Fresh off taking an Oscar home for his highly acclaimed supporting performance as Dicky Eklund in The Fighter, Christian Bale can finally savor the respect from his peers that many of us felt he was long overdue for. While he has been displaying incredible range and versatility for decades, putting together a respectable resume since being cast in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun in 1987, the British actor didn’t became a household name until he was cast as Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005). Looking back at his career, Christian Bale has been part of so many great movies in the last decade so believe me when I say it was difficult to trim it down to 10 movies.
10. The Dark Knight
Castor: The sequel to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins was one of the biggest box office hit in history and received massive critical acclaim. Whatever the scope and intensity the first movie was able to achieve, Nolan outdid himself in The Dark Knight, a taut superhero epic that managed to shine in all aspects of film-making. Let’s face it, the late Heath Ledger managed to completely outshine Christian Bale as the Joker, quite a rare feat in itself. Nonetheless, Bale was still very good, remaining true to the essence of Nolan’s Batman and continuing to build on the character he firmly established in Batman Begins.
Sam: It’s a bruising performance and he does it exceedingly well. At this point in the series I couldn’t see anyone else playing Bruce Wayne. I’m a bit surprised you have this one at #10 Castor.
9. Harsh Times
Castor: Like him or hate him, one thing that you can always say about Christian Bale is that he is fully committed to his character in every single one of his movies. While David Ayer’s Harsh Times received mixed reviews upon its release, Bale’s performance as the mentally unstable Jim Davis received nearly unanimous praise. It’s a flashy role but the actor is able to infuse mixed emotions to his bitter character, building layers of depth that make his supposedly unlikable character strangely compelling.
8. The Prestige
Castor: Christian Bale plays Alfred Borden, a magician involved in an all-consuming rivalry with his rival Robert Angier, played by Hugh Jackman. Quite unlike most of the roles he is known for, Bale gives a remarkably understated performance in this intricate story directed by Christopher Nolan.
Sam: Ahh, yes this is very underrated performance from Bale in an underrated picture by Christopher Nolan. Who doesn’t love a good magician story infused with some human-drama?
7. Rescue Dawn
Castor: Werner Herzog and Christian Bale team up to bring to life the amazing survival story of Dieter Dengler, a US Navy pilot captured during the Vietnam war. Once again, Bale gives a compelling and physically harrowing performance of a complex and real-life character who never calls it quit. Who can forget the scene in which he is snacking on massive live worms?
6. 3:10 to Yuma
Castor: A remake of the 1957 classic, Sam Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma sees two cinematic powerhouses in Christian Bale and Russell Crowe face off. When you have two actors like those, it’s easy for the movie to become overpowered by their performances but somehow, both turned down the mega-wattage a bit to deliver one of the best westerns since Unforgiven. Showing off his versatility, Bale delivers a restrained performance as Dan Evans, a farmer down on his luck and simply seeking to sustain his family.
Sam: James Mangold’s 2007 beloved picture didn’t do much for me. Bale in particular felt distant, which is odd considering his impressive resume. Not an awful performance, it just certainly wouldn’t make any “top list” for me. But hey, what’s the point of a list without disagreement, right Castor?
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