Top-Rated Films of John Travolta: A Ranking


John Travolta remains an intriguing figure in Hollywood, both on and off-screen. He’s a notable member of the Church of Scientology and has been associated with both major box office disappointments and iconic cinematic masterpieces.

After a strong run in the late 1970s, the 1980s brought challenges to Travolta’s career due to poor role choices and unsuccessful films. However, his fortune turned when Quentin Tarantino cast him as Vincent Vega in the groundbreaking film, Pulp Fiction, marking a resurgence in the 1990s.

While his recent work has faced criticism and gone straight to streaming, history suggests it’s premature to dismiss Travolta, as he’s proven his ability to stage impressive comebacks and potentially add more outstanding films to his


15 Carrie (1976)

John Travolta in the movie Carrie

Watching John Travolta play a villain is a guilty pleasure, especially in his younger days. The man looks like a pleasant person, so it’s more impactful to see him act twisted to unsuspecting victims on screen. Brian De Palma’s Carrie is an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel starring Sissy Spacek as the shy and misunderstood Carrie White. John Travolta plays Billy Nolan, the film’s lead antagonist, and all-around school bully.

Even though Travolta was already a bit old to play a teenager, he aces the part with a nuanced performance as the callous, vindictive Billy. He is not fond of people accepting Carrie while calling him out for making her life miserable. He’s the one to play the prank with the pig blood, unleashing Carrie’s telekinetic powers and dooming all his classmates to a fiery death.

14 Urban Cowboy (1980)

urban cowboy
Paramount Pictures

John Travolta still sported a baby face look at 26, so he was a great choice to play Bud Davis in the coming-of-age story Urban Cowboy. The romantic drama is written and directed by James Bridges and features the talents of Debra Winger and Scott Glenn. Travolta plays a conservative cowboy moving to Pasadena to gain fame and fortune in the cowboy scene in the city.

After meeting Sissy, they fall in love and marry, but their opposing views on gender roles drive them apart, making Sissy fall in love with Bud’s rival, Wes. Resolved to get Sissy back by any means, he challenges Wes to a bull riding competition where the best rider gets the girl in the end. It’s a lovely film, very reflective of the era it was made and the values of past times.

13 Phenomenon (1996)

Touchstone Pictures.

Sometimes sci-fi can portray some goofy scenarios while trying to convey a message. Other times, this branch of fiction can be used to tell a wholesome story. John Travolta has been at the two ends of the spectrum. The good one is Phenomenon (the bad one is Battlefield Earth, but don’t tell him that). This movie, written by Gerald Di Pego and directed by Jon Turteltaub, features Travolta as George Malley, a small-town mechanic who gains extraordinary cognitive powers after witnessing a strange light.

Believing it to be a miracle or a signal sent by aliens, George uses his increased intellect to help people. He creates a potent fertilizer to help the farmers in his town, redirects sunlight to develop new energy sources, and learns multiple languages. When a second event reveals the devastating reality of his newfound skills, George is forced to run for his life as the government and the scientific community hunt him to harvest his mind.

12 Swordfish (2001)

Warner Bros. Pictures.

Swordfish is a movie remembered for multiple things. It was the second film by Hugh Jackman for a major Hollywood studio, and it had John Travolta playing a sleek and ambiguous CIA operative named Gabriel Shear.

The movie, written by Skip Woods and directed by Dominic Sena, tells the story of a brilliant hacker who gets released from prison and is quickly recruited by Gabriel to crack the security of a rival intelligence agency and steal their money. Travolta steals the show by playing a bombastic villain with a flair for the dramatic and a relentless disposition to kill anyone who challenges him.

11 Michael (1996)

Michael 1996
New Line Cinema

In the 1996 dramedy Michael, Travolta plays the Archangel Michael, as he’s sent down to Earth to complete various tasks for his creator. Surrounded by an outstanding cast that includes Andie MacDowell, William Hurt, and Bob Hoskins, Travolta shines in the titular role.

