10 Best Cillian Murphy Movies

Cillian Murphy’s acting, particularly in Peaky Blinders and The Road, has made him one of the most popular actors in the West. With the last season of Peaky Blinders officially ending the hit TV show, fans look forward to more guns and smokes. The Irish actor has unceasingly acquired many roles since his debut in Sweety Barett (1998).

With his performance in The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Cillian was widely praised and earned him a nomination for Rising Star at the BAFTA Awards. In addition, Cillian Murphy’s acting and performance have earned him critical acclaim and awards at National Television Awards, GQ UK Award, Irish Film & Television Award, and more.

No news of Peaky Blinders getting a Season 7? Want more of Cillian Murphy? Here are the top 10 Cillian Murphy movies to binge and enjoy.

Cillian Murphy movies

10 Best Cillian Murphy Movies

  1. The Dark Knight Trilogy

    Director: Christopher Nolan

    Writers: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer

    Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Cillian Murphy, Aaron Eckhart

    Genres: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller

    The Dark Knight (2008) on IMDb

    Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy has gained immense criticism and popularity in the 21st century. Much appreciation goes to Heath Ledger’s phenomenal portrayal of DC villain The Joker. The superhero trilogy begins with Batman Begins (2005), followed by The Dark Knight in 2008, and ends with The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

    Murphy plays the role of the infamous Batman villain Dr. Jonathan Crane/ The Scarecrow in Batman Begins and reprises his role in the following two sequels. The night vigilante feared by the criminals throughout Gotham, by day, is the owner of a multi-billion dollar company, businessman, and playboy.

    The first movie depicts the origin of Batman. A young Bruce Wayne witnesses his parents’ murder in an alleyway. Then on, he swore to fight against crime. Traveling across the world, Bruce learned various forms of fighting. Finally, after seven years of traveling, Bruce returns at the age of 25 and is inspired by the control over his fear of bats, and he chooses to dress like a bat and fight crime.

    The trilogy spans Batman’s battle against the leader of the League of Shadows, Ra’s al Ghul, the sadistic, psychotic criminal mastermind Joker and Bane, the one to “break the bat,” respectively.

  2. Dunkirk

    Director: Christopher Nolan

    Writer: Christopher Nolan

    Stars: Fionn Whitehead, Cillian Murphy, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance

    Genres: Action, Drama, History, Thriller, War

    Dunkirk (2017) on IMDb

    War- A collective for bloodshed, futility, and horror. Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk depicts the successful evacuation of over 300 thousand Allied militants from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk. “We shall fight on the beaches- Winston Churchill.” It is an excellent Tom Hardy movie to watch.

    In the summer of 1940, the Allied forces were outnumbered and outgunned by German troops. Cut off and surrounded by enemies, the Allied soldiers had to fall back. The movie follows the experience of three people during the evacuation. Tommy Jensen, a British private and the sole survivor of the German ambush, makes his way to the beaches. Thousands of soldiers await evacuation. German dive bombers attack the helpless soldiers.

    Jensen survives the aerial bombing and tries his best to get out alive. With a shortage of marine vessels, the Royal Navy start commandeering private vessels. Mr. Dawson, a merchant, with his son and their teenage hand, set sail for Dunkirk before his boat could be commandeered. Farrier, a Spitfire pilot, accompanied by his leader and another squad member, engages in a dogfight.

    Their leader is shot down, and the other pilot’s Spitfire is hit and ditches. As these men make their way through France trying to get back home safely, they encounter many obstacles: small boats that sink under them; German soldiers who show no mercy; and even worse, French civilians who are unfriendly and unhelpful at best. But none of these challenges seems impossible until they reach their homeland.

  3. A Quiet Place Part II

    Director: John Krasinski

    Writers: John Krasinski, Bryan Woods, Scott Beck

    Stars: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Cillian Murphy

    Genres: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

    A Quiet Place Part II (2020) on IMDb

    The sequel follows the events of A Quiet Place, where sightless aliens, attracted to sound, start massacring people. Lee Abbott, an engineer, managed to create a high-frequency sound that would hurt the sensitive ears of the aliens. The first part ended with Lee’s family using the frequency on a portable speaker to blow an alien’s head off.

    Mother Evelyn, deaf daughter Regan, and younger son Marcus with infant Beau set out to find other survivors and channel the frequency through a radio station to kill all the aliens. Unfortunately, Marcus’s leg gets stuck in a bear trap, making him scream and attract a nearby alien. Regan and Evelyn kill the creature using the speaker and a shotgun.

