12 Best Paul Newman Movies

Paul Newman, one of Hollywood’s most outstanding leading men, had a career that spanned nearly half a century and included iconic performances in blockbusters and critical darlings. Newman worked with renowned directors and actors throughout his illustrious career, leaving an indelible mark on the film industry. Known for his method of acting and captivating performances, he was recognized as one of the leading male movie stars of the 1960s.

Newman’s filmography is a testament to his versatility and talent. From his early roles as charming leading men to his later portrayals of aged mentors and morally flawed antiheroes, his movies provide a range of viewing options that are both entertaining and reflective. He brought hope and chaos to the screen, capturing the essence of different periods and reflecting the changing face of America.

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Throughout his career, Newman received numerous accolades for his exceptional acting work. He garnered nine Oscar nominations, primarily in the Best Actor category, and won one Academy Award. In addition to his acting prowess, Newman ventured into directing and producing, earning recognition for his contributions behind the scenes.

Paul Newman Movies

12 Best Paul Newman Movies

  1. Cool Hand Luke

    Director: Stuart Rosenberg

    Writers: Donn Pearce, Hal Dresner, Frank Pierson

    Stars: Paul Newman, Strother Martin, George Kennedy

    Genres: Crime, Drama

    Cool Hand Luke (1967) on IMDb

    Cool Hand Luke is a classic 1967 American prison drama film based on Donn Pearce’s novel of the same name.

    The film is set in a Florida prison camp during the 1950s. Lucas “Luke” Jackson is a free-spirited and rebellious war veteran arrested for drunkenly vandalizing parking meters. He is sentenced to a two-year prison on a chain gang.

    Luke quickly becomes known for his nonconformity and defiance of the prison system’s strict rules and oppressive authority. He refuses to conform to the dehumanizing routines and challenges the prison guards and the warden, who are determined to break his spirit. Luke remains resilient despite the harsh treatment and attempts to crush his spirit.

    One of the most iconic scenes in the film involves Luke’s refusal to submit to the prison guards’ orders to eat 50 hard-boiled eggs in an hour. His determination to prove that he cannot be broken earns the respect of his fellow inmates, including Dragline, who becomes his close friend and supporter.

    Throughout the film, Luke’s rebelliousness and charisma make him a hero among the inmates, inspiring them to stand up against the prison’s oppressive regime. However, his repeated escape attempts and the increasing pressure from the prison authorities lead to a tragic and climactic showdown.

  2. Cars

    Directors: John Lasseter, Joe Ranft

    Writers: John Lasseter, Jorgen Klubien, Joe Ranft

    Stars: Paul Newman, Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt

    Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Sport

    Cars (2006) on IMDb

    Cars is a 2006 animated film in a world entirely inhabited by anthropomorphic cars and vehicles.

    The story revolves around a race car named Lightning McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson. Lightning is a hotshot rookie racer who dreams of winning the Piston Cup, the most prestigious championship in the racing world. He focuses solely on his success and doesn’t care much about anyone else.

    During a tiebreaker race to determine the winner of the Piston Cup, Lightning finds himself separated from his transport truck, Mack, and lost in the small, forgotten town of Radiator Springs along the iconic Route 66. There, he accidentally damages the town’s main road and is sentenced to community service as punishment.

    In Radiator Springs, Lightning meets a tow truck named Mater, a love interest named Sally, and a wise old Hudson Hornet named Doc. Over time, Lightning learns about the history and values of the town and its residents. He discovers the importance of friendship, community, & enjoying the journey rather than only focusing on the destination.

    As Lightning bonds with the people of Radiator Springs, he decides whether to return to his high-stakes racing career or stay in the town he’s grown to love. He eventually learns to balance his ambition with the relationships he’s formed.

    The film climaxes with a thrilling race where Lightning competes against his rival, Chick Hicks, and the legendary Strip The King Weathers. In a selfless act of sportsmanship, Lightning chooses to help The King finish the race after he’s involved in a crash, sacrificing his chance to win the Piston Cup.

  3. Hombre

    Director: Martin Ritt

    Writers: Irving Ravetch, Elmore Leonard, Harriet Frank Jr.

    Stars: Paul Newman, Richard Boone, Fredric March

    Genres: Drama, Western

    Hombre (1967) on IMDb

    Hombre is a 1967 Western film based on a novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard. The story is set in the American Southwest during the late 19th century. John Russell is a white man raised by Apache Indians after his parents were killed in an Apache raid when he was a child. As a result, he has fully embraced the Apache way of life and speaks their language fluently. However, he is now trying to reintegrate into white society.

