Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

russell-crowe
Latest vs. Greatest looks at directors, actors, actresses, screenwriters and composers to assess the state of their career as it stands.  We’ll look back at the latest 10 movies the artist has done, rate them and then average them out to see where they stand today.  We’ll also rank their 10 greatest movies and give them the same treatment to compare what they have been doing to their very best work.  (A quick side-note: if an artist is/has been a regular on a TV show we’ll also grade the seasons individually; artists need 10 projects to qualify).

Russell Crowe, Noah

Roughly ten years ago, if you wanted a prestige actor to anchor your film, you really could do no better than Russell Crowe.  Ten years later, Crowe seems to have lost all passion for acting, mostly sleepwalking woodenly through a series of mediocre films.  It’s not something that you can put your finger on and trace as easily as Johnny Depp’s descent into addictive twitchiness, but the decline is just as steep.  Crowe just seems to have lost the passion to act.  I saw a little of that fire back in Noah and it made me think that possibly the right project could turn things around, but then I watched Winter’s Tale last night and so I’m really trying hard not to let that color my entire article.

LA Confidential, Russell CroweThe film that broke Russell Crowe out, though he’d been appearing in films for several years like Virtuosity and The Quick and the Dead is still the best film he’s ever been in: 1997’s LA Confidential.  Crowe’s Bud White was the film’s shifting moral center and rarely have I ever seen so much rage behind the eyes of a character as when White loses his temper.  It was an outstanding performance in an ensemble as good as any ever assembled, and if the whole film hadn’t been eclipsed by the Titanic phenomenon, he would have received an Oscar nomination.Russell Crowe, The InsiderCrowe does have three Oscar nominations and one win.  He should have two wins and not a statue for the film he actually did win for (Gladiator).  Nevertheless it still was an amazing run beginning with 1999’s The Insider directed by Michael Mann.  Crowe transformed himself into a dumpy tobacco whistleblower, working with CBS’ 60 Minutes to try to blow the lid off of Big Tobacco.  I still think this is Crowe’s best performance.  He was absolutely riveting and went toe-to-toe with Al Pacino in one of the last great performances of his career (I’m assuming we’re not going to get another).Maximus, Gladiator, Russell Crowe2000, of course, was the year Russell Crowe became a household name if he wasn’t already by playing general-turned slave-turned gladiator, Maximus Decimus Meridius.  I love Gladiator, but I love it with a caveat, because it really is a deft melding of Ben-Hur and Spartacus (with a few other bits thrown in).  There’s no denying Crowe’s onscreen charisma and his dedication to the physicality of the role.  It’s not the role that should have won him an Oscar, but almost no one wins Oscars for the roles they should win them for.  It’s part of the mad logic of the Academy that makes me so bonkers during awards season.  Maximus remains Crowe’s most iconic role and, nearly fifteen years later, the film is as popular as ever.A Beautiful Mind, Russell CroweCrowe’s nomination trifecta was completed with 2001’s A Beautiful Mind; Ron Howard’s highly-fictionalized, but still brilliant biopic of mentally ill mathematician John Nash.  Crowe played the chameleon again, transforming his every tic and movement.  It was an astounding performance.  Unfortunately, Denzel Washington was “due”, so it went unrecognized, even as the film swept the other major awards.Master and Commander, Russell CroweCrowe hasn’t received an Oscar nomination since (his off-screen behavior probably hasn’t helped him, though he seems to have begun to mellow).  2003’s Master and Commander was a technically brilliant film that I thought was missing heart and I attribute some of that to Crowe.  I feel he’s miscast in the part, but I know a number of people who would heartily debate that point and fair enough.Cinderella Man, Russell Crowe2005 saw Crowe re-team with Ron Howard for another very, very good movie in Cinderella Man.  Crowe, again, showed himself capable of physical transformation, turning himself into boxer James Braddock.  Of all the boxing movies I’ve seen (and sometimes it seems like Hollywood thinks it’s the only sport that exists even though in real life it’s almost extinct), the ring action in Cinderella Man is the best.  It’s extremely difficult to put the camera in the ring and not make it feel intrusive, but Howard pulled off a feat.  Out of the ring, the story got a little hokey, but overall it’s a very good movie.3:10 to Yuma, Russell CroweThe truly amazing film that I feel Crowe did was 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma remake.  Playing the villain in outlaw Ben Wade, I thought Crowe was outstanding and that he and Christian Bale made an extremely powerful onscreen pairing.  The Western is a genre that’s not quite dead, but rarely utilized.  3:10 stands only behind Unforgiven, in my opinion, in the ranks of the modern entries.Robin Hood, Russell CroweCrowe works well with both Ron Howard and Ridley Scott, but while those pairings both produced Oscar-winning Best Pictures in the past, they’ve given us the abominable A Good Year with Howard and several disappointments (Body of Lies, American Gangster, Robin Hood) with Scott.  Crowe is often miscast in projects because, I think, he feels comfortable with certain directors and would rather work with them in what they’re doing than stretch himself as he did when he was younger.Russell Crowe, State of PlayAn overlooked gem of a film that Crowe did play very well in a supporting role is the political thriller State of Play.  It came out in 2010 and was lost in the Robin Hood hype and I’d definitely recommend it as a rental.Les Miserables, Russell Crowe2012 saw Crowe singing (he does have a rock band…seriously) the part of Inspector Javert in the adaptation of the musical Les Miserables.  Let’s just get this out-of-the-way: I hate Les Mis.  I think it’s a miserable slog of a musical with two good songs and unbearable repetition.  That being said, I acknowledge that the 2012 film adaptation did about a good a job of capturing it as possible and Anne Hathaway’s five minutes of singing that year were the best five minutes on film in 2012.  Crowe appeared miscast, though, and unable to hold his own against actors with really strong voices like Hathaway and Hugh Jackman.Russell Crowe, Jor-El, Man of SteelI know I’m in the minority in liking Man of Steel, and that’s fine.  I flipped on the film; hating it the first time I saw it and then really changing my mind on a second viewing.  Both times, I thought the strongest piece was the opening on Krypton and that Crowe was a fantastic Jor-El.  It’s much more believable that his Jor-El is the father of Superman that the disembodied head of Marlon Brando.  Crowe mentioned he so enjoyed the role he’d consider doing a Krypton prequel to the film.  I’d love to see it, though I doubt it figures into DC’s nascent universe-building plans.

