Ever since his debut role in the internationally successful film Pusher, Mads Mikkelsen has found himself starring in countless films that were met with so much praise, rightfully becoming one of the most recognizable actors of his generation.
Dipping into many different genres and excelling in each of them, his range and overall acting capabilities can never be denied. Here are Mikkelsen’s best movies, ranked by Rotten Tomatoes.
15 Men & Chicken – 85%
Men & Chicken is definitely one of Mikkelsen’s more unique films, with it blending different genres like comedy, drama, mystery, and a little bit of sci-fi together to create what ends up being a super gripping movie. After the death of their father, two brothers find out that they’re adopted, half-brothers. This leads to them wanting to meet their biological parents, which doesn’t play out as they imagined at all.
Blending all these genres leads to this film feeling quite bizarre but in the best way possible. At its core, this film is a well-acted, well-written comedy with a warm heart, with moments of the opposite that never feel out of place. If out-of-the-ordinary films are something that you tend to enjoy, this film will tick all the boxes and then some.
14 Pusher – 83%
Mikkelsen’s first role came in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher, with Mikkelsen once again playing a character of Danish descent, of which Mads is himself. He plays the character of Tonny, the friend of a heroin dealer in Copenhagen named Frank (Kim Bodnia). But when he decides to take it to the next level, they find themselves in the darkest depths of the drug dealing world.
This film was perfect for Mikkelsen’s first role, as it perfectly showcases how well he can perform in a darker, grittier role. All the performances are what carry this film, doing a great job of showing the brutality of this side of the criminal life.
13 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 84%
With the return of Star Wars to the big screen with the sequel trilogy, Disney released one-off films in between the release of the main trilogy’s installments. Rogue One was released between Episodes 7 and 8, but ended up being one of the highest-rated Star Wars films in history, arguably being better received than the entire sequel trilogy.
Mikkelsen plays scientist Galen Erso, the father of the lead character Jyn (Felicity Jones). Galen was coerced into using kyber crystals to enhance energy yields which his friend Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) then uses to create the superlaser for the Death Star. This film ends right before A New Hope picks up, telling the wonderful story of how the Rebellion gained the Death Star Plans.
12 Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself – 84%
When you read the film’s title, most people would expect Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself to be a morbid, depressing film, however, the film is actually quite charming in its own unique way. Even though the film deals with bleak subjects like the loss of a loved one, the connection that’s built between the audience and the characters makes this film so enjoyable.
Mikkelsen isn’t a lead character in this film, but the charm that he along with all the other supporting cast brings to the film only adds to the distinctive tone the main characters Wilbur (Jamie Sives) and Harbour (Adrian Rawlins) can create.
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11 Flame & Citron – 86%
Once again taking on a role of a Danish character, Flame & Citron is a fictionalized account based on the true story of two Danish Resistance fighters nicknamed Flammen (Thure Lindhardt) and Citronen (Mikkelsen), during the Nazi occupation of Denmark in World War 2. This film provides an excellent insight into an aspect and location of the War that not many films delve into.
Mikkelsen once again shines in his role, with this being one of the few times he’s portrayed a real person. A fast-paced film full of chilling suspense, the film displays the risk it took to challenge Nazi rule, never letting its foot off the pedal.
10 After the Wedding – 88%
After the Wedding is without a doubt of Mikkelsen’s most emotionally charged films, this is one of those films that makes the audience glad that we don’t have to experience what the character does. Mikkelsen’s character Jacob dedicates his life to helping street children in India, but when his orphanage may be closed he receives an offer from a businessman, on the terms that he takes part in the wedding of the man’s daughter.
What Jacob doesn’t expect is the wedding ends up being a meeting of the past and future, throwing Jacob into the most intense, heart-pounding dilemma. While the character is put through so much on-screen, it makes for a massively engrossing watch, all thanks to Mikkelsen’s outstanding performance.
9 Doctor Strange – 89%
In a long list of films released into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the debut title film for Doctor Strange played by Benedict Cumberbatch was one of the most well-received debut in the franchise. This film offered something that the MCU had very little of at the time, with sorcerers, magic, and different dimensions being introduced.
Mikkelsen plays the villain Kaecilius in this film, reminding us why the antagonistic roles are always perfect for him to play. His character’s goal is to merge the Earth with the Dark Dimension, controlled by a primordial life form, Dormammu. You can definitely say that Kaecilius had so much more potential, but that doesn’t take away from how much he added to an already fantastic origin story for one of the MCU’s most powerful heroes.
