It’s rare to find child stars who can find an equal amount of success when they transition into adult roles. Josh Hutcherson is one of the few actors that has been able to make that jump. Although he starred in many films as a child, Hutcherson was able to age with his characters and has done some fascinating work in both television and film. Beginning his career at a young age, Hutcherson achieved international success with his role as Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games series opposite Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence.

Now, Hutcherson is back on the big screen with the adaptation of Five Nights at Freddy's, a surprising box office success that reminded everyone what a great and charming performer he is. Hutcherson has many memorable entries in his filmography, but his best films are easily recognizable. Featuring an ideal blend of themes and emotions, Hutcherson's best movies feature him in major roles and provide him with the tools to showcase his versatility, even if he's not necessarily the star.

10 'American Splendor' (2003)

Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini

Josh Hutcherson in American Splendor (1)
Image via Fine Line Features

American Splendor is one of the most underrated comic book movie adaptations of all time, mainly because it bears little in common with the superhero films based on Marvel and DC properties. The film tells the incredible true story of Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti), the artist whose realistic depictions of American life found a surprising audience.

The film shows the difference between Pekar’s work and typical comic books through Hutcherson’s appearance as a young boy dressed as Robin. In his first screen role, Hutcherson showed he was willing to be involved with ambitious projects alongside veteran actors like the Oscar-nominated Paul Giamatti. American Splendor is a refreshing and thought-provoking comic book adaptation, offering a more nuanced and demanding take on the genre than audiences are used to.

American Splendor

An original mix of fiction and reality illuminates the life of comic book hero everyman Harvey Pekar.

Release Date
September 12, 2003
Shari Springer Berman , Robert Pulcini
Paul Giamatti , Shari Springer Berman , Harvey Pekar , Chris Ambrose , Joey Krajcar , Josh Hutcherson , Mary Faktor , Daniel Tay
101 Minutes

Watch on Max

9 'Howl's Moving Castle' (2005)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Heen jumping up and down with Markl and Turnip Head in 'Howl's Moving Castle.'
Image via Toho

While any English-speaking actor can lend their voice to an international film to dub it for an American audience, the films of Hayao Miyazaki demand a certain amount of dedication and respect. Miyazaki’s artful fairytale stories are so delicately crafted that for an American actor to simply rush through the translations would do the project a disservice.

Thankfully, Hutcherson was able to tactfully and authentically bring to life the character of Markl, the protege of the protagonist Howl (Christian Bale), in Miyazaki’s 2005 fantasy masterpiece Howl’s Moving Castle. His performance seamlessly fits the film's magical world, accurately translating the tale for English-speaking audiences. Howl's Moving Castle is among the best Studio Ghibli movies; every aspect excels, from the artistry to the writing to the stellar English dub that preserves the original's feeling and meaning.

Howl's Moving Castle

Release Date
November 19, 2004
Hayao Miyazaki
Chieko Baisho , Takuya Kimura , Akihiro Miwa , Tatsuya Gashûin , Ryûnosuke Kamiki , Mitsunori Isaki
119 minutes

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8 'Kicking & Screaming' (2005)

Director: Jesse Dylan

Josh Hutcherson Kicking & Screaming
Image via Universal Pictures

It’s definitely a challenge for any actor to stand out in a film starring Will Ferrell, as the comedy superstar generally dominates the screen in whatever project he is in. Ferrell starred in the 2005 family sports comedy Kicking & Screaming, in which he plays an ultra-competitive youth soccer coach who gets into a serious rivalry with his father (Robert Duvall).

Hutcherson successfully generated a few laughs with his comedic performance as Duvall’s obnoxious son. The then thirteen-year-old showed a surprising knack for comedic timing for such a young actor, holding his own against screen titans like Ferrell and Duvall. While far from a great comedy movie, Kicking & Screaming is a worthy showcase for Ferrell and a funny-enough throwback to a simpler time when studio comedies ruled the box office.

Watch on Sling TV

7 'Zathura: A Space Adventure' (2005)

Director: Jon Favreau

pjimage - 2022-03-23T231805.599
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

Hutcherson’s first major lead role came in Jon Favreau’s underrated 2005 family science fiction film Zathura: A Space Adventure, essentially a spiritual sequel to Jumanji but set in space. Hutcherson, Kristen Stewart, and Jonah Bobo starred as a group of bickering siblings who are transported into outer space after they unlock a magical board game.

The sibling rivalry is both hilarious and authentic, with Hutcherson and Bobo delightfully portraying the ups and downs of brotherly convivence. Hutcherson stands out during the scenes where he is interacting with the future version of himself, played by Dax Shepard. Although ignored during its initial release, Zathura has aged remarkably well, with many now considering it a worthy effort from Favrau and a solid entry into the family adventure genre.

Release Date
November 6, 2005
Jon Favreau
Jonah Bobo , Josh Hutcherson , Dax Shepard , Kristen Stewart , Tim Robbins , Frank Oz

Rent on Prime Video

6 'Bridge to Terabithia' (2007)

Director: Gábor Csupó

AnnaSophia Robb and Josh Hutcherson in the woods from 'Bridge to Terabithia'
Image via Disney

While Zathura: A Space Adventure proved Hutcherson could play a lead role, he matured significantly as a dramatic performer with the tender coming-of-age drama Bridge to Terabithia. The film explores the friendship of two young children (Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb) as they learn to cope with the perils of adolescence through an imagined fantasy realm.

