Tag Archives: The Fighter

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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Christian Bale’s 10 Best Movies

Christian Bale
Batman, Christian Bale, The Dark Knight

Christian 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. For Vice, Bale did the reverse and gained over 40 lbs. to play former Vice-President Dick Cheney. The dedication paid off, and Bale continues to be one of the most dynamic actors working today.

Christian Bale’s Best 10
1. The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012) Bruce Wayne/Batman
2. The Prestige (2006) Alfred Borden
3. 3:10 to Yuma (2007) Dan Evans
4. American Hustle (2013) Irving Rosenfeld
5. The Fighter (2010) Dicky Eklund
6. The Big Short (2015) Michael Burry
7. Henry V (1989) Robin
8. Rescue Dawn (2006) Dieter Dengler
9. Empire of the Sun (1987) Jim
10. Little Women (1994) Laurie
Honorable MentionEquilibrium (2002) John Preston

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Amy Adams’ 10 Best Movies

Amy Adams, Enchanted

Amy Adams has unfortunately inherited the mantle Kate Winslet had to drag around for a decade: “Best Actress Without An Oscar”.  Nominated six times, she’s 0 for 5 (the verdict is still out on 2019’s nomination).  Adams has put together an amazing body of work since she broke out in 2005’s Junebug and earned her first Oscar nod.  Whether in supporting roles as in Doubt, Charlie Wilson’s War, or Her; or as a lead in American Hustle, Big Eyes, or Enchanted, Adams always delivers strong performances.  I think her best performance was American Hustle, but her best movie was 2016’s science fiction masterpiece Arrival.  In the age of the comic book movie, most stars have been snapped up by DC or Marvel.  Adams has played Lois Lane in the DCEU in Man of Steel (which was good) and Batman vs. Superman (which was really not but not Adams’ fault).  It’s an unfortunate reality that quality actresses have a harder time finding quality roles as they age.  Adams is defying this trend, and eventually, the Academy will recognize her as one of the strongest actresses of the last 30 years.

Amy Adams, Lois Lane, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Amy Adams, American Hustle

Amy Adams’ Best 10
1. Arrival (2016), Louise Banks
2. American Hustle (2013), Sydney Prosser
3. Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), Bonnie Bach
4. Catch Me If You Can (2002), Brenda Strong
5. Enchanted (2007), Giselle
6. Doubt (2008), Sister James
7. Julie & Julia (2009), Julie Powell
8. The Fighter (2010), Charlene Fleming
9. Junebug (2005), Ashley
10. Big Eyes (2014), Margaret Keane
Honorable Mention: Her (2013), Amy

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Amy Adams’ Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

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).

Amy Adams is the fifth person involved with Catch Me If You Can that we’ve profiled so far (Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, John Williams, Leonardo DiCaprio), though you may not recall her as she had braces and was the youngest and most innocent of Frank Abagnale’s con victims in that film.  So to open, what I’m saying is, go rent Catch Me If You Can. Continue reading Amy Adams’ Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

Movie Review: American Hustle (2013)

American Hustle is an acting clinic.  In a year bereft of signature performances, Hustle has at least five.  David O. Russell has an ability to draw out of actors  the kind of brilliant performances that win Oscars and define careers.  So why is it that I never actually love his movies as a whole?

Hustle is a very loose retelling of the 1970’s ABSCAM scandal in which several members of Congress were caught by the FBI taking bribes to smooth the building of casinos in Atlantic City.  Christian Bale and Amy Adams are a team of con artists who get stung themselves by an FBI agent played by Bradley Cooper.  His offer: bag four cons for him and his bosses and they can walk.  The cons get out of control, though, as the targets get bigger and bigger encompassing the Mayor of Camden, NJ, (Jeremy Renner), Congressmen, Senators and the mafia.

Though Bale and Adams are partners in crime and in bed, Bale has a wife and a child.  In a film where the all the principals have been nominated for Oscars and three have already won, Jennifer Lawrence steals this movie in maybe five scenes as Bale’s beyond-description sexy psycho wife.  She’s so good it’s frightening.  In my profile of Angelina Jolie, I said there were no actresses that would pull me into a theater on project attachment alone, but that Lawrence was getting close.  She’s there.  I’ll see whatever she’s in.

Hers is not the only amazing performance though.  Can Amy Adams please have her Oscar now?  As Bale’s partner, Adams plays an insecure chameleon of a woman, adapting to any situation to survive.  She changes characters and accents sometimes multiple times in a scene seamlessly and despite trying desperately to project a fearless persona, makes her character extremely vulnerable and frightened to an almost child-like level.  Adams and Lawrence have one big scene where they go toe-to-toe and you are just watching two of the best women in the world in an acting showcase.

That Christian Bale was Batman last year is inconceivable to me, because the guy he plays in this movie can barely walk a flight a stairs without popping a nitro pill for his heart.  He’s fat, schlubby and has the most elaborately composed comb-over in cinematic history.  How many times can he drastically change his body weight for film roles?  I’m a little worried for his health, but the commitment he brings to the table permeates his work.  He’s the core of the film and he turns in a performance every bit as good as the one  that won him a statuette in The Fighter.

To say that Bradley Cooper is a step below the other three leads seems like a knock, but it’s just that he’s playing with giants and he’s just a really tall guy (metaphor getting away from me there).  Cooper’s FBI agent sees glory in ABSCAM and will not be denied in running the operation right through his supervisor (Louis CK).  I’m not sure why American Hustle is touted as a comedy, because it’s not as funny a movie as I think it wanted to be.  To me, it’s an overlong character showpiece that doesn’t quite gel as an overall story.  Despite the raves I’ve given the principals, I have really no desire to ever see it again, but I would watch every scene between Cooper and CK a hundred times just to watch CK try to tell his ice fishing story.

It’s easy to see why there’s so much hype surrounding this film.  Russell puts together a fantastic ensemble and places you firmly in the look and feel of the 1970’s.  To me, though, these amazing performances exist in a vacuum because the overall story never really coheses into something that hammers all of it home.  Do not miss the chance, though, to see some of the best performers in film, turn in quite possibly the four best performances of the year.
8.5/10 (on acting alone, phenomenal).