Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Halle Berry

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we turn our attentions to one of the stars of this weekend's "Cloud Atlas", Halle Berry. While Berry might not be quite the superstar we expected she'd be 10 years ago, she's still incredibly well known, and the key aspects to her career remain highly notable. Berry got her start as a pageant girl, first winning Miss Teen All-American at the age of 17 (1985), and then was runner-up the following year in the Miss U.S.A. Pageant. She became a model afterwards, and eventually got her motion picture break in 1991, appearing in Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever". Berry appeared in a variety of films throughout the rest of the decade, but it wasn't until her performance in 1999's TV movie, "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" that she gained critical acclaim - she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.


The next year marked Berry's first taste of box office success when she appeared as "Storm" in the first X-Men movie. She would go on to reprise her role in two more films. It was a year later and her performance in "Monster's Ball" (2001) that made her a star though. That year she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, becoming the first ever African American to do so. Her acceptance speech is still probably one of the more notable ones today. The other role in her career which earned her just about as much attention was "Catwoman" (2004), though on the opposite end of the spectrum. The film was both a critical and financial disaster, and "earned" Berry a Worst Actress Razzie Award. The film has since become a joke, but it was Berry's sense of humor and surprise appearance at the event to accept her "award" that is most remembered today.

Overall, Berry has had a strong career, but with few titles in which she's truly pushed herself. Even if all aren't Oscar-worthy roles though, she still has plenty of enjoyable titles in her filmography. Our hope is that over the coming years we finally start to see a bit more consistent quality in her role selection; roles in which we know she's more than capable of handling.

For now though, hit the jump for all of our favorite picks!

Alex Schopp -

     1. X2 (2003)

I think more than anything I'm just upset that the full title of this film is "X2". In 50 years, if someone sees this title, you'll have no idea it's an X-Men movie. I do think this is one of the better superhero movies out there though, easily my favorite from the trilogy.
     2. Monster's Ball (2001)
You look through her filmography and it doesn't even seem close between this and any other title for her best performance. I'm not trying to watch this drama nearly as much as, say, X2, but this is a really quality film with a lot of very good performances.
     3. Executive Decision (1996)
Just a solid action flick here. Great cast (I'm always watching anything with Kurt Russell), and plenty of quality airplane tension.
     4. Swordfish (2001)
I watched this recently and there are so many parts that hold up as poorly as you'd expect; that being said, there are a few specific details that hold up quite well.
     5. The Flintstones (1994)
Sure, this movie hasn't aged well, and once we passed about age 12 there wasn't much use for this one anymore; but the art direction is still pretty cool, and you can't deny that Halle Berry was looking as good as she ever has in this film. If I'm still watching this today, it's for her.

Ben Foutch -

     1. Bulworth (1998)

     2. X2 (2003)

     3. Monster's Ball (2001)

     4. Swordfish (2001)

     5. Executive Decision (1996)



Derek Clem -

     1. X2 (2003)

Halle Barry as "Storm" took a major step up in this second installment of the X-Men Franchise. She lost the awkward accent and stood up the the plate when it came to her powers. If you have the power to make tornadoes, you make tornadoes!! In X2 she makes tornadoes.
     2.The Flintstones (1994)
She is sooo gorgeous in this movie!!!
     3. Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998)
A fun Court Room drama flashing back to the doo-wop days to find out where music royalties are due.
     4. Monster's Ball (2001)
I could have also gone with Nicole Kidman for Moulin Rogue!, but Halle receiving her Best Actress Oscar for this role was well deserved. I just wish she would take more roles that require this caliber of acting. Really solid performance.
     5. Swordfish (2001)
I think we all know why people were racing to the theater to see this one.

Nathan Hinds -

     1. Executive Decision (1996)

On weekends when I was a kid and got to stay up late and watch movies, there were about three movies that I would watch on repeat, and this was one of them. Actually, the others were "Air Force One" and "Con Air". Apparently I had a thing for planes.
     2. The Flintstones (1994)
Crazy that this movie found its way into two Top 5 lists in the past couple weeks for me.
     3. X2 (2003)
Even though I think the first and third installment in this branch of the X-Men films are okay (first) and terrible (third), X2 is pretty awesome.
     4. Robots (2005)
One of my favorite animated movies.
     5. Swordfish (2001)
Has there ever been a bigger deal made about an actress going topless in a movie?

Andy Schopp -
I feel like Halle Berry kind of got famous because she was famous? Looking through her filmography I see things that people know but there isn't a lot of extremely popular titles other than a small handful. I'm not saying she doesn't deserve the famous life I'm just saying it caught me off guard.

     1. X2 (2003)

     2. Monster's Ball (2001)

     3. The Flintstones (1994)

     4. Executive Decision (1996)

     5. Bulworth (1998)



And that's what we're looking at this week, folks. Rarely do we see so few overall titles presented (with only eight, this might be the least we've ever seen), but that's just going to happen sometimes; not every week can be a Johnny Depp or Robert De Niro. But maybe the worst aspect of it all is that, of the few titles presented, it's not like most of them are just that amazing that they blow everything else in her filmography out of the water. Nothing against them, and we're all happy to note some of the aspects you can appreciate in each, but when films like "The Flintstones" and "Swordfish" are populating on four of the five lists, you know the quality available isn't too high.

So there are a lot of repeats this week. "X2" was the biggest winner, as the only film hitting on all five lists and grabbing three of the number-one votes. The film feels pretty easily the best of the original X-Men trilogy, combining a good amount of both watchability and technical proficiency. If you're following our lists for the reasons we always talk about, this feels well ahead of anything else in Berry's filmography.

As mentioned, "The Flintstones" and "Swordfish" were two films that received four votes this week. "Executive Decision" and "Monster's Ball" were two others. Though it was close (and really doesn't matter much), "Monster's Ball" had the highest average ranking, with 2.75. "Executive Decision" was next with an even 3.0 (and one first-place vote), and "The Flintstones" just behind that with 3.25. "Swordfish" fared the worst, with an average ranking of 4.5, just scraping by at the bottom of most lists. Still though, the amount of films appearing on at least four different lists this week goes to show just how quickly the bottom drops out of Halle Berry's filmography. We've seen great work from her, in "Monster's Ball" particularly, so we know it's there; why she doesn't go back there more often is a mystery. Anyway, the only other film making multiple appearances this week was "Bulworth", which received two votes. At this point you might as well just throw in the mentions of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" and "Robots", just so every title is covered.

There's some quality in every title listed above, as long as you know what you're looking for. And hey, we can at least guarantee you that each of these selections is better than "Catwoman", and it's not even close.

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

Happy watching!