15 Best Kurt Russell Movies

Kurt Russel has changed the definition of acting and given us gems to enjoy. Originally setting his eyes on being a professional basketball player, the man had other plans and we are glad that he switched to the world of cinema. 

Starting his acting career at the age of 11, passing on the role in Star Wars, and doing a television Western it is impossible to dislike Kurt Russell. However, his long-fledged acting career has several movies under his belt and to select which one among them highlights his skill to the finest can be like churning hard beans. 

To make things easier for you, we have selected the 15 best Kurt Russell movies of all time. Just grab your nachos and fries, and begin your Kurt movies marathon. 

Kurt Russell movies

15 Best All Time Popular Kurt Russell Movies

  1. Stargate

    Director: Roland Emmerich

    Writers: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich

    Stars: Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson

    Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

    Stargate (1994) on IMDb

    Professor Daniel Jackson played by James Spader joins hands with Army Col. Jack O’Neil, played by Kurt Russell to open an interstellar gateway by deciphering a code. This will open the chances to enter into an Egypt-like world.

    The story begins in 1928 in Giza, Egypt where Cathryn Langford’s father, Stephen Langford, excavates capstones that are engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphs. This scenario sets up the story’s prologue that serves as its base. In 1994, Cathryn found Daniel Jackson, an Egyptologist and linguist to translate these hieroglyphs.

    Special Operations Colonel Jack O’Neil oversees the project of the capstones who figures out how they are used as a wormhole portal to distant planets.  One day they arrive on the planet Abydos ruled by despotic Ra and are lost here since Jack O Neil fails to find the controls to Stargate and their way back home.

    The story’s adventure begins here as the hunt for man on another planet begins while Jack O Neil tries to find the key to earth travelers’ safe return. Soon enough it is revealed that the key is with the ruler Ra.

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    Throughout the series of actions of the movie, the dark truth about Ra is revealed and how he has brought people from the Earth to the planet against their will. The main plot hits when Jack O’Neil tries to convince the people of the planet to overthrow Ra which will let him go back to his world.

  2. Soldier

    Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

    Writer: David Webb Peoples

    Stars: Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Jason Isaacs

    Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

    Soldier (1998) on IMDb

    Kurt Russell as Todd trains since his birth to become a ruthless killing machine. When years pass, Todd’s comrades are declared as bygones. This happens when Colonel Mekum, played by Jason Isaacs, showcases new genetically modified soldiers.

    Kurt Russel plays Sergeant Todd 3465, a veteran soldier defeated by the new army of killing machines and left for dead in the waste disposal planet Arcadia 234 only to save just in time saved by its colonists.

    Limped his way toward the colony of the people of Arcadia who are the ones left for dead but have survived and managed to live after a crash landing. Still, Todd is restless and is all set to prepare himself with an army to fight against these mindless killing machines when they quest to eliminate the colony.

    Sergeant Todd’s years of experience as a  battle soldier and exceptionally good fighting skills outwit the army soldiers. It’s a complete treat to watch Kurt Russell slaying his role as a sergeant and his connection with Nathan the mute kid.

    The simple concept of this movie has successfully mesmerized the audience and left them awestruck, especially when combining exciting sci-fi action with the phenomenal acting of Kurt Russel.

  3. The Fox and Hound

    Directors: Ted Berman, Richard Rich, Art Stevens

    Writers: Daniel P. Mannix, Larry Clemmons, Ted Berman

    Stars: Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell, Pearl Bailey

    Genres: Animation, Adventure, Drama, Family

    The Fox and the Hound (1981) on IMDb

    This animated movie from 1981 is a beauty where Kurt gave his voice to the character of Cooper. The Fox and Hound is an underrated masterpiece. Although the movie wasn’t as polished as its completion at that time, the story and execution complemented each other quite well.

    The Fox and Hound is a story about a red Fox named Tod and a hound dog named Copper who develop and grow a friendship with each other since childhood but part ways gradually as adulthood comes and hits.

    Despite their emerging instincts, the rare friendship bond that develops between the red fox Todd and a hound named Cooper will fill you up with emotions and joy as the story develops through the end where you see what true friendship really means and how friends stand for each other, no matter how unlikely the society thinks of them.

  4. The Thing

    Director: John Carpenter

    Writers: Bill Lancaster, John W. Campbell Jr.

    Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David

    Genres: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

    The Thing (1982) on IMDb

    Directed by John Carpenter, The Thing is the best blend of horror and sci-fi. It is the perfect adaptation of John W Campbell Jr.’s original novella, “Who Goes There”.  Kurt Russel’s character is cooler than the Antarctic snow and you fill watch his acting in complete amazement shifting away slowly into the world of horror. Set up across Antartica’s isolated area, the movie progresses showing American scientists discovering a ruined Norwegian base. They discover “The Thing” , a parasite in a life form that absorbs and imitates the organisms.

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    The group was baffled upon discovering a turn sour against each other, fearing that anyone among them could be “The Thing”. The graphic gore and horror sequence are nerve-chilling making it one of the best horror films. Would the scientists ever find out who is real and who is “The Thing” among them before it’s too late? Grab your popcorn and an extra pillow to clutch on to solve the horror quest that unfolds.

  5. The Hateful Eight

    Director: Quentin Tarantino

    Writer: Quentin Tarantino

    Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh

    Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Western

    The Hateful Eight (2015) on IMDb

    Hateful Eight showcases the artwork of Quentin Tarantino wrapping around violence, humor, and how ugly the world can get. He leaves no stone unturned when it comes to introducing characters and takes his sweet time highlighting the specialties of every one of the main characters.

    This movie is a Western drama content masterpiece where the story revolves around a unique relationship between a bounty hunter and his fugitive. These are stuck in the middle of a blizzard storm. To get away with it they decide to settle at a stagecoach stopover for the time being, but things take a truly twisted turn as they explore the place and encounter bizarre mysteries and truths.

    Kurt Russel plays the role of John “The Hangman” Ruth who is on his way to take Daisy Domergue(Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Red Rock for hanging on grounds of treachery.

    Hateful Eight has a unique plot that hits harder being a Western drama. The movie has been appreciated and loved a lot despite having a bloated runtime that makes the show look a little slow. Overall, The Hateful Eight is a graceful movie performed by Kurt Russel.

  6. Escape From New York

    Director: John Carpenter

    Writers: John Carpenter, Nick Castle

    Stars: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine

    Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

    Escape from New York (1981) on IMDb

    Escape from New York is an iconic movie by Kurt Russel in the year 1981 with a futuristic theme and story. The movie is set shortly in a dystopian society where Kurt Russel’s character, Gruff Snake Plissken, is sent on a mission to rescue the US president stranded in Manhattan, now a maximum security prison.

    New York City, following a Crashdown becomes a high-security wall prison inhabiting millions of wall prisoners and is in complete chaos. The president gets entrapped following his plane crash into  New York. He carries confidential papers on which the future of the USA relies upon. Convicted bank robber, Snake Plissken is a master criminal and is assigned the task to rescue the President from the hands of the criminals residing in the city.

    Duke, the leader of the most powerful Gypsy gang in New York holds the president captive. This follows up by Snake being stripped of his guns and being beaten black and blue and thrown in for a deadly boxing match. Snake defeats his opponent and slips away from Duke’s prison to continue his mission to rescue the president under challenging circumstances and encounter Duke in an ultimate hand-to-hand battle.

  7. Silkwood

    Director: Mike Nichols

    Writers: Nora Ephron, Alice Arlen

    Stars: Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, Cher

    Genres: Biography, Drama, History, Thriller

    Silkwood (1983) on IMDb

    Silkwood bagged 5 Oscar nominations, this drama thriller movie is based on the true story of Karen Silkwood, who works in a nuclear plant. She lives a happy life with her boyfriend Drew Stephens played by Kurt Russell, and her lesbian friend Dolly Pelliker.

    At the nuclear plant, she is in charge of MOX fuel rods. Her task makes her extremely vulnerable to radiation. She is true to her beliefs which is why she raises her voice to the world regarding the suspicious activities of the nuclear plant.

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    She believes that the authorities at the nuclear plant have been cutting costs by risking the workers’ lives. The further story involves her taking this situation to court and finding out the reality behind the case.

    Later it was revealed that Karen is contaminated, tortured, and nearly killed to prevent her from spilling the reality of the plant for the safety of the sinister practices of the nuclear plant.

  8. Christmas Chronicles

    Director: Clay Kaytis

    Writers: Matt Lieberman, David Guggenheim

    Stars: Kurt Russell, Darby Camp, Judah Lewis

    Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy

    The Christmas Chronicles (2018) on IMDb

    Christmas Chronicles is about Teddy Pierce and Kate that devise a plan together to capture Santa Claus for Christmas Eve. However, things turned against them and eventually, they decided on joining hands with Santa and his elves so that the kids are not left devoid of any presents on Christmas Eve.

