Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tuesday Top Ten: Christian Bale

Tuesday Top Ten! ~a new weekly feature. For the listmaker in me and the list lover in you

My 10 Favorite Christian Bale Performances
It's his birthday, so why not? My apologies to Reign of Fire fans for leaving that out but basically Christian just let his abs give the performancce in that one. They're beautiful but they don't have a lot of range and they suck at modulating character arcs.

10. Any Performance I haven't seen yet. Bale is rarely bad. My most notable omission is The Machinist --I've explained the reasons why before.

09. "Thomas" in Pocahontas (1995)
I'm not really even joking. If this were a live action feature I would be obsessed with this peripheral role. What is he thinking? How does he really feel about the hero John Smith?

08. "Sam" in Laurel Canyon (2003)
Uncharacteristically stiff and uncomfortable, but that's the role. He nails the total fear of flirtation/temptation (a reaction you rarely see in movies) in that steamy car scene with Natasha McElwhatsherface.

07. "Jack Kelly" in Newsies (1992)
This is regarded as a dud but I remember seeing it in the theater during the 10 (?) year drought of true movie musicals and just being so grateful that I could even watch a bad one. Bale has the only great scene, singing the 'I want' number (all Disney musicals got 'em) "Santa Fe". It's the one number that lifts off the ground a little bit, and almost gives you the feeling you get watching great musicals. Strangely, despite a plethora of Newsies performance clips online, the only one that actually has Bale himself singing does not have the scene from the movie. Just stills. But here it is to your left so you can hear his lovely voice. He even sings with his character accent! What an actor.

06. "Arthur Stuart" in Velvet Goldmine (1998)
From one musical type to another. Velvet Goldmine belongs to the absolutely mesmerizing overt theatricality of it's trio of show-offs: Ewan Macgregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Toni Collette but Bale is your outsider looking in protagonist. The clip to your right above is "Baby's On Fire" which gets Bale quite hot & bothered. The entire movie gets us hot & bothered.

05. "Bruce Wayne" in Batman Begins (2005)
Glad to see Bale carrying a mainstream hit (quite a range he's got in his filmography) and he's a great choice. I don't think it's a completely revelatory performance but I hope he's just warming up. Its sequel The Dark Knight arrives in 2008.

04. "Alfred Borden" in The Prestige (2006)
"Abracadabra" indeed.

03. "John Rolfe" in The New World (2005)
Given that Bale is beginning to specialize in slightly or very scary men with secrets, it was almost a revelation to see him as such a kind, straightforward and open hearted man in Terence Malick's superb film which was horrifically botched in its theatrically release by wishy washy distribution: rent it. And hey, that makes twice that Bale has been a peripheral character in a Pocahontas movie.

02. "Jamie Graham" in Empire of the Sun (1987)
I haven't seen this in a long time but there are those who think it one of the great child performances of all time. Have any of you seen it recently? How does it hold up?

01. "Patrick Bateman" in American Psycho (2000)
I've discussed this performance before but it's one of the best star turns of the decade and the film is aging really well.

Bale demands that you see it again. And you don't want to upset his delicate psychological balance.

Previous Tuesday Top Tens (New Series):
Oscar Nominations Talking Points
Alexander(s) The Great
Best 2006 Movies from The Departed (sure) to Marie Antoinette (you heard me)
Movies by The Three Amigos Best of Cuarón, González Iñárritu and Del Toro

Tags: Christian Bale, , newsies, movie musicals, cinema, Film, batman, velvet goldmine


Anonymous said...

Defintely check out Harsh Times when it hits dvd.

nOva said...

Thank you thank you thank you! I love CB as an actor. When I saw American Psycho in the theater I was blown away and when I first heard he would be Batman I nearly passed out. I'm gonna check out the other films (that fake-John Woo film he did SUCKED), esp. The Machinist.


Anonymous said...

His turn in THE PRESTIGE (as with Hugh Jackman's) should have been considered for more awards.

Looking forward to the Werner Herzog film RESCUE DAWN, with Bale in a prison camp.

adam k. said...

So are you planning never to see The Machinist at all?

Christian Bale really is a great actor. And so sexy. Given the range of his filmography, his box office success, the fact that he's never ever bad, and his one full-out great performance already passed over (Psycho), he really is grossly overdue for an oscar nod. Possibly moreso than anyone I can think of right now. Hugh, Maggie and Scarlett, maybe, tie him.

Why do I feel like he looks like a Brandon? He should play a guy named Brandon.

Anonymous said...

You'll like Bale's performance in Rescue Dawn. The movie only works in fits and starts, and the "Norma Rae" ending had me wanting to crawl under my seat, but Bale's performance is amazing throughout.

Anonymous said...

My SO and I saw Equilibrium a few nights ago. Better than I expected. I suspect this film convinced the suits at Warners that Bale could play an action hero.

Glenn Dunks said...

I'm realling thinking 2007 could be his year to get an Oscar nod. Whether for lead for Rescue Dawn or supporting for 3.10 To Yuma or something else he has in the pipeline.

But, yeah, seriously? Bale's performance in American Psycho is just genius. Plus, the moment I saw that movie (I had to see it on DVD first because it was rated Australia's version of NC17 so I couldn't see it in cinemas) I just knew I was in love with him AND the flick. That movie is truly special. I think I'm in the minority when I saw it's one of the three best films of this decade (so far). Beating in my mind by only Mulholland Drive and Moulin Rouge!

And, yes, his performance in The Mechanist is really great too. I was surprised how much I liked the movie in general though. Nice twisty noirish thriller.

