Top 10 Films – Christian Bale

As a 13 year old Bale stole the show in Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun

As a 13 year old Bale stole the show in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun

List compiled by Eddie on 21/04/2017

A child actor that has gone on and forgone the usual stigma associated with young performers who struggle to adapt to adult roles, Christian Bale is one of the most intense and committed modern day actors and one that’s not afraid to method up for his roles.

Whether it’s dropping kilos, gaining kilos or in one particular instance, just getting a little heated about an unfortunate on-set employee (Terminator Salvation must’ve got the better of him), Bale no doubt takes his craft seriously and since the new millennium has come around his appeared in some of the era’s best films and worked with some of the industries most renowned filmmakers.

An actor both at home in big budget blockbusters and intimate character studies, picking a Top 10 for Bale is no easy task but below is a balanced representation of an actor that continues to pick quality roles and delivers memorable turns in them.

As always this below list of films is not based on Bale’s performance alone, more so the films as a whole.

Happy reading and happy watching.

Bale in his Oscar winning turn in The Fighter

Bale in his Oscar winning turn in The Fighter

10. The Fighter (2010)

Bale plays – Dicky Eklund

A film in which Bale won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for, The Fighter may not be a one punch knockout but it’s certainly one of the better boxing films of recent times. Telling the true story of famous Lowell fighter Micky Ward, this is one of David O. Russell’s more “normal” films and Bale’s turn as drug addled Dicky Ecklund Jr. is certainly a highlight.

Does Bale go method? Yes.

9. Empire of the Sun (1987)

Bale plays – Jim

You won’t see many better child performances than what we get from Bale in Steven Spielberg’s unique Japanese set World War 2 film. Bale was only 13 years old when he made this film and it wasn’t for many years down the track that he once more truly delivered on the incredible talent he showed here.

Does Bale go method? No.

8. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Bale plays – Dan Evans

James Mangold’s remake of the 1957 film of the same name is a highly enjoyable throwback western that saw the teaming up of Bale and Russell Crowe used to great effect. Filled with some intense shootouts, a great score and some typically picturesque Wild West landscapes, 3:10 to Yuma’s a hugely entertaining watch.

Does Bale go method? No.

7. Batman Begins (2005)

Bale plays – Bruce Wayne/Batman

At the time Bale’s biggest role yet, Batman Begins saw the Brit take on the classic duel role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Christopher Nolan’s high concept update on the legendary DC comic’s character. Batman Begins was a huge success that led to an all new profile for Bale and is a fantastic example of a superhero origin story done right.

Does Bale go method? No.

6. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Bale plays – Bruce Wayne/Batman

The large scale conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises may not have been quite up to the task of matching its near perfect predecessor but with memorable villains and more than a sprinkling of wonderfully designed set pieces; The Dark Knight Rises is still ripping stuff.

Does Bale go method? No.

One seriously cool cat as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

One seriously cool cat as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

5. American Psycho (2000)

Bale plays – Patrick Bateman

Featuring a deranged and downright demented Bale performance as the unhinged Patrick Bateman, Mary Harron’s adaption of Bret Easton Ellis’s famous book is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but its pitch black humour and willingness to spill blood makes American Psycho a must watch.

Does Bale go method? Yes.

4. The New World (2005)

Bale plays – John Rolfe

In what would be Bale’s first collaboration with famous director Terrence Malick (the two have recently delivered us Knight of Cups and Song to Song, the recent Nashville set drama), The New World is a beautiful and moving rendition of the much beloved story of Pocahontas and is arguably Malick’s most easy to relate to film. Films of this ilk rarely come around and The New World is an underrated gem.

Does Bale go method? No.

