best film:  The Tree of Life. I’ve seen it twice. I was mesmerized but perplexed the first time and then blown away the second time. It has some of the greatest imagery in the art form’s 100+  year history. It’s always nerve-racking when proclaiming a film a masterpiece after only two viewings, but I do think, if forced to choose, it’s Malick’s best film of all-time which would put it in the top 40 of all-time and I currently have it as the best film of the 2010’s decade. Pitt’s performance is worthy of any great actors Mount Rushmore—it’s largely a silent performance filled with superior moments of acting. Pitt has been in strong contenders to compete for this slot. Fight Club continues to grow on me nearly 20 years later and I feel like it could creep into my top 10 of the 1990’s, Seven is superb, The Assassination of Jesse James is a full-blown masterpiece and it may be joined by Inglourious Basterds amongst the 10 best from the 00’s decade the next time I update that list.

best performance: The Assassination of Jesse James requires celebrity for this role and Pitt is a large presence (he’s used in the same way by Tarantino just two years later). Pitt is perfect here- ominous, melancholic and cryptic. I think it’s the clear choice for his best single performance though the captured moments of pantomime brilliance in Malick’s masterpiece , the acting during the devastating finale in Seven, and the total captivation of his Tyler Durden character in Fight Club give me pause.

stylistic innovations/traits: Pitt has been known as just about the best looking guy on the planet for 25 years but his performances are extremely varied and unarguably captivating despite his good looks. He’s gone out of his way to avoid clichés, ugly himself up, and taking on challenging roles with auteurs. He has 20 films in the archives and counting, He’s paired with a great top 100 all-time auteur (Fincher- 3X), been in some of the best films of the last 20 years (Tree of life, Fight Club, Inglourious, Jesse James) and has great depth in the filmography.  Between Fight Club (1999) and Babel (2006) I think Pitt felt a little lost (this is Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Troy—but then seemed to rededicate himself to pursuing art over commerce and the ensuing run from 2006 thru 2013 was really impressive featuring 8-9 films that belong in the top 10 of their respective years— very few actors historically can match a run like that with their entire career– and this doesn’t even include his two best Fincher films or his rise to fame in the 90’s.

directors worked with:   Fincher (3), Andrew Dominik (2), Soderbergh (2) and then once with Tarantino, Malick, Iñárritu ,The Coen Brothers, Ridley Scott, Steve McQueen, Terry Gilliam

Top 10 Performances:

  1. The Assassination of Jesse James
  2. Fight Club
  3. The Tree of Life
  4. Seven
  5. 12 Monkeys
  6. Moneyball
  7. Inglourious Basterds
  8. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  9. A River Runs Through It
  10. Ocean’s Eleven

Archiveable films

1991- Thelma and Louise
1992- A River Runs Through It
1993- True Romance
1994- Interview With a Vampire
1994- Legends of the Fall
1995- Seven
1995- Twelve Monkeys
1999- Fight Club
2001- Ocean’s Eleven
2006- Babel
2007- Ocean’s Thirteen
2007- The Assassination of Jesse James
2008- Burn After Reading
2008- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2009- Inglourious Basterds
2011- Moneyball
2011- The Tree of Life
2012- Killing Them Softly
2013- Twelve Years a Slave
2015- The Big Short