Category Archives: Lists

Christian Bale’s 10 Best Movies

Christian BaleChristian Bale’s career is already entering its fourth decade of excellence.  The actor, whose first starring role was in 1987 in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun at age 13, already has a career’s worth of outstanding roles and an Oscar for his performance in David O. Russell’s The Fighter.  For most, Bale is the definitive Batman in the definitive super hero trilogy: Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy.  Nolan and Bale put a stamp on Batman that others will be living up to as long as the character exists.  Bale also teamed with Nolan in The Prestige and with Russell again in American Hustle for wildly different roles in two outstanding films.  Bale is an intense, character-driven actor who has twice lost massive amounts of weight (Rescue Dawn & The Mechanic) for roles.  Bale gained 109 lbs for Batman Begins after losing 63 lbs for The Machinist. Bale went from 121 lbs to 230 lbs in only six months which overshot what Chris Nolan wanted for his Batman, so by the time filming began, Christian Bale had dropped to 190 lbs.  The dedication paid off, and Bale continues to be one of the most dynamic actors working today.
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Susan Sarandon’s 10 Best Movies

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Susan Sarandon’s first film was in 1970.  She has a career spanning nearly 50 years in TV and film, and I’m not even going to pretend like I have seen most of her films, but I wanted to profile her this week because she’s the living embodiment of the argument that, while the rise of quality of TV has hurt the quality of films with budget between “arthouse” and “blockbuster, it has among other things provided quality roles to actresses who otherwise would have disappeared.  Sarandon, Laura Dern, Kathy Bates, Catherine Zeta Jones, Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Lange, Nicole Kidman and Robin Wright are all actresses who either won or were nominated for Best Actress in the 1990’s to early 2000’s and have already starred in huge TV events or series in 2017.  Hollywood has a rancid history of putting women out to pasture when they near 40 (or earlier), and deprive us of their talent until they reach “grandma age”.  Sarandon’s just concluded Feud with Lange looks at that very phenomenon as it examines the real life feud between legendary stars Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.  Aside from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (which you’re either religiously fanatic about or do not get; I am the latter), most of my exposure to Sarandon’s work is from Bull Durham on, and she easily fills a top 10 with just that bit of her career.  Now a septuagenarian (yes, I had to triple check that to make sure it’s accurately used but apparently Sarandon has some arrangement with Time), Sarandon is still one of the best actresses working
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Harrison Ford’s 10 Best Movies

Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford has created some of the most indelible characters in screen history: Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Rick Deckard, John Book, and owning existing characters like Dr. Richard Kimble or Jack Ryan.  His legacy as one of Hollywood’s greatest action stars is already cemented (though his abilities as an actor are seriously underrated; one needs only watch Witness or 42 to see how good he can be).  Defying age, Ford is making a farewell tour of the most iconic of his creations, cementing their legacy.  He’s already given Han Solo his tragic end.  This year he’ll return to Blade Runner, then it’s on to fix the damage to Indiana Jones that Crystal Skull inflicted.  Whether those attempts succeed as well as The Force Awakens did, Ford’s place as a legend is already secure.
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Kate Winslet’s 10 Best Movies

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Kate Winslet is one of the most critically-acclaimed actresses of the last 25 years.  Able, like her co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, to shed the “Titanic” label, Winslet has gone on to star in a series of challenging, diverse roles over her career that have earned her 7 Oscar nominations and a whopping 11 Golden Globe nominations.  My personal favorite roles of Winslet, are not the ones for which she’s received the most praise.  Her only Oscar win to date is for 2008’s The Reader, which was a fine performance but nowhere near her best and was one of those Oscar wins where someone has just become ridiculously DUE.  My favorite work of her’s is in Marc Forster’s Finding Neverland, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, her insanely (literary pun) good Ophelia in Kenneth Brannagh’s Hamlet, and her indomitable sidekick to Michael Fassbender’s Steve Jobs.  I also loved her and the entire cast of the puzzling critically lambasted Collateral Beauty last winter.  Another argument for Rotten Tomatoes as a useless metric.  And, as if dominating movies wasn’t enough, Winslet has a well-earned Emmy for the powerful HBO mini-series, Mildred Pierce.  She’s an actor with a quarter century of fine performances who commands attention whenever she enters a project.
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Robert Downey Jr.’s 10 Best Movies

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. managed to do what few actors have: overcome his personal demons and even use them to become one of, if not the, most popular actors in the world.  Downey was an acting prodigy, and earned early praise, most notably for his astounding performance in 1992’s Chaplin, but then was laid low by drug and alcohol problems.  He began his climb back with small parts in great films like Bowfinger and Good Night and Good Luck and the massively overlooked Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, as well as contributing to David Fincher’s masterful Zodiac in 2007.  However, it was the next year that his ascent culminated when he took on the role of Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man (a character who he essentially IS) and jump-started the most successful franchise in movie history: The Marvel Cinematic Universe.  His character has been the fulcrum of that universe (he’s appeared in some capacity in eight of the 15 films at time of writing), and it’s hard to imagine what the MCU will look like when Downey finally hangs up the armor.  Before 2008, Iron Man was a B-level hero at Marvel with little public recognition.  Now the character is as recognizable worldwide as Spider-Man, Captain America or Wolverine.
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