Best Taraji P. Henson Movies, Ranked
Taraji P. Henson is a highly acclaimed actress with an impressive career, having delivered unforgettable performances in movies like Hustle & Flow and Hidden Figures. She first gained recognition for her role in the 2001 dramedy Baby Boy, where she acted alongside Tyrese Gibson and Snoop Dogg. Henson continued to showcase her versatility on both the big and small screens with roles in movies such as The Karate Kid, I Can Do Bad All by Myself, and Think Like a Man, as well as the hit TV series Empire. Her outstanding portrayal of Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button earned her a well-deserved Oscar nomination, proving her ability to excel in any genre and character.
Henson has been a prominent and respected figure in Hollywood for over two decades, and her upcoming performance as Shug Avery in the movie adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple, is highly anticipated. Here are some of Taraji P. Henson’s best movies so far:
9. Date Night (2010)
In Shawn Levy’s romantic crime comedy, Date Night, Tina Fey and Steve Carell play a bored couple who decide to spice up their routine with a night out, only to end up in a dangerous situation. Henson portrays the street-smart Detective Arroyo, who helps them out of trouble. The movie received critical acclaim for its humor and cast performances and won the Teen Choice Award for Movie Comedy.
8. Think Like a Man (2012)
Based on comedian Steve Harvey’s self-help book, this romantic comedy follows a group of friends whose relationships are turned upside down after the ladies read the book. Henson plays the driven Lauren Harris, who has a long list of requirements for her potential partner. The movie grossed over $90 million and spawned a successful sequel.
7. Baby Boy (2001)
Henson garnered attention for her role as Yvette, the girlfriend of a man-child played by Gibson. She encourages him to grow up and become a responsible partner and father. The film was a stepping stone for Henson and earned her a Black Reel Award nomination for Best Actress.
6. I Can Do Bad All by Myself (2009)
In this musical dramedy based on a Tyler Perry play, Henson plays April, a struggling alcoholic nightclub singer who takes in her niece and nephews. The movie showcases both her acting and vocal talents and delivered a powerful message about the importance of love.
5. The Karate Kid (2010)
Henson plays the widowed mother of Dre Parker, who learns kung fu from a master played by Jackie Chan to defend himself against bullies. The movie was a critical and commercial success and earned an A CinemaScore from audiences.
4. Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022)
Henson lends her voice to Belle Bottom, a master thief and one of Gru’s rivals. The animated film was a hit at the box office and earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for Henson.
3. Hustle & Flow (2005)
In this musical drama, Henson plays Shug, a pregnant prostitute who helps a Memphis pimp played by Terrence Howard create hip-hop music. The movie won an Oscar for Best Original Song and earned Henson a Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actress.
2. Hidden Figures (2016)
Henson delivers a powerful performance in this biographical drama about a group of African American women who played a vital role in the NASA space program during the 1960s. The movie was a critical and commercial success and earned Henson a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination.
1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Henson earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Queenie, the adoptive mother of a man who ages backwards. The movie was a critical and commercial success and earned numerous accolades.
In conclusion, Taraji P. Henson is a talented actress who has delivered exceptional performances throughout her career. Her ability to embody a wide range of characters and genres has made her one of the most respected figures in Hollywood.
Taraji P. Henson is a decorated actress with an illustrious career, having memorably starred in films like Hustle & Flow and Hidden Figures. She first rose to prominence when she appeared opposite Tyrese Gibson and Snoop Dogg in the 2001 dramedy Baby Boy, and continued to dominate both the big and small screens with additional roles in movies like The Karate Kid, I Can Do Bad All by Myself, and Think Like a Manand the hit television show Empire.
The talented performer rightfully earned an Oscar nomination for her sensational portrayal of Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, demonstrating her ability to brilliantly take on any genre and character. She has been a steady and respected presence in Hollywood for over two decades and is next set to appear as Shug Avery in the upcoming period drama The Color Purple, an adaptation of the Alice Walker novel. Here are some of Taraji P. Henson’s best movies so far.
9 Date Night
In Shawn Levy’s 2010 romantic crime comedy Date Nightthe always hilarious Tina Fey and Steve Carell star as a bored couple who decide to shake up their monotonous routine by going out to an upscale Manhattan bistro for a fun evening, only to become the victims of mistaken identity that leads to a night full of mayhem and misadventures. Henson portrays the street-savvy Detective Arroyo, who helps Phil and Claire (Carell and Fey, respectively) after they inadvertently become swept up in a dangerous crime, and she realizes two detectives in her precinct are also involved in the illegal offense. Date Night earned praise for its hysterical humor and entertaining cast performances and was a hit with audiences, winning the Teen Choice Award for Movie Comedy.
8 Think Like a Man
Touting a stellar ensemble cast including Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, and Kevin Hart, the 2012 romantic comedy Think Like a Man is based on comedian Steve Harvey’s self-help book and follows a diverse group of couples and friends who find their relationships shaken up after the ladies buy the aforementioned bestseller in hopes of fixing some of their issues. Taraji P. Henson appears as the driven Lauren Harris also known as “The Woman Who Is Her Own Man,” who has a long list of requirements her potential partner must meet and a career she is absolutely devoted to. Despite lukewarm reviews, the lively flick went on to earn over $90 million at the box office and spawned the successful 2014 sequel Think Like a Man Too.
7 Baby Boy
Taraji P. Henson first rose to prominence when she starred alongside Tyrese Gibson, Snoop Dogg, and Ving Rhames in the 2001 coming-of-age hood dramedy Baby Boyplaying Yvette, the girlfriend of the 20-year-old man-child Jody (Gibson) who pushes him to grow up and be a present partner and father to their child. The role helped put the actress on the map and allowed her to showcase her dramatic acting chops while serving as a stepping stone in her up-and-coming career; Henson was nominated for a Black Reel Award for Best Actress for her commanding performance.
