Brian Cox, the Scottish acting legend, has been gracing screens and stages for an impressive six decades. With over 200 credits to his name, he has showcased his remarkable talent in a wide range of well-known movies and TV shows. Cox's acting prowess is undeniable, evident in every project he has worked on. While he has occasionally taken on minor roles, his presence has always been the highlight, stealing every scene he appears in. Here is top +10 best performances by Brian Cox, ranked for your enjoyment.
Despite his long and illustrious career, Brian Cox shows no signs of slowing down. Recently, he concluded an incredible final season of the hit show Succession. His latest film, Mending the Line, hit theaters on June 9, 2023, further demonstrating his ongoing dedication to his craft. Cox will also lend his voice to the animated film The Lord of the Rings: The War of Rohirrim and star in the Russo brothers' upcoming project, The Electric State. With so much to celebrate, let's take a closer look at some of his best performances.
In conclusion, Brian Cox's talent and versatility shine through in every role he undertakes. His performances are captivating, and his seamless transition between genres is a testament to his greatness as an actor. We eagerly anticipate what he will bring to the screen in the future.
#1. SUCCESSION (2018)
When it comes to blending dark comedy and family drama, Jesse Armstrong's Succession is a true gem. This HBO series centers around the Roy Family, owners of the powerful multi-industry company Waystar RoyCo. As the company's head, Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox), contemplates stepping down due to declining health, tensions rise within the family. During Logan's birthday celebration, the family initially supports Kendall as the heir, but everything changes when Logan reveals that his third wife, Marcia, will have the final say on the successor after his death. Thus, a power struggle ensues amidst the uncertainty surrounding the family patriarch's health.
Brian Cox's portrayal of Logan is exceptional, capturing the essence of the character's strict and domineering nature. He keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting his next unyielding remark. Cox fully embodies the role, showcasing a resolute individual who refuses to compromise when it comes to challenging his family or managing his business, even in his absence. This role has garnered critical acclaim for Cox, solidifying his position as a beloved figure during awards season and redefining his career.
#2. CHURCHILL (2017)
When it comes to portraying historical figures, Brian Cox takes on the challenge of embodying the polarizing Winston Churchill in this biographical war drama directed by Jonathan Teplitzky. The film delves into the events leading up to D-Day during World War II, with Cox delivering a flawless interpretation of the British Prime Minister. He captures the complexities of Churchill, showcasing his internal struggles, insecurities, and unwavering determination during this crucial historical moment that carried the weight of an entire nation. While Cox's performance is impressive, some may note that his British accent could use improvement. Although the film may not match the power of the beloved "The Darkest Hour" released in the same year, it is still worth watching for its portrayal of Churchill's journey.
#3. THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE (2016)
Brian Cox's impeccable timing finds its perfect match in the lead role of one of the most imaginative horror films to date. Directed by André Ovredal, "The Autopsy of Jane Doe" tells the chilling story of a father and son, both coroners, who are tasked with uncovering the cause of death of an unidentified woman. The twist? The body they examine shows no signs of trauma, respiratory failure, or blood loss.
In his portrayal of Tommy Tilden, the seasoned and somewhat haunted coroner, Cox delivers a gripping performance that serves as the anchor of the film. He skillfully infuses the character with determination and vulnerability, adding layers of intensity to the suspenseful narrative. As Tilden finds himself confronting the unknown in his own field of expertise, Cox captivates audiences, immersing them in a psychological journey that keeps them on the edge of their seats until the gripping conclusion. "The Autopsy of Jane Doe" is a masterfully crafted film that weaves an atmospheric and captivating narrative, leaving viewers enthralled until the very end.
#4. RED (2010)
The 2010s film "Red" provided thrilling entertainment similar to "The Expendables," proving that audiences are drawn to seeing seasoned action heroes on screen together. The story follows Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a retired and extremely dangerous former CIA agent who becomes the target of an assassin. To protect himself, Moses reunites with his old RED comrades to track down the would-be killer.
Cox's portrayal of Ivan Simonov, a former Russian agent, adds an extra layer of excitement and charm to this action-packed film. With his thick accent and constant smirk, Cox delivers a delightful performance that captivates viewers. Fans particularly enjoy his rekindled relationship with retired assassin Victoria Winslow (Helen Mirren), who had previously shot him twice in the chest. Cox's presence shines brightly, even among a star-studded cast, making his role a standout in the entire film.
#5. DEADWOOD (2006)
Surprisingly, this series drew inspiration from the real-life story of an Irish actor turned Idaho state senator. The narrative revolves around Jack Langrishe, portrayed by Cox, as he arrives in Deadwood with grand ambitions of establishing a theater and bringing culture to the future South Dakota. Cox's portrayal in this series is truly exceptional. However, despite his remarkable performance and the show's initial success, issues with the direction of its third season led to its controversial cancellation, depriving fans of a satisfying conclusion.