    John inherits a boarding house in a small town and decides to sell it. He takes a stagecoach to make the sale and several other passengers, including a group of people who harbor prejudices and racism toward him because of his upbringing.

    During the journey, the stagecoach is ambushed by a gang of outlaws led by Cicero Grimes. The outlaws steal the passengers’ money and belongings, leaving them stranded in the desert.

    With tensions and supplies running low, John’s survival skills and knowledge of the desert become invaluable. He takes charge of the group’s efforts to survive and make their way to safety. Along the way, the passengers are forced to confront their biases and prejudices as they come to rely on John’s expertise.

    As the group faces various challenges, including encounters with dangerous individuals and the harsh desert environment, John must use his wits and resourcefulness to lead them to safety. His actions and decisions force the passengers to question their preconceptions and prejudices.

  4. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

    Director: Richard Brooks

    Writers: Richard Brooks, Tennessee Williams, James Poe

    Stars: Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Burl Ives Genre: Drama

    Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) on IMDb

    The film is set in a wealthy Southern family’s Mississippi estate. The family has gathered to celebrate the birthday of their ailing patriarch, Big Daddy Pollitt. Big Daddy is a wealthy plantation owner who is unaware that he is terminally ill with cancer. His son, Brick Pollitt, is a former football star who has become emotionally detached and is drowning his sorrows in alcohol following the death of his best friend and teammate, Skipper.

    Brick’s marriage to his beautiful and passionate wife, Maggie “Maggie the Cat” Pollitt, is strained due to his emotional distance and refusal to be intimate with her. Maggie is desperate for Brick’s affection and is also eager to secure her future as the wife of the heir to Big Daddy’s fortune.

    As the family gathers for Big Daddy’s birthday, tensions run high. Big Daddy’s other son, Gooper, and his wife, Mae, are angling to inherit the estate, and they have five children to bolster their claim. They also hope to discredit Brick and Maggie in Big Daddy’s eyes.

    Family secrets, resentments, and buried truths are exposed throughout the evening. Brick and Big Daddy engage in heated conversations, leading to revelations about their strained father-son relationship, Brick’s unresolved feelings for Skipper, and the true nature of Big Daddy’s illness.

    The film explores themes of mendacity, greed, sexual desire, and the complex dynamics within a dysfunctional family. It delves into the characters’ emotional turmoil and the consequences of living in denial and hypocrisy.

  5. Nobody’s Fool

    Director: Robert Benton

    Writers: Richard Russo, Robert Benton

    Stars: Paul Newman, Bruce Willis, Jessica Tandy

    Genres: Comedy, Drama

    Nobody's Fool (1994) on IMDb

    TNobody’s Fool is a 1994 comedy-drama based on the novel of the same name by Richard Russo. The movie is set in a small, economically struggling town in upstate New York and revolves around the life of its central character, Donald “Sully” Sullivan.

    Sully is a charming but flawed man in his 60s who has a reputation for being a ne’er-do-well and a troublemaker. He’s a construction worker, a lifelong bachelor, and has a complicated relationship with his estranged son, Peter. Sully lives in a rundown house owned by his landlady, Beryl, who has a soft spot for him. He hangs out with his best friend, Rub, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and occasionally works on construction jobs.

    The film’s story unfolds as Sully’s life takes a series of twists and turns. He becomes involved in the lives of various townsfolk, including a married woman named Toby, with whom he begins a romantic relationship. Sully also becomes a father figure to Toby’s young son.

    As Sully navigates his complex relationships and the challenges of his everyday life, the film explores themes of family, love, redemption, and the struggles ordinary people face in a declining industrial town. Throughout the story, Sully’s character transforms as he confronts his past mistakes & tries to make amends with his son and the people he cares about.

  6. The Verdict

    Director: Sidney Lumet

    Writers: Barry Reed, Jay Presson Allen, David Mamet

    Stars: Paul Newman, Jack Warden, Charlotte Rampling Genre: Drama

    The Verdict (1982) on IMDb

    The film follows the story of Frank Galvin, a once-promising attorney who has fallen on hard times. He’s now a washed-up alcoholic who spends more time in bars than courtrooms. Frank’s life takes a dramatic turn when he is offered a medical malpractice case involving a comatose woman named Deborah Ann Kaye. She was left vegetative due to a botched anesthetic during childbirth at a prominent Catholic hospital in Boston.

    Initially, Frank seems uninterested in the case and agrees to settle for a quick settlement, as he often does with cases, to make a quick buck. However, he changes his heart when he visits the hospital and sees the extent of the negligence and injustice involved. He decides to take the case to trial against the formidable defense attorney, Ed Concannon, who represents the Archdiocese of Boston.

