I was bored a couple weeks back and decided I should finally get around to watching that Venom film from a few years ago. Suddenly I was hooked on both the character Eddie Brock and the actor Tom Hardy. Here I am three weeks later and I’ve watched every one of his films. You know, like one does.
As I have a habit of hyperfixating on things that catch my interest, I started a ridiculous deep dive into all things Tom Hardy and ended up watching all available movies in less than three weeks’ time. I’m not recommending that everyone does this, of course, but I did this so you don’t have to. So let’s break down all his movies and maybe you’ll follow me deep into Hardy Hell. Or, at the very least, you’ll know which Hardy films are worth your time and which ones you should skip. Either way, let’s get this list going.
– The Critical Tom Hardy Films –
This selection of films are critical for the geek contingent, which is most likely you if you’re reading a blog post on a website called ‘The Geekiary.’ If you aren’t a geek, labeling these as ‘critical’ might seem silly to you, but this is who we are around here. Hardy has an impressive geek film resume and it’s basically required viewing for those of us who live and breathe superhero and science fiction content with every fiber of our beings.
The film that started my obsession: Venom.
Tom Hardy’s performance in this film was incredibly interesting, which seem like an understatement considering the couple hundreds hours I’ve now spent both reading the comics and watching his films as a result of how compelling he is here. Hardy’s absolutely deranged, yet delightful performance as Eddie Brock was pitch perfect for the classic anti-hero story: a man-eating goo blob from space comes to earth, bonds with a host (Eddie Brock), they fall in love (shh, they use pet names and have a kid in the comics, so I won’t hear any arguments against this one), and then shenanigans ensue. And the shenanigans are fantastic.
A lot of review websites rated this film poorly, but it’s my favorite and I will die on this hill. What did you want from a film about a man-eating goo blob from space? It delivers what it intended to deliver, and it set me on this fantastic Hardy film journey. I couldn’t ask for anything more, honestly.
“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”
I’d seen Inception when it first came out, but completely forgot who he was in the film. After rewatching it as part of this marathon, I’m left wondering how the heck did I forget? Eames is a supremely sassy character who definitely flirts with Arthur (this is a popular fandom ship), which should have helped me remember his presence, Somehow he slipped my mind, though, so I got to experience his character like he was brand new.
Now that I’ve revisited it, it’s going to go into my cycle of films that get rewatched frequently. It’s a fantastic and incredibly interesting film, and Eames is a standout character. In a sea of depressing people doing depressing things, he’s a bright spot.
ICONIC. Yes, the set was incredibly tense, and for many that puts a bit of a dark cloud over it all, but the film is truly a masterpiece at every level. The acting, directing, design, writing, music, sound… everything is just perfect. I was obsessed with the movie when it first came out, but had no idea I’d be binge-watching the lead actor’s entire anthology a few years later. Welp, here I am! This was a fun one to revisit.
The Dark Knight Rises
Of all of Tom Hardy’s critical films, this one is my least favorite. I haven’t been the biggest fan of Nolan’s take on the Batman character, but this is still a critical role for Hardy as Bane. Be aware that his face is hidden for almost the entire film (it’s, uh, Bane, so that should be obvious) and his voice is incredibly garbled, but he sure works the hell out of his eyes. Don’t go into this expecting him to be pretty, but it’s still on my list of required viewing for the power of his eye-acting alone.
Star Trek: Nemesis
I’m not sure how he landed the role of a Star Trek villain as his second movie part, and then followed it up with a ton of small films and bit parts, but that’s what happened here. Sure, Nemesis is one of the lower-rated Star Trek films, but Star Trek is Star Trek and there’s an amount of prestige that comes with it regardless of quality.
For full disclosure, my favorite Star Trek series is TOS, and my favorite films are the reboots, so I hadn’t actually seen this before. When Hardy first appeared on screen, I screamed. His look is… well it’s a look. Still looks great, though. And he acts the hell out of it just like all the prestigious actors he interacts with throughout the film, especially his scenes with Patrick Stewart. He’s also incredibly good-looking despite being completely bald and wearing a suit that squeaks like a cheap desk chair. I really can’t explain how that’s possible, but it is.
