Our dear Thomas Shelby from Peaky Blinders, Cillian Murphy, is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. In every project he was in, Murphy proved again and again that he gives great performances with his dedication and love for the job. Appearing in movies since 1992, the Irish actor got his breakthrough in the horror film 28 Days Later (2002). It is challenging to rank Cillian Murphy performances when every one of them is excellent without exception. Still, we have attempted to rank the actor’s performances based on the characters’ memorability and impact on the viewer.
1. Peaky Blinders
Of course, the most memorable character that Murphy has played is Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders. We are aware that this is biased since he has played the role for 6 seasons. It is the longest time we have seen Murphy playing the same character; however, this is not the only reason why we chose his role in Peaky Blinders as his best performance. His character, fighting with internal and external demons, leaves room for Murphy to showcase his acting abilities. Murphy plays Shelby in such a charismatic way that it is hard not to be convinced that this is a lifetime performance.
2. 28 Days Later
As we mentioned above, Murphy’s character in 28 Days Later was a breakthrough for him as he became known internationally. In the movie, directed by Danny Boyle, he portrays a man named Jim who wakes up from a coma at a hospital in London and discovers that he is alone in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by zombies. Murphy proves that he can play both the victim and the predator in the movie.
3. Breakfast on Pluto
Controversial Cillian Murphy movies are not that many, but Breakfast on Pluto is one of them. Murphy plays a transgender woman in the film as she struggles with her past and identity. Although when the movie was released (2005), these issues were not tackled that much, a few years after, the choice of a cis-gender man for the role of a transgender woman was seen as wrong. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that the actor did not play the role perfectly; he did. The part even made him get his 1st Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.
Another of the Cillian Murphy performances, his role in Dunkirk was the shortest but among the most impactful. The character that he played does not even have a name. He is listed as a “shivering soldier” and is seen as a soldier with PTSD who British civilians rescue. Murphy perfectly captures the horrors of the war and how those may affect a terrorized and scared soldier.
In this incredible movie by Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio plays a thief who can infiltrate people’s dreams and plant ideas in their subconscious. For a chance of getting his record cleaned, the thief has to put an idea into the subconscious of Murphy’s character. Murphy’s acting fits well with the other cast members, including big names like Dicaprio, Tom Hardy, Elliot Page, and Joseph Gordon Levitt. He does not take away anyone’s spotlight but rather complements their performances.
6. A Quiet Place 2
In the movie A Quiet Place 2, Murphy plays a guy named Emmett, a family friend of the Abbotts. As Emily Blunt’s character tries to cope with the loss of her husband, Emmett also grieves the loss of his own family. As the Abbotts stumble upon him, they plead for his help. Murphy, once again, plays perfectly a man who grieves but at the same time is calculating and careful.
7. Batman Begins
We told you initially that all Cillian Murphy performances were excellent, and we still stand by that opinion. In the Dark Knight trilogy, we see Murphy playing a villain called Scarecrow, a former professor of psychology, Dr. Jonathan Crane. It was incredible to see how Murphy could turn sinister in a matter of seconds with his angelic blue eyes. It was a joy to watch him in this movie.
Bonus: Oppenheimer (2023)
— Nolan Fans (@NolanFans) February 23, 2022
Good news: Murphy will play in another Nolan movie, called Oppenheimer, which is expected to come out in July 2023. Murphy will be playing the titular character, J. Robert Oppenheimer, who is among the fathers of the atomic bomb. Considering Murphy’s contributions in previous Nolan films, fans and critics alike are sure that Murphy will nail this one.