Robin Williams will always be a major part of why I love movies. Aladdin was one of my first favorite movies and a lot of that can be attributed to him and the hilarious Genie he created. Mrs. Doubtfire will always be one of the best comedies (even though critics may have been torn at the time). That scene in Hook where the Lost Boys finally take him at his word and realize he is Peter Pan was one of the most moving things I had ever seen as a kid sitting in a theater, enraptured by a performance and a film. His earlier work in films like Dead Poets Society will forever be known as classic. His later performances, like his Oscar-winning turn in Good Will Hunting, will thankfully live on.
Williams had the great ability to provide honesty, humility, and comedy into each and every scripted moment he was a part of. He is, without doubt, a cinematic and American legend. He will be missed.
In memory of the Academy Award-winning actor's life and career, let's visit some of the best moments he gave us over the years. Here's to an actor who took risks, inspired millions of people, and never failed to make use laugh.
10. What Dreams May Come (1998)
Directed by Vincent Ward
Starring Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., Max Von Sydow
The afterlife is a topic of much debate. Vincent Ward's film, based on the novel by Richard Matheson, puts thoughts and feelings about what life is even after death onto a beautiful canvas of colors and dreams. Williams stars as a man on the search for his wife after a horrific car accident. With great performances and Oscar-winning special effects, What Dreams May Come is a visual treat that still holds up today. It's also a great narrative on enjoying life and the meaning of others in your life, which is even more poignant today than ever before.
9. One Hour Photo (2002)
Directed by Mark Romanek
Starring Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan
In one of his darker roles, Williams starred as Seymour Parrish, a one-hour photo clerk who becomes obsessed with a local family in town. The film was a critic favorite, but audiences weren't quite sure how they felt about seeing the endearing Williams in such a strange place. The film works on many levels, most notably the simple and elegant atmosphere director Mark Romanek created. It was little seen at the time, but it's completely worthy of a discovery now. In a time when comedians were choosing more serious roles, Williams knocked this one out of the park.
8. Awakenings (1990)
Directed by Penny Marshall
Starring Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Penelope Ann Miller
Coming off of an incredible run in the late 1980s, Williams starred in Awakenings as a doctor vying for a new drug for catatonic patients suffering in the aftermath of an encephalitis epidemic. Co-starring Robert De Niro, the film was a great commentary on the state of the medical industry. As patients began to awaken, the film explores their new experiences in life and the dynamic toll the changes bring on the families, most of which had given up and moved on years earlier. The film was nominated for Best Picture and is also one of De Niro's best.
7. Hook (1991)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts
Steven Spielberg's return to Neverland is a modern day kids film classic. There are countless memorable quotes and moments from the film that was a huge hit when it released and went on to garner 5 Academy Award nominations. Williams stars as an adult Peter Pan who must travel back to Neverland to help defeat Captain Hook and save his children. The movie was a perfect fit for Williams' demeanor and also showcased some of the great Spielberg details we've all grown to love. The movie is high adventure and comedy, but the touching moments and the themes of togetherness and happiness will make even the most grown up smile.
6. Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Directed by Barry Levinson
Starring Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, J.T. Walsh
The Vietnam war has become the setting for countless Hollywood stories, but none are like the hilarious and touching Good Morning, Vietnam, which follows a spitfire DJ (Williams) assigned to a US Armed Services Radio station near the front lines. Williams earned his first Oscar nomination for his turn as the unorthodox radio host, a role that would define his ability to mix comedy and drama in a real-life way. The film also serves as a commentary to the way media can overshadow the realities of life and war, sometimes needed but also sometimes unwarranted.
5. The Fisher King (1991)
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Starring Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges
Terry Gilliam's masterpiece is one of the best stories of redemption to grace the modern movie screen. In his second Oscar-nominated role, Williams stars as a homeless man helped by a former radio DJ (Jeff Bridges), bringing both to a place of sincerity neither had experienced in a long time. The movie let Williams completely dive into the insanity and wackiness of his character. While crazy, Williams was able to bring a level of emotion to the role that few would be able to do. The dialogue may be shocking, but the delivery is interestingly endearing.
4. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Directed by Chris Columbus
Starring Robin Williams, Sally Field
One of the the 90s classics that will always hold up, Mrs. Doubtfire is the best example of Williams' ability at physical comedy. In order to continue seeing his kids, Daniel Hillard (Williams), a voice actor, disguises himself as the aloof and innocent Mrs. Doubtfire, a Scottish nanny hired by his ex-wife (Sally Field) to assist in watching over the children. Sight gags and hilarious one-liners make their presence known throughout the film, but what separates it from other standard comedies at the time is the impeccable way Williams chooses to deliver. Everything is methodical in the perfect way. There's nothing better than when Mrs. Doubtfire pops up from being the fridge with the hilarious "Hellooooo!"
3. Aladdin (1992)
Directed by Ron Clements, John Musker
Starring Robin Williams, Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin
One of the highlights of Disney's renaissance period, Aladdin gave us countless classic songs and memorable moments. None of them were more memorable than Williams' Genie, perhaps one of the greatest Disney characters of all time. From pop culture impressions to song and dance numbers, Genie never skips a beat and always has something clever to say, do, sing. Over the years many have said that voiceover work should be considered for Oscar notoriety. Much like Ellen DeGeneres' Dory in Finding Nemo, Williams' Genie is worthy of many, many accolades. In fact, he presented with a special Golden Globe in 1993 for his work on the animated film. While a classic, the bulk of the film's best moments are thanks to Williams.
2. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Starring Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
Affleck and Damon may have received a lot of attention for their script (as they should have, especially for being newcomers at the time), it's Robin Williams who surprised the most on screen. Winning an Academy Award for the film, Williams left his usual comedic bits (minus one great scene) and ventured more into the introspective dramatics of life. His chemistry with co-star Matt Damon easily helped this become one of the greatest movies of all time. The park bench scene alone is one for the ages. The movie was the sleeper hit of the year and went on to win a handful of Oscars. It's perhaps Williams' finest work.
1. Dead Poets Society (1989)
Directed by Peter Weir
Starring Robin Williams, Josh Charles, Ethan Hawke
Much like Good Will Hunting gave us a straightforward look at what type of work Williams could do, we first saw a glimpse of this in Williams' John Keating in the classic Dead Poets Society. The story of an inspiring professor at a boys boarding school works on many levels. Most notably, though, is Williams' delivery of some of the finest dialogue written for modern cinema. Each word is so moving, like poetry, naturally. The powerful play goes on. The movie brought Williams his second Oscar nomination and the film itself was nominated for Best Picture. It's a moving piece of art that completely inspires any viewer to truly grasp what the future can hold and never let go of reaching for those dreams.
There are so many other great Robin Williams performance beyond this top ten that are worthy of celebration, like Toys and The Bridcage. Even when the movies weren't necessarily the best, Williams was still a welcome sight.
Oh captain, my captain, thanks for everything.