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5 Best Zac Efron Movies, Ranked

If there’s one thing that The Iron Claw has taught us, it’s that Zac Efron is an actor to keep our eyes on! Even though he’s only been starring in films for about twenty years, the High School Musical star has acted in an impressive number of gems, showcasing his talent for bringing complex characters to life in a variety of genres, and making us emotional every time. But what are the best Zac Efron movies? It would be impossible to list them all, but we made a list of 5 films from different genres, that help show the star’s range and skills. Find them all below, ranked from worst to best!

5. The Greatest Showman (2017)

  • Director: Michael Gracey
  • Co-Stars: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Keala Settle
The Greatest Showman | “Rewrite The Stars” Lyric Video (Fox Family Entertainment)

The Greatest Showman has had a mixed reception, and that’s mainly due to the film’s surface-level depiction of its real-life protagonist, but there’s no denying that Zac Efron is absolutely superb in the film. Set in the 1800s, the movie is about a man named P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) who one day decides to create a circus, bringing together a series of misfits and creating a sort of family of their own. The movie’s best feature is that it is a musical, and an extremely catchy one at that – so much so that it even inspired Hugh Jackman’s own concert tour, “The Man. The Music. The Show.”.

Efron sung most of the tunes in the film himself, all while being his charismatic self and displaying incredible chemistry with his co-star, particularly Zendaya. Not only that, but he’s often dancing and, in one scene, he’s even on a trapeze! If you’re looking for a lighthearted watch with catchy musical tunes and great turns from an all-star cast, look no further than The Greatest Showman!

4. 17 Again (2009)

  • Director: Burr Steers
  • Co-Stars: Leslie Mann, Matthew Perry, Thomas Lennon
Zac Efron and Thomas Lennon exchange a mixtape in the film 17 Again, one of the best Zac Efron movies according to loud and clear reviews
5 Best Zac Efron Movies, Ranked: 17 Again (New Line Cinema)

How can we forget this gem from 2009? Zac Efron plays the teenage version of a down on his luck middle-aged man named Mike (Matthew Perry), who dreams of rewriting his own life and making different choices. One day, he gets what he wished for, as he suddenly transforms into his 17-year-old self (Efron). But things aren’t exactly as easy as Mike had hoped they would be, as reliving his high school years comes with many challenges. Released right after the huge success of the three High School Musical movies, 17 Again showed us that Zac Efron has charisma even when he doesn’t sing and dance. Though the film’s plot is light to say the list, the star is what makes it the beloved classic that it is, and if you’re in the mood for something nostalgic, it’s definitely the right watch for you.

3. High School Musical 2 (2007)

  • Director: Kenny Ortega
  • Co-Stars: Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel
Zac Efron has his hands on his face in one of the best scenes from High School Musical 2
5 Best Zac Efron Movies, Ranked: High School Musical 2 (2007) (Walt Disney Studios)

Is High School Musical 2 the best High School Musical movie? It depends on who you’re asking, as the entire trilogy is so binge-worthy that each viewer has their own favorite. We chose the second film in the beloved saga because it’s one of the entries with the best musical numbers, and it also has plenty of heart-wrenching moments that really show Zac Efron’s commitment to his character. Here, he resumes the role of Troy (Zac Efron) in a movie that takes place during the summer. Ashley Tisdale joins the cast as Sharpay, who helps Troy find a job at her resort but has an ulterior motive: using him to win the Stardazzle Award at the Lava Springs Talent Contest.

Needless to say, Sharpay’s meddling changes Troy’s relationship with Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), even more so since Troy manages to get both her and all their friends jobs at the resort. If you’re new to the franchise, we recommend watching all three movies, of course. But if you’re looking to revisit an entry that really shows Zac Efron at his best, why not try High School Musical 2?

2. Hairspray (2007)

  • Director: Adam Shankman
  • Co-Stars: John Travolta, Amanda Bynes, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Marsden
Zac Efron holds a microphone in Hairspray
5 Best Zac Efron Movies, Ranked: Hairspray (New Line Cinema)

Zac Efron was 20 years old when he starred in Hairspray, and yet he absolutely managed to make an impression on us! Inspired by the popular Broadway musical, the film takes place in Baltimore in the 1960s and revolves around a teenager named Tracy (Nikki Blonsky) who rises to fame overnight when she wins the “The Corny Collins Show”. But her newly found popularity has consequences on many, starting from lead Corny female dancer Amber (Brittany Snow), who immediately becomes Tracy’s arch-nemesis. Zac Efron plays Link Larkin, Amber’s boyfriend, who’s also a dancer on the show: needless to say, he, too, is drawn to Tracy. His hilariously narcissistic character was partly based on Elvis Presley, and you can get a sneak peek of him in the picture above!

1. The Iron Claw (2023)

  • Director: Sean Durkin
  • Co-Stars: Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, Lily James, Hold McCallany, Maura Tierney
The Von Erich brothers play on the grass in the film The Iron Claw
5 Best Zac Efron Movies, Ranked: The Iron Claw (A24)

To no one’s surprise, the best Zac Efron movie according to us is it a fantastic film, but Efron plays an incredibly complex character to perfection. In this biographical film, Efron plays wrestling star Kevin Von Erich. His father, “Fritz” (Holt McCallany), has been pushing him and his brothers – Kerry (Jeremy Allen White), David (Harris Dickinson), and Mike (Stanley Simons) – to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship for their entire life, so much so that their existence pretty much revolves around the title.

During the film, we see the three brothers strive to achieve their father’s dream despite the many challenges that come their way, some of which have severe consequences on their health and wellbeing. The film is an analysis of legacy, masculinity, obsession that spans through generations, and the worrying consequences that growing up in a patriarchal family can have on a child. What makes is so successful is the combination of a superbly written and executed film and career-defining performances from most of its cast. This is the film where Efron proves that there’s nothing he can’t achieve, and we cannot wait to find out what he will do next.

Zac Efron’s cinematic journey in truly remarkable. Many stars who started acting as teenagers were often typecast, but Efron managed to find projects that let him tackle very different characters. His most lighthearted watches make for perfect feel-good movies, but he also excels in serious dramas, and he can dance and sing too! We eagerly anticipate any future projects from him. Until then, let us celebrate these 5 amazing movies, and you can write a review on it with essay masters ae.

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