The Best Donald Sutherland Movies of All-Time

Choosing the best Donald Sutherland movies is a difficult task given his stellar career that spans over five decades. Passing away at the age of 88 due to illness on June 20, 2024, the Canadian actor has been in well past 150 movies. Sutherland rose to prominence in multiple film roles during the 1960s and 1970s, but he has continued to star in movies up to releases in 2023. He has been nominated numerous times for acting roles at the Golden Globes and Emmy Awards, winning both in 1995. Here’s a list of the best movies that feature Donald Sutherland.

List of the best Donald Sutherland movies

Here are five of the best movies that Donald Sutherland has appeared in, either as a minor character or in a lead role. Again, selecting just five is a tall order, but his performances in the following films stand the test of time.

Animal House

Sutherland portrays the toothless, oddball Professor Dave Jennings in this surprise 1978 comedy hit directed by John Landis. He doesn’t appear much in the film, but his takedown of Milton for being a boring author and his philosophical session where he smokes pot are iconic.

Don’t Look Now

In the classic 1973 psychological thriller Don’t Look Now, Sutherland plays John Baxter, husband to Laura Baxter (Julie Christie). He and his wife struggle to cope with the accidental drowning of their daughter, and they have strange experiences with two elderly sisters, one of whom says she is psychic and can contact the daughter through a séance. This leads him down a dangerous path where he seems to have hallucinations and visions that don’t make sense. The movie has since become a key work in the horror genre and is noted for being well ahead of its time.


Though Sutherland only appears in one scene in the 1991 historical drama and political thrill JFK, it’s one of his most memorable. Starring as the mysterious Mr. X, he explains to Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) that there are numerous conspirators within the government that are most likely behind the assassination of JFK. He believes that the president’s desire to see the US pull out of the Vietnam War lead to his untimely demise.


Without Sutherland playing Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce in the 1970 film M*A*S*H, the successful television show based on the movie might not have ever seen the light of day. In this dark war comedy film, Hawkeye is a combat surgeon with a streak of rebellious mischief. IT is a role that would later provide a framework for Alan Alda, who played Hawkeye in the legendary series that ran for 11 seasons. Though the TV adaptation eventually eclipsed the movie, it’s still an important piece of cinema in Sutherland’s career.

Ordinary People

It’s hard to ignore the 1980 Oscar winner for Best Picture in any list of Sutherland’s best works. His performance as father Calvin Jarrett earned him a nomination for a Golden Globe, though he was sadly not nominated for an Academy Award. But respectfully, Sutherland received an honorary Oscar in 2017 for his indelible contribution to film.

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