He's got a funny face and an even funnier name. But we love him all the same. With his stellar acting skills, genuine personality, and all-around adorkableness, Benedict Cumberbatch has become a proper movie star. Here, I count down some of his must-watch films/TV shows.
This one is a given. Ben's role as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC's updated version of the beloved Conan Doyle stories is arguably what he is best known for. With his impossibly quick delivery of lines, sharp cheekbones, and marvelous Belstaff coat, Benedict Cumberbatch is the Sherlock Holmes of our modern era. (Even if you aren't a Benedict fan, this show is absolutely worth checking out.)
2. Doctor Strange
Enter Benedict Cumberbatch into the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). Even if you're not a huge fan of comic books or Marvel, Doctor Strange is an excellent film. With its mind-boggling visuals, unique humor, and a-typical plot line (for Marvel films, that is), it was an excellent addition to the MCU's plethora of superhero movies.
In the film, Benedict plays a brilliant neurosurgeon who turns to the mystic arts when a car accident leaves him unable to use his hands. Sporting a deceptively good American accent, Benedict captured the charisma, charm, and humor of this beloved character.
(Ben's streak of grey hair, muscular build, and perfectly-groomed facial hair also make for some lovely eye-candy.)
3. The Imitation Game
While Benedict is always very supportive of his films and excited to talk about them, this film—and Alan Turing's story—were especially close to his heart.
The Imitation Game, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards back in 2015, tells the story of World War II Mathematician Alan Turing. Turing—played brilliantly by Ben—created the world's first computer and almost single-handedly broke the German enigma code, which brought about the end of World War II. Yet, his life was a tragic one. Turing was tried for being gay, something that was illegal at the time.
While it's no surprise that Benedict is a phenomenal actor, he took it up a notch for this film; there's something about his portrayal of Turing that is so genuine, heartbreaking, and intense that sets this performance apart from many others. It is a heartbreaking true story, but an incredibly important film to watch.
4. Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Trek Into Darkness is a MUST-WATCH for any die-hard Benedict fans. This movie served as Ben's first major role in a blockbuster Hollywood film. While Benedict is known for playing socially awkward geniuses, this role cast him as a sleeker and more brutal genius.
In this sequel to the Star Trek reboot film (starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana), Benedict plays the role of John Harrison—who was later revealed to be Khan, one of the original series' most evil villains. As Khan was genetically engineered to have super-human intelligence and combat capabilities, he has the potential to either save the Federation or destroy it.
In addition to looking absolutely marvelous every time he's on screen, Benedict's acting in this film is spot-on and chill-inducing. He takes command of the screen every time he's on.
5. Parade's End
Parade's End is a five-part HBO mini-series produced in 2012. While its five-episode story line is complex and difficult to explain in one, clean sentence, the series revolves around a love triangle between English aristocrat Christopher Tietjens (Cumberbatch), his mean socialite wife Sylvia (Rebecca Hall), and the kind suffragette, Valentine Wannop (Adelaide Clemens). All of this is set against the backdrop of World War I, which deals these characters a unique set of problems.
From a cinematographic and acting standpoint, this series excelled. It won several awards, including a few Broadcasting Press Guild awards and a BAFTA. Rebecca Hall and Adelaide Clemens shine in their respective roles. Per the norm, Benedict is remarkably convincing as the old-fashioned and serious Christopher Tietjens. While this series can be a bit slow at times (not a lot of action/adventure), Benedict transforms Christopher Tietjens into a character we simultaneously love, loathe, and root for. (His blonde hair takes a while to get used to, but it might actually grow on you.)
Last I checked, if you're in Britain, you can watch the first three episodes on Netflix and it should be available for purchase on iTunes. If you're in the U.S., you can also purchase it on iTunes. To get an idea of what the series is about, be sure to check out some clips on YouTube, like the one below.
6. Third Star
Get your tissues ready, folks, because you're going to need them for this movie!
