Albert Brooks movies and TV shows are some of the finest you’ll see. The celebrated and accomplished actor, producer, writer, and director started his career journey first as a stand-up comedian, appearing on many occasions on Jonny Carson’s Tonight Show. His comedic prowess saw him receive a Grammy award nomination for his 1975 comedy album A Star Is Bought. His directorial abilities were tested when he got hired to direct six short films of Saturday Night Lives’ season one. 1976 was the year that marked the beginning of his acting career with a role in Martin Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver.
He got several other awards and nominations in the course of his acting career which include an academy award for Broadcast News (1987), golden globe awards nomination for Drive (2011), best screenplay as a writer from the New York Film Critics Circle for Mother (1996), and a National Society of Film Critics award for Mother and Lost in America (1985). In recognition of his unique talent in acting, here is a list of the actor’s movies and TV shows ranked from best to worst in the order that follows:
Albert Brooks Movies and TV Shows
1. Broadcast News (1987)
Oh yes, this is the movie that got the actor his first-ever Oscar nomination which was one out of the seven the movie got. The film which is a combination of comedy and drama saw Brooks portraying the role of Aaron Altman, an intelligent reporter in the competitive and tough world of TV news. His dream of becoming an anchor was put to pieces when a low-experienced guy was brought in by the network to work as an anchor. Now his chances of ever being with his news producer, Jane Craig is under threat as she seemingly has eyes for the inexperienced anchor. The majority of critics praised Brooks’ characterization and sees him as the heart and soul of the movie.
2. Drive (2011)
This is probably the greatest of Albert Brooks’s movies. It saw the actor being hailed by several film critics groups numbering 17 for his top of the class performance and portrayal of the dangerous mobster and murderer Bernie Rose.
The movie is the story of how Bernie murdered so many people to lay his hands on robbery money. To the utmost dismay of many movie lovers and film critics, Brooks was ignored in the Grammys, but he did get a Golden Globe Award nomination.
3. Finding Nemo (2003)
This 2003 animation was acclaimed as one of Brooks’ most loved roles. He was the voice of Merlin, a widower clownfish whose one and only surviving son is the energetic, noisy and boisterous Nemo. Having suffered the loss of his wife and children in a deadly barracuda infestation, he becomes overprotective of Nemo. Now Nemo has gone missing, Marlin searches the whole ocean to look for him.
Brooks via very powerful vocal expressions, brought to fore the kind of love parents have for their kids regardless. The 2016 sequel titled Finding Dory saw him return again as Marlin.
4. Defending Your Life (1991)
In this movie, Brooks’ characterization exposes the elements of life in purgatory. He plays the role of Daniel Miller who dies in an auto-crash and finds himself in a place called Judgment City in the afterlife and to proceed there, newcomers must face trial and defend their actions on earth. He is judged and found to have lived his life on earth based on his fears; he must return to earth to try again. He did and falls in love with Julia who is adjudged to be good and whose love can help save him. The movie is spectacular because Brook’s distinct and imaginative description of the afterlife is most suitable and perfect for the story.
5. Lost in America (1985)
Of the Albert Brooks movies on this list, this is special because he wrote the script, directed it, and also starred in it alongside Monica Johnson, Julie Hagerty, Maggie Roswell, and Michael Green. The movie follows a couple; David played by Brooks and Linda Howard played by Julie Hagerty who are fed up with the rich kind of living and decided to sell everything they had and to buy a Winnebago in which they will hit the road in search of “real America”. Of course, they got what they bargained for as Linda squanders the money in Las Vegas. Broke and without a penny, they resort to menial jobs. Brooks and Julie make an amazing team and his directorial style was top class.
6. Mother (1996)
One certain thing about this movie is that it is one of the actor’s most successful films in terms of revenue. The movie is more of a family comedy which centers on writer John Henderson played by Brooks who has come to the realization that he knows absolutely nothing about women after a second divorce, so he made a decision to move in with his mother Beatrice, played by Debbie Reynolds in search of answers.
7. Taxi Driver (1976)
This is the movie that ushered Brooks into his professional acting career and what a movie! The actor portrays Tom, who volunteered to campaign for a presidential candidate and ends up becoming overprotective of his fellow volunteer Betsy played by Cybill Shepherd, who is stalked by taxi driver Travis Bickle played by Robert DeNiro. Tom steps in when Bickle begins to berate her in public after she rejects his gift of flowers. Although Brooks wasn’t seen much in the movie, he was able to handle his role so perfectly well that the movie became the beginning of a successful career for him.
8. Out of Sight (1998)
The Steven Soderbergh’s comedy focuses on Brooks who, this time around, takes to crime and plays the role of a shady businessman Richard Ripley, who at a time in prison bragged to three fellow prisoners Jack, Buddy and Glenn about his stashed collection of uncut diamonds. Now their prison time is over, the three thieves decide to come for the diamonds.
The director did well to keep the actions grounded; however, it is Brooks and Clooney (Jack), who had all the good time.
9. A Most Violent Year (2014)
It was three years after his stellar and award-winning display as a bad guy in Drive, that Brooks returned in J.C Chandor’s 2014 action thriller as a good guy, where he plays the role of Andrew Walsh, an attorney representing an oil mogul Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), who is being investigated by Assistant District Attorney (David Oyelowo), whose main aim is to expose dirty business. Brooks yet again handles the dramatic role expertly.
10. Real Life (1979)
This movie marked his debut as a director and it is a story of the realities of how TV reality shows began slowly before the genre made it big. Brooks wants to create a documentary that will tackle the subject matter “what it means to be an American Family”. To actualize this, he persuades the Yeagers Family to allow him and his cameras to film everything about their family life. In the end, what should have been a reality presentation takes a different dimension as Brooks begins to interfere with their lives.
11. Private Benjamin (1980)
Director Howard Zieff’s comedy is a classic tale of how Judy Benjamin played by Goldie Hawn, lost her husband, Yale Goodman (Brooks), a businessman during sex on their wedding night. Her dreams and aspirations are shattered when he died. Brooks’s role in the movie was limited but very important as within the first few minutes of the film, he is able to suggest that Yale was nothing but an imagination of Judy.
12. Modern Romance (1981)
This is the second directorial effort of Brooks. Here the movie focuses on love in modern times. This was portrayed via the eyes of Robert Cole played by Brooks who is so much in love with Mary Harvard (Kathryn Harrold), a bank executive, who must put up with her lover’s annoying mood swings. The movie centers on Brooks and Harrold. What makes the film even more interesting is how Roberts becomes one of Brooks’ most hilarious neurotic characters.
13. The Muse (1999)
The movie follows a famous screenwriter Steven Philips played by Albert Brooks who seemed to have it all, however, he lost his artistic drive, and his fellow writer friend Jack Warrick (Jeff Bridges) persuades him to hire a veritable muse known as Sarah Little (Sharon Stone). He hires her and suddenly regains inspiration, but her services come with a big price, as Steven is not sure what she really wants.
14. My First Mister (2001)
The movie centers on the story of an alienated teen girl played by Leelee Sobieski and how she creates an unlikely friendship with a calm and quiet clothing store owner (Albert Brooks). The film features other co-stars such as Carol Kane, Michael McKean, John Goodman, and Desmond Harrington. The combination of the two characters with opposite traits was highly praised by critics as it was able to draw sympathy.
15. The Simpsons (1990- )
Although his filmography is dominated by his movie roles, Albert Brooks has also made a few TV show appearances, without many able to make the cut among his best works. However, his role in the Simpsons is worth mentioning. In the animated TV show, he has voiced several characters.