Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Bruce Willis

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we go after one of the biggest action stars of our generation, and comprise our lists of the films Bruce Willis has had to offer over the years. He will next star alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this weekend's sci-fi/time travel thriller, "Looper". After high school, Willis moved out to New York City to attend the Stella Adler Conservatory for Performing Arts, a school with such featured alumni as Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Warren Beatty, and Martin Sheen. From there he spent the next few years working at a bar alongside fellow future thespian, Linda Fiorentino. During this time he snagged mostly minor, uncredited film and television roles, but in 1985, he landed the lead role as a wisecracking PI in the TV show "Moonlighting".


His character so much resembled what director John McTiernan had in mind for his lead character in "Die Hard", that he very quickly cast the young Willis to headline. He was a hit in the film, and his ability to so smoothly blend hard-edged action with witty comedy made him a hot commodity in Hollywood. Since his breakout in the popular action film, Willis has appeared in over 60 films, solidifying his place as one of the best action stars of all-time. His films have earned an estimated $2.5BB at the box office just in domestic grosses alone, making him one of the top 10 all-time highest grossing movie stars.

We feature a full six lists this week, as we really try to capitalize on the many titles that Willis has racked up over the years.

Hit the jump for all of our selections!

Alex Schopp -
I want to note (and mostly for my ease of compiling this list), that I made a rule not to include any titles already released this year, as I want them to settle before deciding to include them. And with so many great titles available to Willis' name, I was happy showing some others a bit of love. But no "Moonrise Kingdom" or "The Expendables 2", regardless of if they could have made this list or not.

     1. Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)

It's impossible to overlook the first installment of this franchise, but this is the film I've seen so much more than the others, and the one that I have the most fun with going back to time and time again. And since it probably won't get much love otherwise today, I'm proud to give it some attention. Overall, the Die Hard franchise in general is a staple of the action genre though, and one not to be missed!
     2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
For any other actor, this film probably wouldn't be so high, but Willis' performance is one of my favorite parts of the film.
     3. The Sixth Sense (1999)
I care about this movie less and less as time goes by, but this is still a classic for the ghost story genre. And Willis really does do a phenomenal job as the calm and collected child psychiatrist. Overall, I feel like I'm missing one great Willis film to slot into the #3 spot here. I wish there were a film I felt a bit stronger about putting here.
     4. Armageddon (1998)
I don't love the movie, but there's no denying the epic scale of it. Plus Willis was the perfect choice here. A fun, big-budget action/comedy - a role Willis was born to play.
     5. The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
You'd love to see a "Look Who's Talking" or "North" in this last spot, but in all reality, the dark comedy of this film was a really good match for Willis, and this is probably one of the easiest films to anytime just pop in and watch.

Ben Foutch -
Willis has had an epic career, especially if you are into the Action genre of film. But, what makes him standout aside from his hero persona, is his natural ability to slide into comedy territory.

     1. Pulp Fiction (1994)

This never really gets old with me. "The Gold Watch" story arc might be one of the best parts of Bruce's career, as well Tarantino's.
     2. Die Hard (1988)
Action movie staple. If you haven't seen it, get on it.
     3. Unbreakable (2000)
One of the best films about superheroes and/or comic book mythology. It may be Shymalan's best work.
     4. The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
This is a solid comedy with a little gun action sprinkled on top. Plus, maybe the only good Mathew Perry movie?
     5. 12 Monkeys (1995)
This film really stands out in his filmography, not necessarily for being spectacular (because it isn't), but it's just so bizarre. I don't love it, but have always been drawn to it.

Derek Clem -
I tried to base the majority of this list on performance.

     1. Die Hard (1988)

Classic.
     2. The Sixth Sense (1999)
I love his tone throughout the movie; seems like he would make a great child psychologist.
     3. Unbreakable (2000)
I love his sense of duty. I am unbreakable therefore I will be a hero.
     4. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Such a unique role for him, I loved watching him expand his acting wings.
     5. Armageddon (1998)
This is where we start to deviate from performance. I just love this movie. Plus, not to take anything away from his performance - he always has me tearing up near the end.

