Who would have predicted that Mark Wahlberg, who was known as Marky Mark in the early ’90s, would go on to become one of our most popular movie stars? Regardless of whether or not anyone thought he had it in him, Wahlberg proved everyone wrong by becoming an A-list star and a two-time Oscar candidate. Wahlberg has worked with some of the best filmmakers in Hollywood today, including Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Ridley Scott, Tim Burton, James Gray, Peter Jackson, and more, and has produced more than 30 movies and television episodes. Spenser Confidential, Mark Wahlberg’s latest collaboration with filmmaker Peter Berg, premiered on Netflix this last weekend. For this occasion, we felt it would be appropriate to take a look back at the best Mark Wahlberg films of all time.
It won’t be difficult to come up with a list of 10 of Mark Wahlberg’s best work because he has appeared in a number of notable films. If anything, it will be more difficult.
We may now look at Mark Wahlberg’s ten best films, in no particular order.
10. Ted (2012)
For as much attention as Mark Wahlberg is given to his role as a superhero or tragic actor, his humorous talents should not be underestimated. For the record, Ted, Seth MacFarlane’s satirical comedy, is one of the best roles that Wahlberg has ever given. As a boy in Boston, John Bennett discovers that his teddy bear has come to life, only to become a stoner burnout along with his plush childhood friend when the rest of the world has given up on them. To play a glib, goodhearted man-child who attempts to distance himself from his pal when moving on is Wahlberg’s specialty. Seth MacFarlane’s CG co-star Seth MacFarlane, voiced by Mark Wahlberg, lends the film a humorous, easygoing tone. In the end, Mark Wahlberg’s performance is what sells the fantasy and makes you fall in love with Wahlberg’s unconventional bromance. With this particular reason in mind, Ted is one of Wahlberg’s most likable and shockingly emotional performances.
9. Invincible (2006)
In Hollywood, underdog sports movies are plentiful. Then then, they’re excellent when they do the job. Invincible, from 2006, is a good example. As a former substitute teacher and bartender for the Philadelphia Eagles during the mid to late ’70s, Wahlberg has a knack for portraying assiduous men rising the ladder to greatness, which allowed him to play Vince Papale, a humble, hard-working everyman who finds himself living out his dream of playing for his hometown football team after several months of adversity. It’s a typical premise for a sports film, but it’s impossible not to get sucked in by a well-told yarn. The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t my favorite team. I’m not even a football fan. The climax of the film has us rooting for Wahlberg’s Papale as he races toward success. A well-made film has the capacity to do that.
8. I Heart Huckabees (2004)
I’m aware that not everyone is a fan of I Love Huckabees. A common criticism of the film is that it’s a throwback to the cheesy independent film tropes of the early aughts. Even so, it’s fair to say that this is a well-executed, stylish film with an all-star cast, including Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin and Jude Law; Naomi Watts; Jason Schwartzman; Isabelle Huppert; and Mark Wahlberg. Tommy Corn, a firefighter with a keen perspective on life, is Wahlberg’s funniest role to date in their second collaboration together. With its ’30s screwball comedy vibe, it could be considered as overly arrogant and childish by some critics. For those who enjoy offbeat, off-kilter comedic fare, there is much to enjoy, particularly in Wahlberg’s supporting performance.
7. Lone Survivor (2014)
Mark Wahlberg teamed up with Peter Berg to depict the story of Operation Red Wings, where a Navy SEAL squad was assigned with the deadly goal of tracking down the Taliban’s Ahmad Shah. One of the most compelling and frightening depictions of the Afghanistan conflict, Lone Survivor excels when it concentrates on the perilous situation that our soldiers find themselves in. Lone Survivor, despite its shortcomings, benefits from taut direction and superb performances, most notably by Wahlberg as veteran Marcus Luttrell. In this gut-wrenching war thriller, the soldiers who risk their lives for their country aren’t hesitant to expose their true colors. Wahlberg and Berg’s long-term working partnership was born out of this film, and it’s easy to see why.
