Tag Archives: The Departed

Top 10: Movies Where the Villain Kills the Hero

Sometimes everything isn’t happily ever after for our heroes.  WatchMojo has put together a list for a great topic for discussion: movies where the villain ends up killing the hero.  The hero’s journey doesn’t always end the way we’d hope (those reeling after this weekend’s Avengers: Infinity War are feeling that).  Sometimes a hero sacrifices themselves to ensure their ultimate goal.  Sometimes a hero’s goal IS their own death.  Sometimes….well, sometimes they bad guys DO win.  It goes without saying that unless you feel like you’ve pretty much seen iconic movies GIANT SPOILER WARNING!  What do you think of WM’s selections?  Off the top of my head, Road to Perdition, Shane, and Logan (which is in a lot of ways an homage to Shane) spring to mind.   I think we can definitely find two better selections than The Wicker Man and Batman vs. Superman (seriously, guys?). What other films do you think should have made this list where the hero didn’t make it to the end credits?Mel Gibson in Braveheart


Matt Damon’s 10 Best Movies

Matt Damon

Matt Damon burst onto the Hollywood scene when he and his friend Ben Affleck (whom you may also have heard of) came out of nowhere with a script they co-wrote and starred in: Good Will Hunting.  One of the best Oscar moments in recent memory is the two of them going bezerk after winning Damon’s only Oscar to date for the film’s screenplay.  Damon has gone on to be one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in The Bourne movies, Ocean’s trilogy, Saving Private Ryan, The Martian, Interstellar, and more than a dozen other huge hits.  Post-The Martian, Damon has been in a bit of a slump, and it remains to be seen how much his career will be hurt by his ties to disgraced Hollywood mogul and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein (Damon has admitted he knew of Weinstein’s atrocities and did not come forward).  On-screen, he’s one of the most versatile and talented actors of his generation.  Time will tell what his sins of omission will do to his career going forward.

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Mark Wahlberg’s 10 Best Movies

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg began his career as frontman for Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch and is now one of Hollywood’s most reliable actors. Wahlberg’s career is a mix of projects I find unbelievably irritating (Entourage, Boogie Nights, Transformers) and projects where he has a strong director to bring out his impressive acting talents, both comedic and dramatic. No one does this better than Peter Berg, with whom Wahlberg has teamed to make three incredible films documenting real-life tragedies in Lone Survivor, Patriots Day, and Deepwater Horizon. Scorcese and Russell have worked well with him, but Berg seems to have the best handle on how to reach past Wahlberg’s “Marky Mark” past and find an everyday guy who can rise to extraordinary circumstances. If Wahlberg sticks with Berg, the two of them, can have an extraordinary, career-defining partnership.

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Leonardo DiCaprio’s 10 Best Movies

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio in his mid-40s has already had a career spanning a quarter century.  From a child star on Growing Pains, DiCaprio quickly became a young actor to watch in films like A Boy’s Life, Marvin’s Room, and then rocketed to one of the most famous people on the planet after the Titanic phenomenon.  DiCaprio, very smartly, took a good break after Titanic to separate himself, and then started learning.  He attached himself to directors, most notably Martin Scorcese, and started honing his craft.  The thing about DiCaprio is: he gets better after every film.  He takes something from it.  He pushes himself.  He’s always trying to add to his already formidable bag of tricks.  While the projects he chooses don’t always pan out, it’s never because of a lack of effort from DiCaprio, and he’ll take things even from imperfect films and grow.  Inception, The Revenant, Catch Me If You Can, Blood Diamond, The Departed, Shutter Island, The Wolf of Wall Street…..DiCaprio’s just getting warmed up, and I don’t think we’ve seen his best performance yet.
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Leonardo DiCaprio’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

Leonardo DiCaprio

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).

Though only in his early forties, Leonardo DiCaprio has already amassed an impressive body of film work.  Overcoming the status of teen idol, he’s made increasingly wise and challenging decisions in his projects and is today one of the actors whose work I most look forward to.  Also his middle name is Wilhelm.  I had to work that in somewhere.

Kirk Cameron, Growing Pains, Leonardo DiCaprio
AHAHAHAHA, remember this? No? Well, nine-year-old DiCaprio started off on the dying gasps of Kirk Cameron’s sitcom Growing Pains. He was to Growing Pains what Oliver was to The Brady Bunch. This only has relevance to his acting career as a starting point and as a way for me to mock him as a child which I am in no way above.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Diane Keaton, Marvin's Room
DiCaprio’s film career started not long after and he quickly rose to critical prominence for starring with Robert DeNiro (who he eventually would replace as Scorcese’s go-to actor) in A Boy’s Life, Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (for which he received his first Oscar nomination) and the very underrated Marvin’s Room with Diane Keaton.

Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic

Then he broke movies.  He, Kate Winslet, Jim Cameron and a billion teenage girls broke movies.  I was in high school when Titanic came out and I remember being at the mall (because that’s where you were supposed to be when you were a teenager) and watching as hordes of my classmates emerged from the theater sobbing so hard they could barely breathe THEN GOT BACK IN LINE TO DO IT AGAIN!

