Stanley Tucci attends the "Rocketman" UK premiere at Odeon Leicester Square on May 20, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Stanley Tucci’s best films: 15 brilliant performances from the cocktail-making extraordinaire himself

Posted by for Film

From Big Night to The Devil Wears Prada, here’s our pick of Stanley Tucci’s best films (you’re welcome).

Stanley Tucci. Stanley Tucci. Just saying those four syllables conjures up visions of debonair suits, customised cocktails, moreish Italian food, and twinkly-eyed enthusiasm for all of the above – but there is, of course, more to the man than his oh-so-scrollable Instagram feed.

To prove it once and for all, we’ve taken a deep-dive into the Hollywood CV of lockdown’s most unexpected social media star. And, to help you decide what to watch while you’re waiting for his next Negroni tutorial (or the next episode of Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy, obviously), we’ve picked out some of the actor’s best and most engrossing films for you to get stuck into.

No need to thank us, folks; it’s all in a day’s work. Buon appetito!

The Devil Wears Prada

Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci share a laugh at the The Devil Wears Prada premiere at the 32nd Deauville Festival Of American Film on September 9, 2006 in Deauville, France. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Stanley Tucci stars alongside Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

Welcome to the dollhouse, baby! Basically every millennial worth their salt knows Tucci best as the art director of Runway, Nigel Kipling. Smart, stylish, capable and eternally unflappable, Nigel is easily one of the best people Anne Hathaway’s Andy meets at the fashion magazine – which is why it stings so much when Miranda Priestley (Meryl Streep), whom he has been a loyal right-hand man to since forever, stabs him in the back to save her own skin. 

Justice for Nigel, damn it!

The Lovely Bones

We’re used to Tucci being one of the world’s good guys, so this film – which sees him step into the roles of a sexual predator and serial killer – may come as a shock to some of the actor’s fans. While The Lovely Bones makes for uncomfortable viewing, however, this is the same film that scored Tucci his Academy Award nomination; after all, true monsters are found in the most unexpected of places. And Tucci’s George Harvey, with his easy smile, friendly demeanour, uncontrollable impulses, and sinister designs on Saoirse Ronan’s Susie Salmon, makes that point all too clearly.

Big Night

Tucci and pasta are basically synonymous by this point, so it makes sense that we’ve thrown a few foodie films into the mix – and Big Night, which he co-wrote and also co-directed with longtime pal Campbell Scott, is easily his most famous. In it, Tucci stars as one of two Italian brothers who find that their restaurant isn’t all that popular with their American clientele; all they want is meatballs, it seems, while Primo and Secondo want to give them a truly authentic taste of their homeland.

In a last-ditch bid to keep the aptly-named Paradise from going under, the brothers spend all their savings as they throw themselves into planning the film’s eponymous ‘big night’ – but will the evening prove a success? You’ll have to watch and find out for yourself.

Julie & Julia

Face facts, people: Nora Ephron makes the lightest, frothiest movies around, and Julie & Julia is yet another jewel in the filmmaker’s crown. In it, Tucci takes on the role of Paul, the endlessly supportive diplomat husband to Streep’s Julia Child – and he does so with serious aplomb. Throw in some seriously impressive dishes, and you have a recipe (ha!) for an absolute treat of a movie.

Maid In Manhattan

Yes, as in the romcom starring Jennifer ‘Jenny From The Block’ Lopez as hotel maid (and lovable single mum) Marisa. The same romcom in which she, in an extreme case of mistaken identity, wins the heart of Republican senatorial candidate Chris Marshall (Ralph Fiennes). And the same romcom in which Tucci delivers a brilliant performance as Marshall’s unapologetically ambitious assistant, Jerry Siegal.

Hey, if it’s wrong to like this one, we don’t want to be right.