    This is the movie where our beloved Kurt Russel plays one of the best characters of his life – Santa Claus. The movie is set in Chicago and showcases the city’s iconic landmarks. Kurt Russel plays Santa Claus in Christmas Chronicles and, as you would expect, a badass and chill Santa Claus that suits the storyline very well.

    To capture Santa they set up a camera to catch him on it having cookies they made for him. Their plans go a little off track as they end up joining Team Santa so that they could save Christmas by getting the gifts to the destination on time before the time runs out.

    Along the way, they encounter various obstacles and end up learning the true meaning of Christmas. The Christmas Chronicle is a heartwarming tale that delivers the message of hope and the spirit of Christmas. It shows family unity and sometimes it is okay to good around if it’s done for a good cause.

  9. Big Trouble In Little China

    Director: John Carpenter

    Writers: Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein, W.D. Richter

    Stars: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun

    Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

    Big Trouble in Little China (1986) on IMDb

    Material art cult classic American movie witnessed Kurt Russell at his finest. Portraying the role of a well-built truck driver Jack Burton who tries to protect the green-eyed fiancée of his friend Wang Chi from a Chinese gang. Chasing her, they arrive at San Francisco’s Chinatown, which holds the mystery underground where David Lo Pan wishes to marry a green-eyed woman to levy a century-old curse. Miao Yin, Wang’s fiancée, is the chosen one who will help La pao to retrieve his physical body ending the curse. To protect her, John and the team are ready to face a world of magicians and martial artists underground in Chinatown.

  10. Tombstone

    Directors: George P. Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre

    Writer: Kevin Jarre

    Stars: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott

    Genres: Biography, Drama, History, Western

    Tombstone (1993) on IMDb

    Trying to start their new lives, leaving violence behind, Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) and his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, move to Tombstone, Ariz. Looking to start their business and relax, the boys give up on guns, but destiny has other plans. They are the chosen targets of the Cowboy gang, which unfortunately persuades them to load up their guns. Wyatt’s friend, Doc Holiday, joins hands to swipe out the Cowboys. Ruthless action awaits to restore peace in the tombstone.

    This action-packed movie is a prime example of excellence from start to finish. The pace, plot, breathtaking action, and acting have finesse. The cinematography is on point, and Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer merge so well with the character that it feels real.

  11. Tango And Cash

    Directors: Andrey Konchalovskiy, Albert Magnoli

    Writer: Randy Feldman

    Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Teri Hatcher

    Genres: Action, Comedy, Crime, Thriller

    Tango & Cash (1989) on IMDb

    This movie revolves around two top cops, Raymond Tango(Sylvester Stallone) and Gabriel Cash( Kurt Russell), the best ones in Los Angeles. The two opposite officers have different traits and friction in their relationship. Everything about them varies significantly, but still, they hold one thing in common, their enemy and drug mafia, Yves Perret. He sets up a trap accusing them falsely of the murder of an FBI agent. The top-notch cops join hands in prison to escape, and with the help of Tango’s sister Katherine, they are ready to take down the drug lord.

  12. Overboard

    Director: Garry Marshall

    Writer: Leslie Dixon

    Stars: Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Edward Herrmann

    Genres: Comedy, Romance

    Overboard (1987) on IMDb

    Overboard is a decent Rom-com movie that shows snobbish Joanna Stayton hiring hardworking and skilled carpenter Dean. She is quite a rich heiress who does not pay Dean for his work. One day after falling overboard, she loses her memory. Her husband, Grant, tries to get rid of arrogant and stubborn Joanna. This is where Kurt arrives who once worked as their carpenter and gives his best to brainwash her to believe that he is his husband to get his revenge. He fools her into believing she’s Annie, his wife, and mother to four sons.

    As the movie progresses, Dean decides on getting his pay from Joanna while also being able to make her do the daily chores and take care of his children. Unconvinced with her lifestyle, she continues to ask several questions about their first meeting, job, etc. Dean even persuades her by telling a story about her fluency in French. Ultimately she accepts this life and starts living as his wife Annie and does all the daily work of his wife. The breakthrough movie sequence happens when Joanna stands for the kids against the bully at their school and another one  when she finds out Dean is overworking and not going out bowling with his friends.  The film shows the ultra-lavish life of the riches unconcerned about the subordinate classes and how they ill-treat them. However, Joannas’s transformation from a pointless rich brat to a meaningful blue-collar housewife who cares for others is a must-watch.

