Today marks the 39th birthday of Christian Bale, which is both awesome and crazy at the same time – awesome because it’s Christian Bale, but crazy because he was only 18 when I first took notice of him, which means that both he and I are getting old.
Happy birthday, you dark knight, you. And to celebrate 39 years of Bale, I’m here to take a look at my favorite Bale performances. Of course I haven’t seen the entire Bale filmography, as he’s become quite the little busy-body when it comes to making movies, but I can definitely put down a fairly solid TOP TEN BALE PERFORMANCES list. Complete with exclamation points!! (and possible sarcasm).
10. The Prestige (2006)
So even though this movie is about magic – of which I’m totally not a fan – I am a fan of Christian Bale (and Hugh Jackman, who also stars, and Christopher Nolan, who directs), so I decided to see this movie. And you know what? Bale + Jackman + Nolan = cool magicians. Seriously, this movie actually didn’t make me hate magicians the way I usually do. The story kept you guessing the whole time, with a surprise twist thrown in at the end. That being said, had Bale not been in this movie, I probably wouldn’t have seen it. So there.
9. Treasure Island (1990)
Honestly, I’d be surprised if anyone else saw this made-for-TNT adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, as it was out of print for years up until 2011 when it finally came out on DVD. Somehow I managed to find the VHS way back in the mid-1990s at Suncoast (remember that old store?), but I didn’t watch the movie very often. Why? Well, it was quite long and boring in parts. But it didn’t take away the fact that Bale was “sooooo cute” in the movie (yes, my exact words as a 15-year-old). And his shirt gets all torn up, revealing his 16-year-old man chest (hey, I was 15. Shut up).
8. Reign of Fire (2002)
Also known to fans as “Christian Bale Doesn’t Wear a Shirt For Most of the Movie”. Or “Christian Bale Sweats For Most of the Movie”. Or “OMG Christian Bale Does the Best Darth Vader Impression Ever in this Movie”. Oh yeah, and it’s got dragons. Bale is a DRAGON SLAYER. That’s right, I said DRAGON SLAYER, ya’ll. Top ten indeed.
7. Henry V (1989)
So he may only be in the movie for a combined 20 minutes or so, but he definitely made an impression on this young girl when I first saw this movie (probably because I was slightly obsessed with him. But whatever). He plays the part of Shakespeare’s famous character “Boy”, and says such wonderful lines like “Good Bardolph, put thy face between his sheets and do the office of a warming pan” and…well…that’s about it. So he doesn’t say much. Oh, and he totally dies in the end. Which is, of course, the most depressing part of the movie because all you’re thinking is, “Wow…I really didn’t see enough of Bale in this, and now he’s gone. Shakespeare sucks.”*
*Okay, he doesn’t totally suck. But come on. Give our favorite boy a name and some decent screen time, for Bardolph’s sake.
6. American Psycho (2000)
This was the movie that made everyone look at Christian Bale a little differently. Like, WOW, this guy can act! And WOW, this guy is crazy! But mostly WOW this guy has the hottest bod ever. Seriously…Mr. Bale put some serious time into that scrawny Welsh body and turned it into perfection. On a serious note, this movie is not for the faint-hearted or the closed-minded. Then again, Mr. Bale walks around naked. So you make the choice.
5. Batman Begins / The Dark Knight / The Dark Knight Rises (2005 / 2008 / 2012)
Well, obviously I had to lump all three of these together because they’re all freaking awesome, and, um, did I mention that Bale is BATMAN? (If you didn’t know that already, you must have been living in a bat cave. But not THE Bat Cave. Because no one knows where that is.) Favorite actor + favorite superhero = OMG THIS SHIZ IS AWESOMESAUCE. And yes, I just used the word “awesomesauce” in reference to Bale and The Dark Knight Trilogy. But honestly, these movies are truly amazing, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Bale as Bruce Wayne is perfect, and his Batman is a lot more intense than Michael Keaton’s, Val Kilmer’s and George Clooney’s combined. And you’ll be copying his voice for days (until you see Bane, and then you’ll be copying his voice for days).
4. Little Women (1994)
Oh, Laurie. Laurie, Laurie, Laurie. Jo was so stupid when she let you go. Who would have thought that Amy was the smarter March sister? I never cared much for the boy next door character of Laurie until I saw Bale play him in this movie, and I swear to God it’s not just because it was Bale. Well yes, it had a lot to do with that fact. But to use a very movie-critic-sounding word to describe Bale in this movie, it would be that his performance was “delightful”. I’m serious. Bale was DELIGHTFUL in this movie. It’s obvious why the March girls love him so much and let him into their weird little world, and it’s totally NOT obvious why Jo turns down his marriage proposal. Laurie is FREAKING DELIGHTFUL, Jo, and you just tossed him away like he was a piece of old cheese. What. Evs.
3. Swing Kids (1993)
I was pretty much at the peak of my Bale obsession when this movie came out. Again, I don’t think too many people saw this movie – Bale and his co-star Robert Sean Leonard weren’t really household names (except at my house where they were Very Important Names), and I guess no one really had an interest in seeing a movie about dancing Nazis. But I did, of course, and I absolutely drooled while watching Nazi Bale jitterbug his way right into my heart. His character may be kind of a dick in the movie, but he comes around in the end, so it’s all good. Swing Heil!
2. Empire of the Sun (1987)
This was one of the first things Bale had ever done acting-wise, and I’m surprised he wasn’t nominated for a Oscar for this movie. He was only 13, and he pretty much carried an entire Steven Spielberg movie on his tiny little Welsh shoulders with freakish maturity that is hard to come by in these Beiber-esque times. He starts out as a bratty, privileged British schoolboy and ends up a hardened prison camp boy, and he’s totally believable the whole time. And since I was the same age as him in the movie when I first saw this, I can say that I thought he was super cute. I can’t say that now because it would be, you know, kinda weird. But I can think it!
1. Newsies (1992)
I know, I know, BIG SURPRISE, right? But honestly, what is better than Christian Bale in Newsies? He sings, he dances, he gets in fights, and he looks really good while doing it. Again, this is one of those movies that if it didn’t star Christian Bale, I wouldn’t be talking about it so much. Can you imagine the movie WITHOUT Bale? A ragged army without a leader, I say! Bale brought charisma to a somewhat mediocre musical, and suddenly everything around him in the movie sparkled. It may be cheesy, it may be down-right silly, but it will always be awesome. Thanks to the birthday boy.
*The guy on the right.