Nevertheless, it is Cox's mesmerizing performance that breathed life into the entire series. Whenever he graced the screen, it was impossible to look away. The role demanded serious acting chops, yet Cox effortlessly delivered, making it seem like a walk in the park.
#6. TROY (2004)
Brian Cox's exceptional range shines through in his portrayal of antagonistic characters, a talent he displays impressively in the film Troy. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen, this epic historical war drama adapts the Greek tragedy of the Iliad, penned by Homer centuries ago, which narrates the legendary events of the Trojan War.
In Troy, Cox takes on the role of Agamemnon, the power-hungry Greek ruler whose insatiable ambition compels him to support his brother Menelaus' claim and wage war against Troy. This decision stems from Prince Paris seducing and eloping with Queen Helen to the fortified city. Cox's portrayal adds depth to the fallen king, showcasing a commanding presence that simultaneously evokes fear and disdain from both his subjects and his most formidable warrior.
#7. X2: X-MEN UNITED (2003)
Long before the Marvel Universe took the world by storm, fans fervently followed the X-Men franchise, with the first Bryan Singer's X-Men film serving as a blueprint for future superhero blockbusters. Among the franchise's standout films, X2: X-Men United stands out as a rare case where the sequel surpasses the original, and much of its success can be attributed to Brian Cox's exceptional performance. As William Stryker, an anti-mutant special operative, Cox delivers the best antagonist portrayal in the entire X-Men franchise.
While various actors have portrayed Stryker throughout the series, Cox's portrayal remains etched in the minds of viewers. He commands the screen in X2, leaving a palpable absence in subsequent Wolverine-focused films. This speaks volumes about the sheer charisma and presence he brings to the role, dominating every scene he appears in and solidifying his status as a memorable and captivating antagonist.
#8. THE 25TH HOUR (2002)
Brian Cox's talent extends to his supporting roles, and one notable example is his performance in the film "The 25th Hour." Directed by Spike Lee, this thought-provoking film explores the last hours of freedom for Monty Brogan, a convicted drug dealer portrayed by Edward Norton. Cox plays Monty's father, James Brogan, a veteran firefighter who manages a tavern where guests relate previous tragedies.
The film's post-9/11 setting plays a significant role, as Monty harbors resentment towards his father for leading a stable life surrounded by former firefighters while he faces a prison sentence. James, oblivious to his son's grievances, loves him unconditionally and is willing to go to great lengths to help him escape his fate. Cox's delivery of the final monologue in the film is particularly captivating, making it a standout moment worth watching in itself.
#9. ADAPTATION (2002)
In the film "Adaptation," directed by Spike Jonze, Brian Cox portrays the character of Robert McKee, a renowned screenwriting expert. The story revolves around screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, played by Nicolas Cage, who is struggling with writer's block while attempting to adapt a book. Cox's real-life friendship with McKee brings an authentic touch to his performance, capturing the essence of McKee's narrative wisdom. He delivers powerful lines that have the potential to be a game-changer for Kaufman and captivate the audience, making us believe in every word he says through his enchanting delivery.
#10. SUPER TROOPERS (2001)
While Brian Cox is renowned for his exceptional theatrical talents, he also proves his comedic prowess in films like "Super Troopers." Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, this raunchy yet silly comedy follows a group of state troopers in Vermont who enjoy playing pranks while trying to maintain their jobs and solve an ongoing crime.
Although the plot may be flimsy, the well-timed humor keeps the audience entertained throughout. Cox shines as the commander of the Super Troopers, dominating every scene with his grumpy yet humorous persona. He expertly balances the role of the straight guy, providing support to his team while embracing the insanity they unleash. Cox's performance in this film showcases his diverse acting range and his ability to effortlessly deliver comedic roles without appearing cringe or awkward, a talent not every actor possesses.
#11. NUREMBERG (2000)
"Nuremberg," a Canadian-American docudrama, stands out as one of the finest historical war dramas on television. This miniseries delves into the aftermath of Germany's defeat in World War II, focusing on the creation of an international war crime tribunal at Nuremberg to hold Nazi perpetrators accountable. Through the eyes of American Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson (Alec Baldwin) and Hermann Goering (Brian Cox), the series portrays the trials of 24 representatives of the Nazi regime.
In a standout performance, Brian Cox flawlessly embodies the role of Hermann Goering, a charismatic and intelligent Nazi defendant who manages to charm his guard, Lt. Tex Wheelis, into granting him preferential treatment. Fans were captivated by Cox's portrayal, appreciating his ability to immerse himself in the character's complexities. His exceptional performance earned him nominations and accolades, including the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie.
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