Heath Ledger’s 10 Best Movies, Ranked
13 mins read

Heath Ledger’s 10 Best Movies, Ranked


  • Ledger’s breakout role in “10 Things I Hate About You” solidified his place in Hollywood with his talent and charm.
  • Ledger’s versatility shines through in films like “Candy” and “Brokeback Mountain,” showcasing his emotional depth as an actor.
  • Ledger’s iconic portrayal of the Joker in “The Dark Knight” remains one of his most celebrated and influential performances in Hollywood.



With a career that spans a little under a decade, Heath Ledger‘s talent and versatility as an actor are evident in his best movies. Ledger’s career began at home in Australia, starting with television shows and his movie debut in Blackrock. However, it wouldn’t be long until he got his breakout role in 10 Things I Hate About You, establishing Ledger’s talent and place in Hollywood.

Directors and actors who got the opportunity to work with him before his passing in 2008 have frequently praised Ledger for his commitment, intuition, and natural curiosity. These traits, along with his easily recognizable talent, have gained Ledger an immense legacy in Hollywood. By far, Ledger’s most celebrated role is as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. However, this didn’t come along until the end of his career, and Ledger’s filmography before that had already been building up, exhibiting his true range as an actor.

10 The Brothers Grimm (2005)

Jacob Grimm

Will and Jake are lying on the ground with their hands up as weapons are pointed at their chests.

Though The Brothers Grimm was not a success, commercially or with critics, it’s still worthy of a mention as the film brings out an underrated performance from Ledger. Playing to the film’s adventurous and comedic tones, Ledger takes a few steps back from acting as the lead and gives a fun performance. Starring alongside Matt Damon, Ledger’s performance is more subtle than his previous works and those to come. The Brothers Grimm is set in a fantastical world and tells an inflated version of the titular brothers’ story, referring to many of their popular folktales.

9 Candy (2006)


Candy and Dan are standing in front of one another during a conversation.

A tougher watch from Ledger’s filmography, Candy is a story of two individuals, Candy (Abbie Cornish) and Dan, who are stuck in an intense relationship rooted in their shared drug addiction. Due to Candy‘s generally negative response from critics, the film unfortunately often gets missed when discussing Ledger’s career, despite his strong and convincing lead performance. Candy doesn’t add much to conversations about drug use, but it’s still a harrowing portrayal of how addiction alters the couple’s life.

8 Monster’s Ball (2001)

Sonny Grotowski

Sonny and Hank are walking down the hallway with Lawrence and other officers.

Monster’s Ball is best known for being the film in which Halle Berry made history with her Academy Award win. However, Monster’s Ball also features Ledger in a small role as Sonny Grotowski. Sonny works alongside his overbearing father, Hank (Billy Bob Thornton), as a correction officer, but outside of work, the two’s relationship is hostile. Ledger isn’t in the film for long but makes a lasting impact. Not only does Sonny’s final action act as the catalyst for Hank’s future, but Ledger’s emotional performance is striking and proves his ability to hold his own alongside strong actors.

7 A Knight’s Tale (2001)

William Thatcher

A Knight’s Tale

A Knight’s Tale is an action-comedy film written and directed by Brian Helgeland. Heath Ledger stars as William Thatcher, a young apprentice of a knight who dies during a jousting tournament. To prove himself, he masquerades as the fallen knight and strives to win the tournament with the help of his friends.

Brian Helgeland

132 Minutes

A Knight’s Tale is a lighthearted medieval film that accommodates Ledger’s comedic side. In the film, Ledger plays a squire who pretends to be a knight to compete in jousting tournaments. Music by David Bowie and Thin Lizzy is coupled with the medieval setting, so the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, but that doesn’t undermine Ledger’s highly entertaining performance. Ledger’s signature charm works soundly as the underdog squire with hopes and determination to turn his fate around. Setting him up to lead future films, A Knight’s Tale secured Ledger’s star power.


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6 I’m Not There (2007)

Robbie Clark

Heath Ledger playing the guitar and sitting behind a microphone.

Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There is a musical drama inspired by the life and works of Bob Dylan. The varying aspects of Dylan’s life are told in the film’s unconventional narrative and are portrayed by I’m Not There‘s cast, which includes Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett. Ledger played Robbie Clark, an actor whose marriage begins to fall apart after a rocky relationship with fame. Ledger said portraying Robbie was challenging (via Slash Film), and though I’m Not There‘s reception was focused heavily on Blanchett’s performance, Ledger’s ability to overcome those challenges and deliver a captivating performance should not go unnoticed.

I’m Not There is the last film of Heath Ledger’s to be released during his lifetime.

5 Lords Of Dogtown (2005)

Skip Engblom

Heath Ledger holding up a skateboard and drink.

Lords of Dogtown

Catherine Hardwicke

Emile Hirsch , Victor Rasuk , John Robinson , Michael Angarano , Nikki Reed , Heath Ledger , Rebecca De Mornay , Johnny Knoxville

110 Minutes

The biographical drama, Lords of Dogtown, takes a look at skateboarding culture in the ’70s, following the lives of a group of skateboarders known as the Z-Boys. The Z-Boys came to be established with the influence of Skip Engblom, played by Ledger. Throughout his career and following his passing, Ledger was repeatedly praised for the care and attention to detail he put into his performances and the role of Skip was another example of this.