The film is quirky and funny, while still pulling at the heartstrings in moments where Michael must play cupid, and in a particularly tear-jerking moment where he brings the protagonist’s dog, Sparky, back to life after being hit by a truck. Michael was a unique ’90s comedy that never received the amount of love it deserved.

10 Broken Arrow (1996)

Broken Arrow 1996
    20th Century Fox

In one of his rare action villain roles, Travolta plays Major Vic Deakins in Broken Arrow. Travolta plays the opposite of Christian Slater in a role where he steals nuclear warheads in hopes of blackmailing the U.S. government for money, or else he will detonate the missiles in populated areas.

Though not as memorable as his other ’90s villain role, Face/Off, Travolta does a great job embodying a cool and collected psychopath much in the same way as the 1997 thriller. Broken Arrow doesn’t get as much love as it should, and most of its positives come from Travolta’s great performance.

The 10 Best Cheesy Action Movies of the 1990s

9 The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

The Taking of Pelham 123
Sony Pictures Releasing

Though its title is a mouthful, The Taking of Pelham 123 is a straightforward action thriller, one elevated by Travolta’s performance as criminal hijacker Dennis “Ryder” Ford (alias Mr. Blue). Here, Travolta trades in his poufy, carefully styled hair and clean-shaven face for edgy sideburns and a handlebar mustache.

It’s a different look for Travolta, but one that shows the actor aging gracefully. In some ways, his performance hearkens back to the violent criminality of his role in Pulp Fiction, only here he’s more frightening than funny. It’s a strong dramatic part and one that Travolta excels at.

8 Hairspray (2007)

A scene from Hairspray
New Line Cinema

Hairspray is based on the 2002 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was based on John Waters’ 1988 comedy film of the same name. It follows the “pleasantly plump” teenage girl Tracy Turnblad, as she encounters stardom as a dancer on a local television dance show and rallies against racial segregation. John Travolta plays Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mother, who is agoraphobic and ashamed of her obesity.

Travolta’s casting as Edna continued the tradition of having a man in drag portray the character, as seen in the original 1988 film. It has been reported that the movie executives originally expected the part to be filled by an actor more well-known for his comic roles. However, due to his success in the musical Grease and their faith in his versatility, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron fought for Travolta, and the rest is history. Travolta played this larger-than-life character so well that it seems hard to imagine any other actor beside the original’s Divine in the role.

7 In a Valley of Violence (2016)

In A Valley of Violence
Focus World

The newest film on this list, In a Valley of Violence is a whip-smart western from Ti West (of X and Pearl fame). Part black comedy and part thriller, it puts a refreshing spin on the genre and includes star performances from Ethan Hawke and John Travolta. Travolta takes on the role of Clyde Martin, a marshal trying to keep his town, Denton, under control and out of trouble.

When an unlucky drifter arrives on the scene, trouble arrives with him, and Denton’s fragile peace is broken. Travolta plays Martin as a stoic, respectable marshal doing his best to maintain order in a violent world. It’s a fun genre role for the veteran actor and one of his best films in recent memory.

6 Get Shorty (1995)

John Travolta in Get Shorty

Get Shorty was a sharply satirical film that perfectly adapted Elmore Leonard’s novel of the same name by delivering the perfect mix of comedy and thriller. John Travolta stars alongside Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito. It follows Chili Palmer (Travolta), a Miami mobster and loan shark who inadvertently gets involved in feature film production after traveling to Los Angeles to collect a casino debt from a B-movie director.

Like Hairspray, Travolta wasn’t necessarily everybody’s first choice, with Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, and Michael Keaton all reportedly being offered the role of Chili Palmer before each turned it down. That said, Travolta is in top form here, bringing his trademark cool as only he can while also demonstrating his comedic chops when the script calls for it.

