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Best of Brad Pitt Filmography
While Brad Pitt may have started out as a beau hunk actor with his rugged, boy next door good looks, he has developed into a top notch actor with an ability to transform seamlessly into a role. He has exercised extreme caution in his script selection and collaborations, such that he has continually moved forward as an actor along a path to legend status.
After starting out in small roles in several obscure films and TV series, Pitt got his first big break in the runaway hit, Thelma & Louise, in 1991. As JD, the one night love interest of Thelma (Geena Davis), Pitt excited women the world over with his carefree, handsome good looks. He was able to parlay that part into a leading role the following year in Robert Redford's epic, A River Runs Through It. It was Pitt's outstanding portrayal, as a reckless dreamer who never grew up, that catapulted him into star status. The benefit of working with Redford in an early role had to help Pitt decipher the best roles as he became inundated with opportunities after this film.
Brad Pitt has evolved over the years into a serious actor with the ability to portray a wide range of roles. He is not typecast into any one genre as he can be found in dramas, action films, suspense thrillers, comedies, historical epics and even a couple of animated films. He has been able to portray the gritty nature of a villain, such as Tyler Durden in Fight Club, as well as the touchingly poignant, protagonist, Benjamin Buttons, in The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons.
Everyone has their favorite Brad Pitt movies, but this ranking of the best Brad Pitt Films is based on the rankings of members at Rankography best movies which includes movie bloggers and other serious movie fans.
All rights reserved. Copyright 2012 Rankography
10. Burn After Reading (2008)
Another Coen Brothers Black Comedy of Epic Proportions
Written, produced and directed by the masterminds behind Fargo and Raising Arizona, Burn After Reading is another witty black comedy by the Coen Brothers. With an A-List cast who delight in playing the fools scripted into this farce, the film is a satirical look at life in the internet age.
The film opens with the humiliating demotion of CIA analyst Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) due to alcoholism. Steaming with fury, he decides to write a potentially damning tell all memoir. Unbeknownst to Cox, his wife Katie (Tilda Swinton) is having an affair with a womanizing, but married Treasury agent, Harry (George Clooney), who meets his women through internet dating services.
When Osborne accidentally loses a CD containing all of Cox's data, including notes for his memoir, at a Georgetown gym, two gym employees, Chad (Brad Pitt) and Linda (Frances McDormand), hatch a plan to blackmail the CD's owner for a cash reward. However, capers are never simple and even less so when our villians are haplessly stupid. Their schemes degrade into a spectacularly funny series of mishaps for the cast of this caper comedy.
Burn After Reading is a snappy dark comedy that may lack the sharp edges of a Fargo but the sheer talent of the cast and the interesting look at the "internet age", held this film together and made it a critic favorite.
If you like this Coen Brothers film, then you should also see The Big Lebowski
9. A River Runs Through It (1992)
A Film about Family in Big Sky Montana
One of the most ambitious and accomplished films directed by Robert Redford, A River Runs Through It is based on the 1976 autobiographical novella of the same name written by Norman Mclean. It is a touching period drama about two brothers and their pastor father as they learn about love and understanding while growing up on the Big Blackfoot River in Montana. Fly fishing becomes a metaphor for life in this outstanding drama as the boys and their father try to navigate life's waters.
Norman (Craig Sheffer) and Paul Maclean (Brad Pitt) grow up in Montana in the early years of this century under the supervision of their stern Presbyterian-minister father (Tom Skerritt) whose passion for fly fishing teaches his sons to be reverent about the wonders of nature. While Norman is a responsible, grounded person who ends up as a college professor, Paul is a reckless carouser, with a passion for drinking, women and gambling. Paul becomes a Journalist but he also goes on repeated benders in which he disappears for days at a time. The film focuses on the importance of love between family members and spiritual solace in nature.
