There are so many options when picking the five best Robert Duvall movies. Duvall has led a busy career, and Robert Duvall movies span a variety of genres from dramas to love stories to westerns. He started with his first small roles in the 1960s, and is still going strong today with characters as far reaching as a recovering alcoholic country singer to a consigliere in the mob.
- "Tender Mercies" Robert Duvall won an Oscar for his portrayal of Mac Sledge, a country music singer and recovering alcoholic who's trying set his life straight in this 1983 movie of family relationships and redemption. Duvall didn't just put in an award winning performance in this movie, he also wrote some of the music and sang his own songs.
- "Apocalypse Now" In this Robert Duvall movie, Duvall portrays surf loving Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore, commander of the 1/9 Air Cavalry. Duvall's eccentric character provides us with some of the best scenes in the movie, including the beach assault set to Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," and what is perhaps the movie's most quoted line, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning…"
- "The Godfather" No list of the best Robert Duvall movies would be complete without mentioning this movie about organized crime and family betrayal. Duvall plays the character of Tom Hagen, a lawyer who is a trusted counselor to mob family boss Don Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando. The German-Irish Hagen is also the informally adopted son of the Don, and is seen as a voice of calm reason in the dysfunctional family dynamics. The character has a pivotal role in the famous "horse head" scene.
- "The Great Santini" This 1979 movie, based on the Pat Conroy novel of the same name, tells the story of Lt. Col. Bull Meechum, a tough Marine fighter pilot who has an easier time being a Marine than he does being a husband and father. The movie follows the family as they live a nomadic military life, and chronicles the love-hate relationship between Bull and his son, Ben.
- "Secondhand Lions" This heartwarming coming-of-age story stars Haley Joel Osment as Walter, a shy young boy sent by his self-centered and irresponsible mother to live with his two eccentric uncles, Hub and Garth McCann, played by Duvall and Michael Caine. In a story that includes mysterious bank robberies, the Foreign Legion and duels with evil sheiks, Walter learns from his uncles how to be a man and to truly live. Duvall is at the top of his game, playing Uncle Hub as a rough and ready fighter, but showing a real sense of vulnerability in his relationship with Walter.
It's difficult to pick just five best Robert Duvall movies. From his role as "Boo" Radley in "To Kill A Mockingbird" to more recent roles in movies like "Open Range" and "Thank You for Smoking," Duvall has shown a range of versatility that has made him one of Hollywood's most popular actors.