Top 10 BEST Cillian Murphy movies, RANKED

A man of many talents, we look at the best movies of Cillian Murphy’s career so far.

Top 10 best Cillian Murphy movies, ranked.

Born in Cork in 1976, Cillian Murphy is rightly regarded as one of Ireland’s best actors. Quiet and reserved, he is renowned for his ability to express emotions visually, which has allowed him to turn in incredible performances with little dialogue in some films.

He is perhaps most well-known for his portrayal of Birmingham gangster Thomas Shelby in BBC’s period crime drama Peaky Blinders, but Murphy also has a string of excellent film credits to his name.

We look back at some of his most memorable performances as we highlight the ten best Cillian Murphy movies so far.

Ireland Before You Die’s top facts about Cillian Murphy

  • Cillian Murphy was born on 25th May 1976 in Douglas, County Cork. He attended the Presentation Brothers College in Cork and studied law at University College Cork (UCC). 
  • Murphy’s early work in the acting profession saw him in the theatre, which included performances in the Corcadorca Theatre Company. His breakout film was 28 Days Later
  • Cillian Murphy has established a notable collaboration with legendary filmmaker, Christopher Nolan. Murphy has starred in Batman Begins, Inception, and most recently, Oppenheimer
  • Murphy has also deservedly received widespread acclaim for his incredible acting in the role of Tommy Shelby in the popular BBC series Peaky Blinders
  • Cillian Murphy is also well-known for keeping a very private life outside of acting. He is married to Yvonne McGuinness, and they have two sons together.

10. Disco Pigs (2001) – Murphy’s first acting award

Disco Pigs was based on Enda Walsh's play of the same name.
Credit: imdb.com

Murphy’s first-ever acting role was in the Corcadorca Theatre Company’s production of Disco Pigs, by Irish playwright Enda Walsh, in 1996. Murphy later reprised his role as Pig in the 2001 film adaptation alongside Elaine Cassidy.

The film follows the intense and complicated relationship between the characters, and Murphy’s performance in Disco Pigs earned him his first acting award at the 2002 Ourense Independent Film Festival.

9. The Party (2017) – an underrated black comedy

Top 10 best Cillian Murphy movies, ranked.
Credit: imdb.com

In Sally Potter’s 2017 black comedy, The Party, Murphy plays Tom, a cocaine-addicted banker who repeatedly insists that his wife, Marianne, will arrive shortly.

The film, which takes place entirely at a party hosted by Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas), was awarded the Guild Film Prize at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival.

8. Breakfast on Pluto (2005) – a role Murphy coveted

Breakfast on Pluto was directed by Neil Jordan.
Credit: imdb.com

Such was his desire to star in Breakfast on Pluto, Murphy directly contacted director Neil Jordan. “I knew Neil was making that film and that I was the right age,” he told The Guardian.

He portrays Kitten Braden, a trans woman who leaves the conservative Ireland of the 1960s for London in search of her biological mother, Eily Bergin (Eva Birthistle). Murphy’s performance earned him an IFTA for best actor.

LEARN MORE about this actors name with our article – Cillian: pronunciation and meaning, explained

7. Inception (2010) – a star-studded mind-bender

Top 10 best Cillian Murphy movies, ranked.
Credit: imdb.com

Christopher Nolan’s Inception features a star-studded cast, with Murphy appearing alongside such celebrated actors as Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The film follows a team, led by Dom Cobb (DiCaprio), that attempts to plant an idea in the mind of business empire heir Robert Michael Fischer (Murphy).

6. 28 Days Later (2002) – a post-apocalyptic horror

28 Days Later was directed by Danny Boyle.
Credit: imdb.com

Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later stars Murphy alongside Naomie Harris, Christopher Ecclestone, Megan Burns, and fellow Irish actor Brendan Gleeson.

Murphy plays Jim, a bicycle courier who wakes from a coma to find that a rage-inducing virus has been unleashed in London.

5. Dunkirk (2017) – a film with little dialogue

Top 10 best Cillian Murphy movies, ranked.
Credit: imdb.com

When making a film with little dialogue, you want an actor adept at portraying emotions visually. So, there’s little wonder that Christopher Nolan cast Murphy as a shell-shocked soldier in this World War Two historical thriller.

RELATED: Find out where Cillian Murphy ranks on our list of the top 10 best Irish actors of all time

4. A Quiet Place Part II (2020) – a critically-acclaimed role

A Quiet Place stars Emily Blunt.
Credit: imdb.com

Murphy stars as Emmett alongside Emily Blunt in the John Krasinski’s sequel to his 2018 hit A Quiet Place. His character is left hardened and reclusive after losing his wife and children.

Another film with little dialogue, Murphy’s performance garnered critical acclaim. It earned him an award at the Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards, making this one of the best Cillian Murphy movies.

3. The Dark Knight trilogy (2005-2012) – a powerful trilogy

Top 10 best Cillian Murphy movies, ranked.
Credit: imdb.com

While this is, of course, a collection of three Cillian Murphy movies, we grouped them together for two reasons. Firstly, they’re each excellent. Secondly, it freed us up to include more of our favourite Murphy performances.

Batman Begins marked Murphy’s first film with frequent collaborator Christopher Nolan, and he would reprise his role as Scarecrow in both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises alongside the likes of Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, and the late Heath Ledger.

2. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) – one of the best Cillian Murphy movies

The Wind That Shakes the Barley is set during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
Credit: imdb.com

Set during the Irish War of Independence and the subsequent Irish Civil War, Murphy stars alongside Pádraic Delaney as a pair of brothers who join the Irish Republican Army in Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley is one of the best Irish movies of all time and Murphy’s performance saw him nominated for an IFTA and a BAFTA, among other awards.

READ MORE: See where The Wind That Shakes the Barley ranks on our list of the top 10 best Irish movies of all time

1. Oppenheimer (2023) – a harrowing rendering of emotion

Top 10 best Cillian Murphy movies, ranked.
Credit: imdb.com

Topping our list of the best Cillian Murphy movies is Christopher Nolan’s biopic of the ‘father of the atomic bomb’, J Robert Oppenheimer. Murphy harrowingly renders the emotions experienced during the Manhattan Project: fear, triumph, and finally, dismay.

Oppenheimer also gave Murphy the chance to further develop his excellent working relationship with A Quiet Place Part II ­co-star Emily Blunt who shines as the physicist’s wife, Katherine ‘Kitty’ Oppenheimer.

Your questions answered about the best Cillian Murphy movies

What is Cillian Murphy best role?

Cillian Murphy’s best role will probably go down as Robert J. Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer. He is also superb in Peaky Blinders as Tommy Shelby.

Why Cillian Murphy is so good?

Murphy is so good on the screen as he is meticulous and detailed in his approach. Off the screen, he is private and honest, which makes him very likeable.

What films are Cillian Murphy in?

Some of the most notable films that Cillian Murphy is in includes Oppenheimer, Inception, Batman Begins, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, and Dunkirk.

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