Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
A popular, but hectic disc jockey is assigned to a US Armed Service Radio station in Vietnam during the War. While his superior officers see the DJ's quick rants and jokes (mostly improvised by Robin Williams) as disrespectful, the many soldiers listening find lifted spirits.
While Robin Williams found fame before this film in television, Good Morning, Vietnam made the comedian a critic favorite - proving he had the special ability to blend comedic and dramatic emotions in a single performance. He was nominated for his first Academy Award the following year.
The Birdcage (1996)
In this hilarious comedy, Robin plays a gay cabaret owner in a relationship with a drag queen played by Nathan Lane. When his heterosexual son appears with news of him getting married to a girl with moralistic parents, Robin and Nathan's characters must put up a heterosexual front to win over the virtuous parents of their son's fiancee.
I'm always shocked to find this movie wasn't received as well as it should've been. It's not right to get personal in an article, but I'm very neutral when it comes to the gay rights. I have nothing to say about it, because I do not know enough about the situation to really have a say. (I wish more people would follow that belief.) However, I found The Birdcage very entertaining and well made. How Nathan Lane an cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki were not acknowledged by the Academy Awards is just outrageous.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
In a more supporting role (but important nonetheless), Robin plays a psychologist helping a young janitor at M.I.T. with exceptional math skills find his direction in life, while his surroundings only present negative influences.
This is one of the most touching performances I've seen in a film. Robin Williams won his first and only Oscar the following year and rightly deserved it. For anyone who knows they have a talent, but nowhere to take it, this film strikes many cords. Especially for those in inner-city environments where opportunities are often hidden behind scenes of violence.
Another supporting role from Robin Williams (a much darker one at that) has him in the role of crime writer attempting to help uncover a murder case in Alaska which two detectives, played by Al Pacino and Hilary Swank, are currently working on.
This is a prime example of a very well made mystery-thriller film. This was Christopher Nolan's first Hollywood film and a very successful one too. The entire cast does an incredible job in Insomnia and audiences are always leaning toward the screen to not only figure out who killed the teenage girl, but also anticipate the actions influenced by the declining mental health of protagonist, Al Pacino. Robin Williams doesn't appear in the film much until the later half of the movie's runtime, but when he does, he definitely makes waves.
World's Greatest Dad (2009)
In a more independent, obscure film, Robin Williams plays a high school teacher whose teenage son accidentally commits suicide in a humiliating way. His son's death inadvertently attracts community and media attention when Robin's character begins ghost writing suicide notes to make his son seem more of a misunderstood intellectual than he really was during his short lifetime.
This is a very odd movie, but one that's so original you cannot help, but enjoy it. Robin Williams' portrayal of a father mourning his crappy son is touching on so many levels. It's a very dramatic idea, but the film really is a black comedy. You'll find yourself laughing at certain points throughout the film, knowing it's wrong, but you're laughing because it's about all you have to overcome dark situations with. I believe during Robin Williams' lifetime, that concept was held very dear to him. Seeing his filmography, I'm sure it's a concept that was instilled in many of his fans as well.