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My Favorite Russell Crowe Films

  • Jul 22, 2010
Russell Crowe is my all time favorite actor out there today. His versatility and willingness to research and change for his parts is amazing. I actually may have to revise this list in a few weeks, I have several of his older Australian films that I have been hording up on from E-Bay that I haven't had a spare moment to watch, but for now this is his American film list. Some on the list will have more detail than others. Figuring most people have either already seen the movie or I can do individual reviews later.
This is my favorite movie of all time, one that I can watch over and over again. Which is ironic because the first time I saw this film, I thought to myself, what was the big deal? Also I didn't get to see it in the theater either. It is a long movie that has all the aspects of a great movie that is full of action, drama, romance, and very detailed Roman history. It is also a partial re-make of the 1964 classic "The Fall of the Roman Empire" Many of the same characters are in it and some of the story line is very similar. Maximus is the high General for Marcus Aurellius, the Cesar of Rome. After their battle in Germania, Cesars son who thinks he will be named the next Cesar but kills his father after learning that the paws will pass to Maximus. In a jealous rage he orders Maximus executed after Maximus does not swear his filety to him. He escapes execution and rushes home to try and save his family from Cesars rage, but comes home to find his family has already been murdered. He is than taken onto a slave wagon and sold off as a gladiator. He becomes the Spainard and eventually is taken to Rome to fight in the great Colosseum where he is being asked to kill Commodus (Played by Joaquin Phoenix, which I feel is one of his best parts aside from being Johnny Cash) to save Rome from her tyranny. The best scene is that first battle in the arena of the Colosseum and his line "Father of a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife and I shall have my vengeance in this life or the next" spoken to Commodus after the Gladiators victory. Always gives me goose bumps. While the ending is tradgic to say the least because Maximus really only earns his freedom by dyeing after Commodus gives him a fatal wound before their duel to the end, his magnatism on the screen is stellar. He is the epitomy of a general, a leader and someone with so much honor and the empotion the Russell used to play this part is nothing short of stellar. All I can say to this movie is "Are you not entertained?"
While performance wise this should top my list, I just can't help loving Maximus. However, to date I think this is the most compelling and poignant performances of Crowe's career. Based on a true story about John Nash, who as a brilliant mathmetician suffers from severe pshyciatric mental problems. He is given the Carenegie award for his performance in mathmatics and attends Princeton University where he meets his room mate Charles. Charles is the complete opposite of Nash and seems to allow him moments of social ability that Nash would never normally have. He spends hours in the library or his room writing problems and solutions on the windows. Nash never attends a class much to the discouragment of colleagues and staff and in the end writes a most brilliant thesis in mathmatical economy. He is asked to Join the team at MIT and meets Alicia his future wife. All the while his dillusions are getting worse to the point that Alicia admits him to a psyciatric hospital and he undergoes a series of shock theraphy followed by medication that keeps him under control. Ron Howard and Crowe make an excellent team. Up until a certain point of the movie you hardly recognize the fact that most of the people Nash interacts with are figments of his imagination. You have to watch the movie a couple of times to realize there are moments where birds aren't moving while people are. Nash's invovlvment with MIT takes him into doing work for the Department of Defense cracking codes in magazines and newspapers of Soviet conspiracies but again are all just a figment of his imagination. The character of John Nash is not an easy one to play. It's even so hard to describe. His fight with his mental illness makes him almost child like with a high IQ. Alicia his wife is set to leave when he almost drowns their baby, but his cry for help leaves her with will to stay and see things out. He spends years combating his illness, and eventually returns to Princteon now under the direction of one of his old school mates, who allows him access to the library and eventually teaching. One of the most emotional moments of the movie is when Nash is approached by a member of the Nobel Prize committee and they take tea in the lounge where all the professors honor him with a ceremonial presenting of the pens. Nash is awarded the Nobel Prize for economics which he concocted in his years at Princeton. At the end you see his mental people standing in the lobby of the auditorium and you realize that he has fought his whole life to keep these people in his mind at bay. It's just an amazing performance from all the actors, but Crowe really makes Nash believable and real. The biggest upset for this movie for me was that Crowe was nominated for Best Actor this year and he would have gotten it if he hadn't done something typically stupid for an Aries, and pissed off the Academy. The award that year went to Denzel Washington for Training Day. Which really ticked me off because regardless of personal life, Crowe's performance made Denzel look just down right a typical ghetto cop which I don't think takes much imagination. That's the Academy for you.