Director Robert Redford (also the Narrator) perfectly conveys the depth of a story as Paul spins out of control and Rev Maclean struggles to understand what he did wrong and how his boys could become so different. Sheffer and Pitt both give outstanding performances, but it was Tom Skerritt's portrayal of the strict, yet loving father, that really brings home the drama of the film.
River was nominated for three Academy Awards and won one for Best Cinematography. This is one of the best Brad Pitt movies and should be a must see film for any Pitt fan.
If you liked A River Runs Through It, also check out Fried Green Tomatoes
8. Snatch (2000)
The Witless Capers of a Band of Misfit Gangsters and Crooks
I just love Guy Ritchie films from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels to the more recent Sherlock Holmes films. The always blend an action, comedy and suspense, for a very enjoyable movie experience. Snatch is the second of Ritchie's films and it brings together a star studded cast of motley characters, including Bullet Tooth Tony (Brad Pitt), Turkish (Jason Statham in only his second film), Franky Four Fingers (Benicio del Toro) and Cousin Avi (Dennis Farina).
Snatch has the same outrageously creative style that Ritchie brought to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, yet looks at a different sub-sect of the seedy underbelly of London. Turkish is an unlicensed fight promoter who partners with Tommy (Stephen Graham), a slot machine operator. When the duo attempt to fix a fight for local gangster, Brick Top (Alan Ford), things go horribly wrong which sets off a chain of disasters involving all of the cast.
Much like his first film, Snatch showcased Ritchie's ability to combine an intriguing complex storyline, with interesting visuals and clever, hilarious dialogue. Like its predecessor, this is a non-stop action thriller with a funny cast of low-level misfit gangsters and crooks. If you have not seen these two first films buy Ritchie, put them on your list to see -- you won't be disappointed.
If you loved Snatch, then you should see Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
7. Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons (2008)
A Fantastical Tale but Delivered with Epic Human Drama
Time and time again, Brad Pitt proves that he is one of Hollywood's best actors as he takes on unconventional roles and transforms himself to become one with the character and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is no exception. Based on a short story by renowned author F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby), Benjamin Button is the strange story of a man fated to live his life in reverse. It was also the third collaboration of Director, David Fincher, and Brad Pitt.
Born as an arthritic 80-year-old man, Button (Brad Pitt) is left on the steps of a retirement home by his biological father after his mother died in childbirth. He is taken in and raised by the kind nurse, Queenie (Taraji P. Henson). While in the home, he meets Daisy (Cate Blanchett) whose aging mother is staying in the same care facility. Their relationship develops over time as Benjamin gets stronger, and younger, as the year passes. The couple meet in the middle of their lives and embarked on romantic bliss, but due to Benjamin's continued descent into childhood and Daisy's inevitable aging, they are forced to separate.
The special effects to create the old and young Benjamin Button are a true breakthrough in visual filmmaking. Pitt and Blanchett are able to portray the subtle humanity and mental anguish in their roles that help us to empathize with plight of the characters. The story is poignant and rich, if not a little overstuffed with sympathy. But Button is ultimately an epic fantasy tale for all ages.
The film was nominated for 13 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director (Fincher) and Best Actor (Pitt). It won three Oscars for Best Make-up, Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects.
6. Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Probably the Best Modern Heist Comedy Film
Director Steven Soderbergh's millennium remake of the 1960s film, Ocean's 11 is a crisp, kickass, entertaining caper film that blows away the Rat Pack original. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is a highly accomplished, but convicted thief who is just released from prison at the start of the film. He immediately begins laying the groundwork for a near impossible heist-to steal over $150 million from three Vegas casinos that use a common vault. Ocean first tracks down his main partner, Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), who is wasting away teaching celebrities how to play poker.
