Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Michael Clarke Duncan

This isn't a very fun theme we've taken on recently, recounting the films of recently-passed filmmakers. Make no mistake, as we're a simple movie blog, we're happy to do what we can to show our appreciation for the careers they left us, it's just unfortunate that such great people have been passing away lately. You'd love to write-up some of these lists on better circumstances, but we make due with what life gives us, I guess. So as our gesture of remembrance, today we issue the Top 5 Movie Guide to Michael Clarke Duncan, who sadly passed away this past Monday at the age of 54.


Michael Clarke Duncan always wanted to be an actor, but didn't know exactly how to break into it. Eventually, he moved out to Hollywood and started with something he knew he could handle - he became a bodyguard. He looked after such stars as Will Smith and Jamie Foxx, finding time in between to audition for various minor television roles when he could. His big break though came when he was cast in Michael Bay's apocalyptic epic, "Armageddon". Clarke Duncan was timid at first, unsure of how to carry himself - at one point, Bay remembered thinking to himself that he might have to fire him - but he eventually turned it around and ended up becoming one of the best characters in the film.

But it was a year later in which his now friend, Bruce Willis, personally recommended him for the role of John Coffey if Frank Darabont's "The Green Mile". Duncan said the role was the hardest of his career because of how real it felt. But because of his dedication to the role, he earned his first and only Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Fellow cast member Tom Hanks even recalled that it was a joy getting to watch this artist come into his own over the course of the film.

From there, Duncan worked in a variety of different films and television shows, almost always providing powerful performances along the way. It was his large frame mixed with his kind and compassionate demeanor that made him one of the more recognized and lovable actors in the business.

Hit the jump for our favorite films from this actor's career. He will be sorely missed.

Alex Schopp -
I'm sad that he won't get a chance to be in more films. It doesn't feel very often that I can compose a list almost entirely off of the actor's actual performances and not necessarily just the film he or she is in. Man, what a screen presence this guy had.

     1. The Green Mile (1999)

Too great a performance to discourage just because the watchability factor isn't quite as high as you normally hope for. You'll love how emotional this movie is, but hate how sad it is.
     2. The Slammin' Salmon (2009)
It didn't hurt that Cobie Smulders was in this film (a personal favorite), but Michael Clarke Duncan is so easily the highlight here. His character is fantastic! "Well don't just stand there, get outta here, Soupface!"
     3. Armageddon (1998)
As a whole, I don't really love this movie as much as most my age, but there's no denying Duncan's greatness in this film. He's a huge part of why this movie is as good as it is.
     4. The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
A great comedy with a great cast. Duncan is so awesome as this huge, menacing hitman who is also so emotional - how do you process that character?
     5. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
I'm actually not too into Will Ferrell's character, but Duncan's makes up for it. He and John C. Reilly are really the only reasons to watch this movie. "Let's use this knife to pry out the other!"; "Cut around the meat!"

Ben Foutch -
Always thought his performances elevated whatever film he was in. He won't be forgotten.

     1. The Green Mile (1999)

     2. Sin City (2005)

     3. The Slammin' Salmon (2009)

     4. Armageddon (1998)

     5. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)



Derek Clem -
Sad to see him go. He was a favorite of mine.

     1. Armageddon (1998)

This was my first exposure to Michael Clarke Duncan. I always thought he sorta stole the show.
     2. The Green Mile (1999)
Such a great performance. This movie is almost too sad to watch though. So emotional.
     3. The Slammin' Salmon (2009)
"Meatdrapes"
     4. The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
I've rewound Matthew Perry's escape attempt only to run into MCD's large physique many, many times. Hilarious!
     5. Daredevil (2003)
I almost went with Planet of the Apes here, but I 'm going to have to go with "Daredevil" due to the fact that he's not fully covered in a creature suit and make-up. However, regarding both movies, he certainly had a strong knack for making bad movies better and more watchable. He was a great Kingpin.

Nathan Hinds -

I always loved him in every movie he was in, and to this day, "The Green Mile" still makes me tear up more than just about other movie. I'll definitely miss seeing him in films.

     1. Armageddon

     2. The Green Mile

     3. Sin City

     4. The While Nine Yards

     5. The Island



Andy Schopp -

     1. The Green Mile (1999)

This movie is so good. While I can't watch it all of the time because it's a wee bit lengthy and extremely sad, I love to watch the emotions coming out of all of the characters. And I love Mr. Duncan in this.
     2. Armageddon (1998)
I know a lot of people don't really like this movie due to Micheal Bay being attached, but I think it's great and awesome at the same time.
     3. The Slammin' Salmon (2009)
Micheal Clarke Duncan is SOOO awesome in this movie! He has the most hilarious character of ALL-TIME! I don't want to ruin it if you haven't seen it, but you wont be let down.
     4. Daredevil (2003)
Another movie people don't enjoy on the whole. There are some bad things here - such as the music - but Duncan is SO good as Kingpin that this movie is hard for me to dismiss altogether. The movie is also shot really well so that it looks very similar to the comic.
     5. The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
I used to watch this movie on HBO when it was on almost every time. It is a great comedy in my opinion and has some really great side characters happening.

So there we have it. Not a ton of variety this week, but still all of the greatest hits. Two films really rose to the top and came as close as could be for tying for the highest pick this week. Those films were "The Green Mile" and "Armageddon". Both appeared on all five lists, but it was "The Green Mile" nabbing three of the first-place votes, with "Armageddon" snatching up the other two. Hard to argue these two films being the two most notable from Duncan's career though. "Armageddon" was the first Hollywood film he appeared in, and gained him popularity with general audiences. But it was "The Green Mile" that earned him true praises with the film community, and earned him his only major awards recognition. Both obvious staples of Michael Clarke Duncan's career though.

Two other films, "The Slammin' Salmon" and "The Whole Nine Yards", appeared with four selections above. The latter was more of the commercial success; a dark comedy compiling a variety of notable actors (and another of the four films he would appear in alongside his friend, Bruce Willis), while "The Slammin' Salmon" was a Broken Lizard production, and never gained much critical acceptance. But Duncan's role stands out mightily in the comedy, and catapults the film to a spot in this post begging for it to be seen.

Outside of those films though, three other films appeared with multiple selections: "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby", "Sin City", and "Daredevil". Many will surely find faults with most of these titles, but there's no doubting MCD's standout performance in each. Regardless of your thoughts on these films overall, there's no denying that his presence makes each one of them better.

And normally, we'd end it with that, but since only one film this week, "The Island", received any other votes, we might as well note it. This was the only film with one vote this week, as everything else proved heavy favorites from Duncan's filmography. It only grabbed one vote, but at least that puts a nice stamp on the post, and notes every single film that was listed above.

Plenty of quality selections to be watched though, so as always, we hope that each of these film selections helps you to expand your knowledge of Michael Clarke Duncan's filmography, and leads to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.


Happy watching!