Christopher Nolan is, to my mind, the best director working today, and the best of this generation. I’ve written before about the power of his ending scenes, but today WatchMojo has put together a pretty solid pre-Dunkirk list of the best scenes from Nolan’s first nine films. There’s no word yet on what the next project from the genius will be, but most directors go through their whole careers without putting together a series of moments that Nolan has in his first 10 features. What’s criminal is that he’s never even been nominated for a Best Director Oscar, something that hopefully the Academy rectifies when nominations are announced for the 2018 Oscars tomorrow morning.
Scarlett Johansson isn’t even in her mid-thirties and she’s already put together a huge resume of quality dramatic, action, and vocal work. Her six outings as Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have made her the highest-profile female super hero (who NEEDS HER OWN MOVIE), and is probably the best female action star working today. Her voice is so distinct and versatile that she could float out the rest of her career just doing voice over work (Jungle Book, Her, Sing). She’s been acting since her teens so her resume already has over 50 films to it, and her versatility allows her to do so many different kinds of roles that she’ll no doubt be able to skirt Hollywood’s female age ceiling as her career continues to develop.
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 Mention: Equilibrium (2002) John Preston
Hugh Jackman is done playing Wolverine. As Logan continues to do well at the box office, it seems so weird to think that we’ve seen Jackman as the X-Man for the last time. Perhaps only Sean Connery as James Bond has so indelibly taken a popular culture character and married it to his own identity. For 17 years, Jackman embodied the character from the first time we saw him cage fighting in a bar in X-Men to his farewell in Logan. Not too shabby for a song and dance man.
X-Men was most people’s first exposure to Jackman, but his talents are far from merely dicing people in super hero films. He’s a consummate Broadway actor; an old-fashioned song and dance man, as I said. He’s hosted the Tony Awards on four occasions; winning an Emmy for one of the shows. He most famously got to put his musical gifts to use on screen as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables; Jackman’s only Oscar nomination. He’s an outstanding dramatic actor, you need only watch The Prestige and Prisoners back-to-back to see the amount of range he has. His good nature also makes him a gifted comic actor, which I think has been best shown in the underrated Real Steel and Eddie the Eagle (where, yes, he is playing Wolverine as a ski jumping coach, but it WORKS!). It’s always possible that a payday or Ryan Reynolds stalking him to be in a Deadpool or X-Force film could give us another Jackman as Logan turn, but his career is far from over just because he’s said farewell to his most famous alter ego.
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).
It’s hard to believe, but Christian Bale’s career as an actor has already lasted 28 years. Bale, who’s only 40, started in 1986 in a TV movie about Anastasia. 28 years and he already at 40 has a body of work that most actors would be satisfied with for a career. Bale’s not satisfied though. He has a hunger to act; to inhabit another persona that surpasses any actor I’ve seen in the modern era. I don’t think this guy is ever going to be done. I think he’ll act from cradle to grave.