Morgan Freeman as Joe Clark in ‘Lean on Me’
10) Driving Miss Daisy (1989): While the racial politics of this film may rub audiences the wrong way, Freeman’s graceful and dignified performance as a chauffeur in the segregated South made him a movie star, and rightfully so.
9) The Dark Knight (2008): Freeman is more than Batman’s gadget man in this acclaimed boxer — he’s also his conscience. His light touch also brings some much needed humor to the somber comic book series.
8) Million Dollar Baby (2004): After numerous nominations, Freeman finally won an Oscar (best supporting actor) for his role as a gentle, (or so it seems) washed-up ex-boxer who remains close to his old trainer, played by director Clint Eastwood.
7) Glory (1989): Although Denzel Washington has the more scene-stealing role, Freeman still inspires as a dedicated leader within the first regiment of black soldiers to serve in the Civil War. His speech to rally his fellow troops to battle is especially rousing.
6) Invictus (2009): Freeman scored his most recent Academy Award nomination for his uncanny portrayal of the iconic Nelson Mandela in this rousing retelling of the true story of South Africa’s rugby triumphs in 1995.
5) Seven (1995): Freeman anchored this pitch black thriller as the taciturn yet sophisticated detective Somerset, who unravels a serial killer’s sick plan just a little bit too late.
4) Nurse Betty (2000): One of Freeman’s greatest roles is his least seen. In this quirky dark comedy, he plays against type as an assassin with a crush on his prey (played by Renée Zellweger).
3) Lean On Me (1989): Freeman is at his fiercest as a hard-nosed principal at a struggling inner-city school in this drama based on the real-life story of ‘Crazy’ Joe Clark. Who can forget: ‘Now they call me Batman!’
2) Street Smart (1987): In a rare villainous role, Freeman is electric (in another Oscar-nominated role) as violent pimp ‘Fast Black’, who terrorizes a journalist (played by the late Christopher Reeve) whose fabricated stories serve as his alibi.
1) The Shawshank Redemption (1994): Although this prison drama is ostensibly about Tim Robbins’ character, it’s Freeman’s performance that has the real pathos, grit and power. Arguably this is the actor’s most career defining role. Shockingly this cable TV staple was box office flop during its initial release.
- of 11
Morgan Freeman is being honored tonight with the Golden Globes’ annual Cecil B. DeMille award for his lifetime of incredible work in film and television (he starred on the 70s kids show The Electric Company). Believe it or not he is only the second African-American to receive this illustrious award (Sidney Poitier was the first, back in 1982). Freeman has played everything from a low-life pimp to the personification of God. Even though it’s incredibly hard to pick — here are theGrio’s top 10 favorite Morgan Freeman film roles.