Posts Tagged ‘top’

Top Three Russell Crowe Performances

May 28, 2009

We’re celebrating Russell Crowe’s new film, State of Play with a podium dedicated to the actor/singer/occasional scrapper.

This was a tough list to put together, with so many solid performances throughout Rusty’s career. Honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the podium include his work as Det. Richie Roberts in American Gangster, the Spaniard in The Gladiator, Captain Jack Aubrey in Master & Commander, and finally, his work as John Nash in A Beautiful Mind – a role he was nominated for an Oscar for. Solid stuff.

3. Cindarella Man

Crowe is outstanding in his portrayal of the real life Cindarella Man, James J. Braddock, the depression era prize fighter who overcame injury and poverty to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. I’m a sucker for a good boxing story, and this happens to be a very good boxing story indeed. The film features great performances from Renee Zellweger and a vastly under-rated Paul Giammatti. Ron Howard is also at his best here – but the movie belongs to Crowe, who plays Braddock with exactly the right mix of desperation, humility and pride.

2. LA Confidential

Bud White is more than just a rage fuelled, mean son of a bitch, but that’s what you see at first. The rest Crowe lets out a piece at a time, adding complexity as the film progresses. You start with his hatred of violence against women, for reasons hinted at rather than explained, and as the movie moves forward you see more of what makes the character tick; his relationship issues, his drive, his integrity and courage. Crowe adds each of these layers with an understated intensity, an iceberg of a performance where you see the tip of an emotion and yet can still guess at the depths of what lies beneath. But you know, let’s not get bogged down too heavily with that sort of artsy bullshit. Let’s just say Rusty kicks ass in this film and we’ll move on.

Fightin' Round The World was precluded on a technicality.

Fightin' Round The World was excluded on a technicality.

1. The Insider

We are miles away from the Gladiator and Master & Commander here. No stealing the lady with his quick witted charms. No grabbing his sword and fighting off the barbarians with a display of shock and awe. Crowe goes out on a limb – overweight, middle-aged, socially awkward and filled with doubt – and yet his portrayal of Jeffrey Wigand, a key whistle blower against Big Tobacco gives us a real life hero every bit as compelling as any of the other characters in the Crowe oeuvre. Rusty showed he didn’t need flash and special effects to carry a movie here, and more than held his own in pivotal scenes with Al Pacino. For mine, this is the standout performance in his career so far.

Previous Podium – Top Three Ben Stiller Movies


Top Three Tom Hanks Performances

May 14, 2009

With Angels & Demons due to hit the big screens, I thought it might be a good time to put together a podium for Tom Hanks. Honorable mentions include Philadelphia, Forrest Gump and a personal favourite of mine – Apollo 13. When movies of that quality don’t make the cut, you know you’re doing something right.

3. Big

Given different casting, this film could easily have turned into badly made slapstick, but Hanks is believable and like-able as the teenager who wakes up in a man’s body, and the movie is funny and charming because of it. It’s a formula that has been tried several time since, without ever achieving the same success. The early part of Hanks’ career is defined by his comedy movies, and this role showcases his comedic talents best.

2. Cast Away

It’s not easy injecting gravitas into a film in which your co-star is a volleyball, but Hanks achieves it here, and by the mid-point of the movie you are more emotionally invested in Wilson than you would have thought possible for an inflatable sphere. We see Hanks’ regular joe side at the start of this, but he switches up to depict the tormented isolation his character goes through on the island. This is no Lost, and there are no polar bears or smoking hot Evangeline Lilly’s to keep him occupied. Just Wilson, some DIY dentistry and some damn fine acting.

A fine companion, but lousy swimmer.

Wilson - fine companion, lousy swimmer.

1. Saving Private Ryan

Hanks plays the jaded, hard as nails army veteran in this one, and turns in a performance that would have made John Wayne proud. There is depth to his war-weary Captain Miller; he is dry, funny, raw, occassionally out of control, completely heroic in a thoroughly realistic manner and utterly flawed. In one scene, the men in his unit are stunned to learn that in another life Tom Hanks’ character was a schoolteacher. You can achieve the same effect by watching a re-run of Splash.

Previous Podium – Top Three Movie Going Jack-Asses

Top Three Movie Going Jack-Asses

May 13, 2009

We’ve all had it happen – you’ll be settling in for the movie when some clown sits behind you and puts his feet on your chair, or talks loudly to her friends sitting two aisles away, or starts taking off their trenchcooat. So, I’m dedicating this weeks podium to my all time top three favourite movie going jack-asses.

You don't always get to choose who you sit next to.

You don't always get to choose who you sit next to.

3. Woops-I-left-my-phone-on-I’ll-just-take-this-call-real-quick-guy.

We’re seeing less of this cat nowdays, but there are still a few holdouts. If you’re waiting on a call that is too important not to take, maybe you shouldn’t be going to see the movies.

2. Talking-as-deeply-as-I-can-is-kind-of-like-whispering-guy

No, it’s not. It’s the same volume as your usual voice, only deeper. Dickhead.

1. Plastic-bag-full-of-plastic-bags-guy

My kind of jack-ass. The guy who packs some sort of plastic bag full of snacks inside another plastic bag and then spends the entire film rustling about trying to find them. I would have sat next to at least three incarnations of this guy over the years, and each time he has added significantly to my movie going experience.

Previous Podium – Top Three Star Trek Films

Top Three Star Trek Films

May 13, 2009

The new Star Trek film belongs in here, but it’s against the rules to make the list directly after a review. For the record, I’d also like to include Galaxy Quest, the 1999 spoof of the Star Trek franchise that featured a great cast, a tight script and a rare like-able performance from Tim Allen.

3. Star Trek: First Contact

Easily the best of the Next Generation flicks, they manage to step around the awkward time travel nonsense better than any of the other Trek films have before or after. A solid guest appearance by James Cromwell, some solid Melville literary references, a snappy pace and the most dignified Star Fleet Captain in the series – what more can you ask for?

2. Star Trek III – The Search For Spock

Kirk & Co. squeeze into their skin tight one-pieces for an all out, balls out attempt to rescue Spock, who has, you know, improbably come back to life after dying in a previous movie. This one has it all; loss, drama, melodrama…Kirk has a son for about 15 minutes there…Christopher Lloyd plays a bad guy, and those Klingon bastards all get what’s coming to them.

But Jim, what about the enormous holes in this plot?

But Jim, what about the enormous holes in this plot?

1. Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan

Khaaaaaaaaaannnnn!!! This film sets the standard for the franchise. Some genuinely creepy moments, some high action and a charismatic and formidable villain – for a long time there this was as good as Star Trek got.

Previous Podium – Top Three Films About The Holocaust