To many, he will always be Frodo Baggins, the brave little furry-footed hobbit who volunteers to bear the burden of carrying the dreaded One Ring as he leaves his bucolic existence behind while sacrificing himself to save Middle-earth in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
But Elijah Wood, who turns 39 on January 28, has had quite a varied career beyond the Shire ever since he made his film debut at 8-years-old with a small part as Video Game Boy #2 in 1989’s “Back to the Future Part II.” He would go on to land the coveted central role in the epic fantasy franchise based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s enduring classic when he was 18. But his early output on the big screen consisted of a string of so-so ‘90s titles such as “Radio Flyer,” “Paradise” and “Forever Young.” However, he often earned praise for his part in even mediocre projects.
But when he reached his teens, Wood would hit rock bottom when he played the title character, a child prodigy who divorces his parents and goes on a journey to find new ones, in “North” (1994). It was a rotten egg of a comedy that stunk up Rob Reiner’s directing hot streak in the ‘90s. It would inspire Roger Ebert to not just give it a rare zero-star rating but also gave birth to his book “I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie.” At least critics aimed most of their slams at the adults and not at Wood.
Lately, the actor has showed a penchant for films on the fringe, including “Maniac” (2012), in which he plays a sicko serial killer; “Pawn Shop Chronicles” (2013), a “Pulp Fiction” rip-off; “Cooties” (2014), about a cannibalism outbreak at an elementary school; and “The Last Witch Hunter” (2015) with Vin Diesel as an immortal hero who saves the Big Apple from the plague. The less said about these releases, the better. Let’s instead concentrate on these dozen more watchable features in Wood’s canon. Tour our photo gallery above, ranked from worst to best, which includes several of the movies mentioned, plus “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “The Ice Storm” and more.