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Who can't love Crowe as a General or a Commander. Again his strength of personal character shines in this high seas film of a British ship chasing after the elusive French around the ocean. Crowe teams up again with Paul Bettany who played Charles in a Beautiful Mind. They play well off one another. Bettany plays the ships Doctor and friend to Captain Jack played by Crowe. It's a hard and realistic look into what real life was back in the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Most movies want you to see grown men as ship hands but this movie hits home the realistic history of when Children were sent off to be in the King's Navy. After one battle, one such child that couldn't be more than 13 is hit with a cannon ball and shows him on the table having his arm amputated. Crowe in this movie is Captain, leader, friend, and father to all his men aboard his ship and plays each with such enthusiasim. The battle sequences are done beautifully and realistically and what for me makes the movie is again the lengths Crowe will go to in order to make his part believable. There are many scenes where Captain Jack and the Doctor are playing the violin and chello, and while Crowe is already a musician, he didn't know how to play the Violin and took lessons so that in those scenes his actions were making the real music.
Mystery, Alaska
Ok, this is the second biggest fluff film on the list. I mean honestly to think that a movie about a small town in Alaska known for it's hockey shouldn't be very high on the list. Russell is just the average small town sherriff with the average family and plays in the Saturday game for the last 13 years. The Saturday game is made up of 10 guys who throw their sticks into the middle of the frozen pond and teams are decided by luck of the draw, however, in a small town like Mystery, being in the Saturday game made you somebody. Being that there are more up and coming young men ready to take the ice, Crowe who plays John Biebe is told that he is no longer on the team. This is devistating for him considering Charles, an old childhood contender for his wife's affections and now a big wig in the city and working for Sports Illustrated comes to let the town know he has arranged for the New York Rangers to come and play on their pond. This comes after a big write up in the magazine bragging about how the players of Mystery were just as good or better than any other team in the National Hockey League because of the conditions in which they played on. The town now becomes all in an uproar and everything changes. Their pond is turned into a regulation rink and Charles even gets them a Zambonie! Crowe finally convinces the local Judge, played by Burt Reynolds that he needs to coach and Russell is back in the game. I think the reason why this movie is on my list is because it's a feel good underdog movie, but what's really impressive is that these guys if they didn't already know how to play hockey, learned to play it very good. Russell actually sustained some long term injuries for this film trying to be a hockey player. So again it's another great example of his willingness to be true to his profession and take on the role he is playing to it's fullest.
A Good Year (Widescreen Edition) (2006)
This film may not have been in to may people's radar. Another film with Crowe and Ridley Scott that's definitely not on the top of action packed movies, but with a certain charm all it's own. Crowe plays Max Skinner a British hard ass who leads a group of stock traders which borders on almost criminal in his skeming. As a young boy Max spent summers in Provence with his Uncle Henry learning the finer things of life including how to make, drink and enjoy wine. When Max learns that his Uncle has passed away and he is the sole heir of this chateau, he flys to France to see what the value of the home would be worth to sell. Once there, he falls into the old pool and is stuck there for hours while the women he almost ran over on the way to the chateau turns on the water for it to fill up! He's in love, but can someone like Max ever really love. He's a hard working, asshole, who once gets out of the pool finds that going back to London isn't an option for him at the moment because he was suspended for his last trading stunt. So Max settles into the Chateaux and starts to discover the boy he used to be reminiscing about his Uncle, wearing his clothes, cleaning up the house and the grounds and eventually having a run in with Francis Duflot, the long time friend and vineyard keeper of his Uncle. Mrs. Duflot is the housekeeper and both her and her husband are concerned about the sale of the Chateaux. The labeled wine from the vineyard is horrible and according to a professional isn't worth much (paid off by Duflot), leaving the house as the only thing valuable. However, a hidden discovery of a different label wine is much more palatable, but it's a mystery as to where the wine came from. In comes a young women Chrisite from Napa Valley California who claims that she is the daughter of Henry and therefore would be the most likely heir to the Chateaux according to French rules. She claims that the bottle of the good wine is a very hard to find wine and that it's worth a lot of money per bottle and she figures out that the wine is made from a different well kept area of the Vineyard. In between all of this Max goes to town to try and woo the women who left him in the empty swimming pool Fannie and her salt and vinegar attitude is eventually broken down until she realizes that it will be ok, because Max will go back to his life in England and that would be ok. To sum it all up Max does go back to England, and is heralded as a genius for his trading, and is offered a choice, money or life. After his time in Provence he realizes that life is more important and he goes back to make good wine, live with Fannie and even Christine and the Duflot's all live happily making wine and eating good food. Russell is great at playing a preverbial asshole, but you still want to love him for it and this film is done so beautifully. Provence being of course on the the most well lighted spots in the world, it's just majical little film that's fun to watch.
