Ten Christian Bale Movies You Should Have Seen by Now
July 17, 2012
Jack Kelly. Laurie. Jim Hawkins. Jum-Jum. Thomas. These are the roles I was familiar with growing up. The world now knows him now as Batman, but there was a time when Christian Bale wasn’t the household name he is today. Seeing one of my favorite actors portraying my favorite superhero was a dream come true. Yet, there are many, many other roles in Bale's repertoire that are favorites as well.
1. Equilibrium - Set in a dystopian future where emotions are outlawed, the human populace is controlled with an emotion suppressant. As Cleric John Preston, Bale is both the face of the future and the law, blank and unemotional...until the day he skips a dose. Equilibrium is probably my favorite futuristic film. Sean Bean's role as his partner is particularly poignant.
2. The Prestige - Are you watching closely? Before Christopher Nolan cast him as the Dark Knight, Bale played a magician obsessed with the pursuit of the world's best magic trick. Hugh Jackman is excellent as his friend turned adversary. Their professional rivalry takes them through triumphs and tragedies, both public and personal. At the end of the day, the cost of real magic is a dear one to pay - but for the ultimate illusionist, no price is too great.
3. Royal Deceit - Originally titled Prince of Jutland, but retitled for American audiences, this stripped-down version of Hamlet is well worth a viewing. Sharing the screen with the talents of Helen Mirren, Gabriel Byrne, and a young Kate Beckinsale, Bale is Amled, the Danish prince, obsessed with exposing his father's murderer.
4. Metroland - Suburban England in the 70s. Home. Family. Wife. Baby. Is this all there is? As Chris, Bale goes back and forth between his present bourgeois existence and the past where he swore he'd have a future different than that of his parents. Mark Knoffler's soundtrack is a perfect accompaniment to the film.
5. Swing Kids - It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. Sing it! Young Bale stars alongside Robert Sean Leonard as two friends swept up in the fervor of swing music and the rising tide of Nazism. Sure, you've seen Bale dance in Newsies, but here he really lets go.
6. 3:10 to Yuma - This film is proof that Hollywood can still make a good western. A remake of the 1957 film, director James Mangold does an excellent job of creating a tight-knit western atmosphere. With Bale as the rancher desperate to prove to prove himself to his family, and Russell Crowe as the outlaw Bale has sworn to bring to justice, 3:10 to Yuma is a western that does the genre proud.
7. All The Little Animals - Based on the novel by Walker Hamilton, this tale of a young man who escapes a terrifyingly abusive stepfather and happens upon a friendship that changes his life is both touching and tragic. John Hurt is notable as always as the traveler who shows Bale's character, Bobby, that the world can be a better place.
8. Reign of Fire - Northumberland in the near future. Dragons roam the earth, ravaging it with fire and ash. Quinn is the leader of one of the last human strongholds, trying to protect them as they struggle to survive. Honestly, this movie had me at dragons. But if you throw in Matthew McConaughey as a tattooed dragon hunter in what is definitely my favorite of his roles ever? Sold!
9. I'm Not There - Bale portrays one of the seven personas of Bob Dylan - the folksinger character who drifts into religious mania. Heath Ledger, before they worked together in Nolan’s Batman-universe, as the film-star portrayal is also exceptional.
10. Empire of the Sun - Bale was only thirteen when Steven Spielberg cast him as the protagonist in this intense WWII drama. It was the beginning of a brilliant acting career, one that I will continue to enjoy for many, many years.
With the roles of Batman and Bob Dylan under his belt, Christian Bale has made two of my dreams come true. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a Robin Hood movie.