If you had told us 20 years ago that Mark Wahlberg would be an Academy Award-nominated actor, a respectable leading man and one of the most lovable screen presences in the film industry, we'd probably say, "What, that guy with the Funky Bunch?" But after making his cinematic debut with an endearing Shakespeare love letter called Renaissance Man in 1994, "Marky Mark" Wahlberg churned out one solid performance after another, earning his star status and our admiration.
His latest film, 2 Guns, pairs Wahlberg with Denzel Washington in a gleefully sadistic caper comedy about two dangerous criminals with a secret: they're each, unbeknownst to each other, undercover cops trying to bring the other one down. Before you see 2 Guns in theaters, we wanted to remind you of all the excellent, sometimes brilliant but always engaging performance Mark Wahlberg has given over the years with this, our picks for The Top 10 Mark Wahlberg Movies!
(And yes, we've seen The Other Guys. We didn't like it as much as you did. Feel free to complain in the comments below.)
10. The Big Hit (1998)
Kirk Wong's underrated and utterly bizarre action comedy The Big Hit starred Wahlberg as a lovable hitman with a neurotic need to be nice to everyone, even his enemies. The action sequences are incredible, the comedy is pure slapstick nonsense, and don't even get us started on the brilliance of the Trace Buster-Buster.
9. The Italian Job (2003)
It doesn't hold a candle to the classic 1969 version of The Italian Job, but F. Gary Gray's slick, entertaining reimagining of the classic heist caper was a fun movie in its own right, with Mark Wahlberg leading an all-star cast of hooligans on a mission to rip-off the former colleague who ripped them off in the first place.
8. The Truth About Charlie (2002)
Mark Wahlberg is no Cary Grant (who is?), but Jonathan Demme's quirky remake of Stanley Donen's 1963 thriller Charade is an endearing treat regardless, breaking the fourth wall and filling the screen with strange romance and affable suspense.
7. Fear (1996)
Mark Wahlberg's first "serious" role found him fingering Reese Witherspoon on a rollercoaster and doing unspeakable things to the family dog in Fear, a teen sex thriller that holds up remarkably well 17 years later. Wahlberg is chilling, and the anxieties over Witherspoon's teenaged sexual awakening are still as relevant as ever.
6. I Heart Huckabees (2004)
David O. Russell's genuinely bizarre existential detective story co-stars Mark Wahlberg as a firefighter assigned to help Jason Schwartzman through his personal crisis, leading to an unexpected dinner scene that may be the comic highlight of Wahlberg's career. The rest of the movie is too weird to properly explain in the space provided, but let's just say you probably haven't seen anything like it.
5. Ted (2012)
Mark Wahlberg and a CGI teddy bear warmed our hearts and profaned our ears in Seth MacFarlane's hilarious 2012 ode to putting away childish things. As the voice of the title character MacFarlane gets most of the best dialogue, but it's Wahlberg who really sells the film as a man who wants to grow up but can't abandon his emotional attachment to his boyhood pal, leading to a no-holds-barred fistfight that must have looked ridiculous to film all by Wahlberg's lonesome.
4. The Departed (2006)
Mark Wahlberg received an unexpected Oscar nomination for an unexpectedly Oscar-worthy role in Martin Scorsese's The Departed, an adaptation of the Chinese thriller Infernal Affairs, about an undercover cop in the mob (Leonardo DiCaprio) and an undercover criminal in the police department (Matt Damon). Wahlberg's scene-stealing performance as Staff Sgt. Sean Dignam positively brims with humor, integrity and douchiness.
3. Three Kings (1999)
Wahlberg's first collaboration with director David O. Russell was this ahead-of-its-time war thriller about a group of soldiers who go AWOL to steal Iraqi gold and become embroiled in the real conflict instead. Russell's film is hilarious and politically on point, and as the victim of enemy torture who sees the error of his ways, Wahlberg reveals himself to be the film's true highlight and maybe even its heart.
2. The Fighter (2010)
Mark Wahlberg and David O. Russell reteamed again for this truly exceptional, character-driven take on old underdog boxing movie cliches. Wahlberg plays real-life fighter Micky Ward, who has to overcome his domineering family and charismatic drug addict brother to achieve greatness both in and out of the ring. Christian Bale and Melissa Leo each won Oscars for their supporting performances, but Wahlberg was disappointingly snubbed for this, perhaps his most mature leading role to date.
1. Boogie Nights (1997)
Mark Wahlberg's career-defining performance in Boogie Nights reinvented his acting career, and helped make Paul Thomas Anderson's second film - about a fictional porn star weathering success and failure in the late 1970s/early 1980s - a milestone of 1990s cinema. Wahlberg's vulnerability, bravado, innocence and corruption anchor a broad cast of exceptional supporting performances in a film with just as much verve, intensity and intimacy as the very era it dramatizes. More than any other, Boogie Nights is the film that proved that Mark Wahlberg is a big, bright shining star.