Together, Ocean and Ryan begin assembling a team of experts to pull off this epic heist. The band of outlaws includes the son of a legendary thief, Linus (Matt Damon), an explosives expert, Basher (Don Cheadle), a brother duo of talented mechanics and hilarious arguing snipers (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan), a casino insider and card dealer, Frank (Bernie Mac), an talented acrobat, Yen (Shaobo Qin) and an elderly confidence man, Saul (Carl Reiner). An old friend, Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould), a former casino owner, agrees to finance the operation as he is seeking revenge against the target, Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). Along the way, we find out there is an ulterior motive to Ocean's casino target, Benedict is dating his ex-wife, Tess Ocean (Julia Roberts)
The film is brilliant both for its high stakes heist planning and suspense, as it is for its understated sense of humor. It is one of those films where you wish you could simply hang out with this group of misfits for the weekend because the fun and laughs would seem to be nonstop. Pitt and Clooney's on-screen chemistry work to give the film its slick entertainment value. With the powerhouse ensemble, smart dialogue, intriguing plot and quick pace, it's no wonder that this Brad Pitt movie grossed over $450 million worldwide.
If you liked Ocean's Eleven, check out The Italian Job
5. Interview with the Vampire (1994)
One of the Legendary Vampire Movies
Brad Pitt. Tom Cruise. Anne Rice. Need I say more? Interview With The Vampire is a horror drama film based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Anne Rice. Directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), it was the original "sexy vampire movie" long before Twilight was even written. With its all-star cast and a story based on a bestselling book, it was as close to a preordained box office success and it was a big winner.
Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) is a 200 year old vampire who tells his life story to a reporter named Daniel Malloy (Christian Slater). In 1791 after losing his wife and daughter to sickness, Louis wanted to end his life but instead of finding death, he stumbled upon Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise), a vampire who made him choose between death and eternal life (but with a catch the constant need to hunt for blood). Louis chose the latter and lived to regret it.
Brad Pitt performs well as the sometimes befuddled, sometimes vengeful Louis. Tom Cruise gave life to Lestat with just the right mix of flippancy and dark humor. But it was Kirsten Dunst who stole the show as 6 year old child, Claudia, who has been turned by Lestat to give Louis a companion. Her acting was beyond her years as she portrayed all the emotions of an adult woman trapped in a child's body with such finesse and conviction.
The movie reinvents vampire lore, with Anne Rice being dubbed the mother of the modern vampire and director Neil Jordan mixing the right amount of atmosphere and tone to create a fabulous adaptation. Interview with the Vampire was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Original Score.
If you liked Interview with the Vampire, also check out The Lost Boys
4. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
A Complex Sci Fi Thriller with Surprises Throughout
A science-fiction film by Terry Gilliam, Twelve Monkeys opens in the year 2035, many years after an unknown virus killed five billion people effectively wiping out 99 percent of the world's human population. While the remaining survivors live underground, scientists have discovered that the key for survival rests in the year of 1996, when the virus first spread. They send a "volunteer" convict named James Cole (Bruce Willis) on a dangerous mission back to 1996, to get a sample of the virus so they can develop a vaccine.
Cole is first mistakenly sent to 1990, where he was pronounced clinically insane and then to the trenches of the First World War, before finally landing in 1996. During his time travels, he meets Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), a psychologist that first thought Cole was delusional but eventually helped him with his mission and Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), a schizophrenic, animal rights activist who turns out to be the leader of the subversive Army of The 12 Monkeys, the organization that is thought of to be responsible in the release of the virus.
The thriller is the perfect genre for Bruce Willis and he is as focused and intense as ever in 12 Monkeys. And for Brad Pitt, despite all his outstanding films this was the first Academy Award nomination (Best Supporting Actor) as a schizophrenic mental patient. Twelve Monkeys is a satisfying, complex and thoroughly engaging post-apocalyptic thriller.
If you liked 12 Monkeys, you should also check out The Running Man
3. Inglourious Basterds (2010)
Tarantino's Distinctive Take on War Movies
A brilliant director, a superb cast and a classic genre all rolled into one, nothing could go wrong in this World War II epic film, Inglorious Basterds. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, this ficitional film is about a group of Jewish American soldiers led by Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt)-known as The Basterds. Their mission is to brutally kill Nazis and spread fear throughout the Third Reich. And they are quite successful at it by ambushing small groups of Germans at opportune times.
