10 Best Movies to Watch When You Need More Tom Holland in Your Life
Tom Holland is one of the fastest rising stars in Hollywood. At only age 26, he has become one of the faces of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), holds a Guinness World Record (for being the youngest actor in a title role in the MCU), and has a BAFTA and three Saturn awards under his belt. While he’s most recognizable for portraying one of the best iterations of Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man) in the MCU, he has been involved in a number of other impressive projects, as well, both before and after his rise as a Marvel superhero.
As a young boy, he first actually garnered attention for his dancing skills. He is a talented ballet dancer who first gained recognition for playing Billy Elliot in the play, Billy Elliot the Musical. Shortly after this, he booked his first film role in The Impossible. Critics Choice Awards, Hollywood Film Awards, Young Artist Awards, and Saturn Artists are just some of many awards organizations who nominated or awarded Holland for his role in The Impossible.
By 2017, he made his breakthrough as Spider-Man in the MCU and gained worldwide recognition as an actor. Even with how hectic it must be to be the lead star in an MCU trilogy, Holland still managed to nab a number of roles in the likes of Cherry, The Devil All the Time, and Chaos Walking. He has even branched out into voice acting with his heartfelt and humorous roles in Spies in Disguise and Onward. Holland is a young actor with an extraordinary resume, who shows no signs of slowing down. Here are Holland’s 10 best movies, so far.
The Impossible, which marked Holland’s acting debut, premiered in 2012 and was directed by J. A. Bayona. The film is based on the true story of María Belón and her family, who did the impossible and survived the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, while on vacation in Thailand. Naomi Watts stars in The Impossible as Maria, while Holland portrays her oldest son, Lucas. Maria and Lucas are separated from her other two sons, Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast), and husband, Henry (Ewan McGregor), during the tsunami and they struggle to find each other again while also battling injury and navigating mass destruction.
The film received largely positive reviews for its powerful premise, representation of the disaster, and heartrending performances, especially from Watts and Holland. Holland’s role as Lucas is nothing short of superb, as he perfectly encompasses a young boy trying to come to grips with the fact his family may be gone, as he desperately tries to protect and aid his gravely injured mother. The film captured the reality of mass destruction, while also exploring the hopeful tale of one family’s journey.
Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War premiered on May 6, 2016, and marked Holland’s first MCU introduction as Spider-Man. The film sees the United Nations (UN) preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which calls for an international panel to monitor and control the actions of the Avengers. The Accord is proposed after the Avengers, while saving the world, inevitably cause mass destruction and casualties. Captain America (Chris Evans), staunchly opposes the Accord, believing in freedom and his own judgment, while Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) supports it, due to his own guilt over the lives he has cost. The Avengers become divided between the two sides, sparking a Civil War.
As the Civil War erupts, Stark surprises the Avengers with his secret weapon—Spider-Man. Parker swings into the MCU, eagerly joining Stark’s side and showing off his skills by quickly nabbing Captain America’s shield. Holland’s energy and humor brought a lightness to the film that significantly elevated it. Additionally, the political undertones and exploration of the more human side of superheroes in Captain America: Civil War, provided an MCU film that went deeper than most previous superhero films.
A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls first premiered in 2016 and was directed by J. A. Bayona. The film follows a young boy, Conor (Lewis MacDougall), who is barely hanging on as he witnesses his mother succumb to cancer. He begins to be visited by a Monster (Liam Neeson), who tells him three different fairy tales over the course of three nights. At the end, Conor must tell him a fourth tale. The fourth tale will be his truth about the emotions and thoughts that have plagued him since his mother’s cancer diagnosis.
A Monster Calls is a true hidden gem of a film. The graphics, fairy tales, and Monster create stunning visuals and imbue the film with magic. Meanwhile, MacDougall shows a maturity beyond his years as he gives a compelling and heartbreaking performance of a grieving boy. However, viewers may watch this film and not be able to spot Holland. This is because he doesn’t actually have a role per se, but he did still earn a “thank you” credit. Holland was the stand-in for the Monster, so that MacDougall had something to look at when talking to the Monster. Hence, Holland was a part of this groundbreaking film and helped elevate it.
Spider-Man: Homecoming premiered in 2017 and marked Holland’s first solo film as Spider-Man. The film follows Peter Parker (Holland), as he serves as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man of Queens, New York, after the events of Captain America: Civil War. However, he waits anxiously for his mentor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) to call him back to serve on the Avengers. Against Stark’s advice, he wants to be a bigger superhero and seeks to fight the threat of Vulture (Michael Keaton), while also balancing being a high school student on the side.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a wildly funny and uplifting coming-of-age story with a twist. In the film, we get to see Holland’s full embodiment of Peter Parker and it’s like nothing we’ve seen before. In many ways, he’s just like everybody else—a high school student who deals with bullying and doesn’t know how to talk to his crush. However, he’s also hiding a secret and forced to take on a role that requires an incredible amount of maturity and responsibility. Over the course of the film, we get to see both Parker and Holland really coming into themselves and setting the stage for the future of the MCU.
The Devil All the Time
In between filming Spider-Man films, Holland starred in Netflix’s The Devil All the Time. The Devil All the Time is a psychological thriller film that premiered on the streaming service in 2020. This film tells the rather morbid tales of a slew of characters living between the 1940s and 1960s, who are all connected to one another through violence and religion. The cast of characters are spurned by religion, as their skewed faith often leads them to commit heinous acts that result in a cycle of violence and abuse.
