Little did my sister know when she asked me to join her to watch “The Amazing Spiderman” in preparation for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” that I would become obsessed with Andrew Garfield. My TikTok “For You” page picked up on my new obsession, knowing me better than I know myself— the amount of clips of Andrew Garfield singing in “Tick, Tick…Boom!” or describing Emma Stone as “a shot of espresso” really got to me.
I quickly fell in love with the British Jewish actor who, at 38, is a Tony winner and recent recipient of a Golden Globe. So naturally, I decided to watch all of his films. As of this writing, Garfield has appeared in 20 movies — beginning with “Mumbo Jumbo” in 2005 through his most recent appearance in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
Spoiler alert: I didn’t hate any of his films — and I did love a lot of them.
Without further ado, my official ranking of every single movie Andrew Garfield has appeared in, in order from worst to best:
20. “Air” (2009)
This short film is directed by Luke Davies, best known for writing the screenplays for “Lion,” “Beautiful Boy” and “Candy.” Garfield plays Tommy, a British student studying geology at a school in Texas who, during a hike, runs into a young child named Shane. When Shane vanishes, Tommy tries to look for him. Unfortunately, it’s the script that falls short. We don’t get much until the very end, when all is revealed to us and the story becomes clear. Overall, for how short it is, this film lacks any real substance.
19. “Lions for Lambs” (2007)
As a Barbra Streisand fan, I expected more from “Lions for Lambs” director and star Robert Redford. But unlike “The Way We Were,” I was very disappointed by this endeavor. Also starring Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep, “Lions for Lambs” weaves together three separate stories: two soldiers in the Middle East (Michael Peña and Derek Luke), a college professor and his student (Redford and Garfield) discussing his potential, and a Republican senator giving a reporter (Cruise and Streep) a scoop inside a new U.S. military plan. This a very ambitious film, which tries to use each discussion to open the eyes of its viewer — ranging from issues such as white privilege to the media’s role in war. But it’s through these conversations that the film lost me, as nothing else seems to happen and the ending itself is dissatisfactory. Only when I got to see Andrew Garfield in his #fratboyera during flashbacks did I find myself intrigued. If you’re looking for another film about war that has Andrew Garfield, I suggest looking through this list to find work that is actually worth your time.
18. “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” (2009)
Judging by its title, this sounds like a late 2000s children’s film. But that is very much not the case. All I can really tell you is that the immortal Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) goes around with his daughter Valentin (Lily Cole) and a few other characters showcasing his amazing mind and allowing participants to enter their imaginations, while also becoming better people and choosing moral paths — or else get taken by the devil. The pacing is weird, the acting is mid and the script sounds like J.K. Rowling meets Baz Luhrman meets “Doctor Who,” but also includes Verne Troyer in blackface and adults fully hooking up with and sexualizing a teenager. However, the film gets kudos for being one of Heath Ledger’s final projects. After his death, Jude Law, Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell signed on to play three variations of him. Heath is magnificent, though it’s sad to see Andrew Garfield be the “nice guy” in love with Valentin but forced to compete with Heath as Tony. Overall, it’s definitely not my favorite of Garfield’s films but for the legends that were in this, it’s worth a watch for their memory.
17. “99 Homes” (2014)
In this 2014 feature film, Andrew Garfield plays his signature acting trope as a “businessman with moral doubts” in a story of real estate and the sketchy business of evictions in Florida. When Dennis Nash (Garfield) is evicted from his home which he shares with his mother (Laura Dern, a queen) and his child, he decides to start working for Rick Carver (Michael Shannon), the man that evicted him. If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is a story about real estate, which, let’s be honest, is incredibly boring. But! The film does showcase the ethics and the moral dilemma of the business for homeowners struggling to get by. I didn’t hate it, but the plot gets complicated and we don’t get a lot about Dennis’ background. Still, the stakes and the tension rise as the film goes along.
