Happy 65th Birthday, Tommy Lee Jones! What's His Greatest Moment on Film?

tljbirthday250.jpgJoan Rivers may not love Tommy Lee Jones, but as the Oscar-winning actor turns 65 today, we recall only his most lovable moments at the cinema. He debuted in Love Story, but the bulk of his career has been spent playing gritty figures, real-life men of intrigue and Will Smith's crisply suited confidant. What's his best performance to date?

Like Paul Newman or Jack Lemmon before him, Tommy Lee Jones won an Oscar, but not for his best work. Does anyone ever rent The Fugitive and think, "Can't wait to watch an Oscar-winning performance"? Jones and Harrison Ford play a suspenseful game of cat-and-mouse, but is that enough to warrant a statue? Over Amon Goeth? I think not.

Let's talk about more affecting work: Though there are certainly strong arguments for Lonesome Dove, JFK, In the Valley of Elah, and No Country for Old Men, I definitely love Tommy Lee Jones most in Coal Miner's Daughter. Though Sissy Spacek delivers the powerhouse performance as Loretta Lynn, Jones is so believable and familiar as her husband Mooney. It's also a great departure from the roles that would later define him. This simple exchange between the young couple is a work of art.

What do y'all think is best? Be as critical as you want. Here's what Tommy thinks of your opinions:


  • fergusontx says:

    Mr Jones first made an impression on me in the mid-70's movie ROLLING THUNDER. His disconcerting, about-to-boil-over demeanor was fascinating.

  • NP says:

    _No Country for Old Men_. Bardem (rightfully) got much of the attention given to that film's performances, but Jones' performance is quietly heartbreaking. Love it.
    _Coal Miner's Daughter_ is a good choice as well.

  • fredericksykes says:

    I somewhat disagree with your take on "the Fugitive" performance. While I agree that it's not necessarily a typical best supporting type performance in what we've come to know and accept as the classic mold, Mr. Jones owned every scene he was in. Go back and watch his scenes with his staff, especially Joey Pants.
    I think we can all agree his turn as two face easily takes the taco as his worst though...
    Happy Birthday Mr. Jones...

  • CiscoMan says:

    Totally agree. Jones' US Marshal may not have been the meatiest role ever, but in my opinion, that makes his performance that much more notable; he took a boilerplate character and made it memorable. It was so good, it suckered Hollywood into making two terrible movies that tried to recreate Jones' magic, US Marshals and Chain Reaction (in which Fugitive director Andrew Davis basically ripped himself off).

  • The WInchester says:

    Pretty much any scene he speaks in Under Siege is unbelievably terrific, but the scene when he has his ear's blown out and starts off on a monologue about cartoons before deciding to nuke Hawaii is great.
    As for underrated gems, let's go with another Andy Davis flick: The Package.

  • Mike the Movie Tyke says:

    He was perfect in No Country, and In the Valley of Elah is also a sweet performance. Happy Birthday Mr. Jones!

  • loriservo says:

    I thought he was amazing in The Three Buriels of Melquiades Estrada. Great performance in a very underrated movie.

  • Edward Wilson says:

    The Executioner's Song. Period.

  • Richard says:

    Tommy Lee Jones is one of the best Character actors of recent just like George Kenndy. Thought he was great in Space Cowboys. If you have not seen the movie; watch some of the best elder actors in Hollywood.