Brad Pitt’s star has always shined brighter than most in Hollywood. Yet his film career has always been somewhat overshadowed by his off-screen personality. Much has been made and documented about Mr. Pitt’s relationships, his family, and his humanitarian work. But Pitt has a long resume with diverse work as an actor. Always willing to challenge himself, Pitt has made a career wearing many different hats. He has produced great films like Moonlight and won an Academy Award for 12 Years a Slave
He’s played an action hero in films like World War Z and Fury, real-life people in biopics like Moneyball and the sprawling western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. He played a cunning con-man in the Ocean’s Eleven series.And starting way back with 12 Monkeys, his three Oscar nominations for acting are no mistake. There’s no shortage of things that he can do, and while he certainly has had to take his lumps like any actor, his successes are undeniable.
The Big Short
Even in a limited role, Pitt shines in Adam McKay’s tale of the 2008 housing market burst. Featuring a stellar cast to play off of, Pitt primarily interacts with two young investors looking to get in on the game. Pitt serves as somewhat of a moral compass in a film that is in desperate need of one. The Big Shortis a film with lots to say, and it says it beautifully.
In one of his earliest works, Pitt is a calm, cool and collected con man in Steven Soderbergh’s remake of Oceans Eleven. A slick and stylish heist caper, Pitt slides in perfectly into the role as Danny Ocean’s (George Clooney) right-hand man. Ocean’s Eleven feels like a movie full of stars recapturing old-fashioned Hollywood charisma and Pitt is no exception in this cast.
With snappy and rich Aaron Sorkin dialogue, Pitt’s Oscar-nominated performance in Moneyball stands out as among his best. The film follows the fascinating story of Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane and his 2002 team that defied all expectations. Beane was a pioneer in a practice that is now common in baseball. Through Pitt’s layered performance, Moneyball is an excellent movie not just about baseball, but family and subverting expectations.
One of the most popular films of the last two decades, and a bona fide cult classic, Fight Club is a groundbreaking piece of cinema and a stand-out role for Pitt. He plays Tyler Durden, one of film’s most talked about (and misinterpreted) characters and for good reason. He’s portrayal spawned some of the most iconic film quotes of all time. Simply put, Fight Club is one of David Fincher’s most enduring works, and one of Pitt’s best.
Before Fight Club, David Fincher teamed up with Pitt and Morgan Freeman to deliver the unsettling but wholly thrilling Se7en. It brought the noir genre back and introduced it to a new generation of fans. Though very few noirs are as dark as this, Pitt plays off Freeman like a veteran actor holding his own in a star-studded cast. Ultimately, Se7en is a tightly wound and engrossing film that is a landmark on Pitt’s filmography.
Sadistic characters are something of a specialty for legendary director Quentin Tarantino. In Inglorious Basterds, Brad Pitt plays Lt. Aldo Raine, a violent and determined Nazi-hunter in Tarantino’s World War II fantasy. It’s a bloody and darkly funny film that ranks among Tarantino’s best and for Pitt, an eccentric but charismatic performance. His upcoming reunion with Tarantino has many excited based on their collaboration in Inglorious Basterds.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Andrew Dominik’s epic western based on the life of renowned outlaw Jesse James proved to be a different type of role for Pitt. Dominik takes his time and allows and his actors to add depth to their characters. The movie harkens back to an era of the western that made it such a popular genre in the early days of Hollywood.
Perhaps his most subtle and thoughtful performance to date, Pitt plays a tough father of three young boys in Texas around the 1960s. A highly experimental film, The Tree of Life was the product of contemplative filmmaker Terrence Malick, and the finished piece was controversial. Many found themselves not getting what they expected, prompting theater to issue warnings about the nature of the film. For those willing to take the ride, The Tree of Life is a brilliant and meditative look at life and death.
Channeling his work in Inglorious Basterds, Pitt is great in David Ayer’s visceral and gritty World War II drama. The film is a look inside a Sherman Tank and the crew that makes it up. It features stellar performances from its talented cast and the battle sequences are top notch. Overall, Ayer’s steadfast focus keeps Fury engaging and gripping until the very end.
Earning himself his first Oscar nomination, Pitt is exceptional as a man with immensely fantastical views on the world in Terry Gilliam’s manic sci-fi film. Filled with terrific performances and an endlessly fascinating plot, 12 Monkeys is a film that is among the genre’s more unique entries. With Bruce Willis also in top form, the movie sticks with you long after watching it.