The chemistry between Hutcherson and Robb is simply delightful and doesn’t treat the characters as inarticulate due to their youth. The film somewhat misled audiences about its genre, with much of the marketing focusing on the fantasy aspects. However, Bridge to Terabithia is a tragic, emotional coming-of-age story with a gut punch of an ending that comes as a complete shock, providing Hutcherson with the chance to flex his dramatic muscles.

Bridge to Terabithia

A preteen's life turns upside down when he befriends the new girl in school and they imagine a whole new fantasy world to escape reality.

Release Date
February 16, 2007
Gabor Csupo
95 Minutes

Watch on Disney+

5 'Firehouse Dog' (2007)

Director: Todd Holland

Image via 20th Century Studios

Firehouse Dog is a surprisingly solid family comedy that does more than what one might expect out of a kid-friendly dog movie. Hutcherson stars as a struggling young boy who begins to take care of a mischievous puppy as his firefighter father (Bruce Greenwood) attempts to keep the city safe.

While a father-son movie at heart, Firehouse Dog has enough animal-related humor to sustain the interest of younger viewers who could relate to Hutcherson’s character. The young actor is a compelling lead, elevating this underrated family movie of the 2000s to new and impressive heights. Firehouse Dog surprisingly shows a lot of respect and admiration for the firefighting profession.

Firehouse Dog
Release Date
April 4, 2007
Todd Holland
Josh Hutcherson , Bruce Greenwood , Bill Nunn , Scotch Ellis Loring , Mayte Garcia , Teddy Sears

Watch on Plex

4 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' (2008)

Director: Eric Brevig

Journey to the Center of the Earth
Image via New Line Cinema

H.G. Wells’s classic science fiction novel Journey to the Center of the Earth is one of the most groundbreaking works of science fiction ever. While there have been more than a few movie adaptations of the beloved book, the 2008 version is among the most original. It centers on the adventures of the volcanologist Professor Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser) and his nephew Sean (Hutcherson) as they attempt to explore the Earth’s mysterious internal structure.

Journey to the Center of the Earth is far from perfect, but there's a ton of charm in its admittedly silly premise. Despite the cheesy “4D” effects that were used at the time of the film’s release, Hutcherson and Fraser have a lot of fun with the material. The latter was still in the heyday of his action-hero era, while the former was a natural heir to the title. Hutcherson and Fraser make the best out of the film, turning it into a delightful and endlessly enjoyable family adventure.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

On a quest to find out what happened to his missing brother, a scientist, his nephew and their mountain guide discover a fantastic and dangerous lost world in the center of the earth.

Release Date
July 10, 2008
Eric Brevig
Brendan Fraser , Josh Hutcherson , Anita Briem , Seth Meyers , Jean Michel Paré , Jane Wheeler

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3 'The Kids Are All Right' (2010)

Director: Lisa Cholodenko

family eating around table
Image via Focus Features 

Hutcherson was an essential part of this moving dramedy that earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The Kids Are All Right explores the relationship between children and their same-sex parents with a great deal of respect. Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska star as the children of a married couple (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) that attempt to seek out their biological father (Mark Ruffalo).

The Kids Are All Right raises refreshingly modern questions about identity and lineage with nuance and empathy. Powered by a stellar ensemble cast led by the ever-reliable Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, the film captures the unique, ever-changing, and complicated dynamic of a real family unit. Hutcherson is great throughout, but he truly shines whenever opposite Bening and Moore.

The Kids Are All Right
Release Date
July 9, 2010
Lisa Cholodenko

Rent on Prime Video

2 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' (2013)

Director: Francis Lawrence

Josh Hutchersonand Jennifer Lawrence as Peeta and Katniss standing side by side and looking nervous in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Image via Lionsgate

The second installment in The Hunger Games franchise is also its best. The film focuses on Peeta (Hutcherson) and Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as they return to the Hunger Games to compete against other surviving tributes. As the flames of rebellion grow more intense, Peeta and Katniss must step up and embrace their roles as leaders of the blossoming movement.

Francis Lawrence upped the intensity of the action sequences in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The film raises interesting questions about Peeta and Katniss’ relationship and features an increasing focus on the saga's political angle. Catching Fire is the most powerful and outright best film in The Hunger Games series, offering riveting thrills and thought-provoking ideas that cement it as the pinnacle of YA movies.

The Hunger Games Catching Fire Poster
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Release Date
November 22, 2013
Francis Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence , Liam Hemsworth , Jack Quaid , Taylor St. Clair , Sandra Ellis Lafferty , Woody Harrelson
146 minutes

Watch on Peacock

1 'The Disaster Artist' (2017)

Director: James Franco

the disaster artist zac efron
Image via A24

The Disaster Artist chronicles the chaotic making of Tommy Wiseau’s infamous cult film The Room, which became a "so bad, it's good” classic in the years since its initial release. Hutcherson has a small supporting role as Philip Haldiman, the actor that Wiseau (James Franco) casts in the role of Denny.

Hutcherson hilariously shows Phillip’s confusion about the part and what his role is supposed to be. In The Room, Denny is portrayed as both a friendly neighborhood kid and a potentially dangerous criminal with lewd motivations. Hutcherson embraces the character's fish-out-of-water demeanor, delivering a memorable performance despite his brief screen time. The Disaster Artist explores the highs and lows of the creative process using one of cinema's most infamous turkeys, resulting in one of the best movies about filmmaking in recent memory.

The Disaster Artist
Release Date
December 8, 2017
James Franco
104 Minutes

Watch on Hulu

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