As their legend grows, they also gain notoriety and the ire of the Nazi superiors who put the sadistic Col Hans Landa (Christopher Waltz) on the hunt to find the Basterds. He is relentless and eventually successful in capturing Raine, but that is when things get really interesting. I can't reveal anymore without spoiling the ending of the film.
Inglorious Basterds is more than just a fantasy revenge tale of Jews against the Nazis, it is more than just a story about a person or a group, and this is what sets it apart from the plethora of WWII-themed movies. In true Tarantino style, it starts with a basic premise but over time deeper and deeper layers of sub-plot are revealed. This is one of the must see Brad Pitt movies.
The film has Tarantino's trademark of gory details and meaty dialogues. His script oozes with sharp tension, intelligence, dark humor and wit that will not fail to enchant the audience. Although megastar Pitt gets top billing, the Austrian Waltz is brilliant in the film.
The film was nominated for 8 Academy Awards and Waltz won the Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Col Landa.
2. Se7en (1995)
A Serial Killer Uses the Bible for his Script
David Fincher did not spare his audience a minute of comfort in this neo-noir serial killer film. In Se7en, Homicide Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is days away from retirement when a gruesome murder involving an obese man who is forced to eat himself to death. Despite trying to get away to retirement, Somerset is drawn into the investigation when a second murder occurs and his inexperienced, but eager replacement, David Mills (Brad Pitt), requests his help.
The old cop/new cop theme may be a little overused but it is highly successful in this film as the two officers learn from each other and the duo are needed for the shocking finale to this twisted serial killer movie. After the second murder is committed, the two cops realize that the killer is murdering people according to the seven deadly sins mentioned in the Bible: Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Envy, Wrath, Pride and Lust.
Director David Fincher successfully created a feeling of unease throughout the whole film with interesting camera angles and disturbing graphic imagery. The pure, unadulterated visceral thrill of Se7en is so intense that the images linger in your brain even days after seeing it. The leads both provide top notch performances. Freeman sustains his position as one of Hollywood's greatest talents and Pitt continues to impress with his growing maturity as an actor. Kevin Spacey also gives us an amazing performance as John Doe, the mentally deranged serial killer.
This is definitely one of the best Brad Pitt films. Se7en was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing.
If Seven held your interest, then you should see Zodiac
1. Fight Club (1999)
A Masterpiece Psychological Thriller from David Fincher
Most men have seen Fight Club, but I think many women have avoided this movie thinking it is a male bonding fight film. But in reality it is so much more than that. This is a psychological thriller, full of twists and turns, and three brilliant actors, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, all of which absolutely nail their parts. This was David Fincher's fourth feature film and like all of his films, there is a strong psychological aspect both getting into the character's heads and our own.
Fight Club is adapted from the book of the same by Chuck Palahnuik. The nameless Narrator ("Norton") works for an automobile company who travels to crash sites to assess the potential costs of product recalls and liability. This constant barrage of death combined with his uncaring and incompetent bosses, wears on him mentally and he is ripe for a mental breakdown. On a plane trip home from one of the crash sites, the Narrator meets Tyler Durden (Pitt), a traveling soap salesman with a carefree attitude but some very unconventional ideas about authority.
Durden leads the Narrator down a dark path that starts with an underground "Fight Club" in which guys get together and fight barehanded until somebody quits. As the two feed off each other, their ideas become much more sinister ultimately leading to Project Mayhem, a terrorist group that begins to bomb public buildings.
However, along the way we start to learn that the Narrator is actually schizophrenic and in periods of clarity he becomes deeply troubled with where Project Mayhem is headed. We cannot reveal any additional details of the twists and turns of this film without spoiling the end.
The performances by Brad Pitt, Norton and Carter are stunning. If for no other reason, you should see this film for their performance. But much like Fincher's other films, it is tough not to get sucked into this psychological thriller and enjoy this twisted tale.