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.
I’d swap out Robin Hood for L.A Confidential. Otherwise, completely agree. 3:10 to Yuma gets no love.
I really like LA Confidential. But I’m also a huge fan of Robin Hood. I think it’s criminally underappreciated.
I remember you wrote about it as being underrated for that other feature of yours, so I understood it’s inclusion lol.
I’ve yet to check out Robin Hood, possibly because I got swept up in the negative hype. I’ll definitely give it a shot now that you’ve recommended it. Also, couldn’t agree more with you on 3:10 to Yuma. Such an underrated piece of recent cinema. Bale and Crowe are an outstanding duo and Ben Foster is soooo underrated. A fine actor and should get the respect he deserves. Nice job!
Thanks man. Really glad to see some early agreement on 3:10. It’s such a fantastic western. And give Robin Hood a watch. Just remember its a totally different take.
Yeah he has some great roles. I enjoyed him in Body of Lies, though the movie itself overall was not the greatest, he was compelling to watch. Awesome list though!
I thought that was a pretty good flick. He was really fun in it. I also liked him in American Gangster.
Ah American Gangster was a thing of pure beauty!
Very pleased you have master and commander in there so I high, I actually think it’s his best. Nice list Keith, I would have romper stomper and LA confidential in there but there are so many class Crowe films 🙂
Exactly! I mean he’s my favorite working actor so there some great films that didn’t make this list. Really glad to hear someone else loves Master and Commander. I think it’s a great film and Crowe is magnificent in it.
Strong list Keith! I’m not a massive fan of Robin Hood although I don’t think it’s as bad as a lot of people said, I thought it was alright. I loved him in A Beautiful Mind, though, I think that’s a brilliant film.
I’m a huge advocate of Robin Hood. I think sone people (not all) went in with two different sets if expectations. These expectations kept them from really taking the movie in as a new and unique take on the legend. I thought it was wonderful.
I thought Robin Hood could have been a lot better, but the director’s cut did add some things I knew were missing. But I appreciate a different take on it, and yours is definitely different than most. I don’t hate it like a lot do, but on the scale of Ridley Scott awesomeness, it’s probably more toward the lesser side.
Oh I definitely stand by Robin Hood. If you haven’t seen it, it was the film featured in my first Public Movie Defender. I love what Scott does there. It’s not an all-out action picture. It’s not a by the book recreation of the popular story. It’s a very unique and deliberate character-driven story that I really responded to. The action was sprinkled in at just the right times and the great actors were allowed to open up the story like no other RH movie has. But there are a lot of people who feel otherwise and I respect that.
One thing I greatly appreciated in the director’s cut was the added scene/s with von Sydow talking about his father. Oh, also I think they added more stuff with the conspiracy plotters, and that whole situation made more logical sense.
Great list, I would add L.A. Confidential.
Great movie no doubt!
Gladiator is definitely number 1, good choice dude 🙂
Thanks man! It had to be #1.
Nice list. Here would be my choices:
1. LA Confidential
2. The Insider
3. Master and Commander
4. A Beautiful Mind
5. Cinderella Man
All very good movies. He’s my favorite working actor so narrowing it to 5 was pretty brutal.
Nice list, Keith. Cinderella Man and Gladiator still my top favorites of his.
I really like Cinderella Man. Hard to leave it off my list.
Robin Hood is the obvious weak spot in the list, especially when (as plenty of others have noted) you excluded LA Confidential. It’s a good movie, but Scott made it so dry it’s difficult to get behind. 😦
Oh I have no problem getting behind Robin Hood. Very strong performances and not the usual take on a character that’s been done over and over. Love that movie.
I like Russel Crowe, he get’s a lot of shit from people… I didn’t even find his singing in Les Mis that bad, it just wasn’t as good as the other actors’. Robin Hood is difficult because I liked Crowe’s portrayal, but found the movie itself too long and dull. Otherwise I don’t remember much from Gladiator and Master and Commander, so I’ll have to catch up on them some time. Nice shout out for a rather unpopular actor!
Thanks! I appreciate the comments. He has gotten his share of slams yet he remains my favorite working actor. Even in Man of Steel he showed his acting chops.
Yeah, I really liked him in Man of Steel!
He was excellent there wasn’t he.
Great list! I enjoyed Crowe in “American Gangster” very much. I have never seen “Master and Commander” Gotta check it out. Good job!