You don’t have to be a major Star Trek fan to follow along. Basic knowledge of the main characters is helpful, but they do explain the basics through exposition, so feel free to hop right in without any experience.
– The Hidden Gems –
This selection of Tom Hardy films don’t get discussed much in geek spaces. They don’t have superheroes or science fiction elements or anything like that. They tend to be rather serious, but Hardy looks great, the plots are entertaining, and has performances are notable. You should definitely watch every single one of these films. Like, right now.
Tom Hardy + Cute Puppy. What else do you need to know?
Yes, there’s a plot involving organized crime and a woman and a bar or something. But honestly, it’s all about Tom Hardy and a puppy. If you’re showing up for that, you’ll be happy. The rest of the plot is just there to make the puppy scenes happen. If that’s your expectation going in, you’ll love it.
An hour and a half of Tom Hardy talking on the phone in a car sounds incredibly uninteresting, but it’s actually one of my favorite films on this entire list. There’s a very Waiting for Godot vibe to it all (which is actually referenced in the film itself), and it really lets Hardy focus entirely on his face and voice acting, both of which are quite lovely. This is the Most Hardy of the Hardy films because he’s doing it alone on the screen for an hour and a half.
Tom Hardy? Singing? Singing about how interested he is in serial killers but that totally doesn’t make him one? Amazing. He’s not a primary character in this film, so don’t expect wall-to-wall Hardy content here, but what little bits he’s actually in are very amusing. And I say that as someone who is also very interested in serial killers but is absolutely not one. His song could be my personal life theme song.
Stuart: A Life Backwards
This little gem came before either Tom Hardy or Benedict Cumberbatch were household names, but just a couple years later they’d both be blowing up huge with much more widely distributed projects. At times Hardy’s performance is uncomfortable, but that’s the nature of the story itself. It’s a bleak look at the realities of mental illness and homelessness, and it’s pretty depressing. That said, it’s still one of my favorites that I watched on this journey and I highly recommend it. Just prepare yourself for heavy and depressing content.
Warning: full-frontal nude Tom Hardy having a mental breakdown.
The main character in Bronson is a difficult one to process, but he tackles this complexity incredibly well. Like Stuart: A Life Backwards, Bronson focuses a lot on mental health issues, but instead of homelessness it focuses on the prison system and follows the story of the notorious criminal Charles Bronson. When I look at Hardy’s list of films, it feels like there’s a ‘before Bronson‘ era, with a few good gems and a lot of lower-budget duds, and then there’s the after-Bronson era, where he has thoroughly proven himself and gets a lot better parts. As difficult as moments of this film are to process due to their intensity and weirdness, it was absolutely a career-changing movie and all of the praise towards his acting talent is well deserved.
Warning: Like Stuart: A Life Backwards, Hardy has full-frontal nudity while having a complete mental breakdown, which is probably his third most common character quirk alongside hiding his face behind something and having a strange voice. This film is quite a journey, so prepare yourself accordingly.
– Tom Hardy’s Oscar Bait Films –
These films were made for an Oscar. Unfortunately, he only got nominated for one of them (The Revenant) and did not actually win. That said, he acts the hell out of each and every one of these roles and they are worthy of your attention. The films are all pretty phenomenal on every level.
This is the most Oscar-Baity of them all. In fact, this is the only film where he was actually nominated for an Academy Award (though he didn’t win), and it’s easy to see why. His performance is phenomenal.
Be warned that he’s the antagonist of this film, and by the end you’ll be rooting for him to get punched in the face by DiCaprio’s character. But I will take my urge to see him get decked as a sign that he understood the assignment. His character is incredibly unlikable, and that’s the point.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
All things considered, he has a fairly minor role in this film. He’s not the Tinker, Tailor, or Soldier, though he is one of many many spies. This is one of those films that film critics lose their minds over, though, so if you’re looking for a good movie that just happens to have him in it, this is it.