The film’s late director John Singleton went on to voice his pleasure and pride in the dramedy and his talented cast, having retrospectively expressed“It was just soulful, I made a movie that I wanted to be as soulful as a Marvin Gaye record. That was my goal for better or worse. Not necessarily a perfect film, but just something that you watch, it’s memorable. That’s what I love about that movie.”
6 I Can Do Bad All by Myself
Based on the Tyler Perry stage play of the same name, the 2009 romantic musical dramedy I Can Do Bad All by Myself features the celebrated filmmaker and actor as he reprises his role as the side-splitting Madea, centering on the delightfully sassy character as she delivers three rowdy kids to their only known relative after catching them looting her house. Henson is brilliant as the struggling alcoholic nightclub singer April, who finds her unsatisfying life transformed by taking in her niece and nephews and falling for a kind and compassionate Cuban immigrant (Adam Rodriguez).
Henson’s performance in the Perry flick further established her as a talented leading lady, as she showcased not only her skills as an actress but also her vocal pipes. She connected with the role and found a great message in the film’s story, telling Cinema Blend“Basically what I take away from it is if you’re not loving, you’re not living. Love is the greatest gift that God has given us. It’s free. Humans have a light side and a dark side, and it’s up to us to choose which way we’re going to live our lives.”
5 The Karate Kid
A remake of the beloved ’80s classic, the 2010 martial arts drama The Karate Kid chronicles the relationship between the troubled 12-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) and kung fu master Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) as the older man attempts to teach him how to defend himself after he moves to Beijing and becomes bullied. Henson appears as Dre’s widowed mother Sherry, who gets a job at a car factory in a stunning city and hopes it will be a much-needed fresh start for both of them. Though not a direct remake of the original, the film ultimately went on to “borrow elements from the original plot, wherein a bullied youth learns to stand up for himself with the help of an eccentric mentor.”
The Karate Kid quickly became both a critical and commercial hit, raking in over $350 million and earning an impressive A CinemaScore from moviegoers. The endearing chemistry between Smith and Chan was singled out, with the latter actor winning the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Action Star. A sequel is currently in the works with Chan set to reprise his role, and is due for a 2024 release.
4 Minions: The Rise of Gru
Taraji P. Henson showed off her vocal talents when she master thief Belle Bottom in the 2022 blockbuster hit Minions: The Rise of Grusharing the screen with big names like Steve Carell, Michelle Yeoh, and Julie Andrews in the feel-good animated flick. In the fifth installment of the Despicable Me series, fans get to witness the origins of self-proclaimed supervillain Gru (Carell) as he plots a scheme to become the most feared bad guy in the universe, squaring off against fellow baddies Belle Bottom and her evil team the Vicious 6.
Henson’s portrayal of the fiery and formidable foe Belle garnered widespread praise from critics and helped make the film a massive triumph at the box office. She earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for her spirited performance, and many critics deemed the sequel to be one of the best in the franchise and a large improvement over its predecessor Minions.
3 Hustle & Flow
Henson starred opposite frequent collaborator Terrence Howard in the 2005 Oscar-nominated drama Hustle & Flowwhich centers on Memphis pimp Djay as he dreams of a better life and a fulfilling career and decides to utilize his street knowledge and experiences to create hip-hop music and get signed by a label. The actress is fantastic as Djay’s love interest Shug, a pregnant prostitute who helps sing the hooks on his songs and who begins a romantic relationship with the aspiring musician; their sizzling chemistry dazzled audiences, and they would once again team up for the musical drama series Empire in 2015.
Hustle & Flow was lauded for its phenomenal soundtrack and exceptional performances by Howard and Henson and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for Three 6 Mafia’s theme song It’s Hard out Here for a Pimpbecoming the second hip-hop song to do so. Henson also won the Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the hopeful Shug and Howard earned an Oscar nod.
2 Hidden Figures
Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe delivered career-defining performances in the uplifting 2016 biographical drama Hidden Figuresin which the talented women appear as the brilliant African-American mathematicians Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, respectively, who made history when they went to work with NASA and aided the United States’s efforts during the Space Race. Henson’s portrayal of Johnson, as well as Spencer and Monáe’s deliveries, earned the real-life mathematician’s seal of approval, with Johnson declaring“It was well done. The three leading ladies did an excellent job portraying us.”
Hidden Figures swept awards season and debuted to widespread critical acclaim, becoming one of the top films of the year by the National Board of Review and receiving three Oscar nominations and two Golden Globe nods. The cast won a Screen Actors Guild and Satellite Award and Henson the NAACP Award for Best Actress for their work in the inspiring picture, and the drama was given a highly-coveted A+ CinemaScore by audiences.
1 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Taraji P. Henson served up one of her most revered and sensational roles to date when she appeared alongside Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, and Mahershala Ali in David Fincher’s Oscar-winning 2008 fantasy romantic drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttontelling the wondrous story of the titular character who ages backward and despite all odds finds love with a beautiful and kind woman (Blanchett). Henson earned an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of nursing home caretaker Queenie, who finds the astonishing Benjamin as an infant and raises him like he’s her own and loves him unconditionally.
Henson showcased her impeccable acting prowess in the gripping drama and viewed her time creating the picture as a “spiritual journey”, telling Slash Film about the process: “I had just lost my father, and even though I miss him dearly, it’s almost as if his death was a part of my journey towards Queenie…This role helped me through my grief and my grief helped shape my performance. Art can be very healing.”