What Are the Top Movies Jeff Daniels Has Been In?

The very best movies from any one actor or actress are usually up for debate. Some fans might be intrigued by a movie that was a flop at the box office, while others might dismiss a majorly successful film as being too mainstream. With an actor like Jeff Daniels, fans and movie lovers certainly have a wide range to choose from. 

Jeff Daniels has been in scores of movies over the past thirty years, though he’s not really a mainstream superstar. When we take a look at the list of films he’s worked on, however, it’s evident that this actor has an instinct for choosing successful projects. His work on the stave is equally successful, earning him a Tony nomination so far. In the Hollywood industry, however, Daniels is probably the most famous for making the ‘Dumb and Dumber’ movie with Jim Carrey. He definitely has several more interesting and well-made movies under his belt, too, so let’s look at some of the top Jeff Daniels works now: 

1. Fly Away Home 

Fly Away Home

This heart-warming 90s movie is rated highly by most critics, and with good reason. It’s a drama that shows a Hollywood veteran playing the role of an emotionally stunted parent who desperately wants to reconnect with their kids at the same time, they’re also in a race to solve a dilemma related to a little kid and an animal. 

While all these factors might make the movie a little too sappy for some older viewers, the result is quite touching. Jeff Daniels delivered one of his top performances, while co-star Anna Paquin was no less impressive. The two play a father-daughter role, moving beyond their past and all the painful things that occurred there. Their aim is to save some geese, but the story itself can be quite exhilarating at certain points. 

2. The Lookout

The Lookout

This movie was the directorial debut of Scott Frank, the screenwriter who got most of his fame from ‘Out of Sight’ and ‘Get Shorty’. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the star, we see a budding actor just starting to get the knack of picking the right scripts. Gordon-Levitt plays a typical jock whose actions throw his life out of whack. He gets into a group of people who want to manipulate him, and the story goes from there. Daniels is playing the role of the jock’s roommate, who happened to be blind.  

While the movie didn’t make a huge impact with the box office, there was a lot of praise for it anyway. Critics write that the thrilling element could be more shocking, but the end result is that the audience understands the characters better. 

3. Something Wild

Something Wild

In this movie, Daniels is in the role of a straitlaced stockbroker. He gets a ride home from a vivacious woman, played by Melanie Griffith. With this decision, he sets off a string of events, making him unwillingly take part in a lot of madcap antics. 

Critics describe this work as somewhat subversive and quirky, but ultimately an example of great acting. The tone shifts are all over the place, so some viewers might feel a bit out and disoriented. The wild ride is worth it, however, so you might want to watch this movie a few times to get the full experience. 

4. Good Night and Good Luck

Good Night and Good Luck

George Clooney took on this movie as his directorial exploration after ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’. The aim here was to dramatize the Communist Witch Hunt, mostly from the perspective of CBS News. The supporting cast was a star-studded one, with Daniels as Sig Mickelson, the CBS News director. 

Eventually, the message of the movie revealed itself. It became a vision of how TV and movies can have several influences on society. It can entertain, educate, illuminate, insular, and much more. 

The movie turned out to be a great success, which was a win for everyone involved in the production. There were no less than six nominations for an Academy Award; perhaps what’s even better is the Golden Tomato Award from the citric website Rotten Tomatoes. 

5. Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber

Those who are familiar with Jeff Daniels filmography will probably find the actor an odd choice for this movie. However, as it turned out, the section was correct and turned out to be a classic comedy duo. With Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels playing Dumb and Dumber, we managed to get a movie that’s hilarious enough for several viewings even today. 

Daniels actually took this role in spite of everyone around him, including his agent, begging him to run far away from it. He took on the role of Harry Dunne, and managed to hold his own against the legendary comic talent of Jim Carrey. Not only that, but he turned out to be a foil for the comedy actor and even managed to be funnier in certain scenes (of course, the level of humor depends on what kind of audience is watching the film). 

Incidentally, this movie also saw the actress Rachel Nichols in her first major film role. 

6. The Martian

The Martian

This 2015 movie is based off the intriguing science fiction novel by Andy Weir. It tells the story of an astronaut who was mistakenly left behind by his team after an expedition to Mars. The marooned ‘Martian’ (played by Matt Damon) is also a botanist, so he somehow manages to survive by using bio-waste and other items on hand to make a sort of indoor garden. With a humongous effort, he has some supplemental food in addition to the rations left with him. Jeff Daniels may not be the lead here, but he does have a major supporting role as the administrator of NASA. The director, Ridley Scott, is famous for being able to coax out exceptional performances from every single person in the cast and on the set. 

The screenplay here is well-written, with a lot of participation and input from NASA itself. While watching, one can almost believe that the movie was based on an actual incident. Daniels plays Teddy Sanders, who argues a moral conundrum with Mitch Henderson (played by Sean Bean). Overall, it’s a movie worth watching at least once, with a vintage performance by Daniels to pique your interest.  

7. Looper 


Jeff Daniels’s screen appeal is partly due to his ability to portray an everyman, an ordinary person who could fit into almost any supporting role. However, acting with Joseph Gordon-Levitt usually lets out something wacky in the way Jeff Daniels acts. After the roommate role in ‘The Lookout’, Daniels was able to steal the show in ‘Looper’ as well. 

The movie here is based on the science fiction writing of director Rian Johnson. It’s a thought-provoking story, with the role of Daniels injecting a boost of energy into the mob boss. The boss here is sociopathic, but surprisingly likeable. Overall, it’s a fun movie to watch when you want to be a bit challenged yet still very much entertained. 

8. Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment

While Jeff Daniel debuted in cinema in 1981 with Milos Forman’s ‘Ragtime’ epic, he actually got his big break in ‘Terms of Endearment’. This movie followed the complexities of the relationships and general lives of a mother-daughter duo. Overall, it turned out to be a sensation in both the commercial and critical world. It was a hit at the box office, grossing above $100 million. 

In addition to the earnings, this work is also known for the impressive feat of getting 11 nominations and winning 5 of these. These awards might not have directly gone to Daniels, but  he did get a lot of recognition for the role of Flap Horton. This was the scummy husband, and not a very positive role. However, it was enough to make Hollywood sit up and take notice of the actor Jeff Daniels. After that success, Daniels was able to get a lot more accolades and even starring roles. 

9. The Purple Rose of Cairo

The Purple Rose of Cairo

This was the starring role that Jeff Daniels picked up soon after ‘Terms of Endearment’. The movie was directed by Woody Allen and starred Mia Farrow. Daniels plays the role of an unexpected hero; a literal movie character that comes off the screen and attempts to bring life back into the sad life of a waitress with an unhappy marriage. 

Overall, this movie is sweet, somewhat funny, and contains multiple layers. Even if you’re not a fan of Woody Allen, this particular work might make for an interesting watch. 


The list above is by no means a comprehensive one when it comes to Jeff Daniels movies. There are several other movies by this talented actor that are both successful at the box office and enjoyed by fans all over the world. However, the movies we’ve discussed so far should get you off to a good start. The different works might make for an interesting movie night next weekend. While you’re still deciding, check out the top 10 money making movies of all time