One of the most gripping new stars of the 2010s, Adam Driver brings a level of intrigue. A massive amount of talent to every role he takes on. He’s only been acting in feature films since 2011, but the man has already worked with most of the greatest filmmakers. Driver started out in the Marines, but really got into acting after being medically discharged for an injury that kept him from being deployed. With his uniquely handsome look, his gritty voice, and his ability to conform to whatever genre he needs to, Driver is certainly one of the most impressive and profound new voices today. Since 2011, he’s racked up quite the list of greatest hits and he’s got nowhere to go but up from here.
1. Inside Llewyn Davis
Hopefully the first of many Coen Brothers projects for Driver, Inside Llewyn Davis features the actor sporadically throughout. Primarily tracking a week in the life of the titular struggling folk singer played by Oscar Isaac, Driver joins the likes of John Goodman, Carey Mulligan, Alex Karpovsky, and Justin Timberlake as the people Davis interacts with as he tries to make it big.
2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi is as divisive as it can be, but hopefully fans and naysayers can agree on the fact that Driver is absolutely at the top of his game in the film. Kylo Ren has never been more sinister and more sympathetic than he is in this film. Driver is as natural as the beefcake bad guy with anger issues.
Playing one half of the two-cop team united in their efforts to infiltrate and take down their local branch of the Ku Klux Klan, Driver’s character brings an interesting perspective to Lee’s very loose adaptation of a true story from the 1970s. With his long hair and thick mustache, Driver performs the part perfectly.
Paterson features Driver in the titular role. He’s a bus driver with a heart for poetry and a love for his small family, living the same life from day to day with subtle changes in between. It’s incredibly human and incredibly lovely, showing the little victories and little defeats of daily human existence better than any other film that comes to mind.
5. Frances Ha
His first of many collaborations with the excellent Noah Baumbach, Frances Ha sees Driver playing a character not often explored by him: a normal, everyday New Yorker. There’s no gimmick, there’s no catch, he’s just a regular guy who’s friends with the titular Frances (played by the ineffable Greta Gerwig). It’s refreshing.
6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The debut of Driver’s Kylo Ren is hard to beat. Therefore, the character obviously draws parallels to Darth Vader. Ren is easily the second most interesting villain the Star Wars franchise has ever seen. He’s unpredictable, he’s volatile. He’s battling with his inner self as well as the Resistance. It is impossible to imagine anyone but Driver playing the character.
Silence, the story of two Portuguese Jesuit priests who travel to Japan to find their missing mentor and spread Catholicism, stars Driver alongside Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson. It’s based on the same novel as is 1971’s Silence, but Scorsese’s version undoubtedly has a level of expertise to it that elevates it above the original film and the original source material. Driver’s perfect, easily the strongest of the three leads by far.
8. Logan Lucky
He’s playing one half of a brotherly duo, while the other half is played by the always excellent Channing Tatum. Botrh of them sets out to rob a NASCAR race in order to reverse a family curse. Here’s hoping Driver ends up in a few more Soderbergh movies sooner rather than later.
9. While We’re Young
Driver’s second Baumbach sees him playing a more important role than he did in Frances Ha. This time, instead of nailing a supporting role, Driver knocks it out of the park as one-fourth of the main cast of While We’re Young. Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, and Amanda Seyfried make up the rest of the leads, but it’s hard to ignore how nice it is to see Driver playing such a funny role with so many other actors.
10. Midnight Special
Adam Driver is sort of put on the back burner in Jeff Nichols’s fourth feature film, but it doesn’t matter: when he’s on screen, he’s clearly having a blast. Nichols’s films are often complicated and unique. Two adjectives that perfectly describe Driver, so it’s no surprise to see him fit right in here.