The 10 Best Benedict Cumberbatch Movies, Ranked - and How to Stream Them

He may once have admitted that his name “sounds like a fart in a bath”, but Benedict Cumberbatch has for years been a name revered enough - and indeed, long enough - to fill the top line of a poster and launch a hit film, be it a superhero blockbuster or an arthouse favourite destined for Oscar glory. Find out where to stream all Benedict Cumberbatch’s greatest movies below, in our list of his ten best film roles.

After a couple of early bit parts, Cumberbatch properly got started in film with Starter for 10, an agreeable British rom-com centred on the immortal TV quiz University Challenge. Cumberbatch’s role, as a snooty posh guy who can’t stop James McAvoy’s ordinary guy becoming the hero, was easy pickings. After supporting stints as less than sympathetic characters in Atonement and The Other Boleyn Girl, and a bit part in daring satire Four Lions, Cumberbatch’s film stock shot up thanks to his starring role in the TV series Sherlock.

Soon after, he was part of an extremely starry cast in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, although a more rewarding Cumber-watch from around the same time is his lead turn in tense adultery drama Wreckers, in which he plays half of a couple whose relationship unravels when they return to the rural community where the husband grew up. This was a harbinger of the sort of intense role Cumberbatch would excel in later on in his career.

But the Sherlock stardom soon meant Cumberbatch became part of major franchises. He starred in all three Hobbit movies, directed by Peter Jackson, with his character - a dragon, which meant a lot of extravagant movements performed in front of a green screen - making it into the title of the second film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Plus he is a key part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, leading Doctor Strange and the superior follow-up, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

As a renowned voice artist he has contributed to numerous animated projects, with his talent for growls, moans and groans making The Grinch one to stream, but one suspects his heart is really in serious, character-based work, such as his leads in the historical dramas The Imitation Game and The Courier - the first as the godfather of modern computing, Alan Turing; the second as a businessman recruited as an intermediary by British intelligence - and his memorable supporting roles in 12 Years a Slave and 1917.

Our pick for Cumberbatch’s best film is perhaps his toughest role of all, but one in which he triumphed. Jane Campion’s clever, sinewy revenge drama The Power of the Dog allowed him to play a fearsome but ultimately vulnerable monster of a man, an intimidating presence on the screen who slowly reveals his weakness. Campion took the Academy Award for Best Director, but her star was a huge part of the movie’s success. Watch The Power of the Dog and the rest of our Cumberbatch top ten below.

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  1. The Power of the Dog

    The Power of the Dog

    2021

    IMDB 6.8 (193k)

    #1

    Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.

  2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

    #2

    Doctor Strange, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.

  3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

    #3

    The Dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf have successfully escaped the Misty Mountains, and Bilbo has gained the One Ring. They all continue their journey to get their gold back from the Dragon, Smaug.

  4. The Imitation Game

    The Imitation Game

    2014

    IMDB 8.0 (824k)

    #4

    Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain's top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.

  5. The Grinch

    The Grinch

    2018

    IMDB 6.4 (67k)

    #5

    The Grinch hatches a scheme to ruin Christmas when the residents of Whoville plan their annual holiday celebration.

  6. Wreckers

    Wreckers

    2011

    IMDB 5.8 (3k)

    #6

    A married couple move back to his childhood village to start a family but a surprise visit from the husband's brother ignites sibling rivalry and exposes the lies embedded in the couple's relationship.

  7. The Courier

    The Courier

    2020

    IMDB 7.2 (73k)

    #7

    Businessman Greville Wynne is asked by a Russian source to try to help put an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

  8. 1917

    1917

    2019

    IMDB 8.2 (673k)

    #8

    At the height of the First World War, two young British soldiers must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers.

  9. 12 Years a Slave

    12 Years a Slave

    2013

    IMDB 8.1 (734k)

    #9

    In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty as well as unexpected kindnesses Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.

  10. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

    #10

    In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet mole within his former colleagues at the heart of MI6.