The recent release of the teaser for the upcoming movie “Gravity” got me to thinking about George Clooney and the interesting acting resume he has. So I thought for this week’s Phenomenal 5 I would look back on his career and list the movies that I count among his best. Clooney has his share of detractors and that’s for good reason. But I think he’s proven himself as a fine actor and he’s given us some great performances. Now considering his number of quality movies, I’m not going to call this the definitive list. But these five George Clooney films stand out to me and are most certainly phenomenal.
#5 – “FROM DUSK TILL DAWN”
This is one movie in the George Clooney library that’s certainly unlike any other movie he’s made. Up until 1996, Clooney was mainly known as a television actor. But that year he was cast in the Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino action/horror film “From Dusk till Dawn” and his motion picture career took off. This is definitely not a film for everyone. Clooney plays Seth Gecko. He and his brother Richie (Tarantino) are on the run from the FBI after a bank robbery goes terribly bad. But what starts out to be a crime thriller evolves into something much different. The two find themselves fighting vicious vampires south of the border with the help of a disgruntled preacher (Harvey Keitel). It’s a crazy, violent, and bloody movie laced with dark humor and centered around Clooney’s charismatic breakthrough performance.
#4 – “O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?”
On several occasions George Clooney has shown us that he has an affection for off-the-wall humor. This was never more evident than in his three collaborations with Joel and Ethan Coen, the best being “O Brother, Where Art Though?”. This film features all of the signature traits you would expect from the Coen brothers from their quirky humor to their amazing storytelling skills. But it also works thanks to Clooney’s hilarious offbeat performance. The film is set in rural Mississippi during The Great Depression, a setting you wouldn’t expect Clooney to flourish in. But he completely sells it through his wacky accent and lingo along with the Coen’s fabulous script. This is a really good film featuring some of Clooney’s best and most unique work.
#3 – “MICHAEL CLAYTON”
In 2007 George Clooney took on what would become one of my favorite roles of his. He played the title role in “Michael Clayton”, a rich and layered drama written and directed by Tony Gilroy. Clooney plays a law firm’s “fixer” who erases and covers any problem that may cause the firm trouble. He finds himself to be expendable during a scandal that turns violent. Clooney is so good here especially in the second half of the film when things really get complex. This is a great performance which ended up earning him an Oscar nomination. In any other year he would’ve won but 2007 was also the year of Daniel Day-Lewis and “There Will Be Blood”. Sorry George, but you still did a remarkable job.
#2 – “FANTASTIC MR. FOX”
Talk about a movie catching me by surprise! But I should have expected it since it came from the delightful cinematic mind of West Anderson. In “Fantastic Mr. Fox” you don’t see Clooney’s handsome smirk or $500 haircut. Instead it’s his unmistakable voice that we get in this fantastic film made in classic stop-motion animation. It looks sensational. Wes Anderson’s screenplay is smart and witty. And of the wealth of voice talent featured in this film, it’s Clooney who masterfully delivers one great line after another. Now this certainly isn’t his greatest performance since we do only get one facet of his work. But in terms of George Clooney movies, this one ranks close to the top of my list without a doubt.
#1 – “UP IN THE AIR”
It may surprise some to see “Up in the Air” at the top of this list but its a movie that really connected with me from the first moment I saw it. There’s so much going on in this Jason Reitman film from 2009 but at its heart it’s all about the characters. Clooney plays a frequent flyer who fires people for a living while doing some motivational speaking on the side. Weird, right? Well there’s such a real quality to this character and it bursts through thanks to Clooney’s performance. We learn so much about him. We despise him. We sympathize with him. The movie is also helped by its spectacular supporting cast. I may be alone but I think “Up in the Air” is George Clooney’s best film and it’s one that will easily hold up in the years to come.
There are five of George Clooney’s best films. So what did I miss? See something you like or dislike? Please take time to chime in. Let me know what your favorite George Clooney film is.
F@%$ yes, the perfect list. Every single one of these films are some of my favorites and Clooney only makes them better. I was worried Fantastic Mr. Fox wouldn’t make the list but that’s one of my all time favorite films. Great job, Keith.
And Oh Brother is my favorite Coen Brothers flick, so another title that may seem to be high praise to the outsider.
I love Fantastic Mr. Fox. It had to be on this list. Clooney has had has several other good movies but these are tops on my list.
I’m glad you included From Dusk til Dawn too. So underrated. Definitely the best vampire movie ever made. A large part of its success is Tarantino and Clooney working off of each other. Who knew they’d be great brothers? lol
Ya know Clooney really caught my attention when it first came out. He had such charisma and you’re right, he and QT do play off of each other well.
Dusk Till Dawn would be my number 1, but its a great list dude 🙂
Thanks man. FDTD is a hoot. A little rough but it definitely has its moments.
Sone great choices here bro, although I wasn’t overly impressed with Up In The Air. I’d include Solaris in here. Loved that movie.
You know the only reason why I didn’t include Solaris? I’ve only seen about 80% of it. I have a rule that in order to make the lists I have to have seen the entire films. I loved what I’ve seen if Solaris and it would probably be hear if not for that one thing.