8 Arctic – 90%
One of the more recent films on this list Arctic sees Mikkelsen in a thrilling, totally absorbing survival film. With his character Overgard stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash, he’s faced with the choice of remaining in relative safety in his makeshift camp or embarking on an almost certainly deadly trek across the vast unknown in hopes of somehow making it out alive.
Survival films require a certain type of actor to play the lead in them, and Mikkelsen nails it right on the head. He provides the perfect amount of grittiness along with the raw emotions that anyone would feel in his situation. The film makes you feel like you’re there with him, keeping to locked in from start to finish.
7 A Royal Affair – 90%
Another film based on events, A Royal Affair tells the story of one of the most dramatic events in Danish history. The film tells the story of Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander), a young queen who’s married to Christian VII, and begins an affair with her husband’s royal physician (Mikkelsen) that changes the nation forever.
Mikkelsen along with the entire cast to an amazing job at depicting such a monumental event in history, leading to the film being a dramatic watch from start to finish. A film that most definitely deserves more recognition and should be at the top of your list if you like the sound of an intense, dramatic, unique love story.
6 Another Round – 93%
Another Round is another film that has a unique feel to it, as it deals with very real, human emotions in a vibrant way. Mikkelsen is one of a group of teachers who decide to consume alcohol on a day-to-day basis, to see how it affects their social and professional lives.
While on the surface the film shows the characters having fun with alcohol, there’s a clear underlying personal pain for the teachers. By being so vibrant, the film has one of the most unique takes on the midlife crisis and how alcohol is a very slippery slope to dealing with adverse emotions.
5 Casino Royale – 94%
The first outing for Daniel Craig as 007, and arguably the best James Bond film of all time, Casino Royale marked the return of the character after a four-year break, in an attempt to bring something new to the franchise. The film most definitely succeeded and then some, starting one of the best runs for an actor as the same character as Craig as Bond, after the casting choice being so controversial.
An element of the film that undoubtedly led to the high praise it received was Mikkelsen’s brilliant performance as the villain Le Chiffre. He perfectly captured the character’s eerily sadistic personality, leading to the unforgettable dynamic between him and Bond. Compared to many other Bond villains we’ve seen over the years, Le Chiffre has to rank near the top, all thanks to Mikkelsen.
4 The Hunt – 92%
In a film that critics agree is one of Mikkelsen’s strongest performances, The Hunt depicts the story of a man named Lucas, a divorced kindergarten teacher who becomes the target of mass hysteria after being wrongly accused of sexual misconduct with a child in his class.
The disturbing theme of the film is matched by Mikkelsen’s grounded, moving reaction to the scandal he finds himself in. The film feels very real and can become difficult to watch at times due to the subject, but the subject is what makes this film such an important watch because of the realistic depiction of the world of persecution.
3 Open Hearts – 93%
A film with a lower budget than others on this list, but the lower budget is something that allows Open Hearts to be the raw, honest film that it is. Another film realistically handling human emotions, Open Hearts tells the story of Cecilie (Sonja Richter) and Joachim (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) as their relationship takes a harrowing turn after an accident that causes Joachim to lose the use of his legs.
Mikkelsen’s role is a doctor named Niels, who Cecilie leans on for emotional support. As the film progresses, the lives of the characters are revealed to be much more intertwined than they might have thought, leading to a gritty, emotion-charged watch.
2 Riders of Justice – 96%
Riders of Justice deals with themes that Mikkelsen seems to be ideal for conveying, that being tragedy and loss. This 2020 film focuses on Markus, a deployed military soldier who has to come home to his teenage daughter when his wife dies in a tragic train accident. But as talk of foul play starts, Markus suspects that his wife was murdered and embarks on a revenge-fueled mission to find those responsible.
The film features the brutal action that you’d expect from an R-rated action revenge film but also provides a fresh take on the protagonist through Mikkelsen. Although some conventions almost have to be followed. The overwhelming emotions of losing someone so close contrasted with his Stoic personality makes this film a joy to watch for any revenge story lover.
1 Pusher II – 100%
The sequel to Mikkelsen’s first role that began his acting career, Mikkelsen’s highest-rated film by Rotten Tomatoes is Pusher II. This time, it’s Mikkelsen’s character Tonny who’s at the center of the film, following him as he deals with new challenges in the world of crime fresh out of prison, as well as becoming a father.
His character in the first film was already outstanding, laying the foundations for Mikkelsen to build on in this sequel, which is exactly what it is. The grittiness from the first film remains, with extra layers of real emotions as Lonny has so much more to think about at this stage in his life. It feels fitting that the film with the perfect score is the sequel to his first role, which led him to land so many incredible roles.