1. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

IMDB Rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Storyline:
In The Talented Mr. Ripley, Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is a struggling New Yorker who’s gifted in the art of pretending. Through a case of mistaken identity, he is sent to Italy by a wealthy businessman to bring back his carefree playboy son, Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law). Ripley worms his way into the idyllic lives of Dickie and his beautiful fiancée, leading to deadly consequences in this tale of obsession and identity theft.

Major Performance:
Jude Law delivers an unforgettable performance in this film. His portrayal of the charismatic and nonchalant Dickie is persuasive and commanding. He fluently moves through high society with a charm that is as attractive as it is terrifying, given the eventual outcomes of his actions. His character is multidimensional, showcasing a free-spirited playboy persona while subtly revealing a sense of entitlement and disrespect for those lower in status.

In The Talented Mr. Ripley, Law shapes the dynamics of the storyline with his character’s charismatic life drawing Ripley into the disturbing world of envy and deception. His tortuous relationship with Ripley provides the tension and allure central to the narrative. This was Law’s breakout role that earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor—a true testament to his performance in the film.

2. Cold Mountain (2003)

IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 70%

Storyline:
Set during the American Civil War, Cold Mountain is an epic story of love and loss. Jude Law plays W.P. Inman, a Confederate soldier who embarks on a treacherous journey to return to his love, Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman), a woman he barely knows thanks to their brief interaction before he went off to war.

Major Performance:
Throughout the film, Jude Law delivers a powerful performance that gives depth to his character. His portrayal of a tormented soldier, driven by the hope of love and home anchors the movie; he becomes the familiar face in a revolving door of minor characters. Law convinces as a desperate man, determined to survive against all odds in a devastated and war-torn America. His nuanced portrayal won him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Cold Mountain solidified Jude Law’s status as a leading actor in Hollywood. His impassioned embodiment of Inman provides a window into the vulnerable side of the civil war, not often explored in mainstream cinema. Through grueling physical and emotional scenes, Law elevates Inman beyond a typical war hero, offering a delicate exploration of humanity and love in times of despair.

3. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

Storyline:
This Steven Spielberg sci-fi-drama features Jude Law as Gigolo Joe, a love robot who assists a highly advanced robotic boy named David, in his quest to become a ‘real boy’ so that he could regain the love of his human mother.

Major Performance:
Law’s standout performance in Artificial Intelligence is a testament to his talent. His characterization of Gigolo Joe is part fun, part melancholy, and always hauntingly charismatic. As a “love mecha,” he successfully exudes both the artificiality and the underlying human-like desires of the character. His fluidity and calculated movements encapsulate both the physicality and emotive depth of a humanoid robot.

This role was a departure from Law’s previous works and required him to delve into an often cold, mechanical persona. However, with his convincing portrayal of Gigolo Joe, Law once again showcased his versatility as an actor. Despite playing a support role, his contribution to the storyline and the lifelike embodiment of a humanoid character brought fascination and added complexity to the narrative.

4. Sherlock Holmes (2009)

IMDB Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 70%

Storyline:
Set in 1890 London, Sherlock Holmes features a fresh take on the classic detective stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. Jude Law stars as Dr. John Watson, the steadfast companion to Robert Downey Jr.’s eccentric sleuth, Sherlock Holmes.

Major Performance:
As part of a dynamic duo alongside Robert Downey Jr., Law proves his formidable acting skills by bringing humanity and gravity to Watson’s character. His portrayal of Dr. Watson breathed new life into the character, often portrayed as a bumbling sidekick in previous adaptations. Instead, Law’s Watson provides a counterbalance to Holmes’ eccentricity, demonstrating intelligence and bravery and enhancing the film’s action scenes with his military past.

Jude Law’s performance in Sherlock Holmes solidifies the film’s success and appeal. His chemistry with Downey Jr. creates an engaging and dynamic partnership, drawing viewers into their fast-paced world of mystery-solving. He respectfully modernizes a classic character whilst still maintaining the essence of Doyle’s original. His acting prowess really shines through as he matches, beat for beat, Downey Jr.’s performance, showing viewers that Watson is an essential part of the famous detective team.

5. Closer (2004)

IMDB Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%

Storyline:
In Closer, four strangers – Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen – intertwine in a tale of love, passion, and deceit in contemporary London, showcasing the brutal reality of modern-day relationships.

Major Performance:
Jude Law, playing the role of Dan, stands out for his ability to reflect the petty insecurities, betrayals, and heartache that his character goes through. His actions, although selfish and hurtful, are portrayed with such raw honesty that it compels the audience to empathize with him. Law excels in navigating the complexities of the character, thoroughly exploring the depths of his emotional turmoil.

