If we were to ask what is Christian Bale's best movie, the popular answer would be The Dark Knight. But even die-hard fans of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy aren't so quick to say Bale's performance is his best. He's good, sure, but there's that voice everyone mocks, and overall the character calls for a leveled style of acting that can't compete with his showy Oscar-winning work in The Fighter or his over-the-top brilliance in American Psycho and now American Hustle.
With Bale currently starring in two movies out in theaters (Out of the Furnace is the other one), it's time to consider what is the actor's greatest performance. He has been starring in movies for more than 25 years now, having broken out at age 13 as the lead in Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun. It took him a while after to become a big star, but there are those of us who enjoyed him along the way, including in the guilty pleasure Newsies and in a supporting part in the 1994 adaptation of Little Women.
Really it was Batman Begins that brought him into the big leagues, leading to great parts worthy of great acting in The Prestige, The New World and Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn. Before donning the cape, though, Bale gave one of his most remarkable performances in The Machinist, having lost a record amount of weight to be authentically sickly thin. Does the transformation and devotion to character make that his best ever display of his talents, though?
We polled Twitter users this week for their vote on Bale's best movie performance, and here are the results:
The Fighter: 5
American Psycho: 4
Rescue Dawn: 3
The Prestige: 1
The Machinist: 1
Empire of the Sun: 1
@thefilmcynic NEWSIES! Jk....kinda...I love that movie. AMERICAN PSYCHO.— The NYC Film Chick (@TheNYCFilmChick) December 12, 2013
@thefilmcynic American Psycho or Rescue Dawn.— Craig Bloomfield (@DarkEyeSocket) December 12, 2013
@thefilmcynic The Fighter. American Psycho. Rescue Dawn. Batman Begins. American Hustle. In that order.— Adam Frazier (@AdamFrazier) December 12, 2013