch them

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I’m really excited to see Ethan Hawke as the villain of Moon Knight, which will mark not only his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but his very first role in a comic book adaptation. This fact is actually a bit surprising, given the Oscar-nominated actor and filmmaker’s versatile career since his youth, which also includes a number of horror films and intriguing sci-fi dramas.

We’ll be sure to draw attention to these esteemed genre pictures, along with some of the actor’s even more grounded work, in the following rundown of our picks for the best Ethan Hawke movies, along with a tip. on how to stream them, rent them digitally or buy them on physical media. What better way to start things off than with his feature film acting debut?

The Cast of Explorers

(Image credit: Paramount)

Explorers (1985)

Using a plan that came to him in a recurring dream, a young B-movie fan (Ethan Hawke), his smart friend (River Phoenix), and a third misfit teenager they befriend (Jason Presson) build a working spaceship that takes them on the journey of a lifetime.

Why it’s one of Ethan Hawke’s best movies: Ethan Hawke, then 15, gives an inspired, star-worthy performance for his first-ever gig as director Joe Dante’s lead. Explorers – young sci-fi fans’ greatest fantasy comes to life in an exciting and challenging way.

Stream Explorers on Starz.
Buy/Rent Explorers Digitally on Amazon.
Buy Explorers on Blu-ray/DVD on Amazon.

Ethan Hawke in Dead Poets Society

(Image credit: Disney)

Society of Dead Poets (1989)

The lives of a close-knit group of high school students are turned upside down by the eccentric personality and unorthodox teachings of their strict Catholic boarding school’s new literature teacher (Robin Williams) in the late 1950s.

Why it’s one of Ethan Hawke’s best movies: Fun Fact: Ethan Hawke was convinced Robin Williams hated him for his heavy-handed reactions to the comedian’s on-set jokes while directing director Peter Weir’s heartbreaking and inspiring classic. Dead Poets Society, but arguably Hawke’s serious approach resulted in one of the all-time best performances of his career, let alone his teenage years.

Stream Dead Poets Society on Amazon Prime.
Buy/Rent Dead Poets Society Digitally on Amazon.
Buy Dead Poets Society on DVD on Amazon.

Ethan Hawke in Gattaca

(Photo credit: Sony)

Gattaca (1997)

In a future where social class is determined and strictly imposed by genetics, a man deemed inferior (Ethan Hawke) assumes the identity of a “perfect” specimen in hopes of fulfilling his dream of leaving Earth.

Why it’s one of Ethan Hawke’s best movies: Another fun fact: Bill Clinton is apparently a fan of Gattaca (as he told Ethan Hawke using the urinal next to him), which is likely due to the actor’s engaging performance in director Andrew Niccol’s inventive dystopian social commentary,

Buy/Rent Gattaca digitally on Amazon.
Buy Gattaca on Blu-ray/DVD on Amazon.

Ethan Hawke in Sinister

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Sinister (2012)

A true crime writer (Ethan Hawke), hoping to score his next bestseller, moves his family into a house infamous for a gruesome murder he discovers, upon closer examination, is linked to several others. even more disturbing crimes that lead him to wonder if his family is next.

Why it’s one of Ethan Hawke’s best movies: Despite starting his career with sci-fi thrillers, it would take Ethan Hawke some time to achieve “Scream King” status, which was cemented by his role in Claim – a terrifying hybrid of mystery crime thrillers with haunted house movies, co-written and directed by future Marvel filmmaker Scott Derrickson.

Stream Sinister on Hulu.
Stream Sinister on Amazon Prime.
Stream Sinister on Tubi.

Buy/Rent Sinister Digitally on Amazon.

Buy Sinister on Blu-ray/DVD on Amazon.

Ethan Hawke in The Purge

(Image credit: Universal)

The Purge (2013)

In a future where all crime is legal one night a year, a security systems salesman (Ethan Hawke) and his family are taunted by a maniac mob after his son offers sanctuary to a man they’ve targeted for murder. at the start of the annual event.

Why it’s one of Ethan Hawke’s best movies: Ethan Hawke further cemented his reign as one of the best horror movie actors of this generation when he gave a commanding performance as the lead in the first of the Purge movies, which is also arguably the best installment in the enduring franchise of socially conscious thrillers it spawned.

Stream The Purge on HBO Max.
Buy/rent The Purge digitally on Amazon.
Buy The Purge on Blu-ray/DVD on Amazon.

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunset

(Image credit: Warner Independent Pictures)

The Before Trilogy (1995-2013)

An American (Ethan Hawke) and a Frenchwoman (Julie Delpy) spend an evening together in Vienna, spend an unexpected afternoon together while he promotes his novel in France, then spend a day reflecting on the last years of their relationship in Greece. .