3:10 to Yuma
Ben Wade the bad guy you want to hate, but obviously can not! Ben Wade a renegade with his band of followers have just raded the Union Pacific train with the entire payroll on board. In celebration he goes to celebrate at the local saloon and visits Emma Nelson. In the meantime, war veteran Dan Evans played by Christian Bale is fighting for him homestead against the rich rancher who is taking up his land for the water. While Wade is at the saloon the possy after him catches him without a shot fired and than asks for volunteers to get Wade to the 3:10 train to Yuma so he can stand trial for his crimes. Through the trip Wade and Evans strike up an unlikely uneasy friendship and at the end Evans convinces Wade that no matter what he needs to get him aboard that train if not to earn the respect of his son, but for his family. Once at the train one of Wade's band of followers shoots Evans and Wade counteracts by shooting them and getting on the train. It's left with Wade on the train with his horse following and you know that he will be on the loose again, but he did a good deed based on the earned respect he felt for Evans. It's not what I would consider a blockbuster movie, and its a remake of a 1957 movie of the same name and the acting and action in the movie is very good and watchable. I'm not a Bale fan, but I liked his character and as Western movies go there hasn't been out there since Tombstone in the terms of really great. It's another great way to showcase Russell Crowe's versatility of being an actor going from a Roman Gladiator to a Western theif.
Robin Hood (Single-Disc Unrated Director's Cut)
Another great Ridley/Crowe combination movie. The filming was beautiful and showing a not so clean era of Robin Hoods day. Unlike the one with Costner I think it really depicts the way that the nobles and peasants lived in the 13th Century. I liked this take on the movie because he didn't start out as Robin of Loxley, he was just a soldier in King Richard's army trying to figure out away to get out of the war that had delayed them in France because there was no money to get the army across. Robin and his Merry Men are given an opening when they come across the King's band of men dead. The assume their clothing, their weapons and mounts, and head for the ship that was waiting for King Richard when he was supposedly killed. They arrive in London the bearer of the bad news and on to Nottingham to fullfill a promise to notify them that their son is also dead. Lady Marrion originally married into the family is still at the family homstead trying to keep down the fort and protect it from the people who have taken refuge in the forest from the curelty and taxation of the village. Robin is given an offer to stay on as the prodical son returned and apparently is similar enough in appearance to fool everyone. In his growing love for Marion and his need to keep the people convinced that he is who he says he is, he takes on the fight against the new kind and his greed to keep the small area of Nottingham safe. What winds up happening is that Robin, Marion and this band of men re-treat into the forests to make a life outside the constraints of taxation, and corruption. Ok that's the long and short of it, but I not only enjoyed a new take on an old story, which made it interesting, but again, Russell is very commanding as Robin Hood who really plays a mere jokester famous for self- preservation and his skills with a bow and arrow, who learns that love and living for something is worth fighting for.
See the full review, "Russell Crowe Does it Again".