Glenn Dunks said...

"Beating in my mind..."


Beaten in my mind...

Yaseen Ali said...

You should give The Machinist a chance Nathaniel; it's a nifty Kafka-esque thriller that has a nice texture and moodiness. Perfect for a late night when you're in the mood for something creepy. Or maybe only I think that way.

His performance is kind of uneven in Rescue Dawn IMO. Not bad at all (again, stunning physical transformation and commitment), but he's done better.

mistyh92104 said...

Hi Nate,

Great list!

I'd surprisingly never seen "Empire of the Sun" until just about a year ago and, though I didn't love it (it doesn't even compare, IMHO, to the wonder of "Hope and Glory" from the same year), it was certainly worthwhile.

I watched it as part of a Christian Bale marathon for myself and finally saw what the big deal has long been about. He really was wonderful in it. Of course, "Am. Psycho" is his big one, and he's easily my favorite Batman. And as far as "The Machinist" goes, I understand your reservations...it is a sick lil movie. But, between him and JJ Leigh (another sadly Oscar-neglected performer) it's sure worth a visit.

mistyh92104 said...

P.S. Speaking of Jennifer Jason Leigh, is there ANYONE else who feels that "In the Cut" was really underrated? It's got major flaws, but there are some crazy wonderful things going on in there. Leigh is as good as ever and Meg Ryan (of whom I've never been a fan) was awfully good. Also, as a former New Yorker, it brought me back to a lot of seedy places that I never thought I'd visit again.

And as for Leigh, could I request a Top Ten appreciation list for her? I'll help you with it! Really!

Glenn Dunks said...

1. Jennifer Jason Leigh is someone who you either love or hate. I think Nat leans on the hate side. I love her though. Last Exit to Brooklyn is phenomenal.

2. I sorta liked In the Cut. Alongside that, Collateral, Praise, Chicago and Holy Smoke - Dion Beebe is my favourite cinematographer. Stunning work in Cut.

3. Agreed with Ali about The Mechanist. It really gets under your skin, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

I'd put his performance in "Empire Of The Sun" at the top. It's one of my favorite movies, and the first Spielberg film where I didn't have even ONE occasion where I wanted to throw something at the screen (since he tends to go WAY overboard at least once in every movie). Christian Bale's "Jamie" is a near perfect child performance -- real, joyous, innocent, heartbreaking. Almost in the same league as Jean-Pierre Leaud in "The 400 Blows".

mistyh92104 said...

Oh no!!! (insert Macauley Culkin there, I guess)

I didn't realize that Nate hated JJL. Gulp.

Please, Nate, be kind in any retort to these recent posts of mine! Actually, remember Bambi's mom in this instance: "If you can't say anything nice..." But, of course, I must briefly respond:

Thank you Kamikaze for the heads up, but also (and especially) for the JJL love. Perhaps you and I should have a "private room" discussion on her since I fear a huge hate-fest a comin'. Let me know (or I'll get to you first).

And, jemmytee, thank you for mentioning the Spielberg part of "Empire". I had originally wanted to mention that the main reason I had avoided that movie for so many years WAS Spielberg (regardless that there would probably be much agreement on this blog), but you nailed it. Bale resonates through "Empire" and makes it really worthwhile. Otherwise....it's Spielberg at his most pretentious and mediocre.

And, folks, if you haven't already seen the other two wonderful "WWII child movies of 1987" ("Hope and Glory", "Au Revoir, Les Enfants"...yes, it was a theme)...get thyselves to a video store or Netflix immediately, please!


i am agnostic on JJL leaning towards thumbs down. It's not like "hate" -- that's reserved for beelzebub and she who must not be named and mrs. antonio banderas and blah blah blah...

oh and I think In the Cut is a good movie. Yes, I do.

Anonymous said...

Why do you hate Melanie Griffiths?

Anonymous said...

Hello Nathaniel R!!
Nice to meet you.
I am Falco,Japanese woman.
Thank you for visiting my blog on a birthday of Christian Bale.
You leave comment, and I am very very glad.
Your blog is very beautiful, too!!

Glenn Dunks said...

Jess, that's a rhetorical questions... right?

Middento said...

Nathaniel, sweetie.

I just read your posting about your hating of peopl for choosing Epic Movie over quality flicks -- and yet your list of Bale movies reads very... well, predictable.

Which only surprises me because I expect more from you, because I love you and your site. :)

With that, I suggest one of my favorite Christian Bale flicks that is off the beaten track: Metroland, which I love primarily because it puts Christian Bale and Emily Watson in a bathtub together, which gets me all squirmy in an oh-God-I've-died-and-gone-to-heaven sense.


Middento, surely you don't suggest that Batman flicks and The Prestige are equivalent to sloppy make a quick buck atrocities?

Yaseen Ali said...

Other people who actually love In the Cut? I love you guys.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathaniel, I call Manuela, and alive in Italy! I have read to your message on the Blog di Falco (japanese Blog)… Also I have a Blog on Christian Bale who communicates every day with Falco!! if you want he returns to find to us! Ciao manu.

Anonymous said...

oh thank god. american psycho is one of the best performances of 00, male or female.

Anonymous said...

No it's actually not a rhetorical question...

Anonymous said...

I don't know. Mine are.
10. Anything I haven't seen.
9. Newsies.
8. Velvet Goldmine.
7. 3:10 to Yuma.
6. Metroland.
5. Laurel Canyon.
4. Empire of the Sun.
3. The Prestige.
2. American Psycho.
1. The Dark Knight.