Top 10 Films – Russell Crowe

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Crowe teaming up with Al Pacino made for a great double act in Michael Mann’s The Insider

List compiled by Eddie on 19/06/2015

Rugby lover, growling singer, beer loving bogan and just general all round tough guy, the many faces of New Zealand’s Russell Crowe (we Aussie’s have somewhat adopted him) has seen his placing among the general population range from admiration to downright hatred. No matter how you personally feel about Crowe though there is little point in denying the power of the actor’s filmography.

Working with some of the world’s finest filmmakers and acting compatriots, Crowe has now over the period of multiple decades showcased his acting ability that finally came to an industry forefront with his grand performance as Maximus in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator in the year 2000. Oscar wins and nominations have followed and while Crowe has found some tough times at the box office in recent years he is still continuing to be involved in some exciting projects with his recent Water Diviner striking a chord with Australian film fans, in what is a new career step for him being the director of the film.

Picking a Top 10 from Crowe’s filmography was not an overly hard decision with his best films clearly standing out from a range of middle of the road pictures but this list is sure representation of a stunning body of work that many other actors would kill to have.

As always happy reading and happy watching!

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Crowe played second fiddle to Denzel Washington in the enjoyable American Gangster

10. American Gangster (2007)

Crowe plays – Richie Roberts

A fine entry into the crime genre of films, Ridley Scott’s American Gangster benefited from the casting of Denzel Washington and Crowe in the telling of the true life tale of heavy hitting drug kingpin Frank Lucas. Filmed with a professional eye and told in a never dull manner, this is great entertainment.

9. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Crowe plays – John Nash

Hot on the heels of his star making turn in Gladiator, Crowe backed up his Oscar winning turn with this Ron Howard film that succeeded in showcasing to the world that Crowe was no one hit wonder. The true story of John Nash and his incredible yet volatile mind was a box office hit and won 4 Oscars including a Best Picture gong and remains one of Howards most accomplished films.

8. State of Play (2009)

Crowe plays – Cal McAffrey

A film that many bypassed on release, Kevin Macdonald’s retelling of the famous TV series is a seriously fine thriller. Co-scripted by Nightcrawler’s up and coming director Tony Gilroy and with fine turns from Crowe as dogged reported Cal McAffrey and a suitably sleazy turn from Ben Affleck, this is a flick well worth checking out if you missed it upon release.

7. Cinderella Man (2005)

Crowe plays – Jim Braddock

Teaming up once more with Ron Howard, Cinderella Man saw Crowe and Howard create one of the finest movie tales focussed around the sport of boxing we’ve seen. A lovingly crafted and respectfully told account of real life boxer Jim Braddock, this film didn’t see the same success that A Beautiful Mind did but it’s power is equal to if not higher than it’s more esteemed predecessor.

6. Les Miserables (2012)

Crowe plays – Javert

An ambitious and effective retelling of the stage staple, Les Miserables is a real cinematic achievement that deserved all its myriad successes. Working both as a drama and a screen musical, the film benefits from a universally on song cast and some strong direction by Tom Hooper.

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Crowe showed everyone his acting power in the confronting Romper Stomper, a classic Australian flick

5. Romper Stomper (1992)

Crowe plays – Hando

A raw and brutal look at racial tensions in the working class suburbs of Melbourne in Australia, this Australian classic saw for the first time a commanding lead turn from Russell Crowe in what still acts as one of his most committed and strong turns. The film is a stunning examination on an often taboo subject and is worthy of your time if you can track down a copy.

4. L.A. Confidential (1997)

Crowe plays – Bud White

An Australian contingent leads the charge in Curtis Hanson’s fantastic noir drama focussed in the City of Angels. Guy Pearce, Crowe and a raft of others all excel in this cracking tale that features a stand out script and some stunning directional work by Hanson. It’s standing amongst cinema lover’s is recognised in its entry at number 95 on the IMDB Top 250.

3. The Insider (1999)

Crowe plays – Jeffrey Wigand

One of Michael Mann’s oft forgotten gems, The Insider is an impeccably crafted thriller based around the true story of Jeffrey Wigand who is expertly played by Crowe before he hit the big time with his early 2000 acting turns. The Insider was rewarded with 7 Oscar nominations on release but has since been largely left out in the cold just waiting to be discovered by those that may’ve originally missed it.

2. Gladiator (2000)

Crowe plays – Maximus

Little needs to be said about Gladiator, a film that around 15 years ago heralded in the talent of Crowe and the return to form from veteran director Ridley Scott. A huge Box Office haul, countless awards (including a well-deserved Oscar for Crowe) and a stunning example of movie making craft, Gladiator is the full package and a movie that will live long in the history of cinema.

1. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

Crowe plays – Capt. Jack Aubrey

A hugely underrated film from the talented Peter Weir, Master and Commander may’ve done some O.K business at the box office and garnered 10 Oscar Nominations but to this day it remains largely forgotten about in almost all circles. A handsomely crafted, well-acted and suitably epic adventure on the high seas, Master and Commander is a gem of a film that showcases both Weir and Crowe at their very best and is one of the finest films set around the deep blue ever produced.

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An underrated turn by Crowe in Peter Weir’s classic sea set tale Master and Commander helped anchor an incredibly exciting movie

Honourable Mention – 3:10 To Yuma

How does this list of Crowe films stack up to your favourites? Are there some Noah fans out there or perhaps some Robin Hood lovers? Let us know in the comments below!

For our other actor tops tens see below –

Brad Pitt

Leonardo DiCaprio

Robert De Niro

Tom Hanks

Nicholas Cage

Bruce Willis

Denzel Washington

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55 responses to “Top 10 Films – Russell Crowe

  1. Surprisingly okay with the choices, until I got to that dreadful film where he thinks he can sing. However, I in general hated the film as a whole, so there’s that. I was pleasantly surprised, and absolutely loved that “State of Play” was mentioned. Little seen and much better than people think. I should Re-watch it sometime. It’s been ages since I saw it last.

  2. I’d have gladiator as number one.. m&c would be way down the list. 3:10 to yuma would make the cut and the next 3 days would sneak in and replace les mis – which I haven’t seen

  3. A solid list, I didn’t like Les Mis much myself, would have included 3:10 to Yuma or The Quick and the Dead instead. It reminds me that I should really try and see Master & Commander again, haven’t seen it since the initial release and its reputation appears to be slowly growing.

  4. Good list, but I’m surprised you missed out my favourite Russell Crowe performance in “Tenderness”. It’s such a nuanced turn and he really inhabits the character. It’s not that well-known but, for me, it’s Crowe’s best. Thanks for provoking my thoughts!

  5. I wasn’t really a fan of State of Play. I felt like it was lacking on every level. The original 3:10 to Yuma was a better version in my opinion, although I didn’t mind the new one. If I did a list I would have replaced those two with Next Three Days and Robin Hood. I really enjoyed Crowe’s Robin Hood, especially after hearing nothing but bad things about it.

  6. I rather didn’t enjoy Robin Hood, but this is an excellent selection. There are a couple here i’ve had my eyes on but haven’t had the chance. Good honorable mention and Master and Commander was a great film.

  7. I always enjoyed Crowe in Mystery Alaska. Yes, it’s a run-of-the mill sports film and his skating in it is a little bit suspect, but I enjoyed it all the same.

  8. Id’ve popped out one of them..but to avoid controversy won’t say which- but it starts with an L and I walked out of it after 2 loonng grueling hours though not because of Russell.. hahahaha and added “The Sum of Us” 😀

  9. I truly didn’t think there were any others who appreciated ‘Master and Commander’ as much as I do. It is easily my favorite naval movie of all time and ties with ‘Gladiator’ and ‘3:10 to Yuma’ as my top Russell Crowe films. Great list though. I’ll have to check out a few I’ve missed.

  10. No Virtuosity? Hehe, kidding.
    Seriously though, Master and Commander was an awesome film. Glad to know others agree with me.

  11. Master and Commander was an entertaining movie. But in the books, the villains are Americans. In the film, made during the anti-French-idiocy of the Bush years, they become French. We never see them anyway.

    American Gangster could have been so much better had Ridley Scott concentrated on the “Cadaver Connection” instead of spending so much time constructing yet another story about “crime as the American dream.”

    Gladiator is a stupid movie. See Anthony Mann’s The Fall of the Roman Empire instead. Gladiator ripped it off and it’s 1000 times better

    LA Confidential is OK. Not great. But OK. The Insider is excellent. Les Miserables kind of sucks.

      • Having read all 20 books, some multiple times and watched M & C more the 10 times it is clear that the film was never meant to be an adaptation of one book but borrows iconic sections from the whole series to pay homage to O’Brien’s novels. Even though the Americans do feature as villains the series as a whole is based on the conflict with Napoleon. Considering this I agree with Weir’s decision for a one off film to focus on the French to capture the essence of what makes the novels so enjoyable.

        Great list guys, have seen all of these except State of Play and couldn’t agree more. Really loved Cinderella Man, L.A Confidential, Gladiator, The Insider, M & C and America Gangsters, been watching these all regularly over the last decade. While as an Australian, Romper Stomper is always in my mind as a cultural classic with that real grit I love in our better work.

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