The 10 best Hugh Grant films – ranked!

From the ridiculously beautiful lead in Maurice, which is about to be re-released, to the foppish lovefool in Four Weddings, the smirking seducer in Bridget Jones’s Diary and the menacing role in Paddington 2, Grant is irresistible

10. Music and Lyrics (2007)

Easy to dismiss this as another Grant romcom (like that’s a bad thing?), but Music and Lyrics features the Greatest onscreen musical number ever, and I’m including the entire oeuvres of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in that. Grant plays a former 80s pop star and the video of his hit, PoP! Goes My Heart, is the moment cinema peaked. Best song ever, officially.

9. Maurice (1987)

Grant is ridiculously beautiful in Maurice, a gorgeous Merchant Ivory film. Grant plays the tragic Clive, a gay man imprisoned by the Edwardian society in which he lives, and the film is like a delicate rococo poem to the forbidden.

8. The Remains of the Day (1993)

The best of the Merchant Ivory canon and although Grant’s part as the clear-sighted but doomed journalist is minuscule, he is terrific in it. Actors in period drama rarely come across as being truly from that era. But Grant’s appeal is – like that of the other Grant, Cary – timeless, and here he seems wholly of the 1930s.

Grant with Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility
Grant with Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility. Photograph: Allstar/Columbia

7. Sense and Sensibility (1995)

I still think the Hughs – Grant and Laurie – should have played against type and swapped roles, with Grant as the grumpy husband and Laurie the romantic swain. Nonetheless, Grant does what he can with the part of boring Edward Ferrars and his proposal scene with Emma Thompson is easily the most heart-warming of his career.

6. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

As much as Clark Gable was born to play Rhett Butler, so Grant was made for the role of Daniel Cleaver. He was always, clearly, closer in personality to Daniel than the soppy lovefools he was known for, and seeing him smirking and seducing the whole of west London in this is so ridiculously enjoyable that he very nearly steals the whole movie.

Grant in Bridget Jones’s Diary
Grant in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Photograph: Allstar/Working Title

5. About a Boy (2002)

Grant really doesn’t get enough credit for pulling off this role, because it’s not easy to play a man who befriends a child and not come across as creepy, as many comedians before him can confirm. Grant gives lovely shades of darkness here after a long run of performances that relied on the light.

4. Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

The beginning of the Hughnaissance (oh yeah, I went there). He is brilliantly ambiguous as Meryl Streep’s enabling companion and what a joy this was – not just to see Grant out of the three-star romcoms he had been knocking out for decades, but looking as if he was actually enjoying himself, too.

3. Notting Hill (1999)

I always see this as the sequel to Four Weddings, after Andie MacDowell has left him, as she inevitably would, and hotfooted it back to the US. Because, yes, he’s basically doing the same performance as he did in the earlier film, but when he does it so well, why complain?

Grant as Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2.
Grant as Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2. Photograph: Allstar/Studio Canal

2. Paddington 2 (2017)

That Grant didn’t get a Bafta for this definitively proves film awards are stupid. His performance as Phoenix Buchanan combines his best onscreen qualities: his comic timing, his capacity for menace and his joyful self-mockery, all topped off with the second best of his many, many onscreen song-and-dance numbers (see 10).

Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral
Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Photograph: Snap/Rex/Shutterstock

1. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Arguably, Grant was too impressive in this for his own good, given it took him 25 years to shake off the character of Charles. But this remains one of the great star-making performances of all time, in a film that is still, no matter what the sneerers say, wholly irresistible.

Maurice is re-released in the UK on 27 July.


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