Closer marked Jude Law’s transition into mature roles. It’s a departure from his usual charming and confident characters, and he throws himself into the role with a disturbingly believable portrayal of an emotionally immature man. His exceptional performance in this film mirrors the harsh reality of love and desire, and it places him in a category of actors who are not afraid to investigate the darker aspects of love and relationships.

6. Alfie (2004)

IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 49%

Storyline:
In Alfie, Jude Law plays the titular character – a charismatic, self-obsessed Londoner who only works enough to afford his modish clothes and avoid becoming ‘another victim of the capitalist machine’. His life takes an unexpected turn when he starts questioning his shallow existence.

Major Performance:
Jude Law shines as the womanizing, cocky yet charming bachelor, Alfie. His charismatic graces and sleek style are perfectly suited to the role, his skillful character progression giving small glimpses into his insecurities and emotional dilemmas. Despite his character’s obvious flaws and the harm he inflicts, Law still manages to inject enough charm and vulnerability to make him at times sympathetic.

Law’s performance in Alfie underscores his magnetic charm and skill. Conveying an array of emotions through Alfie’s journey of self-discovery, from hedonistic excesses to painful regret, his portrayal of the titular character earned him a nomination for Best Actor at the Golden Globe Awards. This film further reinforced Law’s status as one of the Hollywood’s most versatile leading actors.

7. Side Effects (2013)

IMDB Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

Storyline:
In Side Effects, Jude Law plays the role of Dr. Jonathan Banks, a psychiatrist finding himself in a tangled web of confusion and conspiracy after his patient, Emily Taylor, suffers severe side effects from a drug that he prescribed.

Major Performance:
Jude Law’s performance as the dedicated, ambitious yet naïve psychiatrist is gripping and commendable. He masterfully manages to hold the audience’s interest throughout the film, all the while exuding a sense of vulnerability that entertains the rollercoaster narrative. His portrayal of a man caught in a psychological trap is both realistic and emotionally convincing.

The complex character of Dr. Banks showcases Jude Law’s ability to delve effortlessly into characters marked by a shattered interiority. His dramatic transformation, from a confident psychiatrist to a pariah battling his own insecurities and fears, was handled with skill and authenticity – adding another feather to his cap of memorable performances.

8. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

IMDB Rating: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Storyline:
In Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, Jude Law plays the Young Writer who listens to the great story of the hotel’s concierge, M.Gustav led by an aged owner zero.

Major performance:
Though Law’s role may not be the central one, his contribution to the film’s narrative frame, which gives way to the complicated layering of storytelling, is significant. He gracefully undertakes the role, his gentle curiosity and charming nerdiness fitting seamlessly into Anderson’s symmetrically delightful world.

Containing the storytelling within storytelling, Law proves once again his skillful approach to character development no matter how small the part might seem. He acts as the fulcrum of mouse’s ear storytelling technique, quietly leading the story to the grand adventure of the hotel. It highlights Law’s ability to adapt to different film styles, imprinting his unique touch to the critically acclaimed film.

9. The Holiday (2006)

IMDB Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 49%

Storyline:
In The Holiday, Jude Law plays Graham, a charming Englishman who strikes a romantic connection with Amanda, played by Cameron Diaz, in a cross-Atlantic holiday home swap.

Major Performance:
Jude Law is utterly charming and surprisingly tender in The Holiday. Playing against type, Law brings a great deal of warmth, humor and human depth to the role of Graham, proving he is just as comfortable in romantic comedies as he is in dramatic roles. His chemistry with Cameron Diaz is the cherry on top, making him an integral part of this feel-good movie.

Law’s casting as a book editor and single father in The Holiday further solidified his versatility as an actor. Shaking off his stereotypical bad boy roles, he brought a sensitive and compassionate performance, showing that he could excel in the genre of romantic comedies, too. Moreover, it’s through this movie that he first gained significant recognition in the rom-com field.

10. Gattaca (1997)

IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Storyline:
In the dystopian sci-fi movie Gattaca, Jude Law is Jerome Eugene Morrow, a genetically superior individual who becomes involved in a unique form of identity theft in a future where your genes determine your fate.

Major Performance:
Jude Law’s profound performance in Gattaca showcased his versatility and commitment to his craft. His portrayal of Jerome, a man rendered useless by an accident in a society obsessed with physical and genetic perfection, is compelling and heartbreaking. Despite his limited mobility, Law’s acting is deeply emotive, his despair palpable.

In Gattaca, Law offers a dramatic portrayal of a disillusioned character forced into the black market of genetic identity due to society’s obsession with perfection. It’s a landmark role that showcased Law’s depth as an actor, as he navigates through the disappointments and disillusions of his character with convincing emotional intensity. His compelling performance was a pivotal part of the film’s impact and helped bring to light its relevant themes in a believable, heart-wrenching way.