Ledger was repeatedly praised for the care and attention to detail he put into his performances.

Lords of Dogtown wasn’t particularly loved by critics, but they generally agreed that Ledger’s performance was the best part of the film. Even people who knew the real Skip Engblom complimented Ledger and his ability to accurately portray not only Skip’s persona but his mannerisms and voice as well. Since its release, Lords of Dogtown has grown a passionate following and is highly ranked among skateboarding films.

4 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Patrick Verona

10 Things I Hate About You

Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You is a modern retelling of the classic play, set against the backdrop of a 90s Seattle high school. When social outcast Patrick Verona is paid to try and win over antisocial Kat Stratford in order so her younger sister will be allowed to date, he and Kat find an unexpected connection forming between them. Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger star as Kat and Patrick, with a further cast that includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, David Krumholtz, Andrew Keegan, and Larry Miller. 

Gil Junger

Julia Stiles , Heath Ledger , Joseph Gordon-Levitt , Larisa Oleynik , Larry Miller , Andrew Keegan , David Krumholtz , Susan May Pratt

97 minutes

A Knight’s Tale is often credited for establishing Ledger as a leading man, but the modernized retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You, helped introduce American audiences to his talent. Ledger’s character starts with indefensible reasons for wanting to ask out Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) and this makes Patrick Verona dislikable at times. However, Ledger brings an endearing charisma to his performance, leading to 10 Things I Hate About You becoming a beloved rom-com that audiences keep coming back to over the years.

Ledger was inspired by Fred Astaire for the scene in which Patrick performs “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli on the bleachers in an attempt to ask Kat out.

3 Two Hands (1999)


Heath Ledger talking outside while wearing a shirt and tie.

The same year 10 Things I Hate About You came out, Ledger starred in the Australian crime-comedy, Two Hands. Ledger plays Jimmy, who botches an assignment given to him by a known mob boss in the local area and therefore must come up with ways to retrieve the stolen money. Two Hands isn’t a groundbreaking film by any means, but critics praised the film for its writing, quick pace, and a notable performance by Ledger. Due to his entertaining performance, Two Hands is also the first film in which Ledger received award nominations, most notably an Australian Film Institute Award.

2 Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Ennis Del Mar

Ennis and Jack looking off in the distance in Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain

From director Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain tells the story of a forbidden love between two cowboys beginning in 1960s Wyoming. The film stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, who after being hired for a summer job herding sheep, begin a romantic relationship that lasts two decades. As the two struggle to cope with their feelings for each other against the pressures of a society that will never accept them, various tragedies and other obligations threaten to pull them apart for good. Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams also star. 

Ang Lee

134 minutes

Ledger acts alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain, the two telling a moving love story between their characters, Jack and Ennis. As Ennis, Ledger delivers a strong and committed performance, fluctuating between subtle and bold displays of emotion. Brokeback Mountain is often considered Ang Lee’s best film due to the story and the apparent care of those involved with the film.

Brokeback Mountain remains a cherished film for its contribution to LGBTQ+ cinema and Ledger’s memorable performance.

Brokeback Mountain‘s cast and crew were awarded many accolades, including Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director. For Ledger, he received his first Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. In the years since its release, Brokeback Mountain remains a cherished film for its contribution to LGBTQ+ cinema and Ledger’s memorable performance.

1 The Dark Knight (2008)


The Dark Knight

Christian Bale once again embodies the man behind the mask in The Dark Knight, reuniting Bale with Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman has been making headway against local crime—until a rising criminal mastermind known as The Joker unleashes a fresh reign of chaos across Gotham City. To stop this devious new menace—Batman’s most personal and vicious enemy yet—he will have to use every high-tech weapon in his arsenal and confront his beliefs if he hopes to stand a chance against the Clown Prince of Crime.

Nestor Carbonell , Morgan Freeman , Ritchie Coster , Cillian Murphy , Chin Han , Gary Oldman , Eric Roberts , William Fichtner , Aaron Eckhart , Maggie Gyllenhaal , Christian Bale , David Dastmalchian , Michael Caine , Anthony Michael Hall , Heath Ledger

152 Minutes

Without a doubt, Ledger’s most recognizable and notable role throughout his career is as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Over the years, The Dark Knight has been viewed as heavily impacting the genre of superhero films and is argued to be one of the best. The Dark Knight also became the first comic book adaption to win an Academy Award in the acting categories when Ledger posthumously won for Best Supporting Actor.

Many critics and audiences praised Ledger’s ability to fully immerse himself in the villainous character.

However, much of this praise and celebration wouldn’t be possible without Ledger’s performance. Ledger as the Joker intimated his co-stars due to the impressive twisted and terrifying elements he brought to the character. Many critics and audiences praised Ledger’s ability to fully immerse himself in the villainous character, earning him continuous praise from critics, directors, and fellow actors, all citing his performance as an inspiration for films that followed.

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