watchworthy presents

The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated December 18, 2019 11.2k votes 1.3k voters 66.8k views 59 items

List Rules Dramatic or serious films with a traditionally comic actor in a lead role

Dramatic movies starring comedians, ranked by comedy and film fans. Often, after making a name for themselves appearing in wacky or silly movies, comics will purposefully take on a more serious role, often in an attempt to show off their range. Comics like Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler and Robin Williams are all noted for their tendency to alternate between funny and more serious roles (with Williams at some points in his career altogether abandoning comedies in favor of dramas.)

Often, fans are initially resistant to attempts by comedians to change around their style or appeal to new audiences. Sometimes, the experiments blatantly don't work out, with viewers unable to see their favorite funny performers in a new light. But other times, the decision to switch gears in favor of working in a drama pays off for a comedian, sometimes even resulting in award nominations or greater appreciation from acting peers. (As when Eddie Murphy was nominated for an Oscar - and won a Golden Globe - for his role in the musical "Dreamgirls" after years of being written off as the star of goofy features like "Nutty Professor" and "Norbit.")

What are the best serious movies starring comedians? Vote for your favorite serious dramatic films starring comedians. And if your favorite comic-starring drama isn't featured, make your own list and add it as a suggestion!

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Ranker Video
Robin Williams

Released: 1997

Directed by: Gus Van Sant

Good Will Hunting is a 1997 American drama film directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver and Stellan Skarsgård. Written by Affleck and ...more

More Good Will Hunting 

#66 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #140 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

2
Ranker Video
Jim Carrey

Released: 1998

Directed by: Peter Weir

The Truman Show is a 1998 American satirical social science fiction comedy-drama film directed by Peter Weir and written by Andrew Niccol. The cast includes Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, Laura ...more

More The Truman Show 

#96 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #432 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'The Truman Show'

3
Eternal Sunshine of the ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
Jim Carrey

Released: 2004

Directed by: Michel Gondry

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science-fiction comedy-drama film about an estranged couple who have each other erased from their memories, written by Charlie ...more

More Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 

#93 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #1,173 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Dead Poets Society is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
Robin Williams

Released: 1989

Directed by: Peter Weir

Dead Poets Society is a 1989 American drama film written by Tom Schulman, directed by Peter Weir and starring Robin Williams. Set at the conservative and aristocratic Welton Academy in the ...more

More Dead Poets Society 

#36 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #112 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
Ranker Video
Steve Carrell

Released: 2006

Directed by: Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton

Little Miss Sunshine is a 2006 American comedy-drama road film and the directorial film debut of the husband-wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The screenplay was written by ...more

More Little Miss Sunshine 

#162 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #168 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
Ranker Video
Bill Murray

Released: 2003

Directed by: Sofia Coppola

Lost in Translation is a 2003 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Sofia Coppola. It stars Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris, and Fumihiro Hayashi. The ...more

More Lost in Translation 

#426 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #253 of 344 Movies with the Best Soundtrackslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

7
Ranker Video
Will Smith

Released: 2006

Directed by: Gabriele Muccino

Did you love this Will Smith movie?

The Pursuit of Happyness is a 2006 American biographical drama film based on Chris Gardner's nearly one-year struggle with homelessness. Directed by Gabriele Muccino, the film features Will ...more

More The Pursuit of Happyness 

#16 of 721 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #41 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again

8
Ranker Video
Will Ferrell

Released: 2006

Directed by: Marc Forster

Stranger than Fiction is a 2006 American comedy-drama-fantasy film directed by Marc Forster, written by Zach Helm, and starring Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, ...more

More Stranger than Fiction 

#1,256 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #460 of 1,199 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #281 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

9
Ranker Video
Ralphie added Robin Williams

Released: 1990

Directed by: Penny Marshall

Awakenings is a 1990 American drama film based on Oliver Sacks' 1973 memoir of the same title. It tells the true story of British neurologist Oliver Sacks, fictionalized as American Malcolm ...more

More Awakenings 

#90 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #146 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

10
Ranker Video
Jamie Foxx

Released: 2004

Directed by: Taylor Hackford

Ray is a biographical film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles. The independently produced film was written, produced and directed by Taylor Hackford, and ...more

More Ray 

#334 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #135 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Starslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
Ranker Video
Jim Carrey

Released: 1999

Directed by: Miloš Forman

Man on the Moon is a 1999 American biographical comedy–drama film about the late American entertainer Andy Kaufman, starring Jim Carrey. The film was directed by Miloš Forman and also features ...more

More Man on the Moon 

#190 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #65 of 140 The Very Best Biopics About Real People

12
Ranker Video
Robin Williams

Released: 1991

Directed by: Terry Gilliam

The Fisher King is a 1991 American comedy-drama film written by Richard LaGravenese and directed by Terry Gilliam. It stars Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges, with Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer, ...more