That brings us to date and if you’d like to read my full opinion of Noah or Winter’s Tale (Crowe’s two films this year), you can click on the links in the first paragraph.Russell Crowe, Winter's Tale

Let’s look at Crowe’s 10 latest films:
CROWE’S LATEST TEN:
1. Noah (2014) ……………………………………………7.00
2. Winter’s Tale (2014)……………………………..2.00
3. Man of Steel ( 2013)………………………………8.00
4. Broken City (2013)…………………………………5.50
5. Les Miserables (2012) …………………………..8.00
6. The Man With the Iron Fists (2012) …..2.25
7. The Next Three Days (2010) ……………….6.25
8. Robin Hood (2010) …………………………………6.50
9. State of Play (2009)………………………………..8.75
10. Tenderness (2009)……………………………….5.00
CROWE’S CURRENT AVERAGE: 5.925

Truly awful films like Iron Fists and Winter, mixed with a lot of average films, have dropped his average below the 6.0 marker.  With nothing truly fantastic to bring the numbers up, his average really reflects what he is at this moment: a slightly below-average leading man.  That’s a shame, because he’s capable of so much more as you can see in his career score.Gladiator, Russell Crowe

CROWE’S GREATEST TEN
1. LA Confidential (1997)…………………..10.00
2. A Beautiful Mind (2001) ………………..10.00
3. The Insider (1999)………………………….. 10.00
4. 3:10 to Yuma (2006)………………………..10.00
5. Gladiator (2000)………………………………..9.00
6. Cinderella Man (2005) …………………….9.00
7. Master and Commander (2003)……..8.75
8. State of Play (2009)…………………………..8.75
9. Man of Steel (2013)…………………………..8.00
10. Les Miserables (2012)……………………8.00
CROWE’S GREATEST AVERAGE: 9.150

Four tens in a seven-year period show the height of Crowe’s acting career to-date, but 1-10 he has an impressive resume of career hits for someone who’s been acting now a little over twenty years.

Later this year, Crowe will star with Olga Kurylenko in The Water Diviners: a drama a bout a man traveling to Turkey to find his missing sons after the Battle of Gallipoli.  Next year, he has Fathers & Daughters in which a Pulitzer-winning writer grapples with being a widower and father after a mental breakdown, while, 27 years later, his grown daughter struggles to forge connections of her own.  Those sound like some meaty roles that might give Crowe a chance to return to the dynamic form that made him, at one time, Hollywood’s #1 leading man.russell+crowe1

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