It's officially been 33 years since The Fresh Prince "moved in" to that luxurious white home in Bel Air, so we figured now would be a good time to talk Will Smith's acting career after the legendary sitcom. While Smith might work with the most elite acting coaches in the country for roles now, it should never be forgotten that acting was a career that kind of randomly fell into his lap as a young rapper (which is what he was first) thanks to Quincy Jones who needed a hip Fresh Prince (the best outfits from the show were legendary) and auditioned him on the spot, which makes Smith one of the greatest "accidental actors" ever in our opinion. In the thirty-plus years of his career, Smith has done it all with a talent that he was clearly born with—drama, action, comedy, sci-fi, and everything in-between. Similar to what we've done recently with Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, and Tom Cruise, we're taking a look at the best Will Smith movies of all-time and ranking them. Scroll down to see our selections.
The 20 Best Will Smith Movies of All-Time, Ranked
20. Aladdin (2019)
- Release Date: May 8th, 2019
- Director: Guy Ritchie
- Other Stars: Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Nasim Pedrad
It’s certainly hard to argue against the live-action version of a film that is certified as being not just a childhood dan favorite, but one of the highest-grossing movies in the last five years or so. Netting $1.054 billion (yes billion) at the box office, Aladdin is another recent movie in Smith's lengthy and diverse catalog that proves he’s still one of the most bankable and influential actors in the world. It also solidifies his versatility and ability to do any role handed to him.
19. Hitch (2005)
- Release Date: February 11, 2005
- Director: Andy Tennant
- Other Stars: Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Amber Valletta
Who could forget Hitch? Teaming up with co-star Eva Mendes, Smith starred as Alex Hitchens, aka the “date doctor,” a professional that uses his expertise to woo and charm women. There are plenty of memorable moments in this film that we won’t spoil for those who may not have seen it yet (if you haven’t you should immediately), and Hitch remains a classic 2000’s rom-com for the ages.
18. Shark Tale (2004)
- Release Date: September 10th, 2004
- Directors: Rob Letterman, Bibo Bergeron, Vicky Jenson
- Other Stars: Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro, Jack Black, Martin Scorsese
Shark Tale is one of those films that is more appreciated now than it was at the time of its release in 2004. While it was nominated for “Best Animated Feature” at the Oscars and grossed $374 million at the box office, it wasn’t until the social media era that we really began to appreciate its brilliance in full. Not to mention for us 2000s kids, Shark Tale holds a very special place in our hearts.
17. Men In Black 3 (2012)
- Release Date: May 25th, 2012
- Director: Barry Sonnenfield
- Other Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jermaine Clement, Emma Thompson
As hyped as the first and second films were, none of them topped the third Men In Black movie in terms of success. Numero Tres grossed over $624 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film in the series. The response was positive and similar to its sequel, 3 spawned an accompanying video game called MIB: Alien Crisis, which was released three days before the movie. We've only got one question—will there be an Men In Black 4 at some point? We'd certainly like to see Smith take another crack at it.
16. Focus (2015)
- Release Date: February 27th, 2012
- Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
- Other Stars: Margot Robbie, Adrian Martinez, Rodrigo Santoro
In 2015, Smith linked up with his future Suicide Squad castmate Margot Robbie for the movie Focus, in which he portrayed a veteran con artist named Nicky taking a novice named Jess (Robbie) under his wing. The two get romantically involved, which makes her uncomfortable and causes her to end their relationship. Three years pass, and now Nicky is on an assignment where he encounter Jess again. Focus was a box office success, grossing $158 million on a $50 million budget.
15. Bad Boys for Life (2020)
- Release Date: January 17, 2020
- Directors: Bilall Fallah, Adil El Arbi
- Other Stars: Martin Lawrence, Michael Bay, Vanessa Hudgens, Jacob Scipio
We already know we're getting a Bad Boys 4, but let's take a second to revisit the third installment of the series—Bad Boys for Life. Marcus' (Lawrence) annoying paranoid retirement antics aside, Bad Boys for Life was a ride full of twists, turns, unexpected plot twists, and a cliffhanger ending which we're sure to get a development on in the fourth movie. Box office wise, this third film is actually the highest-grossing in the series, pulling in $426.5 million on a $90 budget. What's the saying? Oh that's right—better with time and aging like fine wine.