More The Fisher King 

#152 of 250 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #1,043 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
Ranker Video
Bill Murray

Released: 1998

Directed by: Wes Anderson

Rushmore is a 1998 comedy-drama film directed by Wes Anderson about an eccentric teenager named Max Fischer, his friendship with rich industrialist Herman Blume, and their mutual love for ...more

More Rushmore 

#118 of 344 Movies with the Best Soundtracks #132 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies

14
Ranker Video
wiabux added Robin Williams

Released: 2002

Directed by: Mark Romanek

One Hour Photo is a 2002 American psychological thriller film written and directed by Mark Romanek and starring Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, Gary Cole, and Eriq La Salle. ...more

More One Hour Photo 

#21 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #37 of 147 The Best and Scariest Psychological Thrillers of All Time

15
Ranker Video
Ralphie added Robin Williams

Released: 1998

Directed by: Tom Shadyac

Patch Adams is a 1998 semi-biographical comedy-drama film starring Robin Williams, Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bob Gunton. Directed by Tom Shadyac, it is based on the life story of ...more

More Patch Adams 

#345 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #169 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #19 of 24 Movies You Loved As a Child That Just Don't Hold Up

16
Ranker Video
Adam Sandler

Released: 2002

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

Punch-Drunk Love is a 2002 romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Luis ...more

More Punch-Drunk Love 

#764 of 1,199 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #379 of 460 The Most Quotable Movies of All Time #16 of 75 50+ Quirky Romance Movies That Are Unique in Their Own Way

17
Ranker Video
wiabux added Will Smith

Released: 2008

Directed by: Gabriele Muccino

Seven Pounds is a 2008 American fantasy drama film, directed by Gabriele Muccino, in which Will Smith stars as a man who sets out to change the lives of seven people. Rosario Dawson, Woody ...more

More Seven Pounds 

#95 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #26 of 151 The Most Utterly Depressing Movies Ever Made

18
Ranker Video
Robin Williams

Released: 2002

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Insomnia is a 2002 American thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank. It tells the story of two Los Angeles homicide detectives ...more

More Insomnia 

#44 of 250 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #51 of 103 The Greatest Movie Remakes of All Time The Best Essential Oils for Sleep

19
Ranker Video
wiabux added Will Smith

Released: 1998

Directed by: Tony Scott

Enemy of the State is a 1998 American spy-thriller about a group of rogue U.S. National Security Agency agents conspiring to take out a U.S. Congressman and try to cover up. It was written by ...more

More Enemy of the State 

#47 of 721 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #449 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guyslisted on The Very Best Movies About Hackers

20
Ranker Video
wiabux added Jim Carrey

Released: 2007

Directed by: Joel Schumacher

The Number 23 is a 2007 American psychological thriller film written by Fernley Phillips and directed by Joel Schumacher. Starring Jim Carrey, the film was released in the United States on ...more

More The Number 23 

#27 of 44 The Best Memory Loss Movies #18 of 54 The Best Movies About Split Personalities

21
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
wiabux added Jack Black

Released: 2005

Directed by: Peter Jackson

King Kong is a 2005 epic monster film and remake of the 1933 film of the same name. Directed, co-written, and produced by Peter Jackson, it stars Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow, Jack Black as Carl ...more

More King Kong 

#115 of 292 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #16 of 135 The Scariest Animal Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

22
Ranker Video
Jim_In_Texas added Dudley Moore

Released: 1981

Directed by: Steve Gordon

Arthur is a 1981 comedy film written and directed by Steve Gordon. The film stars Dudley Moore as the eponymous Arthur Bach, a drunken New York City millionaire who is on the brink of an ...more

More Arthur 

#194 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #953 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

23
Ranker Video
Jerry Lewis

Released: 1982

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

The King of Comedy is an American black comedy film starring Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis. Directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul D. Zimmerman, the film focuses on themes including ...more

More The King of Comedy 

#394 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #217 of 439 The Funniest '80s Movies #812 of 1,199 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

24
Ranker Video
Bill Murray

Released: 2004

Directed by: Wes Anderson

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a 2004 American comedy-drama film directed, co-written, and co-produced by Wes Anderson. It is Anderson's fourth feature length film, released in the U.S. ...more

More The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 

#1,534 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #269 of 302 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

25
Ranker Video
looksharp added Jamie Foxx

Released: 2004

Directed by: Michael Mann

Collateral is a 2004 American neo-noir film directed by Michael Mann from a screenplay written by Stuart Beattie, and starring Tom Cruise as a contract killer and Jamie Foxx as a taxi driver who ...more

More Collateral 

#69 of 113 The Best Mafia Films #15 of 15 The Most Intense Method Actor Performances In Movie History