    Frank’s dedication to the case is unwavering, and he begins to piece together evidence and gather witnesses who can testify against the hospital and its practices. He faces various obstacles along the way, including attempts to bribe and intimidate him and his own struggles with alcoholism and personal demons.

  7. The Hustler

    Director: Robert Rossen

    Writers: Sidney Carroll, Walter Tevis, Robert Rossen

    Stars: Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, Jackie Gleason

    Genres: Drama, Sport

    The Hustler (1961) on IMDb

    The Hustler is a classic 1961 film based on a novel of the same name by Walter Tevis. It revolves around the world of professional pool hustling and follows the story of Eddie Felson as he travels from town to town, challenging local pool players to high-stakes games. Eddie is a talented pool player but also impulsive and reckless, often leading to his downfall. He dreams of defeating the legendary pool player Minnesota Fats and establishing himself as the best pool player in the country.

    Eddie’s journey takes a significant turn when he meets Sarah Packard, a troubled alcoholic woman who works as a part-time cashier at a small-town pool hall. Eddie and Sarah form a deep connection despite their complex and tumultuous relationship. Sarah becomes Eddie’s love interest and provides emotional support, but her demons threaten to pull them both down.

    Eddie’s obsession with defeating Minnesota Fats and his drive for success lead him to challenge Fats to a marathon pool game that lasts for hours. As the grueling match progresses, Eddie becomes physically and emotionally drained. This game is the film’s climax and showcases the intense competition between the talented players.

  8. Sometimes a Great Notion

    Director: Paul Newman

    Writers: Ken Kesey, John Gay

    Stars: Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Lee Remick

    Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama

    Sometimes a Great Notion (1971) on IMDb

    The plot of Sometimes a Great Notion centers around the Stamper family living in a small logging town in Oregon. The family is known for their fiercely independent and self-reliant way of life, centered around their logging business. The family is led by Henry Stamper, a tough and determined patriarch, and his half-brother, Joe Ben Stamper.

    The conflict in the film arises when the local logging union goes on strike, and the Stampers decide to continue working, much to the anger and resentment of the striking workers. This decision leads to tension and violence between the Stampers and the union members, further escalating the already challenging circumstances.

    Amidst this backdrop of labor unrest, the film explores the complex dynamics within the Stamper family. Joe Ben is more sympathetic to the striking workers and tries to bridge the gap between them and his family. At the same time, Henry remains resolute in his determination to keep the family business going at all costs.

  9. Road To Perdition

    Director: Sam Mendes

    Writers: Richard Piers Rayner, Max Allan Collins, David Self

    Stars: Paul Newman, Tom Hanks, Rob Maxey, Tyler Hoechlin

    Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller

    Road to Perdition (2002) on IMDb

    The plot of Road to Perdition follows Michael Sullivan, a loyal and skilled enforcer for John Rooney, an Irish-American mob boss in Rock Island, Illinois. Michael’s son, Michael Jr., is unaware of his father’s criminal activities until he witnesses a violent event involving his father and John Rooney’s son, Connor. The event sets off events that lead to a series of tragic consequences.

    Realizing that his family is in danger because of his involvement in the mob, Michael decides to go on the run with his son, Michael Jr., seeking refuge and a way out from the criminal life they’ve been ensnared in. They embark on a perilous journey along the road, attempting to evade law enforcement and the hitman hired by the mob to eliminate them.

    Their journey brings them to various locations, and they encounter several characters along the way, including a crime scene photographer named Harlen Maguire, who is relentless in pursuing Michael and his son.

    As the story unfolds, this movie explores themes of loyalty, redemption, and the consequences of violence. It is a visually stunning & emotionally powerful film that examines the complexities of father-son relationships and the moral dilemmas its characters face in a world of crime and betrayal.

  10. The Left Handed Gun

    Director: Arthur Penn

    Writers: Leslie Stevens, Gore Vidal

    Stars: Paul Newman, John Dehner, Lita Milan

    Genres: Drama, Western

    The Left Handed Gun (1958) on IMDb

    The Left Handed Gun is a 1958 Western film fictionalized retelling of William Bonney’s life, better known as Billy the Kid, a notorious outlaw of the American Old West.

    The plot of this movie follows the early life and criminal exploits of Billy the Kid. The film begins with Billy, a young drifter involved with a group of cattle rustlers led by Tunstall. Tunstall takes Billy under his wing and becomes a father figure to him. However, when a rival gang kills Tunstall, Billy is consumed by a desire for revenge.

