The 16 Best Christopher Walken Movies, Ranked

David Cronenberg’s “The Dead Zone” is a movie that cannot be pinned to just one genre. Is it a science fiction adventure? Political thriller? Horror film? Social satire? The answer to all of those questions is “yes.” A film so undefinable required a versatile lead performance at its center, and Christopher Walken was just the man for the job. He gives one of his most emotionally earnest performances as Johnny Smith, a kindly school teacher who is gifted with the power to read thoughts and see into the future. Johnny emerges from a coma and discovers his powers, but realizes that his girlfriend Sarah Bracknell (Brooke Adams) is now married to another man. This immediately shows the burden that Johnny now carries, since his special abilities prevent him from living a normal life, and Walken indicates that Johnny is grieving throughout the film. 

The film proceeds at an elegant pace as Johnny begins to discover the secrets of his home in Castle Rock, New Hampshire. His naturalistic reactions to what he discovers ground the supernatural elements in emotional realism, with Walken exemplifying the spirit of an outsider. Johnny has trouble relating to his old colleagues after the accident, and he struggles with the responsibility of his knowledge. Walken isn’t given many scenes of emotional yearning, but his reserved nature shows Johnny’s sensitivity. It makes him very empathetic when he realizes that he must save Castle Rock from the fascist U.S. Senate candidate Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen).

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