11 Best Cuba Gooding Jr Movies and TV Shows

When Cuba Gooding Jr. takes to screen, it’s not just him that we see. We become an audience to a living and moving bundle of energy that’s contagious. His boyish charm and enthusiastic personality can at times be overbearing, but that’s normal and often results in something remarkable. Like his celebration when he bagged home the Best Supporting Actor for ‘Jerry Maguire’. That moment of jubilation and the acceptance speech will forever remain as memorable as they were in the moment. Here is the list of top 11 Cuba Gooding Jr. films and TV shows remembering this fine and unique artist. Happy reading!


11. What Dreams May Come (1998)

‘What Dreams May Come’ tries to blend mortality with immortality through the character of Chris Nielsen, a pediatrician who dies in a car crash. Unaware that he’s a spirit and after failed attempts at making contact with his wife, Chris embarks on a journey to heaven with his mentor from medical school Albert as he adapts to a “different” life. The movie’s sly attempts at discouraging suicides and plays with the idea of hell and heaven. A brilliant cast is wasted and so are the stunning visual effects which went on to win the Academy Award.


10. Losing Isaiah (1995)

A heroin addict leaves her newborn, Isaiah, in the dumpster and promises to “come back tomorrow.” Isaiah is immediately taken to the hospital when discovered and is taken care of by Lewin, a social worker. The two grow close and the latter eventually adopts the former. When Khaila, the heroin addict, returns from rehab, she looks for her son and hires a lawyer to get the custody back. Her success though isolates Isaiah, who refuses to acknowledge her as his mother. Khaila tracks down Lewin and the two resolve their disputes and care for Isaiah. Lange and Berry lead the charge with decent performances, but the poorly written script lets them down and dampens the films emotional stronghold on its audience.


9. Radio (2003)

Cuba Gooding Jr. revels in empathizing roles which connect with the audience at an emotional level. Inhibiting the role of an 18-year old with mental disabilities, Gooding makes sure the audience wounds up lachrymose and soften their view of mental problems. But as is the case often, the writing and the direction doesn’t match up to the performances of the cast led by a miraculous Cuba Gooding. The film struggles with its assumption of many forms at a time and manages to completely derail after the first 30 minutes.


8. Men of Honor (2000)

Carl Brashear became the first African American master diver in the United States Navy at a time when racism was at its peak and the WWII just went by. His brave story, inspired by a fellow officer, played by De Niro, is chronicled thrp8gh the film as he overcomes hurdles one after the other in a bid to achieve his dreams. Written with its heart at its sleeve and certainly performed so, its cliched incantations in the form of good overcoming evil dampen the brilliance of the performances and filters it in the category of mundane.


7. American Gangster (2007)

Frank is a powerful and respected member of the social elite. But secretly, he is the successful drug lord of the streets of Harlem. Detective Roberts is the only cop who is willing to tackle him. Who will succeed in the battle for supremacy? The film answers the question with a virtuous lesson that’s important in present-day context. Washington gives another fine example of his craft as an actor complimented by a vintage Ridley Scott effort. The ensemble managed to impress throughout and carved out a place for the film in the top 10 lists of the year.


6. Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009)


Man can only stagger at nature’s marvel. Well, don’t tell that to Ben Carson. ‘Gifted Hands’ is a thoughtful and engaging story of a man looking for redemption in life by saving it. Dr. Carson was a struggling teenager and had an irascible temper (he nearly stabbed a schoolmate over a radio channel). The experience changes his life, and now a Yale graduate, happily married, Carson leads a saintly life. The miscarriage of his own twins haunts him when he’s asked to remove two conjoined twins at birth. This might very well be Gooding’s most emotionally exhaustive performance till date. The tonal change of the drama brings forth a character whose self-awareness and consciousness as a saver is damning.

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5. The Butler (2013)

Cecil Gaines was a sharecropper’s son who grew up in the 1920s as a domestic servant for the white family who casually destroyed his. Eventually striking out on his own, Cecil becomes a hotel valet of such efficiency and discreteness in the 1950s that he becomes a butler in the White House itself. There, Cecil would serve numerous US Presidents over the decades as a passive witness of history with the American Civil Rights Movement gaining momentum even as his family has troubles of its own. As his wife, Gloria, struggles with her addictions and his defiant eldest son, Louis, strives for a just world, Cecil must decide whether he should take action in his own way. The star-studded cast is the life of a well-written movie which manages to tell its story with a kind but honest heart. Long panning shots and small conversations between Whittaker and Gooding make for a pleasurable watch.


4. As Good As It Gets (1997)

Jack Nicholson can do anything he wants. His amazing talent was put to good use, not soliciting anger, but this time just melting our very hearts. His beautiful portrayal of an aged and wealthy writer living alone, making himself repulsive to stay that way won our hearts and the Academy Award. When one day Melvin’s regular waitress at the cafe isn’t at her shift, he rushes down to her house and finds her son ill. The next day, he sends for the CMO to personally look after him and she comes back to work. As they and Simon, Melvin’s neighbor who is broke and can’t face his parents being a homosexual, go on a trip, Melvin and Carol the waitress fall for each other. Intelligently written and marvelously acted, ‘As Good As It Gets’ sets a benchmark for romantic comedies to emulate.


3. Boyz n The Hood (1991)

Teenhood dramas are a thing of the past in the fast-evolving society. The hoodie culture which filled the streets with colorful people has vanished and remains a mere semblance of its former self. John Singleton’s directorial debut captured the essence of the culture with immaculate and weighed vision. Traversing the ups and downs our two main leads go through in the movie, Singleton paints a sincere, yet disconcerting image of suppressed anger and the regressive aspect of the American society. Terrific performance lace and the movie and breath life into an original and stimulating story that endears and endures.


2. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Brimming with the energy of a rabbit and the sensitivity of a deer, Gooding’s portrayal of Rod Tidwell as a talented yet under-achiever football player earned him his career’s maiden Academy Award. The sports-drama film centralized on Jerry Maguire, a charming and clever sports agent working for SMI. When the firm decides against sending him to secure a high-profile player and rob him of considerable earnings, he quits and takes Dorothy with him to start his own business. With his clientele dwarfing as the days pass, his only hope remains Tod, with whom he develops a personal relationship and eventually makes him one of the highest paid players in football. The heart-warming film gnaws upon certain themes like racism and moneyball tactics in football in America. But its the chemistry and honesty of the leads which rides the film through a flawed screenplay to one of the best movies of the year.


1. American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson (2016)

If there’s one thing we can take away for the rest of our lives from the show, it is Sterling K. Brown. The magnetic actor put in a tour de force performance as the fabled leader of the dream team put together to defend OJ Simpson in the trial of the century. The show documents the controversial and much-publicized trial as evidence eluded results and was remarkably proven void in the court. A stunning ensemble immensely benefited from Gooding’s solid display as OJ and certainly ended the year as the best show on television.

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