Kevin Bacon's Top 10 Films: A Retrospective on the Iconic Actors' Best Roles

Kevin Bacon's Top 10 Films: A Retrospective on the Iconic Actors' Best Roles

Kevin Bacon has had an extensive, versatile, and acclaimed career spanning over 40 years in Hollywood. He is known for taking on diverse roles across a variety of genres from dramas to comedies and thrillers. Throughout his prolific filmography, Bacon has delivered many memorable performances that have cemented his status as an iconic and influential actor.

In this retrospective, we will be counting down Kevin Bacon's top 10 highest-rated films according to critics and viewers. We will explore his most iconic characters and critically-acclaimed performances that exemplify his acting range and talent.

The specific sources for the ratings are:

  • Footloose - Critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Viewer rating from IMDb.
  • Diner - Critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Viewer rating from IMDb.
  • The Woodsman - Critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Viewer rating from IMDb.
  • Tremors - Critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Viewer rating from IMDb.
  • Animal House - Critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Viewer rating from IMDb.
  • Murder in the First - Critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Viewer rating from IMDb.
  • JFK - Critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Viewer rating from IMDb.
  • A Few Good Men - Critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Viewer rating from IMDb.
  • Apollo 13 - Critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Viewer rating from IMDb.
  • Mystic River - Critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Viewer rating from IMDb.

10. Footloose (1984)

Critics: 80% Viewers: 6.6/10

Footloose (1984)

Kevin Bacon had his breakout leading role as rebellious teenager Ren McCormack in the 1984 musical drama Footloose. Directed by Herbert Ross, the film follows Ren as he moves from Chicago to a small town where dancing is banned by the local government. Footloose highlights Bacon's talents as a dramatic actor and dancer. His energetic performance made him an instant star and turned Footloose into a pop culture phenomenon with its soundtrack becoming a multi-platinum hit. Bacon's rebellious but sympathetic take on Ren resonated with audiences and critics alike.

"Kevin Bacon infuses the role with the proper spirit, emerging as an actor of promise." - Variety

9. Diner (1982)

Critics: 91% Viewers: 7.2/10

Diner (1982)

In one of his earliest roles, Kevin Bacon delivered a scene-stealing performance as Fenwick in Barry Levinson’s 1982 comedy-drama Diner. Set in 1950s Baltimore, the film revolves around a group of young men just about to enter adulthood. Bacon managed to stand out from the ensemble cast which also included Mickey Rourke and Steve Guttenberg. As the quirky, awkward, yet lovable Fenwick, Bacon displayed his comedic skills and ability to portray nuanced characters. Diner earned critical acclaim for its originality in capturing the pre-Beat generation and launched the careers of its young stars.

"One of the most assured directorial debuts of recent years" - Time Out

8. The Woodsman (2004)

Critics: 87% Viewers: 6.9/10

The Woodsman (2004)

Displaying immense acting range, Kevin Bacon took on the challenging role of a convicted sex offender trying to rebuild his life after prison in the 2004 drama The Woodsman. Bacon's nuanced portrayal of Walter received universal praise from critics who hailed it as one of his finest performances. Though difficult to watch at times, Bacon brought empathy and depth to the complicated character. His raw and immersive acting highlighted Walter's struggle for redemption and humanized such a stigmatized figure. The Woodsman represents one of Bacon's most transformative and risk-taking roles.

"Other actors act their characters; Mr. Bacon seems to crawl into his, inhabiting him" - A.O. Scott, New York Times

7. Tremors (1990)

Critics: 84% Viewers: 7.2/10

Tremors (1990)


Tremors (1990) - A Cheesy but Brilliant Cult Classic
Bursting out of the desert sand in 1990, Tremors quickly became a cult favourite thanks to its wacky blend of comedy, horror, and sci-fi.

Proving he could excel in any genre, Kevin Bacon starred in the cult classic monster comedy Tremors opposite Fred Ward. As handymen forced to battle giant underground worms attacking their town, Bacon and Ward's chemistry and humor made Tremors an enduring fan favorite. Though a B-movie on the surface, Tremors earned critical praise for its balance of horror, suspense, and comedy. Bacon displayed his comedic chops and action hero abilities in the unusual role of monster-hunter. Tremors spawned multiple sequels and remains one of Bacon's most iconic and beloved films.

Tremors is good and gross...It has a bouncy spirit and real energy" - Caryn James, New York Times

6. National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)

Critics: 85% Viewers: 7.6/10

National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)

One of Kevin Bacon's earliest film roles was as fraternity pledge Chip Diller in the 1978 raunchy college comedy Animal House. As part of the ensemble cast comprising future comedy legends like John Belushi, Bacon held his own with his entertaining portrayal of the uptight frat boy. Though only a supporting part, Bacon demonstrated his ability to thrive as part of a highly funny and dynamic cast. With its rebel spirit, Animal House became a seminal film that shaped countless comedies and the cinematic representation of college life that followed.

