Top 10 Russell Crowe Movies
Russell Crowe seemingly came out of nowhere in the early 1990s to take the world by storm with his acting ability. However, the reality is he had his first acting role in 1972 as an 8 year old. He had several additional parts as a teenager in the late 1977s but it was his work in the 1990s that really started to set him apart.
During a 4 year stretch from 1997 to 2001, Russell Crowe gave us outstanding roles in 4 Award Winning films; L.A. Confidential, The Insider, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. That is just an amazing run and really served notice to the world that Russell Crowe was a major player in Hollywood. He was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar in three of those films and won the Oscar for Gladiator. Surprisingly, I actually think his role as John Nash in A Beautiful Mind but he lost the Oscar that year to Denzel Washington in Training Day. While Denzel was good in that film, I believe he won that Oscar as a make-up for the Oscar he should have won for Malcolm X.
Over the last several years, Russell Crowe has starred in a few films but he has been distracted by his musical career. He has played in several bands and also has a solo career. I think it is a shame that his focus has been diverted because he is such an incredible actor when focused. I hope he will refocus on acting so we can get some more Award Winning performances in the future.
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9. Robin Hood (2010)
Russell Crowe Remakes a Classic Hollywood Role
There have been many incarnations of the legend of Robin Hood and a revered list of actors that have played the famed Archer, including Douglas Fairbanks in the 20s, Errol Flynn in the 30s, a lovable animated fox in the 70s, Kevin Costner in the 90s and now Russell Crowe in the latest Robin Hood (2010).
Unlike previous versions of this mythical legend, Robin Hood (2010) is a prequel story answering the questions of Hood's training, political inclinations, reasons for being exiled into Sherwood Forest, etc. The movie opened to mixed reviews because it was a prequel with a revisionist storyline that tried to pull from history but had to take liberty with actual history.
However, I actually enjoyed the prequel story and in particular his background as an English Archer. I am a big fan of Bernard Cornwell novels and in particular The Grail Quest series starting with The Archer's Tale, Harlequin in Europe. It is a fascinating history of the English Archers which were the key strategic advantage that led to so many English victories over France. It is for that reason that I was enthralled with the retelling of Robin Hood as an English Archer.
Marion Loxley (Cate Blanchett) is also cast as a stronger personality than in earlier tellings and Blanchett was well cast for this part after her earlier portrayals of Queen Elizabeth. In the end this Russell Crowe film is an enjoyable action thriller and while it does not provide deep emotional characters, they are sufficient for us to empathize with their struggle.
10. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
An Thrilling Historical Epic set on the High Seas
Master and Commander is a historical fiction epic adapted from the book by Patrick O'Brien. During the Napoleanic Wars, Capt Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) is in command of H.M.S. Surprise, a British frigate. Aubrey is charged with orders to find and capture or destroy the French privateer Acheron. Dr. Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) is the Ship's Doctor and also Aubrey's most trusted advisor on the ship. Together they plot the chase around Cape Horn at the bottom most tip of South America.
However, during early battles and along the way they learn that the Acheron is a more powerful and dangerous ship. They are outmanned and outgunned. They also encounter several major obstacles including a broken mast, Dr Maturin is shot and a diversion to the Galapagos Islands.
This is a thrilling tale of perseverance and determination. There are unexpected twists and turns with the plot and this is one of the few recent films going in depth in Ocean based warfare. Master and Commander was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won 2 including Best Cinematography and Best Sound Editing.
If you enjoyed Master and Commander, you may also like Kingdom of Heaven
8. Cinderella Man (2005)
A Down and Out Boxer Becomes an Everyman Hero in the 30s
Cinderella Man is the Depression-era story of Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe), a down and out aging boxer who gets a second chance to fight and goes on a miraculous win streak as a "Cinderella" underdog. His wife, Mae (Renee Zellweger), has mixed emotions about Jim's boxing career but stands behind her man.
