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Top 10 Brad Pitt Performances

January 31, 2010

For the past decade and then some, his name has been one of the most popular in Hollywood and he remains an icon of the cool, rugged style of famous actors of the generation- marked by his frequent change of hairstyles matched only by soccer superstar David Beckham. But when you’ve been nominated twice by the Academy and you’ve starred in 5 movies that have won an Oscar and 7 others that have been nominated, you deserve that kind of fame.

It’s an irrefutable fact.. Brad Pitt is one of the most infamous actors of the generation. With virtually no major weak spots in his filmography, Pitt has had the kind of career that most actors only ever dream of. Having lived a life that has so far included working as a chicken mascot for a restaurant in his young years, enduring a love life worthy of its own film adaptation, and displaying his own compassion for the human race through numerous acts of humanitarianism and charity, Pitt has made his mark in Hollywood and will undoubtedly remain a star for years to come.

As one of my own personal favorite actors, Pitt has wowed me on several occasions and I felt his acting career was worthy of its own top 10 list.

So… To all of my female readers, I have included a picture of Brad Pitt above and also one from each of the below films just for you all. To all of my readers who happen to be fans of Brad Pitt’s actual work, click Read More and enjoy the list.

It was really difficult to decide on which performances should be higher than others and really, all of them should are worth checking out if you haven’t already. I can honestly say that I have never disliked any of Pitt’s performances. Sure, he’s been in some disappointing films (Ocean’s Twelve, Meet Joe Black, Legends of the Fall) and some downright bad ones (Troy, Mr. and Mrs. Smith). But every one of his performances has impressed me and that’s something I can say about few other actors.

#10 … Benjamin Button – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Brad Pitt teamed up with director David Fincher for the 3rd time in his career to play the backward-aging Benjamin Button in this film. As always, he does a phenomenal job of making his character likable and still manages to pull off a constant air of innocent curiosity.

#9 … Mickey O’Neill – Snatch

In 2000, Pitt teamed up with Guy Ritchie for his kind-of-sequel to Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking BarrelsSnatch. In it, he combined boxing, a rapid-fire Pikey accent, and his charming persona to steal the show and add an always humorous kick to the film. He’s full of surprises and he really pulls the whole movie together. I’d say this role displays his range better than almost any other performance on this list.

#8… Floyd – True Romance

He may have been on screen for a total of 3 or 4 minutes of the entire film and many may not have even been aware of his role, but every second he spent on screen was a moment of brilliance. Apparently it was Pitt’s idea to portray his character as a pothead who sat around on his couch all day. True Romance was a good film, but I can’t imagine myself laughing even half as much during it if not for Brad Pitt’s hilarious interactions with Christian Slater and the Mob. And what do you know? Eighteen years later, it turns out that Brad Pitt’s performance was so good that it inspired Judd Apatow to develop the movie Pineapple Express. Thank you, Brad.

#7 … Rusty Ryan – Ocean’s Trilogy

What’s better than George Clooney and Matt Damon in a Vegas heist movie? Any mathematician will tell you that adding Brad Pitt is always equal to more success and more awesome. Go back and look at your Algebra notes if you don’t believe me. That formula will be in there somewhere. George Clooney was great in the series, but without Brad Pitt it really just wouldn’t have been the same. The two have great chemistry and work well together in a partners-in-crime, Swingers kind of way. And interestingly, Rusty Ryan seems to be the smoothest and coolest one of the bunch in this one– a title that that George Clooney is notorious for nabbing.

#6 … Lt. Aldo Raine – Inglourious Basterds

Even though it was Cristoph Waltz who really stole the show, Brad Pitt was still as awesome as ever as the Southern, Nazi-hunting Lt. Aldo Raine. Many argue that his accent is annoying and unrealistic, but personally, I find that it adds a whole ‘nother level to the comedy. This role was certainly another experiment for Pitt, perhaps most similar to his role in Burn After Reading, and I think he was truly fantastic– definitely a major element in the success that Inglourious Basterds achieved. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself who could have done a better job in the role and get back to me.

#5 … Chad Feldheimer – Burn After Reading

If there’s one thing that stands out when I recall Burn After Reading, it’s the goofy and feeble-minded character that Brad Pitt played so brilliantly. Not only was the delivery of his lines impeccable, but his physical act was part of what made the film so much fun to watch. The oddball persona and ignorant arrogance of his character provided a bit of a new challenge for him and he pulled it all of with what seemed to be natural ease. Additionally, his chemistry with Frances McDormand was also exceptional. I just wish the Coen brothers would include him in more of their work of this nature.

