Sir Michael Caine is one of the most respected actors of the world. Known for his peculiar Cockney English accent, he has worked in over 100 films, and is renowned as a British legend. He was knighted by the Queen Elizabeth II in 2000 for his outstanding contribution to cinema.
We enumerate some of his best roles in his expansive career.
1. The Ipcress File (1965)
In a departure from the James Bond type movies, The Ipcress Files sees Michael Caine pursue the role of a British spy by the name of Harry Palmer, who embarks on a mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist, while being at loggerheads with his own country’s government agencies.
Caine was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best British Actor for this movie.
2. Alfie (1966)
Michael Caine’s first major breakthrough had him playing a cheap womaniser who uses women for his self-centered interests and for menial domestic tasks. He often demeans them, but he begins questioning his lifestyle when his choices begin to turn against him for the worse.
Caine won the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor and was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, the BAFTA Award for Best British Actor, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
3. Get Carter (1971)
In this crime drama film, Caine plays the titular character Jack Character who is a gangster in London. After his brother dies under mysterious circumstances, he travels to Newcastle to investigate and unearths a far bigger conspiracy.
This went on to become a cult movie and remains one of Caine’s most memorable performances in the lead role.
4. Sleuth (1972)
In this film adaptation of the award-winning play, Michael Caine plays Milo Tindle, the lover of the wife of a novelist. The novelist invites him to his house and the film progresses in a deadly game of wits and nothing is what it seems at the end.
Caine won the Evening Standard Film Award for Best Actor for this role, and was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
5. The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
In this technicolor adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s short story, Michael Caine plays Peachy Carnehan, along with Sir Sean Connery, who are two soldiers in the British army in India. Resigning from their posts, they set off for adventures and end up becoming rulers of Kafiristan.
Caine’s portrayal was well-received and this role is still counted as one of his greats.
6. Educating Rita (1983)
In this classic British dramedy, Michael Caine plays Dr. Frank Bryant, an alcoholic college professor of literature who takes a housewife under his tutelage so that she might complete her own education. She instead learns to believe in herself from the professor, whose own life is a mess.
Caine’s role earned him a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. He was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
7. Hannah And Her Sisters (1986)
Hannah And Her Sisters is a Woody Allen masterpiece about three sisters and their intertwined lives. Michael Caine plays Elliot, Hannah’s husband, who eventually starts an affair with Hannah’s sister Lee owing to difficulties he has with his own wife. The movie starts and ends with a Thanksgiving each, one year apart.
Caine won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role and a ton of nominations, including a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, a David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actor, a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, and a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor.
8. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a typical comedy film which has Steve Martin and Michael Caine starring in lead roles. Both are con artists who vie to settle their rivalry by betting over who can cheat a wealthy American woman of $50,000 first. Caine plays Lawrence Jamieson, a charming British con man.
Even though Caine earned just one nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, his role is in many critics’ lists because of his versatile talent.
9. The Cider House Rules (1999)
Michael Caine portrays the role of Dr. Wilbur Larch, the owner of an orphanage and also the obstetrician there. He tutors young Homer Wells (played by Tobey MacGuire) with his knowledge and runs a strict shop but is affectionate towards him. Things start falling apart when Homer decides to leave because of his conflicting morals with Dr. Larch.
Caine had won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for his role as Dr. Larch as well as earning a number of nominations, including the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Empire Award for Best British Actor, and the Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor.
10. The Quiet American (2003)
In this new adaptation of Graham Greene’s classic novel, Michael Caine plays Thomas Fowler, and English journalist covering the war in Indo-China and also spending time with love interest Phuong. Things start to sour when Alden Pyle, an undercover CIA operative comes along, and vies for the attention of Phuong.
Caine again received a slew of awards and nominations, including winning the Bangkok International Film Festival Award for Best Actor, the London Film Critics’ Circle Award for Best Actor, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, and the Satellite Award for Best Actor. His list of nominations for this movie include the Academy Award for Best Actor, the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor, and the Seattle Film Critics Award for Best Actor.
11. The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005, 2008, 2012)
In Nolan’s adaptation of the Batman stories, Caine rose to prominence among younger audiences by expertly portraying Bruce Wayne’s trusted butler, Alfred Pennyworth.
Although he didn’t win many awards and/or nominations, he is forever remembered for his true to the skin characterisation of Alfred, and for his amazing dialogue delivery.
12. The Prestige (2006)
Yet another Nolan film. The Prestige is a battle between two stage magicians played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. Michael Caine plays the role of John Cutter, a 19th Century stage engineer who helps set up both the magicians’ performances, and plays a pivotal role in their fates.
Caine won the London Film Critics’ Circle Award for British Supporting Actor of the Year for his role as Cutter. Since this movie, he became and almost regular of Nolan’s and would go on to feature in his further films as well.
13. Inception (2010)
In this legendary Nolan film about thought stealers who infiltrate dreams of people, Michael Caine played Professor Stephen Miles, mentor and father-in-law of Dom Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), the central character of the movie. Professor Miles and his tutelage become a pivotal part of the movie and earned Caine a lot of nominations.
14. Youth (2015)
In his recent film, Michael Caine plays Fred Ballinger, a retired opera conductor who is vacationing in the Swiss Alps with his daughter and film director best friend. The movie is about two friends reflecting on life and its intricacies and how we need to make choices about our goals.
Caine earned himself the Detroit Film Critics Society for Best Actor and the European Film Award for Best Actor for his role in Youth.
Michael Caine is one of the few actors who has earned an Oscar award nomination in every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s. He is an outstanding actor and is widely renowned as one of the most respectable ones in the industry.