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Best of Bale

Here comes the Sun.

{mosimage} 1. EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987), as Jimmie Graham, the teenager who is separated from his diplomat parents when Japan invades China and whose comfortable life of privilege is turned on its ear. This is the one that started it all, and he was good from the get-go. Plus, it�s my wife�s favorite movie.

2. NEWSIES (1992), as Jack �Cowboy� Kelly, a turn-of-the-(20th)-century newsboy who organizes a strike when William Randolph Hearst hits the kids up for an extra tenth of a cent per newspaper. The cast took martial-arts and dancing lessons for this musical. Bale displays the physical prowess he would show throughout his career. Apparently, this film started an Internet-fueled cult of Christian Bale � and spawned a drinking game.

3. METROLAND (1997), as Chris, a once-rebellious youth in go-go late-�60s London who has traded in his bohemian dreams for the bourgeois comforts of the suburban town where he grew up. His comfortable life is upset when his best friend from back in the day drops in. A wistful and touching look at the compromises demanded of married, adult life. Bale, in an understated comedic turn opposite Emily Watson (who is also his muse in Equilibrium), perfectly captures the nostalgic pull of youth and the heartbreak and rewards of accepting adulthood.

4. VELVET GOLDMINE (1998), as Arthur Stuart, a rock journalist assigned to investigate what happened to the hero of his youth, glam-rock star Brian Slade, along the way faces questions about his own sexual identity. Actually not a very good movie, but as a homoerotic fever dream with great costumes trying to be a mainstream movie, a brave attempt. Plus, it co-stars Ewan McGregor back when that meant something, and Eddie Izzard!

{mosimage}5. AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000), as psychopathic yuppie Patrick Bateman in this adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis� classic indictment of �80s American culture (like anything�s changed). �When people ask me if I�ve ever done a comedy,� Bale tells me, �I say, �Yes, American Psycho.� � Bale�s right, it is hilarious and his deadpan, comedic timing is perfect.

6. SHAFT (2000), as Walter Wade Jr. I saw this remake by John Boyz N the Hood Singleton when it came out and barely remember anything about it, least of all that Bale had a prominent supporting role (thanks, IMDB!). But, come on, it�s Shaft and it stars Samuel L. Jackson and Vanessa Williams.

7. EQUILIBRIUM (2002),as John Preston, a supercop in a post-apocalyptic future whose task is to snuff out anyone with feelings lest it lead to rebellion and the bad old days of human desires. As one aforementioned video-store clerk put it: �Equilibrium, that movie is awesome!� Well, maybe not quite awesome, but if anyone wonders how Bale got picked to play the human crime-fighting machine that is the Dark Knight, see this movie.

Bale�s martial-arts skills in Equilibrium are surprisingly deft. Unlike a lot of great actors who also try to do actioners (Tobey Maguire, anybody?), this guy�s clearly an athlete. �They dumped it,� Bale told me. �I never thought it would be one to capture people�s imagination.�

8. THE MACHINIST (2004),as Trevor Reznik, a machine-tool operator who is dying of insomnia and is trying to uncover the terrible reason why. Bale all but disappears, literally and figuratively, into this disturbing role about a guy who withers away under the pressure of truth and consequences.

9. BATMAN BEGINS (2005), as Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman. I�m assuming you saw this megahit, in which Bale rescues the dignity of the Dark Knight from the kitsch fest the Batman franchise had turned into. Bale is utterly convincing, physically and psychologically, and gives Batman the gravitas that is rightfully his. But seriously, Katie Holmes?

10. THE PRESTIGE (2006), as magician Alfred Borden, who goes to extreme lengths to outdo dangerously Tesla-centric rival Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman). A wonderful movie about obsession, friendship and the need to win at all costs. Bale is so good he raises Jackman�s game to heretofore-unseen heights.

Also read Christian Bale and the Art of Extreme Acting


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