Best & Worst: Hugh Jackman
Best: X-Men (2000)
Jackman's big break comes in the form of his most iconic role to date. Though his version of Wolverine is a more tamed beast than the one we know from the comics, Jackman's got the stature and the muscle mass to pull the whole thing off (not to mention the sideburns).
He also sheds the Aussie accent admirably, and shares decent chemistry with Anna Paquin. Little did he know he’d wind up being the X-verse’s most popular character (though surely Wolvie’s comic fanbase gave him a hint), leading to a great string of X movies…
Worst: Profile Of A Serial Killer (2004)
Post- X-Men , Jackman’s back on the home turf for this forensic drama, playing a detective who’s attempting to figure out what the hell went down at an Aussie diner, where somebody’s gone on a bloody killing spree.
Clearly piggy-backing the CSI craze, Profile doesn't know what it's got, because Jackman's quickly nudged into the background by other, less interesting characters. The film suffers from that misstep. Bet the producers are kicking themselves now.
Best: Real Steel (2011)
So robots biffing and boffing each other into scrap metal is a big deal thanks to Michael Bay's inexplicably money-raking Transformers movies - but Jackman's go in the robo-ring is anything but a cheap cash-in.
He plays a down-on-his-luck ex-boxer who attempts to reconnect with his son by, uh, entering a robo-boxing tournament. Jackman's as solid as ever, adding pathos to all the physical activity, and while the film does nothing especially new, it's at least a hundred times better than Transformers 2.
Worst: Van Helsing (2004)
The Mummy ’99 director Stephen Sommers attempts to bring another horror icon back to life – and again aims for the family market. Which is where Van Helsing stumbles, unable to bring the right amount of terror to a film clearly shackled by its certificate.
Still, Jackman’s alright as the titular vampire slayer, but he’s often overpowered by the masses of unnecessary CGI stuff on display.
Best: The Prestige (2006)
Christopher Nolan pads the gaps in-between Batman movies with this twisty period showstopper, which has Jackman falling prey to Christian Bale's mysterious magician.
Nolan reportedly cast Jackman after being impressed with the actor’s showmanship, which was exactly what his role called for. “He has the great depth as an actor that hasn't really been explored,” Nolan said of the Aussie star. “People haven't had the chance to really see what he can do as an actor, and this is a character that would let him do that.” Too right.
Worst: Deception (2008)
Don't be deceived by the presence of Jackman, Michelle Williams and Ewan McGregor – Deception is nothing more than a hopelessly unoriginal throwaway thriller.
Jackman plays lawyer Wyatt, who befriends McGregor’s bored accountant Jonathan. But when their phones get swapped, Jonathan discovers that Wyatt has a secret life that involves sex clubs. Whatever next? Really, save yourself the hassle.
Best: X2 (2003)
Now this is more like it. Given more room to inflate Wolverine's more violent tendencies, Jackman's more ripped than ever and let off the leash for some fantastic moments of comic-book action.
Though X2 is a stellar sequel (and film in its own right) for many reasons, most of its best bits centre around Wolverine. The school siege has him going, frankly, mental, sinking his claws into anything wearing black to protect the kids, while the Alkali Lake showdown has Wolverine sparring with a female version of himself and discovering more about his past.
Worst: Kate & Leopold (2001)
Jackman teams up with Meg Ryan, with typically half-boiled results. Ryan is a New York executive who doesn’t waste her time on anything as unrewarding as romance.
However, when her boyfriend’s time travel experiment (sigh) drags Jackman’s Leopold from 1867 into present day, the time-traveller becomes smitten with Kate. Though Jackman pulls off the out-of-time charm, this is turgid, predictable guff.
Best: The Fountain (2006)
Filmic marmite it may be, but there’s no denying that The Fountain contains one of Jackman’s finest, most versatile performances – not least because he plays the same soul through different eras. Together with Rachel Weisz, he plays a scientist, a conquistador and a space traveller, and nails each part with conviction.
Sadly, Jackman’s proposed second pairing with director Darren Aronofsky for The Wolverine fell apart at the last minute. Ah, what could’ve been…
Worst: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Crushingly disappointing on numerous fronts, this delive in Wolverine's complex backstory starts out interesting enough, but quickly contents itself with repeating the very same character beats as X2 . There's also a lot of screaming "Noooo!" at the sky, which is something we expect of George Lucas, but not Wolverine.
On the plus side, Jackman's noticably bulkier than ever, meaning he looks more and more like the Wolverine of the comics. Shame it's in the franchise's first massive duff, though.
Best: Happy Feet (2006)
Not exactly a difficult gig, thissun, as Jackman pops into the studio to voice a character in George Miller’s CGI animation.