    Emmett, an old friend, guides them to his soundproof underground chamber. Regan proposes they travel to a radio station and air the high-frequency sound for other survivors to use, but Emmett refuses. So Regan secretly sneaks out in search of the radio station supposedly located on an island. A race against time begins when Emmett finds Regan at Evelyn’s request. Both have to survive the apocalyptic harbingers to get to the station.

  4. Inception

    Director: Christopher Nolan

    Writer: Christopher Nolan

    Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cillian Murphy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page

    Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

    Inception (2010) on IMDb

    The multi-Oscar-winning sci-fi is deemed one of Nolan’s most fabulous creations. Rising to popularity and immense critical acclaim, Inception is unique and thrilling, creating a new way of perceiving the dreaming mind. It is a great movie like The Matrix. Starring Leonardo Di Caprio, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, and more, InceptionInception is based on the concept of dream walking and dream extraction.

    Cillian plays the role of Robert Fischer, the main target of idea implantation. Dom Cobb (Caprio), a professional dream extractor who steals confidential information, is offered absolute clearance of his track record by Saito. Cobb, who wants to reunite with his children, takes up Saito’s impossible task of implanting an idea complementing the extraction task.

    The use of InceptionInception, i.e., a dream inside a dream, makes Cobb a world-class extractor. After gathering a team of experts, Cobb plans to create a three-layer inception to get the job done. Unfortunately, the risk of losing oneself in limbo during the mission makes the implantation all the more difficult. Not to mention the leaking memories of Cobb’s late wife, who sabotages other dream extractors, all these hurdles add up to be a nightmare of eternal damnation for the team in a dream inside another dream.

  5. 28 Days Later

    Director: Danny Boyle

    Writer: Alex Garland

    Stars: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston

    Genres: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

    28 Days Later (2002) on IMDb

    Most post-apocalyptic zombies are just pure violence and gore but not Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. The highly contagious Rage virus has taken over Great Britain in a few days. Finally, 28 days after the outbreak, bicycle courier Jim gets up from his coma in a London hospital.

    The hospital is deserted and in shambles. Walking down the London streets, the desolation leaves Jim confused and consternated. He enters a church looking for people only to be chased by the mindless infected. Finally, he is rescued by two survivors, Selena and Mark.

    After a mutual agreement, Selena and Mark accompany Jim to look for his parents. Instead, they are found dead on their bed with a small note in Jim’s mother’s hand. Later that night, the trio is ambushed by the infected. Selena and Jim come out unscathed, but Mark is bitten. Selena, without hesitation, hacks down Mark.

    Blinking lights from a distant building grab both of their attention. On their way, Selena and Jim are chased down by the infected. Frank, a cab driver, fends off the infected, saving their lives. After some rest, Frank, his daughter, Selena, and Jim head out for Manchester, where they expect military protection. With little hope and the entire country in disarray, will the survivors make it to the so-called haven?

  6. Red Eye

    Director: Wes Craven

    Writers: Carl Ellsworth, Dan Foos

    Stars: Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox

    Genre: Thriller

    Red Eye (2005) on IMDb

    This 2005 psychological thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat. Not the most genuine plot, but the execution and acting escalate the tension in the room. After attending her grandmother’s funeral, the manager at the Lux Atlantic Hotel, Lisa Reisert, boards a flight back to Miami, Florida. The flight is delayed. While standing in the waiting queue, Lisa comes across a handsome young man named Jackson Rippner. She develops a good impression of Jackson after a few drinks and small talk.

    Coincidentally, Lisa and Jackson happen to be seatmates. A conversation that started about work and family soon turns into a nightmare when Jackson reveals his true intentions. Jackson is part of a terrorist group that plans to assassinate the current Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.

    The Deputy and his family are staying at the Lux Atlantic during his 7-day tour. Jackson demands Lisa call and changes the Deputy’s reserved suite to the targeted suite. With an assassin waiting outside her father’s house, will Lisa cooperate and give in to Jackson’s demands?

  7. Sunshine

    Director: Danny Boyle

    Writer: Alex Garland

    Stars: Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans

    Genres: Sci-Fi, Thriller

    Sunshine (2007) on IMDb

    Sunshine is a psychological thriller that highlights the worth of humanity and shows the extent to which one will go to keep its worth. Starring Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, and more, the events take place in the year 2057. The Sun is dying, and soon Earth will descend into darkness ending all life.

    Gathering the remaining resources to build the Icarus II, eight international astronauts set out for the Sun to jump-start it and return to Earth. Near Mercury, the team picks up a signal from Icarus I, Earth’s first attempt to jump-start the Sun. Seven years ago, Icarus failed, and the reason is still unknown.

    Capa, the ship physicist, makes the final decision of a detour to increase the chances of jump-starting the Sun by commandeering the Icarus I-s bomb. Soon, things descend into chaos during their detour. The oxygen is cut off to a minimum, and half the crew dies. Humanity’s last hope hangs on by the thread while learning the dark truth of Icarus’s failure.