My one criticism is that the fashion from the 1970s doesn’t do anyone any favors here, but that’s hardly Hardy’s fault.
I started my marathon with this film. Hardy is in the cockpit of a fighter plane with a mask on right up until the very last scene. I thought, damn, I really chose poorly! I wanted to gaze upon Tom Hardy and this just wasn’t it. Imagine my surprise when his face being covered ended up being a theme in many of his films? I had no idea.
The film itself is really well done and I enjoyed it, but if you’re going into it hoping to gaze upon Hardy’s pretty face, this isn’t the one for you. Watch it anyway. It’s a great film.
– The Organized Crime Films –
Gotta be honest here. Organized crime films are not my favorite, so I didn’t really vibe with any of these movies. As such, I can’t really label them good, bad, or even just okay because of my own bias. They exist in his repertoire, and that’s all I’ve got here.
Hardy plays two characters here, and he looks great as both. He was also nominated for a ton of awards for this film, so his performance is notable. Hardy plays real life crime boss twins Ronald Kray and Reginald Kray, and Crime Boss shenanigans happen, as Crime Boss Shenanigans tend to do in Crime Boss films.
Be warned that there is rape and suicide featured in the plot, so it’s not easy to get through even with him looking absolutely fabulous. That said, it’s one of the better organized crime films on the list.
Lawless is a pretty good one, but my bias against the genre prevented me from appreciating it fully. That said, other critics enjoyed it so if this is your preferred genre, you’ll likely like this one.
This is primarily a Daniel Craig film, with Hardy mostly in a supporting role as he stretches his acting chops. This film was released just three years after Black Hawk Down (his first film), so he was a pretty fresh face at the time. Go in with the expectation that he’s mostly a side character, or you’ll be disappointed. This film was the first of his many organized crime films, so if that’s your thing, this is a great starting point to watch how he evolved through the genre.
I didn’t vibe with this film because, like I said, this genre just isn’t my thing, but Hardy does play a queer character and that made it slightly more enjoyable than many of the other organized crime films on the list (worth noting, one of the Kray brothers in Legend is also gay). Other than that, I found this film fairly meh. A lot of other people seem to enjoy it, though, so perhaps my bias against the genre has made it hard to critique fairly.
Thick as Thieves/The Code
Unlike the other organized crime films, Tom Hardy plays a cop in this one. And he’s very much a side character, just as most of the other roles in major films in his early career. That said, he’s very baby-faced here, so the few scenes he’s in are a nice aesthetic treat. Other than that, I didn’t vibe with this one very well either. But, again, I’m biased.
– The Early Tom Hardy Films –
Tom Hardy movies that were made prior to his breakout performance in Bronson, but can’t otherwise be categorized, will be going in this batch of films. A couple of his pre-Bronson films are in other categories, so this isn’t a comprehensive list of all his early work, but you can see his acting evolve in interesting ways if you watch them in order.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Tom Hardy’s first film! He’s very BABY. That said, this film has an incredibly stacked cast of nearly every major young male actor from the early 2000s, so he’s often pushed to the side as the unknown newcomer. He does have some fantastic moments, though.
Prepare yourself for graphic violence, though. This is a war film. A dude is literally blown in half at one point and it’s pretty gross.
Deserter/Legion of Honor (2002)
While Black Hawk Down is the Hardy war film where he’s an often forgotten side character, this is the war film where he has almost as much screen time as the lead. He’s not the lead, but he’s still pretty vital to the overall plot. He has a lot more range in this one, too. I’m not particularly into war films, but it’s worth it to see a fresh young Hardy stretching his acting talent with a complicated character.
