The Best River Phoenix Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated June 11, 2019 2.5k votes 677 voters 40.5k views 18 items

List Rules Vote for your favorite movies, regardless of critic reviews or how big the role was.

List of the best River Phoenix movies, ranked best to worst with movie trailers when available. River Phoenix's highest grossing movies have received a lot of accolades over the years, earning millions upon millions around the world. The order of these top River Phoenix movies is decided by how many votes they receive, so only highly rated River Phoenix movies will be at the top of the list. River Phoenix has been in a lot of films, so people often debate each other over what the greatest River Phoenix movie of all time is. If you and a friend are arguing about this then use this list of the most entertaining River Phoenix films to end the squabble once and for all.

If you think the best River Phoenix role isn't at the top, then upvote it so it has the chance to become number one. The greatest River Phoenix performances didn't necessarily come from the best movies, but in most cases they go hand in hand.

The list you're viewing is made up of a variety of different films, including Explorers and The Thing Called Love.

"This list answers the questions, "What are the best River Phoenix movies?" and "What are the greatest River Phoenix roles of all time?"

Steven Spielberg and Phil Alden Robinson are among those who directed River Phoenix at one point or another during their careers in the film industry. Is River Phoenix your favorite person to watch on the big screen? You might also want to vote on our best C. Thomas Howell and Luke Perry films lists too.

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Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best River Phoenix Movies
Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack

Released: 1986

Directed by: Rob Reiner

Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Based on the novella ...more

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Keanu Reeves, Jim Caviezel, River Phoenix

Released: 1991

Directed by: Gus Van Sant

My Own Private Idaho is a 1991 American independent drama film written and directed by Gus Van Sant, loosely based on Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V, and starring ...more

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River Phoenix, Martha Plimpton, Judd Hirsch

Released: 1988

Directed by: Sidney Lumet

Running on Empty is a 1988 film featuring River Phoenix, Judd Hirsch, Christine Lahti, and Martha Plimpton, directed by Sidney Lumet, and was produced by Lorimar. It is the story of a ...more

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Brendan Fraser, River Phoenix, E.G. Daily

Released: 1991

Directed by: Nancy Savoca

Dogfight is a 1991 film set in San Francisco, California, during the Vietnam War. It stars River Phoenix and Lili Taylor, and was directed by Nancy Savoca. The film explores the love between an ...more
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Sandra Bullock, River Phoenix, Trisha Yearwood

Released: 1993

Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich

The Thing Called Love is a 1993 American comedy-drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich. An aspiring singer (Samantha Mathis) moves to Nashville where she meets other hopeful newcomers.

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Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, River Phoenix

Released: 1986

Directed by: Peter Weir

The Mosquito Coast is a 1986 American drama film directed by Peter Weir and starring Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, Andre Gregory, and River Phoenix. It is based on the novel of the same name by ...more

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Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, River Phoenix

Released: 1989

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a 1989 American adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, from a story co-written by executive producer George Lucas. It is the third installment in the ...more

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Heather Graham, Keanu Reeves, Kevin Kline

Released: 1990

Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan

This film is a 1990 American dark comedy film directed by Lawrence Kasdan. It is based in 1984, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Frances Toto repeatedly tried to end her husband, Anthony

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Sidney Poitier, River Phoenix, Loretta Devine

Released: 1988

Directed by: Richard Benjamin

Little Nikita is a 1988 American cult drama film directed by Richard Benjamin and starring River Phoenix and Sidney Poitier. The film marks the first collaboration between Phoenix and Poitier.

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Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix, James Cromwell

Released: 1985

Directed by: Joe Dante

Explorers is a 1985 family-oriented science-fiction fantasy film written by Eric Luke and directed by Joe Dante. The film stars Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix as teenage schoolboys who build a ...more

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Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley

Released: 1992

Directed by: Phil Alden Robinson

Sneakers is a 1992 caper film directed by Phil Alden Robinson, written by Robinson, Walter Parkes, and Lawrence Lasker and starring Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, Ben Kingsley, Mary McDonnell, ...more

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River Phoenix, Karen Black, Jonathan Pryce

Released: 2012

Directed by: George Sluizer

Dark Blood is a film directed by George Sluizer, written by Jim Barton, and starring River Phoenix, Judy Davis, and Jonathan Pryce. The film was not completed due to the death of Phoenix shortly ...more
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Matthew Perry, River Phoenix, Johnny Galecki

Released: 1988

Directed by: William Richert

A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon is a 1988 film about a high school graduate who must find out if he wants to go to business school at the request of his father or go his own way and get a ...more

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Backwards: The Riddle of... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best River Phoenix Movies
Joaquin Phoenix, River Phoenix, Madge Sinclair

Released: 1984

Directed by: Alex Grasshoff

Backwards: The Riddle Of Dyslexia is a 1984 ABC Afterschool Special about dyslexia. It stars 13 year old River Phoenix in "one of his first major roles" as Brian Ellsworth. Joaquin ...more
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River Phoenix, Richard Harris, Dermot Mulroney

Released: 1994

Directed by: Sam Shepard

Silent Tongue is a Western written and directed by Sam Shepard. It was filmed in Spring 1992, but not released until 1994. It was filmed near Roswell, New Mexico and features Richard Harris, ...more
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Molly Ringwald, River Phoenix, Ellen Burstyn

Released: 1985

Directed by: Waris Hussein

Surviving: A Family in Crisis is a 1985 ABC television movie. Directed by Warris Hussein and starring Zach Galligan, Molly Ringwald, and River Phoenix, the film is described as a modern-day ...more
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Uma Thurman, Heather Graham, Keanu Reeves

Released: 1994

Directed by: Gus Van Sant

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues is a 1993 American comedy-drama-romance film based on Tom Robbins' 1976 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Gus Van Sant and starred an ensemble cast led ...more

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Circle of Violence: A Fa... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best River Phoenix Movies
Circle of Violence: A Family Drama River Phoenix, Tuesday Weld, Geraldine Fitzgerald

Released: 1986

Directed by: David Greene

Circle of Violence: A Family Drama is a 1986 CBS television movie. Directed by David Greene and starring Tuesday Weld, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Peter Bonerz and River Phoenix, the film tells the ...more