  8. Girl with a Pearl Earring

    Director: Peter Webber

    Writers: Tracy Chevalier, Olivia Hetreed

    Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Cillian Murphy, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson

    Genres: Biography, Drama, Romance

    Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) on IMDb

    Based on Tracy Chevalier’s novel with the same name, the 2005 drama stars Scarlett Johansson as Griet, a shy and beautiful Dutch girl. After her father, a painter, goes blind, causing financial instability, Griet is sent to work as a maid in the household of renowned painter Johannes Vermeer. Griet faces hardships but works diligently.

    The household Mistress, Catharine, is biased towards her, and Vermmer’s pampered daughter adds to the hindrance with her mischievousness. Griet is tasked to clean Vermmer’s studio. Vermeer notices Griet’s inquisitiveness towards the paintings and enlightens her with his experiences. With each passing day, both of them grow closer.

    Griet secretly helps and prepares the paint for Vermeer. Van Ruijven, Vermeer’s rich patron, visits Vermeer and is interested in Griet. He proposes to take her in as his maid, but Vermeer declines. Instead, he offers Rujiven a painting of Griet. Catharine’s suspicions are fueled when the cunning Ruijven suggests Vermeer and Griet’s alleged intimate affair. The rumors and Vermeer’s offer ensure the controversial events that lead to the painting of the world-famous Girl with a Pearl Earring.

  9. Anthropoid

    Director: Sean Ellis

    Writers: Sean Ellis, Anthony Frewin

    Stars: Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy, Brian Caspe

    Genres: Action, Biography, Drama, History, Romance, ThrillerWar

    Anthropoid (2016) on IMDb

    Sean Ellis’ Anthropoid portrays the events of 1942’s Operation Anthropoid, carried out by exiled Czechoslovak militants Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš to assassinate German SS General Reinhard Heydrich. Jozef and Jan infiltrate their German-occupied country with parachutes.

    Jozef injures his leg during the landing, and an alleged resistance fighter discovers both. At the resistance shelter, the two grow suspicious of the resistance fighters and use their code language to test the fake. On seeing him fail to understand the code, both shoot down the traitors and make for the run in time.

    They get acquainted with veterinary surgeon Dr. Eduard who arranges a meeting with other resistance fighters. The militants discuss Operation Anthropoid and how to execute it with limited resources. They plan to open fire at Heydrich when he arrives at his headquarters by car.

    Intel informs them that Heydrich is getting transferred to France, and the plan takes immediate effect. Finally, on 27 May 1942, the operation was carried out. The assassination attempt practically fails after Jozef’s gun gets jammed, but Jan’s grenade severely injures Heydrich. The aftermath caused the death of five thousand Czechs and Slovaks, making the Heydrich Terror a controversial achievement of the Allied forces in World War II.

  10. The Wind that Shakes the Barley

    Director: Ken Loach

    Writer: Paul Laverty

    Stars: Cillian Murphy, Pádraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham

    Genres: Drama, War

    The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006) on IMDb

    Another of Murphy’s war films shows how war can turn brothers against each other. Medical student Damien O’Donovan leaves his village to practice medicine in London. The abuse of the Black and Tans on the commoners changes Damien’s socialist ideologies. He decides to stay back and join the IRA led by his brother Teddy. They decide to ambush and assassinate four Auxiliaries.

    The aftermath results in the loss of both sides significantly. The signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty grants Ireland Dominion status. While Teddy and his allies reason the treaty and its prospects, Daminen and his allies join the Anti-Treaty IRA, who fight for the complete Irish Republic.

    Guerilla warfare between the Anti-treaty and the free state forces escalated the country’s tension, making them vulnerable to the British invasion. Damien is captured during a raid and sentenced to execution. Teddy pleads with an imprisoned Damien to reveal the location of other Anti-treaty members, but he refuses. Finally, Damien accepts his faith, and Teddy leaves with tears. Saying his last goodbyes to his lover in a letter, Damien dies before a firing squad commanded by a devastated Teddy.

Final Words

The versatility of Cillian’s performance knows no bounds. Before Peaky Blinders, Cillian Murphy was a vastly underrated actor. His fans have been delighted to see the rise of the actor’s career. As a well-known and highly regarded actor, Cillian’s memorable roles and performances are executed with depth and complexity. If you think Cillian’s acting is overstated, I suggest a peak into his filmography.

Kierra Rowsey
Kierra Rowsey

Kierra Rowsey is a freelance TV, Film and anime critic for over 12 years, living in Arkansas with her husband and three kids. She graduated from NYU College of Arts & Science in 2008.

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