Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday Top Twelve

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. After exhausting theoretical Oscar categories, I’ll be featuring a “top twelve” list for the rest of 2012 each Thursday, with a variety of themes. Please leave suggestions for future focuses in the comments!

I’ve cited him before as my favorite actor, and though he hasn’t made even two dozen films over the course of his fifteen year-plus career, a whole lot of them are exceptional. In celebration of the great Edward Norton, here’s a ranking of his twelve best performances.

#12: Rounders Norton played off Matt Damon well as they got deep into the world of poker. It’s hardly his most complicated role, but he is more than suitable for the part.

#11: The Painted Veil Norton delivered a subtler performance as a doctor traveling to faraway lands with his wife, which was perfectly appropriate for this picaresque, understated film.

#10: Red Dragon Norton got to match wits with Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter in this superb prequel, where he knew just how not to be the center of attention to showcase other characters.

#9: Death to Smoochy Norton was at his goofiest in this zany comedy opposite Robin Williams, and it’s perhaps the best example of him letting his guard down and just having a great time being energetic.

#8: Keeping the Faith Norton stepped behind the camera to direct this comedic story of a rabbi and a priest both attracted to their childhood female friend. Norton’s platonic chemistry with both Ben Stiller and Jenna Elfman was fun, and, once again, he stepped back to allow others to take the spotlight.

#7: Fight Club Norton’s most famous film features a focused and insanely intriguing turn as a nameless man spiraling into depression and finding deeply unhealthy ways to deal with his situation.

#6: The Score Norton stole the show from Robert De Niro as an eccentric con man who used his cleverness and abilities to take advantage of those around him, seemingly sheepish but ultimately cunning.

#5: Down in the Valley Norton remained entirely solid in this film that lost its focus partway through as an unstable man wrapped up in the idea that he was, in fact, a real-life cowboy.

#4: Leaves of Gras Norton did double duty as twin brothers, showcasing the differences between the drug-dealing Southerner and the polished Northeastern professor, showing that he’s capable of having fun and acting magnificently at the same time.

#3: Primal Fear Norton earned his first Oscar nomination for his layered performance of an altar boy accused of murder, digging deep into his psyche and owning an otherwise less than memorable film.

#2: 25th Hour Norton was extremely serious and contemplative in this excellent human drama, facing the notion of going to prison with no way out and letting his emotions show in one particularly superb scene of self-reflection.

#1: American History X Norton was incomparably amazing as a neo-Nazi sent to prison and changed drastically by his experience, wearing his emotions on his face in an astonishing Oscar-nominated turn.

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