Spotlight

In the critically acclaimed Spotlight, Tucci takes on the role of real-life hero Mitchell Garabedian, and he certainly does the hardworking lawyer justice. Representing those people who were abused as children by Catholic priests in Boston, it is Garabedian who sets the film’s plot (and The Boston Globe’s investigation) in motion – just as it is he who helps prove that the church has moved heaven and earth to cover up its sexual abuse of children.

Easy A

Warmly witty and incredibly understanding, Tucci’s Dill is the dad we all want in Easy A. His relationship with daughter Olive (Emma Stone) is just… normal, and authentic, and lovely. There’s wordplay aplenty, too. And, while this is a supporting role for Tucci, it’s elevated by his brilliant comic timing. Give it a watch if you haven’t already, OK?

The Children Act

The Children Act is worth watching for Emma Thompson’s intensity alone, but Tucci more than holds his place alongside her as the neglected husband who, despite loving her with every fibre of his being, calmly asks her permission to have an affair.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Everyone who studied Shakespeare in high school will know how A Midsummer Night’s Dream goes, but they may not know that Tucci takes on the role of mischievous Puck in the 1999 film adaptation. It’s easy to assume that his quiet warmth and gently twinkling humour provided something of an early prototype for James McAvoy’s Mr Tumnus in The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe – and his delivery of that final epilogue is just… well, *chef’s kiss*.

Beauty And The Beast

Yes, Tucci was in Disney’s live-action version of Beauty And The Beast, although he spent much of the film as… well, as a musical instrument. 

“He is the maestro of the castle, and he and his wife – she is the singer played by Audra McDonald – and they are performing at the beginning of the film and once the spell is cast, they are turned into inanimate objects,” the actor previously explained to Good Morning America.

“He becomes a harpsichord, and she becomes a wardrobe.”

A Modern Affair

A Modern Affair turns the traditional romcom format beautiful on its head. In it, Tucci takes on the role of Peter Kessler, a philandering nature photographer whose world is upended when he’s tracked down by Grace Rhodes (Lisa Eichhorn) – who just so happens to be pregnant with his baby. Too bad he likes his life exactly the way it is, eh?

Burlesque

Stanley Tucci and Peter Gallagher, Cher, singer/actress Christina Aguilera, director Steve Antin and dancer/actress Julianne Hough arrive at the premiere of Screen Gems' "Burlesque" at Grauman�s Chinese Theater on November 15, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Stanley Tucci holds his own in the “so bad it’s good” Burlesque.

This one might not have won the hearts of critics, but it’s since proven something of a cult favourite with fans, and it’s easy to see why. Cher, actual Cher, is struggling to keep her Los Angeles burlesque club afloat until a timid Christina Aguilera wanders in and becomes the venue’s lead singer. So what of Tucci? Well, he stars as Cher’s longtime best friend, obviously, and their off-the-charts chemistry makes this entire thing worth watching. We promise.

Swing Vote

In Swing Vote, it’s up to apolitical dad Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) to break the political deadlock between the Republican incumbent, President Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammar), and charismatic Democratic challenger Donald Greenleaf. Which means, yes, he soon attracts the attention of rival campaign managers Art Crumb (Nathan Lane) and Tucci’s Martin Fox; what lengths will these schemers go to in order to secure Bud’s vote?

The Hunger Games

The amiable talk show host of The Hunger Games, Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman is a fun-loving eccentric who sees it as his duty to help the public get to know the tributes properly. While most assume his role in the Capitol’s bloodthirsty tradition is largely innocent, though, Tucci has said he played his character as “creepy, with a sort of false generosity and duplicity” that allows him to get what he needs for his show’s ratings to go up. Either way, he’s incredibly watchable.

Supernova

In searing romantic drama Supernova, Tucci embarks on a road trip with his loving partner (Colin Firth) as dementia starts to take hold of him. And critics have piled praise on both actors for their restrained performances, insisting that their unique handling of the film’s subject matter helps hammer home its poignant message; that it’s never easy to say goodbye.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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