In the film, Holland portrays Arvin, the son of Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård) and Charlotte (Haley Bennett). Russell is a former veteran suffering from PTSD, who believes religion will save Charlotte from cancer. He commits a number of erratic acts, such as killing Arvin’s dog. The film tracks the cycle of violence that erupted from Russell’s stint as a soldier, later extending all the way to his adult son, Arvin. The Devil All the Time is a dark, gritty, and painful film that takes a poignant look at generational violence and the influence of religion. If you can stomach the violence, though, you’ll find an intricate, complex storyline, as well as a compelling performance from Holland.
The Lost City of Z
The Lost City of Z premiered in 2016 and is a biographical adventure film sharing the true story of Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam). Fawcett was a British explorer who lived between 1867 and 1925. He went missing, along with his oldest son Jack, while searching for Z—a lost city believed to be hidden in Brazil’s jungle. Hence, The Lost City of Z brings Fawcett’s tale to life and details his journey into the Amazon. Holland stars in the film as Fawcett’s son, Jack, while Sienna Miller portrays Fawcett’s wife, Nina.
The Lost City of Z is one of Holland’s films that doesn’t get enough attention. This may be because it flopped at the box office, however, it still did receive largely positive critical reception. It’s a rollicking adventure, with visual grandeur, compelling performances, and a good deal more emotion than the average exploration film. The Lost City of Z is both thrilling and breathtaking, but a lot of its depth actually comes from Holland’s compelling performance as Fawcett’s young, but devoted son, Jack.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Spider-Man: Far From Home marked the second solo Spider-Man film in the MCU. The film sees Peter Parker (Holland) attempt to take a break from being a superhero while on a school trip to Venice. This vacation is particularly important for Parker who wants to use it as an opportunity to win over his crush, MJ (Zendaya). However, his plans fall apart when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) recruit him to fight the mysterious Elementals. Parker is torn between being a kid on vacation and performing his superhero duties, unable to make an accurate decision because the threat is actually much bigger than he thinks.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is a comedic and action-packed superhero film, as well an innocent portrayal of first love. The film will get you excited about Tony Stark technology and the live-action debut of Mysterio, while also reminding you of how awkward you were in high school when you realized you liked someone. Holland, again, offers the perfect portrayal of Parker, making him the perfect blend of a superhero, and a totally relatable high school kid. It’s a light-hearted and fun film that will satisfy both superhero fans, as well as those who are suckers for teen romances.
Spies in Disguise
Spies in Disguise premiered in 2019 and marked one of Holland’s first forays into voice acting. The film follows the cocky Lance Sterling (Will Smith), who is hailed as the world’s best spy. He initially fires Walter Beckett (Holland), an MIT graduate and outcast who designs weapons for Sterling. However, after being framed by the cybernetically enhanced terrorist, Killian (Ben Mendelsohn), and labeled a traitor, Sterling seeks out Beckett’s help. Unfortunately, he is accidentally turned into a pigeon by Beckett’s invention. Hence, the two of them band together to stop Killain (and to revert Sterling back to human form).
Spies in Disguise was the first indication we got of just how good Holland can be in voice-acting roles. Holland and Smith are phenomenal in their roles and bring their animated characters to life. Meanwhile, Spies in Disguise is a funny, heartfelt, and fast-paced film that is perfect for family movie night. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s a strong enough film to evoke some laughs and leaves viewers thinking of peaceful ways to combat evil, as well as the power of unlikely friendships.
Onward premiered in 2020 and is a computer-animated fantasy film starring Holland and Chris Pratt. The film follows brothers Ian (Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Pratt), who live in a world of mythical creatures, though magic has become obsolete. Ian and Barley lost their father shortly before Ian was born, but Ian’s 16th birthday present—a magical staff, a Phoenix gem, and spell—can grant them 24 hours with their late father. However, the spell is interrupted, resulting in only their father’s lower half appearing. The boys set out in search of another gem to complete the spell and to spend whatever remains of the 24 hours with their whole father (not just half of him).
Onward is a poignant and uplifting tale of two brothers navigating grief and finding each other through their search for their father. Holland and Pratt are excellent as Ian and Barley, perfectly conveying their contrasting personalities. Meanwhile, the visuals and storyline result in a Pixar film that is quite mystical and magical compared to their usual films. Onward might not delve as deep into the concept of death and grief as other Pixar films, but it doesn’t really have to as it’s more a story of the bond between two brothers.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Spider-Man: No Way Home premiered on December 17, 2021, and marked the final film of the MCU’s Spider-Man trilogy. The film sees Peter Parker (Holland) struggling with the fallout from his identity as Spider-Man being leaked to the world. Hence, he seeks the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to help the world forget that Parker is Spider-Man. However, an error in the spell results in a breach in the multiverse which allows several villains to slip into Parker’s universe right before they died in their own universe. Parker and his friends set out to rehabilitate the various villains before sending them back to their respective universes.
Marvel truly saved the best for last with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Holland gives an incredible performance, showing the culmination of all Parker’s experiences as he struggles with the loss of his privacy, grief, and the biggest threat he has faced yet. Meanwhile, Spider-Man: No Way Home is also a record-breaking film as it reunited characters from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy in the MCU. It is action-packed and humorous, while also turning out to be one of the most emotional films in the MCU. Spider-Man: No Way Home is one film where Holland truly left it all out on the field.
(featured image: Sony Pictures)
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