6. Deepwater Horizon (2016)
While their latest films (such Mile 22 and Spenser Confidential) don’t compare to their past hits, Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg followed the success of Lone Survivor with probably their best film together yet: Deepwater Horizon in 2016. Wahlberg’s commanding performance as Mike Williams, the Chief Electronics Technician, who does everything he can to save his crew members when disaster strikes, Berg’s proven talent for grippingly grounded action sequences with unabashedly theatrical dramatic beats work tremendously in his favor, producing an engaging, impactful look at heroism and courage. Lone Survivor has some of the same issues and strengths as this film, but Berg’s even more confident, powerful directing style, which was tragically lost in the two most recent films he created with Wahlberg, makes this one even better.
5. The Italian Job (2003)
The 2003 remake of The Italian Job is one of the few early ’00s remakes that works incredibly well, mostly because of its ability to engage action, fast automobiles, and hilarious performances from its all-star cast, including Mark Wahlberg. The film’s exhilarating action, smart direction, and captivating performances, particularly those of Wahlberg, smooth over the bumps in the plot. When it came to car-based action movies in the new millennium, The Italian Job was one of the most enjoyable and accessible. It’s a shame that this exhilarating, chase-friendly picture never became a series, but at least we had a lot of fun with it.
4. Three Kings (1999)
Mark Wahlberg’s debut film with longtime collaborator David O. Russell, Three Kings, was based on a group of soldiers on a quest for gold in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War. With George Clooney, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze (in a rare acting appearance), the film once again combines comedy, drama, and action in a palpable, compelling style that we tend to expect from the great Russell in this film. It’s evident that the director can frequently bring out the best in his actors and that’s especially the case with Wahlberg, who has a reputation for being a bit of a jerk on set. Three Kings is one of the best of the three duets they’ve done together
3. The Fighter (2010)
The Fighter is yet another example of a sports biography that could have gone awry had it not been for the apparent talent of the performer and filmmaker on hand. Mickey Ward, a professional Boston boxer who dreams of greatness and is inspired by his elder half-brother Dicky (a brilliant Christian Bale), it’s clear why Mark Wahlberg chose to portray the hulking lead. But his performance in this film is among the best of his career, and he’s surrounded by a stellar cast, including Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, and the previously mentioned Bale, all of whom he’s worked with before. Even though the last moments of The Fighter are a little predictable, it’s still a great movie. It’s clear that this Wahlberg effort was a worthwhile endeavor.
2. The Departed (2006)
Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, starring Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon and Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin and Jack Nicholson, was nominated for an acting Oscar for solely Wahlberg’s supporting role. Indeed, it’s quite an accomplishment. It’s hard to deny that Mark Wahlberg’s performance in Martin Scorsese’s 2006 criminal epic, The Departed, earned him his first and long merited Best Picture award, despite my belief that Jack Nicholson’s outstanding performance was unfairly overlooked. Sean Dignam, the foul-mouthed, ball-busting Sgt. Dignam, is a standout in a stellar cast, and it’s even more surprising that he’s the sole nominee. Although The Departed would prove Wahlberg to be a Hollywood legend, the Oscar nomination would allow him to flaunt it even more.
1. Boogie Nights (1997)
Even though Mark Wahlberg has had multiple notable parts during his career, one of his first and most memorable was in Boogie Nights in 1997. Actor Mark Wahlberg stars in Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic second picture as the eponymous Dirk Diggler, a boyishly gorgeous young Californian who rises to the top of the 1970s porn industry thanks to his… um… unusually huge… asset. But even if Burt Reynolds, Heather Graham, and William H. Macy all do their best work in their respective careers, as well as Julianne Moore and John C. Reilly, this is Wahlberg’s film, and he shines so brightly.
As one of the best films of the late 1990s, it chronicles the meteoric rise and collapse of a porn star, thanks in large part to Mark Wahlberg’s towering portrayal as the star. When it comes to playing this part, Wahlberg has voiced regret. One-hit-wonder rapper Kanye West proved that he has what it took to be a real A-lister in this epic film. Because of this account of a young porn star’s rise and fall, its leading film star has gone on to become a major actor.
In addition to The Other Guys (which just about missed the cut), Date Night, We Own The Night, Shooter, The Perfect Storm, Rock Star, and The Gambler, this list also includes several significant omissions. These include but are not limited to: There’s no denying that Mark Wahlberg has built an impressive career as an actor and producer, and we can only hope that he continues to produce high-quality films in the future. Which Mark Wahlberg movies are some of your all-time favorites? Please share your thoughts in the space provided.