American Gangster
In this movie Crowe plays a good cop Ritchie Roberts, who after a bust that provided a very large sum of money brought it back to the station for evidence. Back in the day of the 70's cops were pretty crooked and you were viewed as a freak if you didn't take advantage of the perks of a drug bust, but not Roberts. He is invited to be a part of a new U.S. drug enforecement effort and is given leave to find his own crew and his own office. Diving into the possible big drug lords and pushers, he finally hones in on Frank Lucas. Frank Lucas played by Denzel Washington, stepped up into the shoes of his mentor and father figure Bumpy Johnson, who dies with lots of people owing him. Frank decides that this his moment to get into the action and make his money and goes to collect on Bumpy's debts and takes over his business. Of course it's the business of pushing dope to his fellow people. Frank decides that he needs a better product and while the Vietnam war is in full swing takes advantage of connections from his Cousin in the military and imports his drugs directly from the fields of Vietnam. Frank leads a very low key life until his soon to be wife gifts him with a luxurious fur coat which he wears to a big boxing match, to where he catches the eyes of almost every bad guy and bad cop in town with his flashy clothes and his excellent seats. A virtual unknown till that moment and that's when Roberts starts to investigate Frank. In between his investiagion of Lucas, he is trying to get his law degree, and is in the middle of a bitter divorce where his soon to be ex thinks that his thinking is a double standard. Her basic thought that just because he would give the money back he wasn't a good person for all the other stuff he had done in their relationship. So yes, Roberts has screwed his female lawyer and just about anything else he can get his hands on and eventually tells his ex that she was right and that she needed to take their son and go where they could start a new life. Once Robert has all his ducks in a row and is ready to arrest Lucas, Robert's who now can practice law sets out to take him down in the court room. However, there's a small twist here because Lucas actually plea bargains and helps Lucas take down not only other gangsters out on the streets, but also all the crooked cops that were involved in the dealings as well. Again this film is based on a true story and an unlikely friendship because once Lucas is released from prison, Robert's is there to help back out in the real world. It's a good story, and as always Crowe is brilliant. What I find funny about this one is the pairing of him and Denzel, the man they gave his Oscar to the year Crowe was nominated for Best Actor for A Beautiful Mind. I wonder how that faired for them both in real life?
The Quick and the Dead
Ah another classic Western with an all star cast, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Leonardo DiCaprio and of course Russell Crowe in his first American film appearance. While he didn't have a huge part in this movie, all I could say was who is that guy? It was the film that made him known and you could already see great things in his future.

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July 27, 2010
One of my favorite actors. He's always seemed very versatile when I think of all the different roles he has starred in. Creative list! Thanks for sharing. :)
July 23, 2010
Nice list. I suppose I should do one since he's my favorite actor as well. I could never match your comments though since they do amount to reviews almost and for me the whole idea of a list is to avoid doing all the heavy lifting a review requires. =)
July 23, 2010
It's hard not to write more than because each one is so unique!
July 23, 2010
True, true. Have you seen VIRTUOSITY? I think it might have been Crowe's second American film. He co-starred with Denzel Washington in that one too. Talk about fluff.
July 23, 2010
The one movie that I haven't seen from this list is # 5. Rockin' list, Holly!
July 23, 2010
A lot of people didn't see that one. I guess they had problems picturing him in a romantic comedy.
July 23, 2010
See I can see it because he is such a passionate actor, and he does everything so well, so yeah as a Romantic lead, ABSOLUTELY!
July 23, 2010
Great list! I'm a fan but I haven't seen most of these movies! I'd be sure to check them out! Thanks!
July 23, 2010
Well there are a couple of more that I haven't even seen all the way through myself. I wanted to put the Insider on there, but I have only caught bits and pieces. Anyone of those you haven't seen will be well worth it.
About the list creator
Holly Smith ()
Ranked #334
Married for 6 years, no kids and three neurotic dogs 11, 7 and 1. I live in the same town I grew up in, I am an avid scrapbooker, love going to Disneyland, and being with my friends. I work full time, … more
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