14. 'Bad Boys'
- Release Date: April 7th, 1995
- Director: Michael Bay
- Other Stars: Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano, Theresa Randle, John Salley
Ah! The film that started it all. To this day I’m still amazed at the stark contrast between the first and second Bad Boys films. While II remains one of the greatest sequels (at least of the 2000s), this first one is what got the Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey action and madness started, and now we're close to thirty years strong. Bad Boys was a commercial success, grossing over $141 million at the box office.
13. Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
- Release Date: December 8th, 1993
- Director: Fred Schepisi
- Other Stars: Stockard Channing, Donald Sutherland, Ian McKellen, J.J. Abrams
Taking it back to 1993, Six Degrees of Separation showed Smith's acting range early as he took on the role of Paul, a charming young fella who shows up soaked in blood to a dinner party hosted by private art dealers. Taken by his presence, the dealers take Paul into their household, only to kick him out when they find out he's been lying about his real identity. Six Degrees of Separation was still filmed in the midst of The Fresh Prince days, and proved Smith could do more than just make people laugh.
12. Enemy of the State (1998)
- Release Date: November 20th, 1998
- Director: Tony Scott
- Other Stars: Jon Voight, Gene Hackman, Regina King, Lisa Bonet, Jack Black
With a dream team cast that also starred Jon Voight, Gene Hackman, Regina King, Lisa Bonet, and Jack Black, 1998's Enemy of the State was about a corrupt National Security Agency official (Voight) who has a congressman assassinated so that way a new surveillance legislation can get passed. When a video of the murder results in a labor lawyer (Smith) being framed, an ex-intelligence agent (Hackman) sets out to prove his innocence. Enemy of the State was a hit in theaters, grossing $250.8 million at the box office.
11. Concussion (2015)
- Release Date: November 10th, 2015
- Director: Peter Landsman
- Other Stars: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Morse, Albert Brooks
Another film that Smith could have very well won an Academy Award for, 2015's Concussion showcased Smith taking on the role of forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, who's tasked with conducting an autopsy on a former NFL football player. Omalu finds evidence of CTE during the autopsy, and embarks on a mission to educate the general public about the dangers of football-related head injuries. Concussion earned Smith a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
10. Independence Day (1996)
- Release Date: July 3, 1996
- Director: Roland Emmerich
- Other Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, Margaret Colin, Judd Hirsch
Next up is the film that’s considered not just the turning point of Will Smith going from hip-hop star to a box office superstar, but the turning point of Hollywood blockbusters. Let’s break it down for a second. The budget for this film was $75 million and grossed $817.4 million. Folks, that was almost a billion dollars. Independence Day quickly became the highest-grossing film of 1996 and was the beginning of, well, Will Smith the box office king.
9. Men In Black II (2002)
- Release Date: July 3, 2002
- Director: Barry Sonnenfield
- Other Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Sonnenfield, Lara Flynn Boyle, Rosario Dawson, Johnny Knoxville
This is another Will Smith film series where it’s hard to decide which one should go exactly where. Men In Black II was highly anticipated with an all-star cast and cameo appearances. For those who were around at the time of its release, the sequel also spawned a video game titled Men In Black II: Alien Escape, which was partially based on the film. Also, shoutout to Michael Jackson for the cameo appearance.
8. I, Robot (2004)
- Release Date: July 7th, 2004
- Director: Alex Proyas
- Other Stars: Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk, Bruce Greenwood, Shia LaBeouf, James Cromwell
Ladies and gentlemen, I, Robot has to be one of the greatest and most underrated Will Smith film's of all time. I personally fell in love with it instantly upon its release, and to this day still watch it at least once a year. The visuals were brilliant—brilliant enough to be nominated for “Best Visual Effects” at the 2005 Academy Awards. Not to mention, unbelievably, we're now just a little over decade away from it being 2035 (which is the year the film is set in). Will it look like what it did I, Robot? We shall see.
7. Men In Black (1997)
- Release Date: July 2nd, 1997
- Director: Barry Sonnenfield
- Other Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Tony Shalhoub, Rip Torn, Tim Blaney, David Cross
Here comes the Men In Black. While the follow-up was great, it still didn’t top the original in terms of numbers pulled at the box office. Men In Black was unlike anything we had previously seen Will Smith in up to that point in his career, and the response was positive across the board for his venture into the sci-fi realm. Men In Black took $90 million to make and easily surpassed that with relative ease in grossing, raking in $589.4 million.