Please consider including ‘Batman & Robin.’ It’s PHENOMENALLY embarrassing, so I guess it counts? (Forgive someone who’s had a bad day!) Anyway, great list Kieth! ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ would be a topper for me, though.
Thanks man! Hey, Clooney’s Batman has made a Phenomenal 5 list before. It topped the worst superhero movies list. 🙂
Nice picks. Clooney’s one of my favorite actors working today. As my favorite film by him, I’d say it’d be The Descendants with O Brother Where Art Thou and Fantastic Mr. Fox as runner-ups.
You know I liked The Descendants but I was a little disappointed with it. A few things really bugged me. But despite that, Clooney was very, very good in it.
Great list, From Dusk woukd be my favorite. Also liked him in the Oceans 11 series as well as The Descendants.
Thanks man! I just mentioned that I found The Descendants to be a very good movie but a little disappointing. The Oceans movies are some I can take or leave.
Great list man. I think Clooney is a fine actor, not really sure why people give him heat. I’ve not actually seen Fantastic Mr Fox, but I’ve heard so many good things about it. I also liked him in Ocean’s 11 and Burn After Reading.
I can take or leave the Oceans movies. Burn After Reading has some really funny moments. It’s not up there with my favorite of his movies but it has some great scenes.
Excellent list! Always fun. Michael Clayton was very good, a friend told me to look into it and I am glad that I did. I enjoyed him a hell of a lot in Ocean’s Eleven!
PS: For some absurd reason your posts are not showing up in my newsfeed? 😦 So sorry if I get to these a bit later after the fact!
Bummer!! Well let me just say I REALLY appreciate you looking me up even when it doesn’t appear. I have the exact same thing happen with a couple if my favorites. I have no idea why they don’t show up.
😦 It sucks when they don’t show up! But I make a point to check your blog out, loads of fun!
I think Out of Sight and The Descendants are big misses here Keith; good choices though and Clooney is very rarely anything other than excellent.
Haven’t seen Out of Sight. I thought The Descendants had a few too many rough patches to make it. Still a good movie and a really good performance from Clooney but I like each of these a bit better.
no worries Keith…He was awesome in ER lol!
Yes he was! Doug wasn’t it? I’m surprised no one has mentioned Three Kings.
His two movies this year REALLY intrigue me! Gravity and The Monuments Men could both be amazing!
yeah, Gravity looks particularly good!
Nice list! I’m not a huge fan of Clooney but he is a good actor and perhaps one of the shrewdest actor in the biz. I haven’t seen From Dusk Til Dawn but I totally agree w/ Michael Clayton and Up In The Air, though I’d surely include The Descendants and One Fine Day on my top five 🙂
A lot of people have mentioned The Descendants (As I knew they would). It’s a movie that I liked but I felt the writing tripped up in a few places. Clooney was really good in it.
I don’t see you liking From Dusk Till Down at all. Things get very violent and very graphic in the second half. I figured you knew that but just in case. 🙂
I figured that Keith 🙂 Btw, if you haven’t seen One Fine Day, I highly recommend it. It’s a sweet rom-com that’s not banal or cliched. Plus Michelle Pfeiffer is so gorgeous, I like the two together in that one.
I saw One Fine Day several years ago and I remember liking it. You’ve got me wanting to revisit it simply because I don’t remember enough about it.
I hope you would Keith, I actually own that movie and that’s saying a lot as I’m not generally a fan of Clooney.
All good choices Keith. I noticed yesterday HBO Go added Dusk til Dawn so I will be re-watching that soon. Have you ever seen that Clooney film The American? Good movie but poor marketing imo. They tried to hype that like it was a Bond film or something.
I saw it in the theater. It wasn’t my favorite. You’re right though. It was terribly marketed.
So you were the guy that saw that in the theater 😉
LOL! Yep that was me!
Love your list and agree wholeheartedly. I really like Ocean 11. Such a fun cast and plot and film. O Brother! is his best acting job. Great post. He’s definitely a modern Cary Grant.
I don’t mind the Cary Grant comparison. I’m a big fan of Grant’s and you see some of the similarities between him and Clooney. Lots of charisma for both.
Oh, I love Clooney. My favorite movies with him are Solaris, Michael Clayton and Out of Sight.
Ok, I’m going to have to see Out of Sight! You’re not the first to mention it!
It’s really awesome, great cast and great story!
Solaris arrived from Netflix today! 😉
Great list. I love Clooney, he’s one of my favorites. I’d maybe add Ocean’s 11 to the list. But still, great picks!
Thanks. Clooney is quite the actor in my opinion and his resume is pretty impressive.
This is an awesome list. I haven’t seen Michael Clayton but the other four are all terrific films. My favorite performance from Clooney has to be From Dusk Till Dawn, but I think his *best* is Up in the Air. Good call.
Thanks man! Glad to finally see someone else appreciates Up in the Air. I was starting to wonder.
And five George Clooney films I have not yet watched.
I’ll use your countdown as an order for me to watch.
Not a big Clooney fan are you? Well these are definitely worth checking out. Would love to hear your thoughts on them.
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Great choices and I’d like to add The American and The Descendants. Think he’s an awesome actor.
Thanks! Even with Clooney’s sex symbol spotlight status, he’s a tremendous actor.
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