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Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Christian Bale Lists

Dan Here:
Time for another round of Best Of Lists.

Christian Bale is one of the best actors working in movies. He has had a long and productive career that shows no signs of slowing. He has just received a Golden Globe nomination for his role in the newest film from David O. Russell, AMERICAN HUSTLE. The movie is getting tons of great press and you can read Chris's full, four star review here.

Bale was nominated and won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award as a supporting actor for his work in another Russell film, THE FIGHTER. He has deftly made the transition from child actor to Oscar winner, and along way, done great work in some incredible films, so here are


Dan's List 

Bale as Bob Dylan as Jack Rollins. I have a Dylan obsession and it was amazing to watch Bale interpret the man and some of his most famous moments. This video where he discusses the role shows me he truly understood Dylan and the games he likes to play.

#4. 3:10 TO YUMA

I liked this film more the second time I saw it and even more the third time.
Many people my age (under thirty) basically missed the Western genre.
And if they have seen Westerns, they probably think of them as action movies. 
In 3:10 the west is the backdrop for great human drama and is proof that great Westerns can be much more than just shootouts. 


THE MACHINIST (and also, RESCUE DAWN) are examples of Bale pushing the physical and emotional limits of acting. Bale's transformation for this film is so disturbing that you believe it must all be CGI. It's hard to watch at times, but this was the film that made me realize Bale was one of the best actors around. Just rewatching the trailer is giving me intense flashbacks.


I love Brett Easton Ellis and Bale kills it as 80s yuppie extraordinaire Patrick Bateman. The movie isn't nearly as great as the book, but Bale pulls of some great dark comedy in this film. Here's a cool Charlie Rose episode about the film and book, which have both become pretty legendary.


If you don't like NEWSIES I don't need ya. It's a throwback to the large scale musicals of Hollywood's past and Bale's performance carries the film. He sings, he dances and helps a rag tag group of street kids "stop the world". It gets a bad rap because it was a flop. However, it was easily rebooted as a hugely successful Broadway musical, proving that it's full of great stuff. Director Kenny Ortega may have ruined Billy Squire's career, but I'll be damned if he didn't help launch Bale's. Bale's solo, "Santa Fe"? Carryin' The Banner, indeed.

Honorable Mention
Terminator Salvation- The rant was more epic than the film, but it showed Bale cares.
Reign Of Fire- Our hero, Roger Ebert, crushed it with a one-star review, but I liked it.

Dishonorable Mention
The Prestige- Oh man do I hate this film. Saw it in college and immediately set up a Facebook group for the victims it creates. I am still shocked at how much love it gets and how it made many Best Of the 2000s Lists. I've watched some of it on TV from time to time and it still infuriates me.  

Chris's List 
5 – American Hustle

Rarely is such a new (much less BRAND NEW) film going to make a list like this for me, but American Hustle is just too much fun to deny it place on the list. And Bale really shines in the role of Irving Rosenfeld, an unapologetically disheveled con-man with tinted glasses, an elaborate comb-over, and a bulging potbelly, which he makes no attempt to hide. The film is definitely worth checking out. Read my review here.

4 – The Fighter

Hands down Bale’s best performance – and one that deservedly won him an Oscar a few years ago.  I cannot help getting caught up in great sports movies and this is one of the best in recent years. Though Mark Wahlberg is the main character, Bale steals every single scene he is in – and amazingly, makes you like him, an impressive feat given the character’s questionable lifestyle.

3 – Rescue Dawn

A criminally underrated and under-seen film from master filmmaker Werner Herzog (and based on his earlier documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly). Bale plays a Vietnam-era fighter pilot shot down in Laos and taken to a prisoners-of-war camp. Another highmark on Bale's career resume.

2 – American Psycho

Bale’s real breakthrough film as an adult. I was so intrigud with this ridiculously over the top movie when I first saw it that I immediately went out, bought the Bret Easton Ellis book it is based on, and read it almost instantly. And I loved the book even more (still one of my all-time favs, despite the author’s descent into smarmy/douchey irrelevance). Both the book and film are such a delightfully bizarre and perversely biting satire.  

1 – The Dark Knight (and the Nolan/Bale Dark Knight Trilogy as a whole)

I am HUGE Batman fan, so there is no doubt this is my #1. I loved Batman before Bale/Christopher Nolan and I will love Batman in future incarnations (even Affleck). Bale certainly proved he had the physicality and presence for Batman, but what distinguishes him from others who have donned to cape-and-cowl, is his nuanced, emotional performance in the Bruce Wayne-half of the character.

In my opinion (and most people's), The Dark Knight is the best of the three and Bale give his best performance in this second installment as well. But all the films are a cohesive unit, so I can’t completely disregard the one that started it all and the one that ultimately finished it.

Honorable Mention:

Empire of the Sun – Most people don’t realize/forget that Bale was a child actor. This Spielberg film is the best from young Bale’s early career (despite Dan's irrational love for Newsies).

I’m Not There – Like Dan, I love Bob Dylan. It's a good, but not great look at the enigmatic artist.  

The New World – What can I say, I am a sucker for Terrence Malick’s lyrical filmmaking.

Those are the lists!
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