    Billy gathers a group of other young outlaws and begins a campaign of violence against those he believes responsible for Tunstall’s death. His actions quickly earn him a reputation as a ruthless and dangerous gunslinger. Billy’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic throughout the film, and inner demons haunt him.

    As the story unfolds, Billy’s outlaw gang clashes with law enforcement, leading to violent confrontations. Billy’s interactions with the law, including sheriff Pat Garrett, intensify, ultimately leading to a final, fateful showdown between the two.

  11. The Color Of Money

    Director: Martin Scorsese

    Writers: Walter Tevis, Richard Price

    Stars: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

    Genres: Drama, Sport

    The Color of Money (1986) on IMDb

    The plot of The Color of Money is set about 25 years after the events of The Hustler. Once a talented and ambitious pool hustler, Eddie Felson has retired from the game and makes a living selling liquor. He has become more cynical and resigned to his fate.

    Eddie’s life turns when he encounters Vincent Lauria, a young and talented pool player who is also a hustler. Eddie sees potential in Vincent and decides to take him under his wing as a protege. Eddie hopes to mold Vincent into a skilled pool player and, in the process, revive his passion for the game.

    Together, Eddie and Vincent embark on a road trip across the country, hustling pool games and participating in high-stakes tournaments. Along the way, they encounter various characters and challenges, including Vincent’s girlfriend, Carmen, who adds an element of tension to their journey.

    Eddie and Vincent’s relationship becomes increasingly complex as the story unfolds, marked by mentorship, rivalry, and betrayal. Eddie must confront his past and inner demons while trying to guide Vincent to success in the world of professional pool.

  12. The Sting

    Director: George Roy Hill

    Writer: David S. Ward

    Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Shaw, Robert Redford

    Genres: Comedy, Crime, Drama

    The Sting (1973) on IMDb

    The plot of The Sting revolves around two skilled con artists, Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker. Johnny is a small-time grifter who, along with his partner Luther, unwittingly scams a runner for a powerful and dangerous mobster named Doyle Lonnegan. When Lonnegan discovers the scam, Luther pays a heavy price, and Johnny realizes he’s now a marked man.

    Johnny turns to Henry Gondorff, an experienced con artist, seeking revenge and a way out. Together, they devise an elaborate plan to swindle Lonnegan from a large sum of money. The plan involves setting up a fake off-track betting parlor, where they intend to manipulate Lonnegan into placing a massive bet on a non-existent horse.

    To execute the con, Henry and Johnny assemble a team of skilled con artists and specialists, each with unique talents. They meticulously plan and rehearse their scheme while staying one step ahead of Lonnegan and his enforcers.

    The Sting is a masterclass in storytelling and cinematic craftsmanship, featuring memorable characters, witty dialogue, and a captivating plot. The film’s title refers to the moment a con is successfully executed and the victim realizes they’ve been deceived. The movie combines elements of humor, suspense, and drama, making it a beloved classic in the world of cinema.


Paul Newman’s filmography and impact on the industry have solidified his status as one of the greatest actors ever. His talent and versatility allowed him to excel in various genres, captivating audiences with his magnetic presence and compelling performances. Beyond his acting career, Newman’s philanthropic endeavors, including establishing Newman’s Own, further cemented his legacy as a true humanitarian. His contributions to cinema and society will continue to inspire and resonate for generations.


What Was Paul Newman’s Favorite Movie That He Starred In?

Paul Newman’s favorite movie that he starred in has not been publicly disclosed. As an acclaimed actor, he delivered exceptional performances in various films, including “The Verdict,” “Road to Perdition,” and “Cool Hand Luke.”

Did Paul Newman Ever Direct Any Films?

No, Paul Newman did not direct any films. Although he had a successful acting career, Newman did not take on the director role. He primarily focused on his acting and philanthropic endeavors.

Were There Any Movies That Paul Newman Regretted Being a Part Of?

There are no documented instances of Paul Newman expressing regret for being a part of any movie. His filmography showcases a remarkable range of performances, highlighting his talent and commitment to his craft.

Did Paul Newman Ever Win Any Awards for His Philanthropic Work?

Yes, Paul Newman won numerous awards for his philanthropic work. He was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 1994 Academy Awards and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.

How Did Paul Newman Prepare for His Role in Cool Hand Luke?

Paul Newman prepared for his role in Cool Hand Luke through extensive research and immersive training. He embraced the character’s rebellious spirit and physicality, undergoing intense physical workouts and immersing himself in the prison system to understand the mindset and experiences of inmates.

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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