5 The Dark Knight
Come on, you knew this was coming. While it’s easy to pick any one of the Christopher Nolan Batman films for this list, The Dark Knight is the best of the bunch. This is, of course, mostly due to Heath Ledger’s legendary performance as The Joker, but Bale really brings home some interesting nuances to Batman/Bruce Wayne. First of all, he really hits his stride as the caped crusader here, and his Bruce Wayne has settled back into the billionaire playboy lifestyle he had lost during Batman Begins. There’s also the struggle he faces with an enemy who is unlike anyone he has ever faced, as well as the fact that Bruce Wayne has lost his love to Harvey Dent, a man that Batman is working with. There’s a lot going on here, and Bale toes the line wonderfully.
4 Reign of Fire
This one flew under the radar a little bit, as it mixed modern technology with dragons. Yeah, dragons. In this action-packed turn, Bale stars as Quinn Abercromby (finally, a rightfully Brit name!), a man who witnessed his mother unearthing a dragon as a young boy. The dragon, naturally, incinerated her and he’s felt guilty ever since. She also unleashed dragons on the world again and now mankind lives in fear of these flying death machines. Quinn wrestles his own guilt throughout the film while juggling his responsibility to his small, fortified anti-dragon village. While the movie is a bit odd because it’s science fiction and dragons all rolled into one, Bale turns in a decent performance.
3 The Fighter
In The Fighter, Christian Bale plays DickyEklund, a former professional boxer who has become a trainer. The film takes place in early 1980s Boston as Dicky helps his half-brother Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) train to become a professional fighter. The thing about Dicky is that he’s kind of a hothead, quick to throw down and battling his own demons with drugs and crime. Needless to say, that puts a strain on the relationship and Dicky is a constant source of pain for the family. Bale plays this role not only with panache but an awesome Bostonian accent (let’s not forget that Bale is actually British). If you want to have some fun, go search “Not You” on the internet.
2 American Psycho
This was Christian Bale’s second coming-out party, so to speak, as it was his first big success after Empire of the Sun. Bale plays Patrick Bateman, the epitome of 1980s success and indulgence. An obnoxiously right New York investment banker by day, Bateman hides a very dark secret. He’s a serial killer, and absolutely crazy on top of that. Watching Bale flip the switch from smarmy Wall Street douchebag to absolutely crazed killing machine is a real delight. One of the best scenes in the movie is when he and his uptight friends are discussing their business cards. The inner turmoil Bateman feels as he admires the card of a man who he clearly thinks very little of is priceless.
1 Empire of the Sun
This was his first big role and it just happened to be in a film directed by Steven Spielberg. The thirteen year-old Christian Bale stars as Jim Graham, a spoiled rich British boy growing up surrounded by opulence and servants in 1941 Shanghai. He’s kind of a wee prick, as you would expect a thirteen year-old filthy rich British boy to be. On December 8, 1941, the Japanese invade Shanghai and young Jim is separated from his family, captured, and thrown into an internment camp. He is befriended by Basie (John Malkovich), an American who ends up serving as a sort of father figure to him. From his friendship with a Japanese boy to the quiet dignity he ends up providing people he encounters, Bale’s performance at such a young age isn’t to be missed.
That’s our five for Christian Bale. Thoughts?Comments? By all means, send it all to us.