best film:  Three options here, The Dark Knight, American Psycho (yes, American Psycho) and The New World. I wouldn’t have said this five years ago but subsequent viewings of Malick’s 2005 masterpiece have me believe it’s indeed Bale’s best film. Bale isn’t the star, that’s Colin Farrell, but without Bale the second half of the film doesn’t work and the film isn’t nearly as richly complex. He’s so sensitive and kind that it really moves your sympathies as the viewer. The Dark Knight is a masterpiece and that’s a fine choice and American Psycho is both a moral horror film and a black comedy masterpiece.

best performance:  American Psycho is made by Bale. The writing is razor sharp but it doesn’t work without Bale’s tour-de-force work here at Patrick Bateman. It’s a rare non-auteur masterpiece. Bale’s intensity makes for a fantastic obsessive character but really it’s his comedic talent that’s on full display here (a trend in his best performances). He’d touch on this character again when he’s fake smugness as Bruce Wayne later in the Batman trilogy with Nolan.

stylistic innovations/traits: Bale, still in his 40’s, already has 20 films in the archives. He’s been going strong since his work as a child actor in 1987. His work in Empire of the Sun with Spielberg is one of the best child performances in cinema. Really though it’s 2000 and the turn of the century with American Psycho that Bale became one of the best actors working. His work with Nolan (including the landmark trilogy) is important as has been his work with David O. Russell (two nominations and one win). He’s gone the De Niro weight-loss route for films and put in on in others (American Hustle).

directors worked with:   Nolan (4), Malick (2), David O. Russell (2), Todd Haynes (2) and then Spielberg, Herzog and Michael Mann once

Top 5 Performances:

  1. American Psycho
  2. The Fighter
  3. American Hustle
  4. The Big Short
  5. The Dark Knight Rises

Archiveable films

1987- Empire of the Sun
1989- Henry V
1994- Little Women
1996- Portrait of a Lady
1998- Velvet Goldmine
2000- American Psycho
2005- Batman Begins
2005- The New World
2006- Rescue Dawn
2006- The Prestige
2007- 3:10 To Yuma
2007- I’m Not There
2008- The Dark Knight
2009- Public Enemies
2010- The Fighter
2012- The Dark Knight Rises
2013- American Hustle
2013- Out of the Furnace
2015- Knight of Cups
2015- The Big Short