"One of the most relentlessly funny movies ever made" - Roger Ebert

5. Murder in the First (1995)

Critics: 81% Viewers: 7.2/10

Murder in the First (1995)

Showcasing his range, Bacon took on the role of prosecuting attorney in the gritty crime drama Murder in the First in 1995. Opposite Christian Slater, Bacon played a public defender representing an Alcatraz inmate accused of murder. Bacon brings sharp intensity and strong moral conviction to the courtroom drama adapted from a true story. His impassioned performance earned strong reviews from critics who praised Bacon and Slater's chemistry in portraying the fiercely ethical, yet sympathetic adversaries.

“Provocative, compelling... fascinating courtroom pyrotechnics” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

4. JFK (1991)

Critics: 84% Viewers: 8.0/10

JFK (1991)

In Oliver Stone's 1991 political thriller JFK, Kevin Bacon took on a supporting but memorable role as Willie O'Keefe, a controversial witness in the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. Though not the main star, Bacon's scene-stealing performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination and high praise from critics. Alongside an all-star cast including Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones, Bacon displayed gravitas and held his own in the riveting drama. His ability to deliver in a key role helped make JFK a multiple Oscar-winning cinematic milestone.

“Packages a staggering array of information and conjecture into a steamrolling piece of entertainment” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times


Top 10 │Underrated 80’s Films
A treasure trove of films was hiding just below the surface. Let’s turn back time and spotlight some of the most underrated films of the 1980s.

3. A Few Good Men (1992)

Critics: 83% Viewers: 7.6/10

A Few Good Men (1992)

Starring alongside Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, Bacon delivered another standout supporting turn as arrogant prosecuting attorney Captain Jack Ross in Rob Reiner's smash hit legal drama A Few Good Men. The film follows military lawyers defending marines charged with murder. Bacon's scenes sparring in the courtroom opposite Cruise's Daniel Kaffee became iconic and exemplified his ability to lock horns with A-list co-stars. Bacon brings energy and wit to the role, holding his own against heavyweights like Nicholson. A Few Good Men further proved Bacon could contribute memorable performances even in ensemble casts.

“An old-fashioned courtroom drama done snappily and professionally, with clear purpose and understanding” – Desson Howe, Washington Post

2. Apollo 13 (1995)

Critics: 95% Viewers: 7.6/10

Apollo 13 (1995)

As astronaut Jack Swigert, Bacon anchored director Ron Howard's acclaimed 1995 space docudrama Apollo 13. The film chronicles the aborted 1970 lunar mission and the harrowing efforts to bring the crew back to Earth safely. Bacon, alongside co-stars Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton, embodied the astronauts' bravery, camaraderie, and tension. Critics and viewers praised Bacon's authentic portrayal of the bright, competitive Swigert and his friction with the other astronauts. Bacon's nuanced performance was essential in realizing the film's compelling depiction of a key historical event. Apollo 13 earned critical acclaim and nine Academy Award nominations.

“This is seamless, compassionate, impeccably cast and compelling cinema” – Lou Lumenick, New York Post


Tom Cruise Top 10 Films Ranked
Let’s embark on a cinematic journey through some of his most notable films, ranked from lowest to highest based on their Rotten Tomatoes Scores

1. Mystic River (2003)

Critics: 88% Viewers: 8.0/10

Mystic River (2003)

In the number one spot is Clint Eastwood's 2003 crime drama Mystic River where Kevin Bacon delivered his most acclaimed performance as haunted homicide detective Sean Devine. After a murder devastates his hometown, Sean is forced to unravel the mystery while facing ghosts from his past. Bacon's portrayal of the troubled detective drew universal praise from critics and earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He compellingly depicted Sean's inner demons behind his relentless pursuit of justice. Bacon's raw, nuanced performance anchored the atmospheric thriller and exemplified his incredible acting range at its peak.

“A masterpiece, pure and simple" - Philip French, The Observer

Bonus Pick

Because sometimes Critics are wrong...

Death Sentence (2007)

Critics: 20% Viewers: 6.4/10

In the revenge thriller Death Sentence, Kevin Bacon delivered an intense performance as Nick Hume, a man who takes vengeance on a gang after his son's murder. Bacon brings a raw, visceral anger to his portrayal of a father driven by grief and retribution. The film itself earned mixed reviews, with criticism directed mostly towards the gratuitous violence and paper-thin plot. However, Bacon's committed performance was praised even by the harshest critics. He convincingly embodied the flawed anti-hero with palpable emotion. Death Sentence represents one of Bacon's most compelling dramatic roles in his long career.

"A tricky, actor-driven exploitation movie boosted immeasurably by Bacon's magnetism and dramatic weight." - Ty Burr, Boston Globe

While not his highest-rated film overall, Bacon's gripping lead performance makes Death Sentence a compelling bonus pick in his robust filmography. He once again demonstrates his ability to elevate the material and bring gravitas to even grittier genre movies.

Throughout his long and varied career, Kevin Bacon has proven himself to be a skilled, compelling, and versatile actor through taking on risky roles across multiple genres. His commitment to every part he plays makes him stand out in any film. These top 10 films represent many of Bacon's most iconic characters and demonstrate the breadth of his consistently exceptional acting that has made him one of Hollywood's most enduring stars.

Please consider Subscribing to this site (It's FREE!) to get your weekly fix of Movie Nostalgia

Please show your support to our enterprise by checking out our Youtube channel, every view keeps us moving...

Happy viewing!