Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Edward Norton

For this week's edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we focus our attentions on one of the stars of this weekend's upcoming "The Bourne Legacy", Edward Norton. Norton always knew he had a passion for the art, and even at 8-years-old, appearing in local productions, he would ask his directors for his character's motivation. But those passions would remain in check until after his college career. Norton attended Yale as an undergraduate and it is widely noted that he did not major in acting, instead ended up getting a degree in History. And while his acting interests were pushed aside on paper, he still hung out in the Drama department enough to become good college friends with other Yale alums Ron Livingston and Paul Giamatti.


After graduating with his degree in History, he headed over to Japan to work for his grandfather's company, building houses for the underprivileged (interestingly, his grandfather is also credited for inventing the modern shopping mall). But after a few years he was back in New York City, and quickly took up a job working for acclaimed playwright Edward Albee. He carried various odd jobs for the writer and director until catching his Hollywood break, acting alongside Richard Gere in "Primal Fear". In his first ever film role, Norton beat out over 2,000 young actors, and even earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Norton was in instant success, creating a strong buzz all across Hollywood circles.

Norton has become one of the more dedicated young actors in Hollywood today, putting together a very strong filmography in a generally short amount of time.

But we'll only take a look at our five favorites this week; hit the jump for all of the titles!

Alex Schopp -
I've never been a huge Ed Norton fan, so you'll see almost no passions here from me. You'll notice a lack in some of his more acclaimed roles below ("Fight Club", "American History X"), but I realized I'm just never trying to watch those. I know they're quality movies, but I instead went with picks that are generally more entertaining and fun to watch.

     1. Rounders (1998)

I didn't want this to be my top selection because I don't care much for Norton's character in this. But after looking over all of these films, I don't much care for his character in most of these (not saying he's a bad actor, he just takes roles as not very likable people). So after that, the fact that this film is in my top five all-time put it here.
     2. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
I know it's still new, but Norton was one of my favorite characters in this film, and I really enjoyed seeing him in a more likable role.
     3. The Italian Job (2003)
Norton plays the villain, but I do love the cat and mouse heist games they play with each other. This is on my list of films that will always have incredible watchability; it's not doing anything amazing, but it's always so easy to watch.
     4. Death to Smoochy (2002)
One of the first dark comedies that I remember enjoying. I remember being amazed that Robin Williams was being so un-family friendly. Turns out, adults were probably thinking it was weird that he was being so family friendly beforehand.
     5. Keeping the Faith (2000)
I was really trying to include this on my Ben Stiller list two weeks ago, but there just wasn't any room. The film knew how close it was though, and that's why it was fate we did Norton's this week; the film wanted me to put it on a list.

Ben Foutch -

     1. Fight Club (1999)

Unforgettable.
     2. The Illusionist (2006)
Unforgettable.
     3. American History X (1998)
Unforgettable.
     4. Rounders (1998)
Unforgettable.
     5. Primal Fear (1996)
Forgettable, but his performance is fantastic.

Derek Clem -

     1. 25th Hour (2002)

This movie has always felt like a home run to me. The entire cast is firing at all cylinders.
     2. American History X (1998)
Was this when we all thought Edward Norton would become one of the greatest actors ever...
     3. Fight Club (1999)
...or was this the movie that made us accidentally think that?
     4. The Painted Veil (2006)
I love it when people disregard their passions or lusts and realize their duty in life.
     5. Rounders (1998)
My always increasing apathy for poker causes this one to drop significantly; had I made this list 10 years ago this would be number one.

Nathan Hinds -

     1. Rounders (1998)

Such an entertaining movie. A couple of years ago when everyone was going through their poker phase (myself included), I don't think I went more than a week without this movie being on.
     2. American History X (1998)
The best word to describe this movie is: Powerhouse. It's really a movie that everyone should see. Not many other movies can portray the power of hatred and the importance of forgiveness.
     3. Fight Club (1999)
As much as I don't want to have this movie on here, I can't leave it off. Don't get me wrong, I think its a really good movie, but I also think it's overrated. To hear some people talk about this movie like it's the greatest thing ever is taking it too far.
     4. The Italian Job (2003)
I haven't seen the original, but this version was a lot of fun. I'm always down for a good heist movie.
     5. The Invention of Lying (2009)
Okay, I know I don't normally do small roles for these lists but I couldn't keep this one off. It's such a funny and interesting concept. The funniest part about this movie though, is the people who watch it and don't get all it's trying to say. Ignorance is bliss.

Andy Schopp -

     1. Death to Smoochy (2002)

I have seen this movie a million times and I love it! I think its a really great movie that mixes healthy doses of comedy, drama and thriller. I love the background of a children's television show for a "mafia drama". It's such a great concept. Plus Robin Williams is great!
     2. Rounders (1998)
"You cant win what you don't put in the pot". I use this line in my everyday life all the time. It reminds me that sometimes I have to take a risk. It's also a fantastic movie!
     3. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
I know this movie gets a lot of hate but personally I love this movie. I love how much hope went into the story here! All he wants to do is save his people and his enemies respect him for that. A building is just a building but people are irreplaceable.
     4. American History X (1998)
Even though the watchability is so low on this due to its dramatic and unforgiving nature, I still think it's an incredible movie. I think that just about everything in it is spot on and I can really feel emotion coming off of the characters and spilling into our everyday lives.
     5. Fight Club (1999)
If you made an Edward Norton list and didn't have "Fight Club" on it then you either made a mistake somewhere along the line or you were only focused on how much it annoyed you that EVERYONE loved it and EVERYONE discovered it first. We get it...its good. You don't have to tell everyone you have ever met that it's your favorite movie. People will still be your friend even if you don't rub in their face how much better you are than them just because you saw this movie and want to prove to everyone that you get it more than they do. Instead, try this: watch this movie and enjoy it; know that it's been out for almost fifteen years and no one needs to know anymore how much you liked it. A simple mention in passing will do just fine. If you can't do that then don't watch it....not that or "Donnie Darko".

So that's what we're looking at this week. Norton has compiled a large filmography thus far, but his best works still easily stand out amongst the rest. There were a great overall number of films represented above, but still only a small handful that proved the best. This week, "Rounders" provided the biggest impact, with a selection from all five writers above. However, two other films received four votes, "American History X" and "Fight Club", and while they didn't sweep the lists this week, it's still safe to assume that this fall into a tier a bit higher up than "Rounders". But we major in Watchability at this blog, and even in average rankings, "Rounders" proved most popular this time around. No doubt that all three of these films are definitive places to start though when familiarizing yourself with Norton's filmography.

Outside of those, only two other films made multiple appearances, "The Italian Job" and "Death to Smoochy", each hitting on two different lists. These are otherwise great, fun films that definitely deserve a watch somewhere along the line in this journey through all of these fantastic selections.

As always, we hope that each of these film selections helps you to expand your knowledge of Edward Norton's filmography, and leads to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.


Happy watching!