The Reckoning (2003)
This is primarily a Paul Bettany and Willem Dafoe film, but Hardy is surprisingly prominent considering this is one of his earliest films. The story follows a Medieval acting troop and Hardy plays the guy that plays all the women’s roles in their plays since women weren’t allowed to act at the time. The film was enjoyable enough and it was interesting to watch him in this role, but the plot was almost a distraction from the setting and characters, which were way more fleshed out.
Even though Hardy isn’t a main character, he’s still oddly compelling and it’s worth a watch. His wigs and make-up alone had me rewinding the film multiple times just to, like, look at him. The dude has a very dynamic performance, even when absolutely atrocious wigs are glued to his head.
Gideon’s Daughter (2005)
This is a fairly small role, and not particularly interesting, but if you’re a completionist, you’re going to have to hunt this one down for the teeny, tiny Tom Hardy scraps you get scattered throughout. Like a lot of his pre-Bronson films, he’s VERY baby. This was a tough one to find, so good luck.
Sweeney Todd (2006)
No, this is not the one with Johnny Depp that came out the following year. This is the non-musical made-for-TV version, and it was very much overshadowed by the more well-known adaption that came immediately after it. It’s also incredibly difficult to find online, like many of his other early films. He’s a supporting character in this movie, but if you’re aiming to watch everything he’s in, it’s worth that much at least.
Warning that the film is graphic, but it’s, uh, Sweeney Todd so you should know that already. Also, be prepared to watch him writhe in agony during multiple scenes. Dude doesn’t have a fun time, here.
Marie Antoinette (2006)
This film is a fun one, but he’s definitely more of a side character than a main cast member, despite his name appearing in the opening credit sequence. He’s really only in one sequence of the film. Seeing him decked out in period attire is a trip, though! I genuinely had trouble recognizing him at first. I would very much like to see him in period attire more often, honestly. It was quite a treat.
Scenes of a Sexual Nature (2006)
While the movie itself is rather meh, Hardy’s performance is absolutely hilarious in its awkwardness. He doesn’t exactly play a likeable character, but his comedic timing is spot on and I somehow enjoyed him in this despite the uncomfortable context of the scenes he’s in (he hits on literally every woman he sees, regardless of the horrible awkwardness of the situation). This is probably his earliest comedic role, and it’s pretty enjoyable. I laughed pretty damn hard at every scene he’s in.
WΔZ / W Delta Z (2007)
This is a pretty straight forward serial killer narrative with some mild twists, and at first his character seems rather dull and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. But his role gets a lot more interesting partway through and he acts the hell out of two later scenes particularly well. In those two scenes you really see the incredibly intense Tom Hardy eye-acting that are basically the staple to most of his later films. The dude’s ability to convey complex emotions with just his eyes is really mind blowing. It’s worth a watch for his intense eyes alone, even if the serial killer genre isn’t your thing.
The ’90s and 2000s were a prime era for disaster films, but this one is unnecessarily long (188 minutes) and not incredibly interesting. This is one to watch only if you’re a completionist and determined to watch everything. He’s certainly in the film (introduced about an hour in), but he’s not particularly compelling as he is in literally every other film I watched (even the bad ones). I’m somewhat impressed that he even has the ability to be mediocre – he acts his heart out even in total garbage films – but his part was pretty dull here. (Sorry, Mr. Hardy. Hope you never read this).
– The Okay Ones –
I’ve placed films here that are 1) good, but I didn’t personally vibe with, 2) films that are good, but don’t feature him heavily, or 3) films that are terrible, but at the very least have some good eye-candy. Basically, this is a mixed bag, so I’m categorizing them as ‘okay’ as a catch-all ranking.
Tom Hardy is beefy as HECK in this film. He plays a boxer, which, like organized crime dramas, just isn’t my thing. If you want a super beefy, sweaty, quietly contemplative Tom Hardy, though, this should be your film.
I struggled with this one. It is a quality film and his role as a conflicted Soviet officer is an incredibly meaty part to play, but it just didn’t vibe with me personally. That said, like all the other films in this section, you are free to disagree. Give it a look so that your Hardy watch is complete at least.
