While Heath Andrew Ledger otherwise referred mostly as Heath Ledger lived, he was a talented Australian actor and music video director. He began his acting career in the year 1991 and starred in films and television series from the 90s till the first decade of the new millennium before he sadly kicked the bucket. The actor’s filmography contains spectacular works like Brokeback Mountain (2005), A Knight’s Tale (2001), The Brothers Grimm (2005), A Knight’s Tale (2001), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) and others which are some of the best Heath Ledger movies everyone must see at least once.
Though his acting career didn’t span up to two decades, Heather was extremely good in the roles he played in various movies such that he won notable awards. Some of such awards are the Academy Awards, Australian Film Institute Awards, Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards, British Academy Film Awards, People’s Choice Awards, African-American Film Critics Association Awards – to mention just a few. Heath Ledger in his lifetime saw a total of 58 award nominations out of which he won 36.
In this article, we took a critical look at the projects Heath was part of and came up with this list of 10 Heath Ledger movies that are a must-see for everyone who knew him or has heard of his exploits in the industry.
Must-Watch Heath Ledger Movies
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Topping our list of the best Heath Ledger movies is 2008 D.C comic superhero film – The Dark Knight which starred Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Heath Ledger as The Joker: an “agent of chaos” of the criminal underworld who throws the comic’s fictional city named Gotham into anarchy. Due to his vile nature, he constantly pushes Batman to the limit of his physical and psychological endurance in his fight against injustice.
The Dark Knight, which also includes an ensemble of casts like Gary Oldman as James Gordon, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, was a huge commercial success as the film which was made with $185 million made a whopping $1.005 billion at the Box Office.
2. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
In his acting career, the year 2005 was perhaps the busiest for Heath as he acted in five movies in that year and three of those movies made this list of Heath Ledger’s greatest movies. Brokeback Mountain which was made with $14 million returned $178.1 million in the box office. Heath featured as the lead actor (Ennis Del Mar) alongside Jake Gyllenhaal as Jack Twist, Linda Cardellini as Cassie Cartwright, Michelle Williams as Alma Beers Del Mar, Kate Mara as Alma Del Mar Jr, Peter McRobbie as John Twist and many others.
Brokeback Mountain is an American romantic drama film where Heath Ledger played the role of a cowboy who began a forbidden and secretive relationship with another cowboy he was employed with to herd a flock of sheep in the Wyoming mountains over the summer.
3. Candy (2006)
Another stand out romantic drama film Heath Ledger starred in is Candy where he featured as the character, Dan. The film is an adaptation of Luke Davies’ novel titled “Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction.” It had an ensemble of casts like Abbie Cornish as Candy, Geoffrey Rush as Casper, Tom Budge as Schumann, Tony Martin as Jim Wyatt and others.
In the film, Heath’s character Dan is a poet who falls in love with an art student named Candy. The two experience a deeper level of connection with their bohemian lifestyle, and addiction to heroin which ultimately leads their relationship into a state of self-destruction and despair. There is a lot of lessons to be learned in this movie which ultimately stands it out as one of the best Heath Ledger movies in any ranking.
4. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
10 Things I Hate About You is another American romantic comedy film through which Heath Ledger endeared a lot of fans to himself. He played the character of Patrick Verona, a bad boy who is hired to date Katarina “Kat” Stratford (Julia Stiles), the anti-social elder of the Stratford sisters but ends up genuinely falling in love with her.
The film when it was released received positive reviews from critics who noted that Stiles aptly grew into her character while Ledger didn’t sweat playing his character as he seemed to have blended naturally into the role. The film was remarkably successful in the box office as it made $53.5 million from a budget of $16 million.
5. The Patriot (2000)
The Patriot is an American epic historical fiction war film set in rural Berkeley County, South Carolina where the story of Captain/Colonel Benjamin Martin, a French and Indian War veteran was told. The lead character of Cpt Benjamin was played by Mel Gibson who although he had military experience was reluctant to fight in the Revolutionary War because of its implication and his desire to withhold from his family what he is capable of in battle. However, when his son, Gabriel Martin played by Heath Ledger joins the army and his brother Thomas gets killed, Cpt Benjamin then took it upon himself to join the militia. The film was based on the historical characters of Francis Marion, Nathanael Greene, Thomas Sumter, Daniel Morgan, and Andrew Pickens.
