Top 5 Movie Guide: James Woods

This upcoming weekend didn't offer a whole lot in terms of actors or directors with big, inspirational bodies of work, so instead, we went a more unique route. For this list, we decided to focus our efforts on actor James Woods. How did we come to him you might ask? Well it just so happens that today is Mr. Woods' birthday. And what better time is there to recognize someone than on their birthday? So happy 65th birthday Mr. James Woods!

James Woods has been acting since the late 1960's but many might not be familiar with how he got there. Believe it or not, Woods actually graduated at the top of his high school class and later enrolled at M.I.T., from which he received an academic scholarship to attend. He studied there for a year and a half before dropping out to pursue his passion of acting during his Sophomore year.

His passions quickly paid off though, and before he knew it, he already had a name for himself in the business. Interesting bit of trivia by the way: at one point, Woods fired his then manager after he opted not to tell him about the role of Mr. Orange that Quentin Tarantino specifically offered to him for "Reservoir Dogs", feeling the role wasn't significant enough. The role was eventually snagged up by Tim Roth, and I think everyone knows how that film turned out.

But anyway, check out the full list of all our favorite James Woods films after the break.

Alex Schopp -
I just want to note the directors making appearances on this list, it's a pretty solid lineup: John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Oliver Stone, Clint Eastwood, and Lewis Teague.

     1. Vampires (1998)

This is my favorite vampire movie. It's a great mix of gore and camp. Plus James Woods' character is really cool in it.
     2. Videodrome (1983)
This film is fantastic and surreal and thought-provoking, but the content is also quite explicit at times (not that I mean that as a negative). What I'm saying is, this film is definitely a must-watch as long as you realize you're going into a classic Cronenberg pic.
     3. Any Given Sunday (1999)
This sports movie is pretty much completely unlike any other sports movie I've ever seen. But I like that about it. I'm not trying to watch it all the time, but I love the angle it takes on big-market sports; very gritty.
     4. True Crime (1999)
Great investigative thriller. Between this and "Blood Work" in 2002, Clint Eastwood had this genre locked down at the time.
     5. Cat's Eye (1985)
When I was young - maybe 9 or 10 - I remember seeing this movie case at the video rental store. I don't really know why, but after that I wanted to rent this movie more than anything. I think I asked every week (by the way, I knew it was a horror movie). My parents never let me though. I eventually did see it some years later. And while it didn't exactly live up to my expectations for it, I can't say that it disappointed either.

Ben Foutch -

     1. Videodrome (1983)

Cerebral, surreal and disturbing.
     2. Cat's Eye (1985)
Probably one of my favorite films growing up.
     3. Vampires (1998)
So bad, it's good.
     4. The Specialist (1994)
Like reading a pulp thriller. Fast, cheap, and goes down easy.
     5. Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)
Brilliant performance.

Derek Clem -

     1. Dirty Pictures (2000)

James Woods plays an art gallery director fighting for free speech in this true story! The story revolves around Robert Mapplethorpe's controversial photography. Mapplethorpe might have the only work of art that has ever affected me in a way that caused me to flinch and look away, striking an involuntary pain sensation throughout my body. And even so, his photographs contain a beautiful delicacy.
     2. Videodrome (1983)
I actually watched this for the first time on a recommendation writer Ben Foutch gave me last year. Pure Cronenberg.
     3. Contact (1997)
The end of this movie could be considered a let down to some. However, the journey to that end is very satisfying.
     4. The Hard Way (1991)
A movie star (Michael J. Fox) follows an irritable cop (James Woods) in preparation for a movie role . I hold a special place in my heart for movies about the film industry. This movie also acts as a nice Buddy Cop film; sadly, it just missed the cut due to some technicalities when I formed that list.
     5. The Getaway (1994)
I thought this movie was so cool growing up. Where "Batman" (1989) never had me falling in love with Kim Basinger, this movie did. When you watch it you'll know why. This movie might be why the pause symbol on my remote controller was worn off.

Nathan Hinds -

     1. John Q (2001)

I would almost always watch this whenever it came on TV (which was a lot). That was back when I would watch TV more often, I don't really anymore.
     2. Be Cool (2005)
Great ensemble cast, and an all around fun movie.
     3. Hercules (1997)
I've always loved the story of Hercules, and oddly enough, this is probably the best of any Hercules movie. Hopefully the next live-action Hercules movie they make can change that.
     4. Vampires (1998)
Full of cheese, but still a fun movie.
     5. Any Given Sunday (1999)
It's way too long, but it's still a good sports movie.

Andy Schopp -
Three of these movies I love watching every time I put them in, and I love them based almost solely on Woods' performance!

     1. Vampires (1998)

     2. Videodrome (1983)

     3. Hercules (1997)

     4. Cat's Eye (1985)

     5. The General's Daughter (1999)

So there you have it. Our favorite films featuring performances by James Woods. Not much surprise for the top two performers, but no film swept the lists this week. Still, the films with the best showings were "Vampires" and "Videodrome", each with four appearances. Both films have a lot to offer, and if you're starting your James Woods education, these might be good places to start. Otherwise, "Cat's Eye" showed up on three lists, while "Hercules" and "Any Given Sunday" were the only other multiple selections, with two apiece. All of those selections are films to note, but as always, we highly encourage you to check out all of the movies referenced in the lists above.

Hopefully these film selections help you to expand your knowledge of James Woods' filmography and guide you to better and more enjoyable viewing experiences.

Happy watching!