Sergeant Slaughter – My Big Brother
This movie is only 12 minutes long and it’s pretty good for what it is, but it’s definitely a small budget short film. Still, he has an incredibly dynamic performance and it’s worth a watch. It is not a cinematic masterpiece, but if you like Hardy’s intense eye-acting, you might as well spend 12 minutes of your life giving it a watch.
Warning that he is once again completely nude while having a breakdown. It’s another Tom Hardy staple I guess.
This Means War
I really don’t know how anyone could mess up a film that stars Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon, and Chris Pine, but somehow they did. It’s not a fun film, though it certainly tries to be. In fact, everyone in the film is incredibly unlikeable and borderline offensive. The only saving grace of this film is that Hardy and Pine look GREAT, and the alternative ending has them cuddling together. But that’s it, and that’s the only reason it’s in the ‘okay’ category instead if the ‘bad’ category. The rest can be tossed in the trash.
– The Bad Ones –
Don’t. Just don’t. Unless you like to suffer.
This film…. was a struggle. He’s not attractive in the slightest here which, like, isn’t my primary reason for watching his films, but it helps when the material is lacking! And goodness, the material is certainly lacking. He acts his heart out, but when your character looks like he got in a fight with a weedwhacker and casually (and graphically) craps the bed, it’s really hard to appreciate his acting prowess. I wish to erase this film from my memory bank. Thanks.
No, this isn’t the highly popular women-led film from 2011, but rather the extremely small budget UK film from 2008. I didn’t find the acting, writing, or directing all that compelling, and Hardy doesn’t play a major role so even he couldn’t save it from itself. His scene is brief, and the rest of the film is boring as hell and looks like it was shot on a Motorola flip phone. At this point in his career he had some pretty good films under his belt, so I have no idea why he pops up in this one like this.
This film is extremely low budget and hard to find, but somehow I located a stream of it (with Dutch subtitles) and gave it a watch. It’s not a great film by any means. That said, if your preferred Tom Hardy is a disheveled, sweaty, messy-haired dude, this may work for you. He acts the hell out of his part here, though. Way more than the script deserves, honestly.
Dot the i
This was one of the hardest films to find on the list, and it was also one of the bad ones. The film’s main plot revolves around infidelity and manipulation, which is already an uncomfortable premise, but it’s worse for the fact that the leads don’t have much chemistry. Hardy is a side character, and not a particularly dynamic one. Unless you are trying to be a completionist, it’s really not worth the time or effort to find it.
LD 50 Lethal Dose
This is a mediocre horror film that was shot very early on in his career, shortly after Black Hawk Down was released in theaters. I really can’t blame him for being in so many duds early in his career – actors have to start somewhere – but the only reasons to watch this film is to check a box on your Tom Hardy film list, or to gaze upon his youthful visage. He’s a main character, so he’s in it a lot, but it’s a pretty basic and bland film, all things considered.
– The Missing Films –
“But you said you watched EVERY Tom Hardy film!” Yes, I know. Sorry this was a bit misleading. Unfortunately, a few were out of reach, but I certainly tried. The following films were either geolocked on streaming services and unable to be located on those sketchy websites out there (you know, the ones that give your computer a virus the second you open it). A couple of them had DVDs or Blu-ray available, but not in the format I can play on my laptop. If you can find a way to get me one of these films in a legal and safe way, please do drop me a line!
The Inheritance (2007)
A For Andromeda (2006)
– Final Tom Hardy Movie Thoughts –
This was quite an adventure. Even the bad films were worth it for me, but perhaps you’ll be more selective and stick to his good movies. I’m just incapable of doing anything halfway and had to throw myself into this completely. It’s been a fun three weeks, and it’s not entirely over for me as I am now going to be shifting my focus to his TV roles.
And to Mr. Hardy, if he happens to stumble across this silly little blog post, your career has been friggin’ wild. Like damn. Sorry I didn’t vibe with everything, but your talent is immense and you have my respect.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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