#4 … Detective David Mills – Se7en

The movie was brilliant and Kevin Spacey gave a performance that I’d classify as potentially one of the best of all time. But it really disappoints me that Spacey and Morgan Freeman get all of the brownie points for this one. It was one of Brad Pitt’s earlier works and while it may not be his best, it was still great. He plays the young and cocky and slightly naive persona exceptionally well and his performance at the end was perfection. While I had definitely heard of him before I watched Se7en and I had seen him in a few other things, this film was certainly the one that made me realize that he was a top-notch actor.

#3 … Jesse James – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The film itself was a cinematic work of absolute genius and such a result is due in no small part to Pitt’s magnificent performance in the title role of Jesse James himself. Again, it’s a bit of a different role for Pitt but he gives a riveting portrayal of Jesse James through an astounding range of emotions that span across almost all of the film’s 160 minute run-time.I was astonished to see that Johnny Depp got an Oscar nom for Sweeney Todd and Pitt got nothing. Unbelievable.

#2 … Jeffrey Goines – 12 Monkeys

Not too long after Se7en came out, Brad Pitt appeared in Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys starring Bruce Willis. He may not have been a major character, but it proved to be Pitt’s first real experimental role. Jeffrey Goines, a patient in a mental hospital who obsessed over anti-consumerism and consistently made long monologues about his odd and somehow-philosophical theories on life, is definitely the most interesting character Pitt has ever portrayed. 12 Monkeys was a great movie, but I will never be able to think about it without thinking of Brad Pitt’s epic acting. A lot of people seem to underrate this performance too– maybe partly because of his minimal screen time. All I can say is: watch this movie and count how many times that you forget that Pitt really isn’t mentally unstable. In my opinion, his acting is so convincing that you’ll need both hands for sure.

#1 … Tyler Durden – Fight Club

Sure, perhaps this might be a tad biased since Fight Club happens to be my favorite movie of all time anyway. But at the same time, it makes sense, because a good portion of the reason the film is so amazing is because Brad Pitt does such a superb job of acting– as do Edward Norton and Helena Boneham Carter. Tyler Durden is a character you can’t easily forget and I can guarantee you that there isn’t a single actor out there who can play him as well as Brad Pitt did. Brad Pitt IS Tyler Durden. From his maniacal laugh to his incredible smoothness to his comedic quirks, everything about Tyler Durden is a puzzle piece to a masterpiece. And Pitt brings those pieces together to create an unforgettable persona. He is the epitome of “cool” and every little detail is perfect proof.

How would YOU order Pitt’s peformances?

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5 comments

  1. I did watch SNATCH and it was just awesome.. Se7en is the movie I am checking out now.

    His roles in Inglorious bastards and especially curious case of Benjamin just blew me away. He is awesome! A legend, redefined.


  2. I absolutely love that you included Floyd, and so high. If I were to make this list, I would have done the same thing. That was the performance that endeared me to him and made me such a big fan of his, and it’s a highlight of TR despite its brevity and the overall awesomeness of the movie, which is saying something.

    As a big fan myself, I have virtually no gripes with your list; the films included and their order is pretty impeccable. That said…

    * As much as I enjoy the Ocean’s flicks, I don’t know that I’d have included Rusty Ryan. For starters, he’s really not in the movies all that much (save for Twelve, perhaps), but moreso, he really doesn’t do much even when he is there other than look cool and collected. Not bad by any stretch, but I feel like his clothes deserve much of the praise there. Kudos, though, for his incognito bit in 13 which was pretty damn funny.

    * I think I’d swap Chad and Mickey. Chad was funny, for sure, but Mickey was not only good acting, but an all-time great character. Another piece of evidence that Pitt is the best wildly famous character actor out there (and maybe the only one).

    * Ok, I had to go and double-check his resume to make sure there were no egregious errors, and you know what? There is one. Early Grayce MUST be on this list somewhere. You must not have seen Kalifornia yet, because I can’t imagine it being left off otherwise. Not a great film, but a good one with a great performance that got forgotten. Ben Button, a computer-generated character with acting that consisted mostly of him standing around, can certainly be knocked off.


  3. Awesome list! I particularly like the True Romance choice haha.


  4. Oh I’d put The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as my number onE!!! I love that movie. I simply LOVE it. and of course I would add MEet Joe Black.


    • Benjamin Button was a very well done movie, I agree. It was difficult to decide where to place it, but I also had to consider that this was a ranking of Brad Pitt’s performances and not necessarily the movies themselves. And while I thought he was great as Benjamin Button, I think he’s had several other better roles. Meet Joe Black, in terms of his performances, would probably be my #11. Thanks for the feedback!

      However, I do still need to see Kalifornia, Interview with the Vampire, A River Runs Through It, Spy Game, and Babel. In due time.



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