  13. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

    Director: James Gunn

    Writers: James Gunn, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning

    Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Kurt Russell, Dave Bautista

    Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) on IMDb

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has Kurt Russell play the negative role of Ego the living planet. Although being a basic villain, Kurt’s role has had a major impact on the future of this movie series, where he is discussed many times in the coming appearances of the leads.

    In this Marvel movie, Kurt plays the role of Ego, the living planet who is the father of Quill and can make you root for him, but he also is the murderer of his mother. The guardians fight an interdimensional creature called the Abilisk before being hired by the sovereigns to secure Anulax batteries from the invaders.

    Here they have a conflict with the sovereigns which crash-lands them on the nearby planet. Peter Quill and the group meet his father, Ego, and his assistant, Mantis. Meanwhile, the sovereign hires a group of mercenaries led by Yondu to capture the Guardians and retrieve the stolen batteries. The Guardians split up. Rocket and Groot take care of baby Groot whereas the rest of the team tries to stop the sovereign.

    As the story unfolds, guardians must confront their demons and past traumas while fighting to save the galaxy from destruction. Along the way, they team up with unlikely allies and face off against powerful enemies, culminating in an epic battle that will determine the fate of the galaxy. In the end, guardians emerge victorious but not without paying a heavy price. The movie ends with the team setting off on a new adventure together.

  14. Miracle

    Director: Gavin O’Connor

    Writer: Eric Guggenheim

    Stars: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Nathan West

    Genres: Biography, Drama, History, Sport

    Miracle (2004) on IMDb

    Miracle is a 2004 sports drama film based on the true story of the 1980 United States men’s Olympic ice hockey team, coached by Herb Brooks, played by Kurt Russell. Gavin O’Connor directs the movie and features a cast that includes Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich, and Eddie Cahill.

    The film begins with the selection of the team which is made up of college players from across the country. Herb Brooks, a former hockey player, and coach is determined to create a team that can beat the heavily favored Soviet team at the Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Brooks uses unconventional methods to train the team, pushing them to work as a team.

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    The team struggles at first but as they learn to trust each other and work together, they begin to improve. At the Olympics, the team faces a group of tough opponents including Sweden, Czechoslovakia, and Finland but their biggest challenge comes in the form of the Soviet team, which has won the gold medal in hockey for the past four Olympics.

    In an intense and thrilling game, the US team pulls off a stunning upset defeating the team Soviet by 4-3 in what has become known as “Miracle on Ice”. The US team goes on to win the gold medal cementing their place in the Olympics.

  15. Backdraft

    Director: Ron Howard

    Writer: Gregory Widen

    Stars: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro

    Genres: Action, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

    Backdraft (1991) on IMDb

    The story is focused on two rival brothers who are firefighters. Stephen is the older brother to Brian. Their father, Dennis McCaffrey, was a brave firefighter who lost his life while bravely saving the life of others. Brian witnessed the traumatizing explosion himself. Axe, another fellow firefighter of McCaffrey, is like an uncle to the brothers and looks after them after the incident.

    After twenty years, Brian graduates from a firefighting training academy. After his brother Stephen persuades the fire chief, Brian is allocated to Engine 17 and has to work under his brother Stephen. Unhappy Brian makes several attempts but is always unsuccessful in rescue operations and is lectured by his brother.

    Later Brian is offered a job by Swayzak to work with investigator Rimgale. Reluctant at first, he agrees to work with him. They are on a mission to find out the cause of intentionally caused fires to kill specific people. As the movie unfolds, Stephen and Brian settle their differences to find the arsonist.

    Brian with some help figures out that Axe is the arsonist. Stephen confronts Axe about it. Axe admits to planning the fires to punish Swayzak and associates because they benefited from firefighters’ death and closed firehouses. Soon an explosion occurs.

    Axe dies after falling into the fire and Brian tries his best to rescue his brother who has sustained serious injuries. Feeling proud that his brother Brian is now a good firefighter, Stephen dies on his way to the hospital with Brian alongside him.

    In his final moments, he requests Brian not to reveal Axe’s name because it will ruin the reputation of the department. After the funeral of Axe and Stephen, Brian and Rimgale interrupted Swayzak at a press conference and disclosed his evil intentions of downsizing the fire department. Brian continues to carry his family legacy of firefighters.


Kurt Russell is a gem that the silver screen adorns. His movie choices, variety, and in-depth characters make even the less interesting movies indulging. Although most of his works are masterpieces in one way or the other, the above listed are a few of his most memorable contributions. I hope you found your favorite one on the list.

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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