- Die Hard (1988). Bruce Willis' John McClane defines the action hero. His stint as a rogue NYPD officer attempting to thwart a Christmas Eve terrorist plot breathed new life into the action movie genre, spawning multiple sequels and installed him as the iconic action star of his generation.
- Pulp Fiction (1994). As Butch Coolidge in Quentin Tarantino's ensemble crime film, Willis plays a double-crossing prizefighter whose redemption comes hand in hand with one of cinema's most memorable uses of a katana sword. The role reinvigorated Willis' box office credibility after several disappointing films and reinvented him in the public eye for the decades to come.
- Sin City (2005). Willis portrays John Hartigan, a veteran detective of Basin City whose discovery on his last day on the job shows him the dismal depths of humanity and culminates in him making the ultimate sacrifice. His clever mix of action, frailty, and violent undertones in the role masterfully conveys a crucial intrigue to his tragic character in one of the best Bruce Willis movies ever made.
- The Sixth Sense (1999). Overshadowed by the twist ending to M. Night Shyamalan's thriller film, Willis' heavy role as Dr. Malcolm Crowe is yet another "game changer" in a continually evolving career. His portrayal as the cold, distant husband and child psychologist wrought with the terror of self-discovery throughout the film deserves the nod as one of his best film roles.
- The Fifth Element (1997). Willis plays Korben Dallas, a taxicab driver thrust into an intergalactic adventure in Luc Besson's sci-fi action-comedy. While most definitely a box office action romp, the film became a cult hit due to its strong cast performances, but it didn't hurt to have the beautiful Milla Jovovich kicking alien butt throughout the film as well.
- 12 Monkeys (1995). As James Cole in Terry Gilliam's mind-bending sci-fi film, Willis expertly imparts the corruption of the human mind when dealing with time travel. He plays the part with a combined strength and vulnerability that solidifies the film's place as one of his best movies ever.
- The Last Boy Scout (1991). The movie may have "jumped the shark" in pairing Willis' private detective Joe Hallenbeck with a football quarterback (Damon Wayans!) to solve a political conspiracy. It doesn't matter; this film followed the prototype for the buddy action flick and was an entertaining roller coaster ride of a movie.
- Blind Date (1987). Before becoming the iconic action star of his era, Willis played the eccentric bachelor Walter Davis searching for love in Blake Edwards' romantic comedy. Despite the film being critically panned, his interaction with Kim Basinger is pure comedy and a breath of fresh air, displaying a lighthearted, quirky side of Bruce Willis not seen since his days on the set of Moonlighting.
- Hudson Hawk (1991). Playing the title character of this 1991 film he had co-written, Willis went back to some of his earlier comedic chops in this fast-paced, cartoon-like crime parody. Highly stylized and over the top in its script and acting, the film was promoted as an action film and thus deemed a box office bomb. However, Willis plays his part wildly fun and surprisingly sincere, making it one of his most memorable roles and movies ever.
- Armageddon (1998). Willis plays Harry Stamper, an oil driller who rides a meteor (yes, you read that right) in order to blow it up and save the world. Director Michael Bay pulls out all the stops for this end-of-the-world epic and showcases one of this generation's most decorated action star for the ride, earning its place as one of the best Bruce Willis movies ever made.
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