There are some people who hate Titanic just because of the total saturation it had on pop culture during the year of its dominance and because that damn song was on every radio station all day every day.  I had the happy experience of having it blasted in my house because my brother had just broken up with his first girlfriend it was “their song”.  Oh you’d thought I’d gotten over that?  MONTHS, bro, it was MONTHS!  Ahem.  Titanic.

I genuinely think Titanic is an awful movie.  Removing all of the hype and the phenomenon from it, it is a three-hour slog with a horrible script.  Cameron never writes great scripts, but the pacing and action are usually so taut you just go with it.  This movie is (brace for the pun) glacial.  I was rooting for the iceberg.  I was chanting the iceberg’s name (presumably “Iceberg”).  By the time the Titanic’s grip on America’s attention loosened, I was not a fan of DiCaprio’s.  I may have developed a facial tick connected to the sight of him.  But then he did something really, really smart.  He disappeared for about five years.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Catch Me if You Can
From 1997 when Titanic came out to 2002 when he released Gangs of New York and Catch Me If You Can, DiCaprio popped up only in 2000 for the forgettable The Beach. He stayed off the radar. I think it was that savvy move, coupled with reappearing partnered with Scorcese and Spielberg films, that allowed him to be taken seriously as an actor by people who pigeonholed him as a teen idol (like me).  He has from then on made very calculated, very directed choices in his projects that have developed him as an actor to the point where today he’s not instantly associated with the “King of the World” moment.

Gangs was an important film for DiCaprio because it marked the beginning of his ongoing partnership with Martin Scorcese.  DiCaprio has now appeared in five Scorcese films, the latest of which (The Wolf of Wall Street) today earned him his fourth Oscar nomination.

Catch Me If You Can is a wonderful film that gets overlooked in the canons of the principals (Hanks, DiCaprio, Spielberg), but it’s a fantastic movie.  The film got stolen a bit by Christopher Walken, who plays DiCaprio’s father, but the story of the con man Frank Abagnale is, if anything, underplayed in Spielberg’s film.  The real story of his varied impersonations of various professions should be read by any fan of a good non-fiction yarn.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Blood Diamond
In the following years, DiCaprio would do two more Scorcese films, The Aviator and The Departed, the latter winning Best Picture.  I think The Aviator is a great performance, but not necessarily a great movie.  I have tried really hard to like The Departed (even watched it again for this article) and I can’t.  To me, it’s the same issue I have with most of Scorcese’s work: it’s a lot of profane rambling without any compelling narrative.  Obviously that’s a minority opinion and for whatever reason I thought The Wolf of Wall Street, which is more profane than The Departed, worked.

The real gem of that period of DiCaprio’s to me is Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond.  I don’t think there is any harder accent to pull off than South African (possibly Kiwi).  DiCaprio puts in one of his best performances as a mercenary helping Djimon Honsou search for his son.  It’s a powerful, powerful film.Inception, Cobb, Leonardo DiCaprio
We have not, since this column began, had the chance to highlight anyone who was in Chris Nolan’s Inception.  DiCaprio, who leads one of the best ensembles one could ever ask for, is outstanding in what I truly believe is the best film released in the last decade (It’s this or The Dark Knight for me).  I could write two thousand words on Inception alone, the brilliance of its nuance, complexity and the ambiguity of its end, but suffice to say that anchoring that film gave DiCaprio a special place in my movie memories vault for life.Leonardio DiCaprio, Django Unchained

One thing DiCaprio has not gotten a chance to do was play the villain, but Tarantino gave him a loathsome plantation owner in Django Unchained for which he probably should have won his first Oscar (DiCaprio now with four noms is getting to the point where he’s going to be considered “due” soon and win for something undeserving as is Academy protocol).  The entire dinner scene is one of the ugliest, white-knuckled, tense moments I’ve ever seen.  It rivals the opening of Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds.

So let’s tally up the last ten DiCaprio films:
1. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)…….8.75
2. The Great Gatsby (2013)……………….4.75
3. Django Unchained (2012)……………….8.75
4. J. Edgar (2011) …………………………………..5.75
5. Inception (2010) ………………………………10.00
6. Shutter Island (2010)………………………..9.50
7. Body of Lies (2008) ………………………….. 5.00
8. Revolutionary Road (2008) …………… 3.50
9. Blood Diamond (2006)………………………9.50
10. The Departed (2006) …………………….. 5.50

Leonardo DiCaprio

Owing mostly to my tastes on The Departed and Revolutionary Road (Mendes and American ennui are not a good combo for me), both of which others might rate much higher, DiCaprio’s current average is only 7.1 (which still is not by any means bad).

1. Inception (2010)…………………………………10.00
2. Blood Diamond (2006) ……………………..  9.50
3. Catch Me If You Can (2002)……………   9.50
4. Shutter Island (2006) ………………………..  9.50
5. Django Unchained (2012) …………………  8.75
6. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)………,,..  8.75
7. Marvin’s Room (1996)…………………………  7.75
8. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)..,,,.7.75
9. Gangs of New York (2004) …………………..6.25
10. The Aviator (2002) ………………………………6.00

Solid greatest average on par with Will Smith’s.  DiCaprio still has thirty to forty years of films left in him so this is a very early evaluation of his body of work and already he’s made his mark.  I see growth in his acting with every project he takes on and I truly believe his best performances are in his future.Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street, Oliver Stone