16. “Never Let Me Go” (2010)
As a student at a historically women’s college, this film speaks to me, not just for its queer cottage core vibes but for the way it reminds me of my time in high school — when I first watched this movie, read the book it was based on by Kazuo Ishiguro and went through a serious phase of feeling like I was “not like other girls.” That’s essentially how Cathy H (played by the remarkable Carey Mulligan) feels at her boarding school, Hailsham, as does her friend Ruth C (Kiera Knightley). Their friendship is complicated by the presence of Tommy D (Andrew Garfield). The casting of this film, along with the lovely shots of the English countryside, make the film very British. Garfield as Tommy adds the kindness and sensitivity the film needs, a breath of fresh air that is poisoned by the love triangle of Ruth versus Cathy. (I would also argue this film has themes surrounding queerness, asexuality and communism.) This is a capital D Dramatic film, and one that poses interesting questions but also seems to offer the viewer nothing substantial.
15. “Mainstream” (2020)
If there is one thing Andrew Garfield does incredibly well, it’s portraying charming men. In “Mainstream,” Gia Coppola’s film about the internet and virality, Garfield stars as Link, a guy who wears animal costumes around the streets of Los Angeles and befriends a young filmmaker/YouTuber Frankie (Maya Hawke, who is charming as an “artist” that essentially just takes out her iPhone to film things she finds interesting and uploads them to YouTube). This film is filled with NJBs (Nat Wolff, Jason Schwartzman and Garfield) along with various internet celebrities like Casey Frey, Jake Paul and Patrick Starr. The editing and cinematography are cutesy, with emojis and replays that add to a film all about capitalism and consumption in the internet age. Link’s message about letting go of one’s phone and embracing art rather than vanity is all a ridiculous way for him to obtain power by making “good, satirical” content to transform how we use social media. He mocks how we use our phones all the while making millions by exploiting people and using AAVE (African American Vernacular English). I’m a bit tired of films that mock our culture and society’s use of cell phones, and the message in “Mainstream” feels contradictory, if not a bit redundant.
14. “Mumbo Jumbo” (2005)
Before “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” Andrew Garfield portrayed the “clumsy, cute, and lovable but never number one” type in “Mumbo Jumbo.” During this 10-minute short film, three friends meet up — and that’s about all I can tell you without spoiling anything. I don’t have much to say about this film except that it is very British, very silly and plays out like an episode of a web series. A very young Andrew Garfield is hilarious as Simmo, a horny character in a track suit, and it is worth a watch for how he steals the show.
13. “The Other Boleyn Girl” (2008)
It was a struggle deciding where this film should be ranked and honestly, I’m not even sure it should count as I was unable to find Andrew Garfield in it. Though there were instances where I thought I may have seen him, I expected more than just a quick glance. Maybe I missed him when looking down at my phone for a second, but the only real time I saw him was when I googled “Andrew Garfield in The Other Boleyn Girl” and got one single image of a scene that didn’t seem to make the final cut. So I feel rather bamboozled or (read in a British accent) like I was absolutely made a fool of. Nonetheless, I absolutely loved this movie, which has everyone who is everyone, including Jewish actresses Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman as the Boleyn sisters Mary and Anne. I loved the drama of this story, which is incredibly fast-paced but never leaves anything out, and the viewer never bored. So, no Andrew, but a great film I’m glad he gave me reason to watch.
12. “Silence” (2016)
Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” is based on Shüsaku Endö’s book of the same name. The film stars Garfield as Father Sebastião Rodrigues and Adam Driver as Father Francisco Garupe, Jesuit priests attempting to teach and practice their faith in 16th century Japan, where Christianity is banned. The film made me think particularly about my relationship with Judaism, particularly with the consequences of being a Jew around the world. I thought especially about the question of dying for your faith versus attempting to survive by denouncing your beliefs. All this is to say: “Silence” is a powerful film and one that is even more impactful with the soundtrack of silence, as we are forced to focus on Rodrigues’ state of mind and his inability to hear God, trying as hard as he does to pray. But, be warned, it is pretty slow.