He pipes the character of Memphis, a penguin who drops an egg, briefly exposing it to the harsh Antarctic climate. When the occupant of that egg is born, Mumbler (Elijah Wood) is a bit of a runt who finds he has a talent for dancing. Altogether now: aaahhh.
Worst: Swordfish (2001)
The fact that Swordfish is most famous for Halle Berry getting the seapups out says something about its quality. Though, to be, fair, Jackman does his fair share of disrobing – all that flesh is obviously meant to distract us from the terrible plotting.
Ex-con Stanley (Jackman) is dragged into a bank heist operation by thugs who want to exploit his hacking skills. And that’s all you need to know about a film that has flashy, colour-sodden visuals, but nothing else besides. Poor Hugh.
Best: Australia (2008)
Jackman puts his not inconsiderable muscle mass to good use in Baz Luhrmann’s sweeping epic, easily wooing Nicole Kidman’s snickety oddgirl Lady Sarah.
Though he’s using his native burr, there’s more than a hint of Wolverine in Jackman’s lone cow drover, who is at one with nature and is shunned by the white man. The film itself is slightly odd tonally, and a good 30 minutes too long, but Jackman’s star quality shines throughout.
Worst: Oh My God (2009)
That title pretty much sums this one up. Hugh gets in front of the camera to talk about God. No, we're not kidding.
Did God create man? Or did man create God? It’s a question that either has an obvious answer or no answer at all (depending on your belief system), which makes this a trivial and often shallow - if mildly diverting - experiment.
Best: X3: The Last Stand (2006)
It's nowhere near as good as it should have been (and would have been under Bryan Singer's watch), but X3 isn't the all-out disaster it could have been. That's mostly thanks to Jackman. Though Wolverine is sidelined after the more claw-oriented X2 , he still gets some standout moments here - including that emotional crescendo when he has to kill the woman he loves to save the world.
Also, how can we condemn the X film that finally gives us the 'fastball' (Wolverine being chucked through the air by Colossus during battle) not once but twice? Nobody tosses a dwarf, but Jackman sure seems to like it.
Worst: Scoop (2006)
Jackman gets unlucky and winds up in one of Woody Allen’s bargain bin offerings. Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) gets the scoop of a lifetime when she is visited by the ghost of a murdered reporter (Ian McShane).
He tells her that Peter Lyman (Jackman), the wealthy son of an aristocrat, is actually the Tarot Card killer, and needs to be brought to justice. Yeah, it’s as silly as it sounds, though Allen pulls off a few spry comic moments. Still no Annie Hal l , though.
Best: Flushed Away (2006)
More voice artistry, as Jackman takes on the more front-seat role of Roddy St James in Aardman Animations’ CG family flick.
Roddy’s a pet mouse who’s flushed into the sewer by a rat named Sid. There, he meets Kate Winslet’s Rita Malone and discovers there’s more to life than cheese and nice suits. The film wasn’t exactly the megahit that the Wallace & Gromit studio wanted, but its easy comedy and A-list cast mean it’s still worth catching on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Worst: Stories Of Lost Souls (2005)
Another great cast is put to waste in this compendium of short stories. Despite uniting with fellow countrywoman Cate Blanchett, as well as Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon and James Gandolfini, this is a weak vignette of tales.
The six stories collected here attempt to probe issues of human will and courage, but fail in capturing the audience’s attention. Small wonder nobody’s ever heard of it.
Best: Paperback Hero (1999)
If you had to name one Hollywood star capable of inking a romance novel, Hugh Jackman probably wouldn’t be top of the list. But thanks to the actor’s sensitive side, he pulls it off in this gentle Australian chuckler.
Jackman plays Jack Wills, a truck driver who writes a romance novel, and is so ashamed of it that he uses a female friend’s name as his pen name. But then the book gets published, and he has to convince said friend to pretend she wrote it. Hilarity ensues.
Worst: Someone Like You (2001)
There’s a pattern emerging here: Jackman + action = good. Jackman + romcom = bad. The formula holds with Someone Like You , a breezy, fly-away romantic comedy that has him starring opposite Greg Kinnear and Ashley Judd.
Judd plays a TV producer who’s dumped by her boyfriend (Kinnear) and decides to investigate male behaviour and its links to animals in the wild. Er, OK. Even Jackman’s swaggering turn as a womaniser can’t save this one.
Best: X-Men: First Class (2011)
It's a brief cameo that lasts mere seconds, but Jackman's unexpected presence in Matthew Vaughn's X redux injects it with humour and nostalgia.
Jackman also gets the well-deserved honour of dropping the X franchise's first F-bomb - when he's approached by Charles and Erik about joining their mutant ranks, he tells them exactly where to go. The line "Go fuck yourself" was even improvised by Jackman himself. Grins all round.