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The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians

Updated December 18, 2019 8.9k votes 1.4k voters 67.5k views59 items

List RulesDramatic 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!

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  • 1
    Good Will Hunting is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    405
    97

    Good Will Hunting

    Robin Williams

    Released1997

    Directed byGus Van Sant

    Good Will Hunting is a 1997 American drama film directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Matt... more on Wikipedia
  • 2
    Dead Poets Society is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    336
    99

    Dead Poets Society

    Robin Williams

    Released1989

    Directed byPeter Weir

    Dead Poets Society is a 1989 American drama film written by Tom Schulman, directed by Peter... more on Wikipedia

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  • 3
    The Truman Show is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    396
    130

    The Truman Show

    Jim Carrey

    Released1998

    Directed byPeter Weir

    The Truman Show is a 1998 American satirical social science fiction comedy-drama film directed... more on Wikipedia

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  • 4
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotle is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians

    Released2004

    Directed byMichel Gondry

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science-fiction comedy-drama... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    Little Miss Sunshine is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    276
    101

    Released2006

    Directed byValerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton

    Little Miss Sunshine is a 2006 American comedy-drama road film and the directorial film debut... more on Wikipedia

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  • 6
    Awakenings is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    129
    53

    Awakenings

    Robin Williams

    Released1990

    Directed byPenny Marshall

    Awakenings is a 1990 American drama film based on Oliver Sacks' 1973 memoir of the same title.... more on Wikipedia

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  • 7
    The Pursuit of Happyness is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    193
    113

    Released2006

    Directed byGabriele Muccino

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  • 8
    Lost in Translation is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    183
    134

    Released2003

    Directed bySofia Coppola

    Lost in Translation is a 2003 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Sofia... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    One Hour Photo is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    131
    64

    One Hour Photo

    Robin Williams

    Released2002

    Directed byMark Romanek

    One Hour Photo is a 2002 American psychological thriller film written and directed by Mark... more on Wikipedia

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  • 10
    Ray is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    156
    106

    Ray

    Jamie Foxx

    Released2004

    Directed byTaylor Hackford

    Ray is a biographical film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray... more on Wikipedia

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  • 11
    Stranger than Fiction is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    176
    120

    Released2006

    Directed byMarc Forster

    Stranger than Fiction is a 2006 American comedy-drama-fantasy film directed by Marc Forster,... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Man on the Moon is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    157
    114

    Man on the Moon

    Jim Carrey

    Released1999

    Directed byMiloš Forman

    Man on the Moon is a 1999 American biographical comedy–drama film about the late American... more on Wikipedia

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  • 13
    Rushmore is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    110
    89

    Rushmore

    Bill Murray

    Released1998

    Directed byWes Anderson

    Rushmore is a 1998 comedy-drama film directed by Wes Anderson about an eccentric teenager... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    Reign Over Me is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    178
    84

    Reign Over Me

    Adam Sandler

    Released2007

    Directed byMike Binder

    In Reign Over Me, two former college roommates Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) and Alan Johnson... more on Wikipedia

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  • 15
    The Fisher King is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    111
    100

    The Fisher King

    Robin Williams

    Released1991

    Directed byTerry Gilliam

    The Fisher King is a 1991 American comedy-drama film written by Richard LaGravenese and... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    Patch Adams is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    141
    75

    Patch Adams

    Robin Williams

    Released1998

    Directed byTom Shadyac

    Patch Adams is a 1998 semi-biographical comedy-drama film starring Robin Williams, Monica... more on Wikipedia

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  • 17
    Insomnia is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    104
    73

    Insomnia

    Robin Williams

    Released2002

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    Insomnia is a 2002 American thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Al... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Enemy of the State is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    84
    66

    Released1998

    Directed byTony Scott

    Enemy of the State is a 1998 American spy-thriller about a group of rogue U.S. National... more on Wikipedia

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  • 19
    Big Fan is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    82
    76

    Big Fan

    Patton Oswalt

    Released2009

    Directed byRobert D. Siegel

    Big Fan is a 2009 independent drama film written and directed by Robert D. Siegel, and... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Seven Pounds is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    82
    78

    Seven Pounds

    Will Smith

    Released2008

    Directed byGabriele Muccino

    Seven Pounds is a 2008 American fantasy drama film, directed by Gabriele Muccino, in which... more on Wikipedia

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  • 21
    Arthur is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    45
    29

    Arthur

    Dudley Moore

    Released1981

    Directed bySteve Gordon

    Arthur is a 1981 comedy film written and directed by Steve Gordon. The film stars Dudley Moore... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    Punch-Drunk Love is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    91
    121

    Punch-Drunk Love

    Adam Sandler

    Released2002

    Directed byPaul Thomas Anderson

    Punch-Drunk Love is a 2002 romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas... more on Wikipedia

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  • 23
    King Kong is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    75
    82

    King Kong

    Jack Black

    Released2005

    Directed byPeter Jackson

    King Kong is a 2005 epic monster film and remake of the 1933 film of the same name. Directed,... more on Wikipedia
  • 24
    The Life Aquatic with Steve Zi is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians

    Released2004

    Directed byWes Anderson

    The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a 2004 American comedy-drama film directed, co-written,... more on Wikipedia

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  • 25
    The Number 23 is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Serious Movies Starring Comedians
    74
    85

    The Number 23

    Jim Carrey

    Released2007

    Directed byJoel Schumacher

    The Number 23 is a 2007 American psychological thriller film written by Fernley Phillips and... more on Wikipedia

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