6. Lords of Dogtown (2005)
Lords of Dogtown is an American biographical drama film set in the Venice Beach area of Los Angeles, California in the mid-70s. The film had in lead roles the likes of Emile Hirsch as Jay Adams, John Robinson as Stacy Peralta, Victor Rasuk as Tony Alva, Heath Ledger as Skip Engblom and others. It tells the story of the surf and skateboarding trend in Venice, California in the 70s and in particular, the introduction of polyurethane wheels for skateboards.
With this film, Heath Ledger won the Actor of the Year award from the Central Ohio Film Critics Association. Lords of Dogtown was also listed as number 417 in the Empire’s (a British film magazine) list of “The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.”
7. Monster’s Ball (2001)
On the 7th spot on our list of Heath Ledger movies is the American romantic drama film Monster’s Ball which featured Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Sean Combs, Will Rokos, Peter Boyle, and of course Heath Ledger.
Monster’s Ball as aptly named tells the story of Hank Grotowski played by Billy Bob Thornton and his son Heath Ledger as Sonny Grotowski who both work as correctional officers in a prison in Georgia. Sonny turned out to be weak and too soft for what his line of job demands and because of this, he gets to a crossroads with his father. As various scenes played out in the development of the story, we see him holding his father at gunpoint but later killing himself. This turn of events leads to another phase in Hank’s life as he resigned from his prison job and began running a gas station. Over time, he gets to meet Leticia Musgrove (Halle Berry) who turned out to be the widower of Lawrence Musgrove (Sean Combs), a man who he executed. The events that later played out in the movie are what makes Monster’s Ball a stand out in this list of Heath Ledger movies.
8. A Knight’s Tale (2001)
Just as the name suggests, this is a medieval film however with a twist of adventure-comedy. The film starred in lead roles the likes of Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany, Mark Addy, and Alan Tudyk. Heath as the protagonist played the character of William Thatcher a brave and loyal peasant who discovered the death of his master Sir Ector (played by Nick Brimble) with his fellow servants.
Prior to his death, Sir Ector was participating in a jousting tournament where he had only one more round to pass and win the tournament, however, he suddenly died. William took it upon himself to impersonate his late master and complete the tournament. He ended up winning the prize and gets even inspired to compete and win more prizes. As he kept on competing, winning and getting more famous, he comes across Jocelyn, a lady of noble birth played by Shannyn Sossamon who his interest in sets him against the rich and spoilt Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell); an experienced man in battle albeit with an air of arrogance.
A Knight’s Tale as one of the best Heath Ledger movies was quite commercially successful. The movie was made with a budget of $65 million while it commendably returned about $117.5 million.
9. Ned Kelly (2003)
Ned Kelly was directed by Gregor Jordan and jointly produced by Lynda House and Nelson Woss. It is an Australian historical drama film adaptation of Robert Drewe’s novel titled “Our Sunshine.” In the lead role, Heath acted as Ned Kelly who became a hero as a 10-year-old boy after saving a young boy from drowning. However when he got older, precisely at 17 years, Ned finds himself on the wrong side of the law although not intentionally. He was caught riding a horse supposedly stolen by an acquaintance of his. Ned was thereafter jailed and he served a three-year sentence for the crime. When he got released, he sought vengeance which began a new phase in his life. Lovers of historical drama films will find Ned Kelly a worthy production to watch as the casts left nothing to chance in the portrayal of their characters.
10. Casanova (2005)
Last but not least on this list of Heath Ledger movies that you shouldn’t miss is Casanova. It is an American romance film that featured Heath Ledger as Giacomo Casanova. In other to save himself from being exiled in his city, he is mandated to get married by The Doge (Tim McInnerny), the city’s ruler. This mandate saw him get married to a lady named Victoria but he later finds himself falling in love with Francesca Bruni (Sienna Miller).
Francesca was however interested in marrying a certain rich Paprizzio (Oliver Platt) but Casanova, true to his nature, used a series of manipulations to present himself as Paprizzio in hopes of winning Francesca’s love. At a point, Casanova gets busted and was almost at the point of losing his life. However, an impostor who claimed to be the Pope but was actually Casanova’s long-lost stepfather issued a proclamation which spontaneously saves his stepson’s life. Giacomo Casanova later escaped with Francesca who at that point has come to learn about all his deceit but has somehow grown an affection for him. The duo had a happily ever after as a family.