Why they are among Ethan Hawke’s best movies: Speaking of franchises, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy first played Jesse and Celine in 1995. before sunrise, reprized the roles nine years later for before sunset, and reunited nine years later to Before midnight to complete one of director Richard Linklater’s most ambitious experiments with time and one of the most romantic, incredibly authentic and exquisite cinematic trilogies of all time.

Buy/Rent Before Sunrise digitally on Amazon.
Buy/Rent Before Sunset digitally on Amazon.

Stream before midnight on IMDb TV.
Buy/Rent Before Midnight digitally on Amazon.

Buy The Before Trilogy on Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon.

Ellar Coltrane and Ethan Hawke in Boyhood

(Image credit: IFC Films)

Childhood (2014)

A young man (Ellar Coltrane) endures various life-altering circumstances and some common issues of growing up from age 7 to 18.

Why it’s one of Ethan Hawke’s best movies: Perhaps writer and director Richard Linklater’s most ambitious experiment with time is Childhood – a collection of chronologically assembled and startlingly grounded vignettes that our own Sean O’Connell called “a stunning work of art”. It was filmed for 12 years with the same cast members, including Ethan Hawke in the Oscar-nominated role of the central character’s father.

Stream Boyhood on The Criterion Channel.
Buy/Rent Boyhood Digitally on Amazon.
Buy Boyhood on Blu-ray/DVD on Amazon.

Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Waking Life

(Image credit: Disney/Fox)

Waking Life (2001)

A man meets various interesting people who engage in deep and philosophical dialogues while trying to determine the distinct difference between what is his dream and what is his reality.

Why it’s one of Ethan Hawke’s best movies: Writer and director Richard Linklater launched an ambitious visual storytelling experiment with waking life – the first feature film to use digital rotoscope animation, in which Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy shine together in their first official reprisal as Jesse and Celine.

Buy/Rent Waking Life digitally on Amazon.
Buy Waking Life on Blu-ray/DVD on Amazon.

Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder in Reality Bites

(Image credit: Universal)

Reality Bites (1994)

A college graduate (Winona Ryder) begins to wonder what she wants for her future after meeting a video director (Ben Stiller) who helps her get her documentary about her friends on TV.

Why it’s one of Ethan Hawke’s best movies: Speaking of deep, philosophical dialogue, Ethan Hawke’s slacker character Troy is a master of that genre in reality hurts – Ben Stiller’s directorial debut that may well be the ultimate examination of Gen X’s identity crises.

Stream Reality Bites on Starz.
Buy/Rent Reality Bites digitally on Amazon.
Buy Reality Bites on Blu-ray/DVD on Amazon.

Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow in Great Expectations

(Image credit: Disney/Fox)

Great Expectations (1998)

An impoverished painter (Ethan Hawke) strives for success, but all in order to win the heart of the wealthy woman (Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow) he fell in love with as a child.

Why it’s one of Ethan Hawke’s best movies: Another Ethan Hawke film that offers a thoughtful reflection on ’90s counterculture, but through the subversive guise of a century-old literary classic, is great expectations – an inspiring, passionate and modernized reinterpretation of Charles Dickens’ epic romance directed by future Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón.

Stream Great Expectations on Starz.
Buy/Rent Great Expectations digitally on Amazon.
Buy Great Expectations on Blu-ray/DVD at Amazon.

Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke on a practice day

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Training Day (2001)

On his first day as a narcotics officer for the Los Angeles Police Department, an idealistic rookie (Ethan Hawke) is shown the ropes by a veteran detective (Oscar winner Denzel Washington) who s turns out to be the opposite of what he hoped for in a mentor.

Why it’s one of Ethan Hawke’s best movies: Ethan Hawke received his first Oscar nomination for his stunning performance in director Antoine Fuqua’s film training day – an intense antithesis to the dynamic of screenwriter David Ayer’s buddy cop drama.

Stream Training Day on HBO Max.
Buy/rent a training day digitally on Amazon.
Buy Training Day on Blu-ray/DVD at Amazon.

First reformed

(Image credit: A24)

First reformed (2017)

Years after suffering a devastating tragedy, a reverend from a sparsely attended church in upstate New York begins to have a crisis of faith and identity.

Why it’s one of Ethan Hawke’s best movies: Although he did not receive an Oscar nomination, many believe he gave the performance of his career in First reformed – a stark and emotionally brutal psychological thriller from writer and director Paul Schrader, also known as the writer of the 1976s Taxi driver.

Stream First Reformed on Showtime.
Buy/Rent First Reformed digitally on Amazon.
Buy First Reformed on Blu-ray/DVD on Amazon.

There’s a lot to expect from Ethan Hawke beyond Moon Knight, like his reunion with Scott Derrickson for The black phone. You can see the quick things we know about The man from the north of Robert Eggers, and what we know of the Knives out sequel to Rian Johnson, because Hawke is also in both. He and Ewan McGregor will play half-brothers in Rodrigo Garcia Ray and Raymond, and his family drama, leave the world behind (also starring Mahershala Ali and Julia Roberts), is currently in pre-production.

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