3. The Machinist (2004)

Bale plays – Trevor Reznik

A film that is perhaps most well-known for featuring the scary sight of a near death looking Bale as the emaciated Trevor Reznick (Bale lost somewhere in the vicinity of 30 kilos for his role which was his last before bulking up for Batman Begins), Brad Anderson’s perfectly constructed thriller is a classic of the genre. It’s a shame that Anderson has never truly gone on with the skill he showed here as a filmmaker but The Machinist marked a career high period for Bale as an actor.

Does Bale go method? Yes.

2. The Prestige (2006)

Bale plays – Alfred Borden

Undervalued upon initial release, Christopher Nolan’s mysterious and twist filled tale of two rival magicians in the form of Bale’s Alfred Borden and Hugh Jackman’s Roger Angier is a solidified classic of modern day cinema. Never once failing to engage the viewer, The Prestige is a film you’ll want to watch over and over again.

Does Bale go method? No.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

Bale plays – Bruce Wayne/Batman

A film that speaks for itself, The Dark Knight is just down right as perfect as a big budgeted superhero film could get and also excels in the human drama as well as good vs evil staples. With a stunningly on form cast and with more showpiece set pieces than countless other such events, The Dark Knight is deserving of its place as one of the most beloved movies of all time.

Does Bale go method? No.

Bale with his late co-star Heath Ledger in one of The Dark Knight's pivotal scenes

Bale with his late co-star Heath Ledger in one of The Dark Knight’s pivotal scenes

Honourable mentions – Public Enemies, Harsh Times and Rescue Dawn.

How does this list of Bale films stack up to your thoughts? Is there a glaring omission or a film too high or too low? If you’ve got something to say let us know in the comments below!

The Machinest

For other J and E actor Top 10’s see below

Tom Cruise

Tom Hanks

Bruce Willis

Russell Crowe

Denzel Washington

Brad Pitt

Nicolas Cage

Leonardo DiCaprio

Robert DeNiro

Johnny Depp

Matthew McConaughey

Al Pacino

Clint Eastwood

Matt Damon

44 responses to “Top 10 Films – Christian Bale

  1. He is such a great actor, definitely ranks as one of my favorites. I thought his performance in the fighter was absolutely amazing. Such a terrific and touching movie. Really enjoyed reading this post 😊

  2. Great list for a brilliant actor. 🙂 American Psycho ranks higher for me, personally. And even though I love the Machinist, I really hope no actor will have to go through such a drastic transformation for a movie role!

    I might secretly slip in my guilty pleasure Reign of Fire too, which will take away what little bit of credibility I have, lol.

  3. Great list for a great actor. He’s the closest film thespian we have to an “in prime” Robert De Niro from the 70s/80s/90s. It’s a shame he spent so much time on Knight of Cups because that was a colossal bore! He was great in American Hustle (2013) and The Big Short (2015) too.

  4. Well said!! Bale is very talented!! May I please re-post this to my blog – Chick Flicking Reviews – as it is so well written and right on.

  5. This was a great idea for a post and an enjoyable read. I’m not one for ranking people’s performances on a number scale but I’d say you did a pretty good job. I like his acting in all these movies. My personal favourites being American Psycho and Rescue Dawn. I stil have a lot of movies to catch up on with Mr. Bale. 😊

  6. I am pleased to see The Machinist so high on your list, even though my favourite role of his will always remain American Psycho. There was just something special about his performance there. Also, I think his earlier roles often get overlooked, but there were nothing short of brilliant too. As a lover of period dramas, I always think of Bale in Little Women and in the Portrait of a Lady. Even then, these films cemented Bale as this new heart-throb, and also a talented actor.

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  8. Hey guy, I just started following you. I noticed you’ve read and liked some of my stuff at Roguesonly and it seems like we have some things in common and I look forward to getting your take on some of the films I haven’t seen.

    As a fan Bale’s from the beginning, it’s a pretty good list. Equilibrium should at least get an honorable mention. The Big Short and American Hustle should be somewhere on this list. I think you could have lumped the Dark Knight Trilogy together and freed up an additional 2 spots. Cheers!

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