11. “Boy A” (2007)
Of all the Andrew Garfield roles that portray sensitive types, Garfield’s turn as Jack Burridge in “Boy A,” an adult recently released from prison for crimes pertaining to when he was a child, is his most sensitive. This was his first real lead movie role, for which he won a well-deserved BAFTA, and he carries this film in a striking performance. The plot revolves around Jack struggling to get his life on track while also trying to forgive himself and let go of what happened. We, the viewers are also forced to ask ourselves: Who deserves forgiveness when it comes to incarcerated individuals? What crimes can we let go of? Why are some individuals deserving of a life while others are not? “Boy A” is definitely not an easy watch (there are mentions of rape and suicide), but it is a necessary one in this day and age.
10. “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012)
In his first role as Spider-Man, Garfield gives the superhero the charming and shy persona that neither Tobey Maguire nor Tom Holland could. He struggles to do right by everyone and save the world one web at a time. He succeeds in his own way, but taking over a franchise from another lead is rather difficult — and this film is no exception to that rule. A confusing mess, this film has Spider-man fighting a scientist-turned-lizard who wants to make everyone lizards… and also fighting law enforcement. It’s enjoyable at times, but director Mark Webb (yes, that’s his real name) struggles to introduce and give enough background to make the story easy to follow, which will also hurt the sequel as well. But 10 years later, I would claim Andrew Garfield as my Spider-Man any day.
9. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014)
I think we can all agree that Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker between 2012 to 2014 made him the millennial Spider-Man. The sequel is more compelling than his first installment as Spidey because of the characters and villains — it’s almost a camp Spider-Man. However, the film does not flow and is again confusing, as Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan) is introduced to us for the first time along with Peter’s occupation as a photographer. But it’s still a really entertaining film and Jamie Foxx as Max, an insane villain who thrives on electricity, is awesome. Plus, the press tours with Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield were very cute.
8. “Under the Silver Lake” (2018)
This film explores the secrets of the rich and famous Hollywood elite, telling the story of Sam (Garfield), a cinephile investigating the disappearance of his neighbor (Jewish icon Riley Keough) who begins to discover different mysterious symbols everywhere. If you were looking for an easy watch, this film isn’t it — you need to give it your full attention. Fans of Hitchcock and the Golden Age of Hollywood will love the references and soundtrack, but it does feel extremely male gaze-y. The film raises lots of questions about capitalism and the secret messages of the media we consume, but doesn’t really answer them. Nonetheless, by raising these questions, along with its color and stylistic choices, the film pulls you in, leaving you wanting more, hence why it has a cult following.
7. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (2021)
In this eighth Spider-Man film, we find (spoiler alert!!) all of our faves (Tobey Maguire, Andrew himself and Tom Holland) all together for the first time as we discover the multi-verse where multiple Spider-Men exist. It’s an insane concept but not as insane as the different vibes three different Leos have (yes, all the Spider-Men are Leos). Tobey is like an awkward father who is ready to give you a friendly chat when necessary. Andrew is the anxious Peter Parker with an inferiority complex but lots of love (he is apparently the Jewish Spider-Man, as Garfield said himself, for the way he is super neurotic and reminds him of his father). And Tom is the teenager struggling to balance all of his responsibilities and longing for a private life, á la Hannah Montana. This film succeeds for its use of nostalgia, and also gives us the justice that many of the villains deserve. (In fact, the film seems to suggest restorative justice as a solution for crime.) Overall, a super entertaining film that has a lot to say about what it means to be a hero for the world and for yourself.
6. “Breathe” (2017)
Before his Tony award-winning turn as Prior Walter in “Angels in America” on Broadway, Garfield would portray real-life disability rights advocate and polio patient Robin Cavendish in this British film opposite Claire Foy as Robin’s wife, Diana. The chemistry between Claire and Andrew is beautiful but it does not match up to Emma Stone and Andrew in “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Unlike a lot of other biopics about people striving for success in the face of adversity, this film is relatively well-mannered: We don’t see a lot of crying and anger about how much polio has impacted Robin throughout the movie, nor do we ever see his wife complaining about having to care for him. The film instead chooses to focus on the power that unconditional love had on both Diana and Robin and their friends and family, which allowed him to live.