Thanks bro. I thought he was really good in AG also. It’s an often overlooked film of his.
True and a good Ridley Scott film. Denzel Washington was also awesome.
Were you not you entertained????
Did you just have a stroke?
I watched Gladiator about 100 times when I got the dvd. The only other one from this list I’ve seen is 3:10 to Yuma, which I thought was excellent and extremely underrated. Crowe and Bale were fantastic in it 🙂
I love seeing that so many others appreciate 3:10! I think it’s fantastic.
He was one of the best things in Man of Steel and I can’t fault any of your selections. I love westerns and It is surprising to me when a contemporary actor has many westerns to their credit since they are few and far between these days. 3:10 to Yuma, The Quick and the Dead, and The Man With the Iron Fists (Crowe plays it as a western, everyone else is chop socky).
He went through a beefy stage for a couple of years and his roles there were pretty good, State of Play and The Next Three Days.
Denzel was the Star but Crowe did good work in American Ganster.
For some reason I like hockey movies even though I don’t like hockey and Mystery,Alaska worked for me.
I don’t know if I have seen him give a bad performance.
Best line from Master and Commander: “There, I have you! You’re completely dished! Do you not know that in the service…one must always choose the lesser of two weevils. “
Sounds like you’re just as big of a fan as I am. I agree. I don’t know of a bad performance from Crowe. He seems to handle every role he takes and I love how he and Ridley Scott gel.
Since Gene Hackman stopped working, Crowe has been my favorite active film actor.
Aha! Another thing we agree on! 😉
Like many, I’d have had LA Confidential in here… and I still say Romper Stomper has one of the most astonishing film performances ever (a bit like American History X) but you’ve done a solid job with this list.
Regardless of what people may think of him personally, there’s no denying it: the man can act.
I think Crowe gets a bad wrap because of some earlier antics. He seems like a seasoned professional and he’s a top notch actor.
Nice list! I’m not a fan of Robin Hood and I think Crowe was sadly miscast there, but he is a great actor. I’d add LA Confidential and especially Insider there, brilliant movie.
See that’s funny, I think Crowe was fantastic in Robin Hood. Again, a very different take and a very different tone. I think he nailed what Ridley Scott was going for. Love that movie.
No “The Insider” or “LA Confidential”? Man, what’s going on here? Those are two of Crowe’s absolute finest moments.
Love those two films. But keep in mind, Crowe’s my DeNiro. I absolutely love his work so it was hard to leave others out. In just mighty fond of these five.
Aah! Didn’t know you held him in such high regard. He is a top actor without a doubt. The insider is his best performance for me, though. By the way, have you seen Romper Stomper? That’s one of his early roles and one that brought him to my attention.
I hate to say that I’ve only seen about 3/4 of Romper Stomper. I kind of have this rule that if I haven’t seen the entire film I disqualify for this list. I really liked what I saw of it though.
As for The Insider, he is fabulous in it. He’s also brilliant in Cinderella Man and I really liked him in American Gangster. I haven’t the heart to see Broken City though!
Yeah, I really enjoyed him in Cinderella Man too. Brilliant performance. Like yourself, though, I don’t have the heart for Broken City either. I’m not that big on Wahlberg or Zeta-Jones. Unfortunately, I think Crowe has been making some unfortunate choices of late.
Further reminder that I need to see A Beautiful Mind! I’ve got it on the list and will hopefully be catching it soon.
Great list overall, though I would include LA Confidential as well. Such an incredible film.
LA Conidential is a great one. Spectacular cast throughout.
I haven’t seen all the films listed, but would “The Insider” have made the top ten? Or “L. A. Confidential”?
Absolutely! There such great films. It was painful to leave them off. But I’m also a huge fan of the movies I chose. I couldn’t go wrong. 🙂
Nice list! I couldn’t agree more with your choices, especially Gladiator in first place. I also liked him in American Gangster and The Insider.
He was really good in both of the movies you mentioned. I think he’s such a fabulous actor. He’s always a presence even if the film might be lacking.
Crowe is one of my favourite actors, he’s incredible (as is his twitter haha).
Gladiator would be my No.1 too.
He got so much unwanted hate for Les Miserables.
AMEN to that! I liked him in Les Miz. I tend to think that sometimes you’ll just have people that look for something to dislike. Then there are those who jump on board just because a group dislikes it. I’m neither, but then again I’m a little weird. 🙂
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