Top 10 Christian Bale Films

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Christian Bale has long been a firm presence in Hollywood, and continues to cement his status in Out of the Furnace, which is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 2nd June 2014 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Here, we reflect upon his career thus far, counting down his ten most memorable performances.

Empire of the Sun (1987)
Bale’s performance as Jim Graham in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun came when the actor was a mere 13-year-old. Adapted from J.G. Ballard’s novel, he plays Jim Graham, a young boy who goes from living with a wealthy British family in Shanghai to becoming a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp during the Second World War.  Bale struggled to cope with the subsequent recognition heaped upon him, even going so far as to contemplate quitting acting entirely (it was Kenneth Branagh who convinced him otherwise when he approached him about appearing in Henry V).

American Psycho (2000)
One of his notorious roles came in Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel American Psycho in which he played serial killer Patrick Bateman. He famously distanced himself from the rest of the cast (which included Willem Dafoe and Reese Witherspoon) so he could preserve Bateman’s darker side – this led to such classic moments as Bateman axing a co-worker to death whilst listening to Huey Lewis and the News’ Hip to be Square.

The Machinist (2004)
This psychological thriller saw Bale shed 63 pounds to play the role of Trevor Reznik, a machinist suffering from severe insomnia. His body appeared emaciated and skeletal, with audiences witnessing for the first time the lengths to which he would go for a role, naturally drawing comparisons to Robert De Niro (whom put on a remarkable amount of weight for Raging Bull).

The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012)
Bale won the role of Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Batman franchise, introduced in 2005’s Batman Begins. Coming off The Machinist, Bale was required to bulk up, eventually going from 130lbs to 230lbs in six months. Opting to depict his Batman as a ‘savage beast’, he firmly put his stamp on the role fitting into Nolan’s Gotham in a perfect way – he reprised his role for the two sequels The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), which is currently the tenth highest grossing film of all time.

Rescue Dawn (2006)
Returning to more independent flair following his debut as Bruce Wayne, Bale went on to work with a whole array of respected filmmakers, including David Ayer (Harsh Times), Terence Malick (The New World) and Werner Herzog in Rescue Dawn, a Vietnam war film in which he played a US Fighter pilot shot down whilst on a mission. Herzog admitted he believes Bale to be ‘…one of the greatest talents of his generation.’

The Prestige (2006)
Re-teaming with Christopher Nolan for The Prestige, the critically-acclaimed drama about a rivalry between two Victorian stage magicians, Bale played Alfred Borden opposite Hugh Jackman’s Robert Angier. The two are equally as impressive as the other, but it is Bale’s Borden – loving his family one day, despising them the next – who provides the film with its raw emotion, heightening the shocks and twists as they come.

3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Starring in the Western remake 3:10 to Yuma as Dan Evans, a veteran one-legged rancher,  Christian Bale provides a particularly grizzly performance alongside Russell Crowe. Under the directing guide of James Mangold, Bale also enables his supporting actors (including Logan Lerman as his son, William) to deliver top rate performances in a film that was touted the best Western since Unforgiven.

The Fighter (2010)
After a stint playing John Connor in Terminator Salvation (and the on-set outburst at a crew member which hit the headlines), Bale shed some more pounds yet again to play Dicky Eklund, older brother to boxing champion Micky Ward, in David O. Russell’s The Fighter. Stealing scenes with aplomb, this was the role in which Bale won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

American Hustle (2013)
Re-teaming with David O. Russell, alongside a cast comprised of Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, Bale plays con artiste Irving Rosenfeld, fit with a terrible toupee, in American Hustle, a 70s set ‘mostly true’ tale based on an FBI ABSCAM operation which saw con artists set up a sting operation to frame corrupt politicians. Bale does his best De Niro, gaining weight like nobody’s business, acting his socks off in effortless ways.

Out of the Furnace (2013)
Bale stars in Out of the Furnace as Russell Baze, a steel mill worker attempting to turn his life around following a spell in prison. However, when his brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) begins embroiling himself amongst the wrong crowd, Russell is forced to get involved to prevent his brother from getting in too deep – a process which leads him to Woody Harrelson’s ruthless drug dealer, Harlan DeGropat. Acting in an ensemble at the top of their game, Bale proves yet again he is one of the leading stars of our generation, merging quantity with quality.

Out of the Furnace is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 2nd June 2014 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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