With so many people beaten down by the Depression, Braddock's meteoric underdog rise from the ashes is a story that the whole country gets behind. He becomes a hero for the downtrodden masses in an uplifting sports story about overcoming great odds.
Cinderella Man was nominated for 3 Academy Awards but did not win an Oscar.
7. Body of Lies (2008)
A Political Action Thriller for the Age of Terrorism
Body of Lies is a spy thriller in the age of the war on terror. Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an FBI operative in the Middle East trying to track down a cleric that is responsible for bombings across Europe. Ferris is working with his control, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), in Langley, VA. When the Jordanian Head of Security, Hani Salaam (Mark Strong), refuses to allow Ferris to use one of his double agents, Ferris and Hoffman hatch a complex secret plan to try to lure the cleric to them. It becomes much more complex because they do not inform Hani of their plan and must keep it secret from him.
The film is directed by Ridley Scott and like all of Scott's films it is thrilling and suspenseful. This is a well made film and not your typical political thriller. it is an entertaining film but neither Crowe or DiCaprio give an award winning performance.
If you enjoyed Body of Lies... - You might also like State of Play
An all star cast, including Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren and Rachel McAdams, star in this thriller about deception, manipulation and corruption. It is a very good movie with a lot of unexpected twists and turns. And watch the credits because you will see how a newspaper is printed in the digital and robotic age.
6. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
A Suspenseful Western that Will Keep you Guessing
3:10 to Yuma is one of my favorite Westerns and probably the best made since Unforgiven. Russell Crowe teams up with Christian Bale in this James Mangold film. Both Crowe and Bale have displayed an amazingly wide range in their character portrayals and this film is no different. Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a mild-mannered rancher with a wife and two boys. While out on the range, Evans and his boys happen upon a stagecoach robbery by famed outlaw, Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) and his gang.
Unlike his more typical hero roles, Russell Crowe turns the table in this film to play a ruthless villain, but a villain with a respectable intellect. Evans is a man of conviction with a strong morality and decides to join a posse that is taking the captured Wade to town to put him on the 3:10 train to Yuma. However, Wade's gang led by the equally ruthless Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) is surrounding their positions to free Wade before he is put on the train.
This is a well-crafted Western film with a great script and highly suspenseful ending. Ultimately, Wade explores his own morality while observing Evans and decides on redemption by changing his chosen path in the end. However, the plot takes many twists and turns and it is a thoroughly enjoyable film throughout.
If you enjoyed 3:10 to Yuma... - You should also like Unforgiven
A classic western film Directed and starring Clint Eastwood. Eastwood teams with Morgan Freeman in this highly complex Western film.
5. L.A Confidential (1997)
One of the Best Neo-Noir Films of the Past 20 Years
This neo-noir classic is a complicated crime mystery drama that also examines the methods of three very different cops in 1950s Los Angeles. Edmund Exley (Guy Pearce) is the clean cut cop who has huge ambitions to move up in the department but he is squeaky clean and refuses all corruption. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) is almost completely the opposite of Exley. He cares about making money and getting noticed. He is willing to take graff and cut corners for personal gain.
Then there is Bud White (Russell Crowe) who is all about seeking justice and wrapped up in rage. He would kill a murderer if he thought he could get away with it. Bud is a complicated character that Russell Crowe creates beautifully in this crime thriller. This is a must see Crowe film and a great movie overall.
L.A. Confidential was nominated for 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Kim Basinger won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her sultry role as Lynn Bracken in this neo-noir film.
If you liked L.A. Confidential... - You should also like The Usual Suspects
This amazing mystery crime film is truly one of a kind. An all star cast comes together including Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palminteri, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro and Stephen Baldwin.
4. The Insider (1999)
An Expose on Both Big Tobacco and TV News Magazine Shows
The Insider is a highly unique film that is part docudrama and part cover-up thriller about Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), the former tobacco scientist who violated contractual agreements to expose Brown & Williamson's inclusion of addictive ingredients in cigarettes. As a result, the cigarette industry started a smear campaign (and worse) to discredit Wigand and attempt to bully him to withdraw his potential testimony.