5. “Hacksaw Ridge” (2016)
This movie marks Andrew Garfield’s first nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Desmond Doss. Doss was the only “conscientious objector” to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — he refused to pick up a rifle during World War II, instead choosing to serve as a nurse and saving 75 men. Like “Silence,” this film asks how far would you go for your religious beliefs. But it is also a war film, one that is directed by famous antisemite Mel Gibson. Although the film allows Andrew to shine as the “religious sensitive type,” breaking stereotypes about masculinity, it is incredibly gruesome. It stands at number five on this list for Andrew’s charm and his masterful performance as a man fighting for the courage to carry on. Plus, his scenes with Teresa Palmer as Dorothy Schutte, his wife, are so sweet and once again prove that Andrew can be both romantic leading man and hero in action.
4. “I’m Here” (2010)
“I’m Here,” Spike Jonze’s short film sponsored by Absolut Vodka, was a star turn for Andrew Garfield. Hear me out: Based on Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree,” which already makes this film sad and sweet, “I’m Here” tells the story of Sheldon (Andrew Garfield), a robot living in a universe with robots and humans, who meets another robot, Francesca (Sienna Guillory). It’s very 2010, filled with twee indie music, patterned wrap dresses and dancing in parking lots. There is truly nothing to hate about this film, aside from wishing there was a bit more to the characters and understanding where Francesca goes. But for a short, there is certainly a lot of information packed in and Garfield is brilliant once again as a sensitive but loving robot. The saddest part of this film is the animated eyes: As they say, eyes are the windows to the soul, and you will certainly feel the robot’s emotions every time a brief yet powerful close-up appears onscreen.
3. “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (2021)
2021 was truly Andrew Garfield’s year. Before he was singing or web-slinging, he was working with Jessica Chastain to portray real-life televangelist Jim Bakker on his rise (and fall) from grace with his titular wife. Tammy (Chastain) is a firecracker and Jim is bizarre, with Andrew donning a pair of fake cheeks and an extremely drawn-out Minnesota accent. Unlike a lot of biopics, this film combines realism with the fictitious to produce something truthful but not overtly dramatic. I really liked the way it goes all out to be incredibly camp, with the actors putting so much of themselves into their roles, from both the physical transformations to Chastain’s singing. We also are forced to break out of our own conceptions of Andrew as the nice, sensitive guy in this role that showcases him as villainous and complicated.
2. “The Social Network” (2010)
I debated whether or not this should be the top Garfield film — “The Social Network” is undeniably his breakthrough moment. Plus, this is one of the most Jewish films on this list, as Jesse Eisenberg and Armie Hammer (ew) are in it, and Mark Zuckerberg is (unfortunately) a famous Jew, as is Eduardo Saverin, whom Garfield plays. One could argue this is even the film that breaks down the stereotype of the nice Jewish boy — who is smart, hardworking, charming — because Zuckerberg definitely isn’t portrayed as such here. The pacing of “The Social Network” is incredible; unlike many movies about business, director David Fincher chooses to focus less on the decisions involved, but to showcase the relationships behind the curtain. Andrew’s ability to showcase the depth of Eduardo’s character, in his best and worst moments — towing the line between best friend, business partner and someone trying to make a name for himself just as much as Zuckerberg — help him stand out and proved he had potential as a leading man in Hollywood.
1. “Tick, Tick…Boom!” (2021)
Alright, fine, I’ll admit it: I was a Gleek and I did in fact do musical theater in high school, so perhaps I am slightly biased in my decision to make “Tick, Tick…Boom!,” directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, my top ranked Andrew Garfield film. As soon as it started, I couldn’t stop smiling as I heard Garfield sing “30/90.” I absolutely love the way it weaves in so many different musical elements while telling the story of Jonathan Larson, the “Rent” writer who struggled to make his dreams come true on Broadway. It’s a beautiful story with plenty of Jewish themes involved — Garfield, a Jewish actor, as Larson, a Jewish man, is just pitch-perfect casting. The acting is just as phenomenal as the singing and Garfield’s musical training definitely paid off for this role. Garfield portrayal of Larson as someone with so much heart yet also incredibly flawed makes this movie comforting and heartbreaking to watch all at the same time. At the end of the day, “Tick, Tick…Boom!” reminds the viewer to not take today for granted, and to choose the path of love.