Third Star, which Benedict filmed just before his appearance in the first series of Sherlock, tells the story of James (Cumberbatch), who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Knowing his time left on this earth is short, James convinces his three closest friends to go on an ill-advised trip with him to his favorite spot: Barafundle Bay.
While this movie has plenty of (somewhat sophomoric, male-anatomy-centric) laughs, it is also tremendously touching and tells a story of friendship, adventure, love, and loss. With a strong all-male cast consisting of Tom Burke, JJ Feild, and Adam Robertson, Third Star is a film you should definitely check out when you have the time. (Don't expect to finish it feeling particularly uplifted, though.) Per the norm, Benedict delivers an impactful and tear-jerking performance.
7. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
Okay, so you technically don't get to see Benedict in this one, but you get to hear his beautiful voice and watch the fruits of his motion-capture labor.
This film is the second installment of the Hobbit series. And, while Benedict technically plays two characters in this movie, I'm focusing on his role as Smaug, the fierce dragon that has taken over the dwarves' homeland.
Contrary to popular belief, Ben's voice was not actually digitally-altered very much; Smaug's voice in the film is very true to Benedict's original recordings—which kind of makes the whole thing more creepy. If you enjoy listening to Benedict's deep and rumbling voice, then this movie is for you!
I'm going to warn you now: if you're looking for a feel-good, happy-go-lucky, Cumberbatch film, this one is not for you.
This film, which served as D R Hood's directorial debut, follows the story of David (Benedict) and his wife Dawn (Claire Foy) after they move back to David's childhood village. Initially, Wreckers seems to be a lovely domestic film about a happily-married couple trying to start a family. Some very sinister and dark implications are soon explored, however, when David's younger brother shows up. As the two brothers clash heads, Dawn learns that her husband has some very disturbing secrets.
Regardless of the horrendous implications the movie makes about his character, Ben's acting is still superb and genuine. This film, while it might make you uncomfortable, confused, and/or emotionally unsettled, will only solidify in your mind Benedict's unique capability to take on any role; he really is a chameleon. If you're interested in seeing more, be sure to check out the clip below:
Be aware: while this 2003 mini-series had its moments of quirky, off-kilter humor, the main attraction was definitely baby Benedict. (No, he's not actually a baby. Just very young.)
At just 27 years old, this show marked one of Ben's first on-screen appearances. The series, which starred Hugh Laurie and Anna Chancellor, revolves around Laurie's character and has a quirky sense of humor. As Paul Slippery (Laurie) tries to cope with a mid-life crisis, he suddenly develops a unique ability to hear other people's inner thoughts. (Yes, it's just as unusual as you imagine that would be.)
Regardless of the show's unconventional humor, Benedict is positively adorable in it. He plays Paul's eldest son, Rory Slippery. True to Benedict form, Rory is the most sensitive, kind, and understanding of Paul Slippery's three sons.
9. Small Island
Benedict's role in this 2009 mini-series was a small one, but it is still worth checking out. While this dramatic three-hour series revolves around the respective stories of Hortense (Naomi Harris) and Queenie (Ruth Wilson), Benedict does contribute to the storyline. He plays (yet another) socially-awkward Brit, one who is quite enamored with Queenie.
While Bernard is difficult to sympathize with in the latter part of the series (given his racist tendencies), Benedict portrays his character with talent and depth. His character also has some endearing and heartwarming moments in the beginning of this two-part BBC production. An excellent watch all around.
10. August: Osage County
That being said, Benedict is still lovely in it. This role is very different for him, as—instead of playing a genius—Ben plays... well... a bit of a dim-wit. Still, true to Benedict fashion, his character (Little Charles) is rather adorable. Sporting a (kind of) convincing southern accent, Ben sparkles in all the right ways as the kindhearted Little Charles. (Also, as a bonus, you get to see him play the piano and sing a lovely song. Check it out below.)
That's all I've got for you today! Thanks for reading and be sure to check out some of the other Benedict articles on my page. Have a great day!