Many of my readers probably know that in a huge Russell Crowe guy. One of my earliest Phenomenal 5 lists focused on modern working actors and Mr. Crowe was right there close to the top. I’m not sure why it’s taken so long but today we’re focusing just on Russell Crowe movies. The are five of his best according to me and I think they easily stand strong as not only great performances but as great overall films. Now naturally with so many solid movies on his résumé I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But there is no denying that these 5 Russell Crowe films are absolutely phenomenal.
#5 – “3:10 TO YUMA”
This isn’t the first time that James Mangold’s 2007 western has made a Phenomenal 5 list. Many have overlooked this as a pointless and inferior remake. I couldn’t disagree more and one reason it works so incredibly well is the solid performance given by Russell Crowe. He plays the complex bandit Ben Wade and he has an absolute ball with the role. Watching his back-and-forths with Christian Bale as well as his condescending jabs at the law was a hoot and Crowe perfectly sells the intricate layers to his Ben Wade character. It’s a great performance in what I feel is a great modern western.
#4 – “A BEAUTIFUL MIND”
Many think Russell Crowe should have received an Oscar for his brilliant work in Ron Howard’s “A Beautiful Mind”. I whole-heartedly agree. Crowe shows tremendous range in what is a wonderful cinematic biography of John Nash. “A Beautiful Mind” is a big movie that almost feels made for the Oscar voters. But it’s a film deserving of its Best Picture win and much of that is due to Crowe’s work. The movie sinks or swims based to his performance and he more than keeps it afloat. It also helps that he’s given a smart script from Akiva Goldsman (who also took home an Oscar). All of this comes together to form a powerful film that I still enjoy revisiting.
#3 – “ROBIN HOOD”
Talk about a movie that got a lot of mixed reaction! Readers may remember that the very first movie featured in my Public Movie Defender column was Ridley Scott’s epic sized Robin Hood. The movie was blasted as dull and plodding. I thought is was a fantastic and fresh look at the legend of Robin Hood. One reason it resonated with me was Russell Crowe’s performance. He’s never too big and he relays a Robin Hood that steers the campy and sometimes corny personas we have sometimes seen. I love the world Scott visualizes and I really appreciated how it did tell a broader story instead about being strictly an action picture. Some may disagree, but I think this is a wonderful Russell Crowe picture.
#2 – “MASTER AND COMMANDER”
Well, it’s actually titled “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” but who wants to type that over and over? I still remember how excited I was when I first heard that Russell Crowe had signed on for this film. Peter Weir’s film based on Patrick O’Brian’s popular series if novels couldn’t have castes a better Captain Jack Aubrey. Crowe’s a natural for the role and I find myself enthralled with the story every time I sit down and watch it. Stunning cinematography and beautiful period design also helps in making this such a great film. But it’s Crowe who shines brightest. You can’t take your eyes off of what he’s doing. It was another Oscar worthy performance in what is one of my favorite movies.
#1 – “GLADIATOR”
It’s one of those rare joys to find a movie that completely sweeps you away and cements itself as one of your all-time favorites! That’s the case with “Gladiator”. I love this film. Once again Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe collaborate to put together a huge breathtaking period piece. But this time they created a near masterpiece that I can watch anytime and anywhere. A lot of my love for it swirls around Crowe’s top-notch performance. He’s physical, emotional, inspirational, and brutal. It’s the performance that earned him an Academy Award and you won’t hear any arguments from me. “Gladiator” is a brilliant movie and for me it’s the top dog when it comes to Russell Crowe movies.
Those are my five favorite Russell Crowe movies. What are your thoughts? See something I missed or do you disagree with my choices? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.