The 7 Best Russell Crowe Movies
Russell Crowe is an A-list actor through and through. He is a bonafide Hollywood superstar of the highest order. From gigantic-scale period pieces like Gladiator and Robin Hood to subtle, moving biopics like A Beautiful Mind, what hasn’t Crowe done? He is an Academy Award-winning actor as well as a good-natured talk show guest. He thrives in comedy as much as he does drama and in musicals as much as he does action films. Indeed, his status as a household name is deserved. Here are his seven best films.
The Nice Guys (2016)
The Nice Guys did not receive a fraction of the attention it deserved upon release. Shane Black delivers an undeniably fun and silly buddy cop comedy on par with his previous work in the Lethal Weapon franchise. Crowe and Ryan Gosling play Jackson Healy and Holland March, respectively. Both are private investigators — with their own individual sets of issues — who are forced to work together when a mysterious suicide of a porn star turns out to be more than meets the eye. Set in the heady days of 1970s Los Angeles, the two leads are fantastic. It is a genuine shame, but it is unlikely we will get to see these characters again.
Apparently, it was not enough for Ridley Scott to have two genuine science fiction masterpieces (Alien and Blade Runner) as well as a near-perfect period piece in The Duellists. Gladiator both made more than $400 million at the box office and went home from the Academy Awards with five Oscars. Crowe, for his part as protagonist and titular gladiator Maximus Decimus Meridius, was given the award for Best Actor that year. He gives a moving portrayal of a man fallen from grace. Once a high-ranking officer in the Roman military, Maximus is sent into slavery by Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), the jealous son of the previous emperor, Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris). It is a sprawling tale of love and revenge with impressive set design.
Les Miserables (2012)
It is likely that Victor Hugo would be surprised to see his moving but largely depressing novel turned into a widely-beloved musical. Nonetheless, this is the case today. In the same year that Hugo’s original novel had its 150th anniversary, a film adaptation of the hit musical was released. It tells a sprawling French Revolution-era story about love and loss, poverty and upheaval. Hugh Jackman plays protagonist Jean Valjean, who is released from prison after 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread. He breaks his parole, attracting the attention of Inspector Javert (Crowe). The film documents the cat-and-mouse game the two play throughout their lives. It is a beautiful, affecting musical.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
L.A. Confidential is a quintessential modern noir film. The time is 1953 and the place is Los Angeles. Three cops in the LAPD (Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Kevin Spacey) all look to uncover the same multiple homicides at a late night diner. Each has different motivations, different methods and active animosity toward one another. The diner killing has more layers than it initially appears, as more and more people turn up dead. With all of the underpinnings of a great detective film, it is certainly not one to be missed.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
In A Beautiful Mind, Crowe gives a powerful portrayal of John Nash, a brilliant mathematician who struggled with paranoid schizophrenia. The film details Nash’s growth as a student of mathematics, his relationship with Alicia Larde (Jennifer Connelly) and the hardship and emotional toll of his mental illness. The film — directed by Ron Howard — has been often dismissed as inaccurate. Nonetheless, it is an emotional role, even if it is not an informative one.
American Gangster (2007)
With American Gangster, Ridley Scott portrays the life of Frank Lucas. Played here by Denzel Washington, Lucas took the neighborhood of Harlem by storm in the late 1960s. He became the neighborhood’s main heroin trafficker by purchasing directly from the source in Thailand. His rise to continues with casinos, prostitutes and more. Meanwhile, Detective Richie Roberts (Crowe) seeks to topple this ever-growing empire after his partner overdoses on the particular brand of heroin which Lucas purveys. It may be quite a ways from Scott’s best film, but it features strong performances from Washington and Crowe.
The Mummy (2017)
To be sure, the 2017 version of The Mummy was not critically acclaimed nor did it deserve to be. But you have to admire a struggling film studio really swinging for the fences. With the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Universal Studios dug through their own properties to see if any of them could stand as a counter to the unprecedented comic book franchise. They thought, perhaps, rebooting their classic monster films would do the trick. They called it the Dark Universe, and the idea was to connect disparate monster characters like the titular Mummy, Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster through Crowe as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in a role similar to that of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. The Mummy was a failure, as was Dracula: Untold (their first attempt to kick off the Dark Universe). It seems that production in that area has stalled and we are unlikely to see the continuation of the franchise. Still, it is enjoyable to watch The Mummy and dream about what could have been.
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