6. Bad Boys II (2003)
- Release Date: July 8th, 2003
- Director: Michael Bay
- Other Stars: Martin Lawrence, Gabrielle Union, Jordi Mollà, Joe Pantolino, Theresa Randle
I would personally like a word with any and everybody who had something negative to say about this movie. Like what?! Bad Boys II is a classic “shoot 'em up bang bang” Michael Bay production that is Y2K at its finest. On top of that, the soundtrack was a killer. I know y’all didn’t forget the iconic “Shake Ya Tailfeather” by Diddy, Nelly, and Murphy Lee playing in the background. How can you not think of Bad Boys II whenever you hear that song or the “War Chant?” Y’all Trippin.
5. Hancock (2008)
- Release Date: July 2nd, 2008
- Director: Peter Berg
- Other Stars: Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Michael Mann, Jae Head, Maetrix Fitten
Any Will Smith all-time list has to include Hancock, and if you don't have it on there that's pure madness! Let’s talk stats on this film real quick. Hancock was: the fourth highest-grossing film of 2008, grossed $624 million on a $150 million budget, and had the third-biggest 4th of July opening behind Transformers and Spider-Man 2. Plus, the concept of an alcoholic superhero wasn’t exactly something we’d seen before. Again, an all-time great Will Smith film.
4. I Am Legend (2007)
- Release Date: December 14th, 2007
- Director: Francis Lawrence
- Other Stars: Alice Braga, Willow Smith, Charlie Tahan, Salli Richardson, Darrell Foster
In 2007, Will Smith released a non-Christmas film during the Christmas season and had it become the highest-grossing non-Christmas film released during the Christmas season. Impressive. I Am Legend is very high up on the list of iconic Will Smith movies, and we must admit the upcoming sequel that is set to star both Smith and Michael B. Jordan has us intrigued considering the fact this movie ended with…nevermind we’ll mind our business.
3. Ali (2001)
- Release Date: December 25th, 2001
- Director: Michael Mann
- Other Stars: Jamie Foxx, Jon Voight, Ron Silver, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mario Van Peeples
*Clears Throat.* The first film that Smith should have definitely won an Oscar for. Ali chronicled the life of sports and activist legend Muhammad Ali from 1964 to 1974. While Smith’s performance was praised and earned him an Academy Award nomination, the movie didn’t perform well at the box office, which I believe is a good percentage of the reason why he didn’t win that year (that and the fact that there's sometimes bias towards sports films). Also, Smith was still only 33 at the time of its release, and the Academy has definitely shown bias at times towards younger actors and actresses. Apologies to the Oscars, but it’s kind of the truth.
2. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
- Release Date: December 15th, 2006
- Director: Gabriele Muccino
- Other Stars: Jaden Smith, Thandiwe Newton, Brian Howe
*Clears Throat.* The second film that Smith should have definitely won an Oscar for. The Pursuit of Happyness is one of those tear-jerking films that you can only see one time, and that’s it. To date, I have only seen it one time compared to all of the other movies on this list, so maybe my opinion doesn’t matter, but most agree that The Pursuit of Happyness is a genius film that stands the test of time.
1. King Richard (2021)
- Release Date: November 19th, 2021
- Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
- Other Stars: Aunjanue Ellis, Demi Singleton, Tony Goldwin, Saniyya Sidney
The Oscars finally gave our guy the Oscar, and nobody deserved it more than him. Will Smith had Richard Williams down to a T. From the way he walked, talked, and gestured, all the way to his mannerisms. If memory serves me correctly, the run time for this movie was past the two-and-a-half-hour mark (and perhaps closer to three), but watching it you had no concept of time. Many hold the same opinion, and King Richard has definitely changed the way sports biopics (or biopics in general) will be approached.
More from one37pm
18 Shows Like 'Power Rangers' to Watch Right Now
The 25 Best Indie Horror Movies to Watch When You Need a Good Halloween Scare
A Guide to the Cast and Characters of Matthew Cherry's 'Young Love' on Max
The 41 Best Horror Movies of the 2000s
Kang the Conqueror vs Thanos: Who's the Stronger Marvel Villain?
An In-Depth Look at the History of Coca-Cola