Against this backdrop of a corruption expose, a second storyline develops about journalistic integrity as 60 Minutes Producer, Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) pushes the boundaries which puts him at odds with veteran reporter Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) and senior executives at CBS News.
This thrilling film raises many questions of morality in both the corporate world and journalism. Russell Crowe and Al Pacino were fantastic together and Director Michael Mann did an outstanding job building suspense in what was basically a docudrama. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. Surprisingly, it did not win any Oscars but it was also up against American Beauty and The Cider House Rules that year.
3. American Gangster (2007)
A True Story about a Major Gang Kingpin in Harlem
This is the real life biopic of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), who rose to the top of the gang that supplied Heroin to NYC in the late 60s and 70s. The film actually contrasts the ruthless nature of top mob boss with the business efficiency and innovation with which Lucas ran his drug organization.
Concurrently, Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is rising through the ranks of the NYC Police Department, although he has the reputation of being a Boy Scout for turning in a $1 million that he and his partner found on a bust. He is not well liked in the force, but he doesn't care because he is who he is.
Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe are both outstanding in their roles and the film is even more compelling because it is a true story. American Gangster was nominated for 2 Academy Awards.
If you enjoyed American Gangster... - You may also enjoy Training Day
A crime drama about corruption in the LA police department. Denzel won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal in this film.
2. A Beautiful Mind (2001) **Spoiler Alert**
Russell Crowe Displays Incredible Range in this Drama
One of my favorite biographies, A Beautiful Mind is the fascinating story of John Nash (Russell Crowe), a brilliant mathematician who develops schizophrenia as a young graduate student and his struggle to deal with the disease. What was most amazing about this film was its perspective, as it was the first film that I can remember that looked at mental illness from the inside.
Directed by Ron Howard this fascinating film reveals the extent of mental illness as we learn that several of Nash's friends and associates are actually figments of his schizophrenic imagination. For the first time, we can truly understand the effect schizophrenia has on its victims. We are shown first hand just how real those 'imaginary people' are in the mind of someone suffering this debilitating mental illness.
Through the assistance of his wife, Alica Nash (Jennifer Connelly), Nash is able to control his disease and lead a relatively normal life. It is a powerful film and one of the legendary biographies about mental illness. Russell Crowe is absolutely spectacular in his portrayal of Nash but was robbed of the Best Actor Oscar by Denzel Washington in Training Day.
A Beautiful Mind was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four of them, including the well deserved Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress Oscars.
If you liked A Beautiful Mind... - You may also like The Soloist
An amazing story of an LA reporter that finds and reports on Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless man who is also a prodigy of a Cellist. It is a story of mental illness and the difficulty in overcoming it.
1. Gladiator (2000)
An Epic Russell Crowe Film about Ancient Rome
Gladiator is the classic struggle between a beloved soldier and the evil son of the Emperor. Set in Rome in 180 A.D., General Maximus Meridius (Russell Crowe) had just led the Roman Army to victory against the Germanic barbarians. The elder Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) is fair and just and decides to reward Maximus for his loyalty by making him successor instead of his weak, petty son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). However, Maximus wants to first discuss it with his wife and family, but before Maximus can accept the Emperorship, Commodus (who has learned of his father's plan) kills his father and assumes power for himself.
Commodus asks Maximus for his allegiance but Maximus refuses because he suspects that Commodus had his father killed. Commodus knows that Maximus' broad support of the people is a threat to his power. He orders Maximus and his family killed. Maximus is attacked on the road but he is able to narrowly escape. But when he race home, he finds that his family has already been slaughtered and burned.
Most of the movie is a story of determination and persistence for revenge. Maximus is taken as a slave to North Africa and enlisted as a gladiator. With absolute resolve, he focuses on winning his way to the Coliseum in Rome to find a path to the Emperor Commodus.
This critically acclaimed film won 5 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell Crowe. This truly is one of greatest epic films and possibly Russell Crowe's best film.