Nathan Hinds -
Okay, I know I'm gonna get slammed for not having "Die Hard" on my list, but it simply didn't have the nostalgic ties that other films on this list have. I only finally sat down and watched it from start to finish like two years ago.

      1. Armageddon (1998)

It's shown up on multiple lists. There isn't anything else to say about it, except it's one of my favorite movies.
     2. Sin City (2005)
This is still one of the coolest movies ever, and was the start of my love for graphic novel based films. How has it taken so long to get the ball rolling on Sin City 2?
     3. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Pretty much the same statement for Armageddon applies for this movie.
     4. Bandits (2001)
Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton are perfect together. I never get tired of watching this movie, it's hilarious.
     5. Tears of the Sun (2003)
I love this style of film, and I think Willis does an awesome job in this one.

Andy Schopp -

     1. Die Hard (1988)

Too obvious?
     2. Unbreakable (2000)
I can't get over loving superheroes, and this a a really good superhero story.
     3. Sin City (2005)
The best cop ever - minus John McClane.
     4. The Fifth Element (1997)
I love this movie but Willis has done the cop role better.
     5. Armageddon (1998)
If I watched this movie more I'd love it more.

Dan Foutch -
This Top 5 is more up to my speed. While Bruce Willis has some serious dramatic roles, he's best known for his action and comedy movies. Those are my kind of movies. I'm a simple guy; throw some explosions and gun play in a movie and I'm generally a happy camper. When researching his movies, I found that two of my top five were comedies, well, one comedy and one action-comedy.

     1. The Fifth Element (1997)

Not the most critically acclaimed movie of all time, but Bruce Willis did a fantastic job playing a hardened bitter ex-soldier with a soft spot for alien women. Both the action and comedy were top notch in my book.
     2. Die Hard (1988)
I'm sure most people think of this movie when they hear the name Bruce Willis. His role as John McClane is iconic in the action movie genre. Guns and explosions, 'nuff said.
     3. The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
Jimmy 'The Tulip', in my opinion, was the best character in the movie. He was almost but not quite the straight man in a comedy, an archetype I'm fond of. Not slapstick but subtle humor. Fantastic movie all around.
     4. Bandits (2001)
Willis and Billy Bob Thorton make a great team in this movie. The humor is clever and the two characters have great repartee.
     5. Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
Willis only plays a supporting role, but I love this movie so much it had to make the list. 'Mr. Goodkat' is a great role for the always serious looking Willis.

So there we have it, folks. This was our first week with six members all contributing, and it really helped add a nice assortment to the overall titles. Now that we do have six acting members for this post though (at least on a semi-regular basis), we did want to note a few minor changes to the Enshrinement process for films featured in these posts. You can see a full rundown of the standard process and philosophy here, but moving forward, it was agreed that even in weeks with six voters, a film will still only need voted #1 by five members to gain immortality, as was originally decreed. Who knows how it will affect things moving forward, but we did want to make sure and define the rule before it became a question. And regardless, still getting the almighty five top votes should still prove to be just as challenging as before.

Anyway, on to the top selections this week. No film made a run at enshrinement this week, as no film earned even five votes altogether, regardless of position. Two did earn four though: "Die Hard" and "Armageddon". Hard to imagine most anyone detailing any other films than those two when revisiting the highlights of Willis' career. The first is Willis' headlining franchise, currently filming its fifth installment right now. The second was a worldwide action phenomenon, grossing over $550MM at the box office. While "Die Hard" is definitely the more critically acclaimed film, both retain a special space amongst the films of Willis' career.

Otherwise, three films hit one three lists: "The Sixth Sense", "The Whole Nine Yards", and "Unbreakable"; while four different films hit on two, as the only other titles with multiple selections: "Pulp Fiction", "Sin City", "Bandits", and "The Fifth Element". All  are great and entertaining titles to further explore everything that this lineup of films has to offer.

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

Happy watching!