5 Face/Off(1997)

Touchstone Pictures

In a nutshell, Face/Off is about an FBI agent (John Travolta) who undergoes secret facial transplant surgery to assume the identity of his rival and criminal mastermind (Nicolas Cage). He needs to masquerade as the man who killed his son in order to foil a terrorist plot. Things go awry when the comatose criminal wakes up prematurely and uses the same procedure to secretly assume the identity of the agent

While the film’s loose science leaves itself open to plot holes, this John Woo-directed action thriller is an extremely fun, white-knuckle ride, featuring some of the greatest stylized action sequences ever committed to film. This is definitely one of Travolta’s most unhinged, scenery-chomping performances to date, which is understandable when you consider that for most of Face/Off, he is actually portraying Nic Cage’s character, who is incredibly unhinged in the film.

4 Saturday Night Fever (1977)

John Travolta as Tony in Saturday Night Fever.
Paramount Pictures

The movie that made John Travolta one of the biggest stars on the planet, Saturday Night Fever was a cultural phenomenon. Not only was it a major critical and commercial success, but it also brought disco music back into the limelight. The film further popularized disco around the world, which could be considered both good or bad.

Pretty much everything about the movie has become iconic, from the dance moves to the Bee-Gees-driven soundtrack to the fantastically over-the-top costumes. The movie itself is a cleverly-told but bleak portrayal of working-class life in the ’70s USA that tackles a plethora of poignant subjects that includes drugs, religion, poverty, suicide, sexual assault, and racism.

3 Blow Out (1981)

Filmways Pictures

Still riding on the success of the mega-hits Grease and Saturday Night Fever, Travolta subverted expectations somewhat by opting to work with film auteur Brian De Palma for his next role. De Palma, at the time, was known for working on highly provocative movies including the erotic slasher Dressed to Kill and the now-iconic supernatural blood fest, Carrie.

Blow Out stars Travolta as Jack Terry, a movie sound effects technician from Philadelphia who, while recording sounds for a low-budget slasher film, unintentionally captures audio evidence of an assassination involving a high-profile political figure. The film featured a unique concept that became one of Quentin Tarantino’s all-time favorites and become a universal hit with critics. Despite the acclaim, the movie performed poorly at the box office, mostly likely due to the unexpected shift in tone for Travolta and the bleak ending.

These Are Some of the Coolest Hitman Movies

2 Grease (1978)

Grease Travolta
Paramount Pictures

If Saturday Night Fever showed the world that John Travolta could do musicals, Grease cemented him as the king of musicals. The film is set in the 1950s and follows the lives of ‘greaser’ Danny Zuko (Travolta) and Australian transfer student Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) who develop an attraction for each other over the summer holidays.

Once they are back at high school, their relationship becomes trickier to navigate due to their different backgrounds and peer groups. Despite a few problematic parts that don’t hold up as well, the film is still the perfect example of how to bring a Broadway musical to the big screen without losing any of the energy and magic of the live show. Like Saturday Night Fever, the film touched on several important issues that are still relevant today, including teenage pregnancy, peer pressure, and gang violence.

1 Pulp Fiction (1994)

Uma Thurman and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction
Miramax Films

Pulp Fiction is widely regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time and for good reason. Pretty much every aspect of the movie is delivered to perfection, from the punchy dialogue littered with pop culture references (still quoted by movie buffs over 25 years later) to the twists and non-linear interweaving storylines and ironic combination of humor and strong violence.

Although most of this is down to the writer/director and his unique vision, it couldn’t have been executed as successfully as it was without one of the finest casts of actors ever assembled. The audience is treated to a masterclass in quality acting from the likes of Bruce Willis, Christopher Walken, Samuel L Jackson, Harvey Keitel, Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames, Tim Roth, and John Travolta. Travolta, in particular, has been praised alongside Samuel L Jackson for their cooler-than-cool portrayals of two calm, collected, well-dressed hitmen.

Source link

Leave a Reply