Top Pops: Brad Pitt

William Bradley “Brad” Pitt was born on the 18th of December 1963.  This means that yesterday was his 50th birthday, and what better way to celebrate than by examining some of my favourite films of one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the last few decades?  He’s not a particular favourite of mine, but there’s no denying that he’s been a big part of some terrific films.  There are also a couple of his major pictures I haven’t seen, but these are my top picks of the ones I have.

#7 Thelma & Louise (1991)
Although he plays a relatively minor role in this classic tale of two women on the run, Pitt appears in one of his earliest significant roles as J.D., a young man who hitches a ride with the title characters.  He showcases the carefree attitude for which he would become particularly known later in his career.

#6 Babel (2006)
In an altogether more serious role, Pitt stars as part of an ensemble cast in this 2006 drama from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu.  In one strand of this interwoven film, he plays the husband of an American tourist inexplicably shot in the Moroccan desert.  Pitt doesn’t get too much screen time, but he takes hold of what he has and makes the most of it.

#5 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Pitt gives an  Academy award-nominated performance as the titular Benjamin Button, a man who is born an old man and grows young.  It’s an intriguing concept for a story, and Brad produces a worthy portrayal of a very difficult character to come to terms with.  I’ve only seen this film once and need to dig it out again some time soon.

#4 Moneyball (2011)
Based on the non-fiction book of the same name, Pitt plays Billy Beane, the infamous manager of the Oakland Athletics who tried (and almost  succeeded) to assemble a winning team from a bunch of outcasts and misfits based on their game statistics.  The fact that I enjoyed this tale despite having zero interest in baseball whatsoever tells me that Pitt’s performance was central to its appeal, and his second Best Actor Oscar nomination for the role backs this up.

#3 Snatch. (2000)
In Guy Ritchie’s very British hit, the man with the same name as two British Prime Ministers plays an Irish-traveller bare-knuckle fighter who cares about very little outside of his caravan and his ma.  It’s a crucial role to the development of the film, and Snatch wouldn’t have all the appeal it does without Brad.

#2 Fight Club (1999)
In an inclusion which will surprise nobody, Pitt plays underground social activist, soap maker and secret fighter Tyler Durden, who wreaks havoc on cities worldwide as well as on the mind of Edward Norton’s unnamed narrator.  This is perhaps his best-known role, and for good reason, as he plays ruthless Durden remarkably convincingly.

#1 Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Basterds was to me undoubtedly Tarantino’s masterpiece until Django Unchained this year (which makes a two-horse race).  Pitt excels as Lt. Aldo Raine, the leader of a troupe of Nazi-hunting American Jews.  This performance, although somewhat overshadowed by Christoph Waltz’s Hans Landa, is a vital part of a superb film and brings a lot of the humour which prevents the movie becoming perhaps too dark.

So it’s clear to see that Brad Pitt is a solid performer, and probably deserves most of the fame he’s accrued.  And at 50, he’s probably got a good few years left in him yet!


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