Famous for his extraordinary method acting style, and drastically transforming his body for his roles, Christian Bale is one of the most versatile actors of now. The English actor started his acting career at the age of eight. His first starring role was at age 13 in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun. The role of the serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho earned him a wider recognition in 2000. After this, Bale kept delivering iconic performances, one after another, from The Machinist to The Dark Knight trilogy. Bale has been nominated for an Oscar four times and he won one for his role in The Fighter. Bale has explored many different avenues of performance throughout his career. He has made his mark on a variety of genres, ranging from Shakespearean dramas to action-heavy superhero films. He has also received varying degrees of criticism over the years. But his experiments with his roles and his intense acting methods have remained constant. Although, you probably have a list of your own best Christian Bale movies. Read on to know our list of The 17 Best Movies of Christian Bale till now.
Dark Knight trilogy (2005-12)
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy based on the DC Comics earned Bale his worldwide fame. Bale introduced a superhero more soulful thought and human beyond the wisecracks for cinema’s comic book heroes. For Wayne’s alter ego, Bale took motivation from a classic movie monster that shudders with rage and speaks with a guttural snarl.
The Prestige (2006)
Directed by Christopher Nolan, The Prestige is based on the 1995 novel by Christopher Priest. Christian Bale has played many roles from banker/serial killer to industrialist/crimefighter to businessman/con artist. For this movie, Bale turns into a magician, two to be specific. He plays a dual role of twins pretending to be one man. His roles take turns to be anonymous showman Alfred Borden or his stage-magician alter ego The Professor. The Prestige is definitely one of the best movies of Christian Bale.
Ford v Ferrari (2019)
James Mangold’s American sports drama is based on a true story. The action-drama follows American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and British driver Ken Miles (Bale). The story follows as they battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons. They build a cutting-edge race car for the Ford Motor Co. to compete against the race cars of Enzo Ferrari in France in 1966.
The Fighter (2010)
The Fighter is a biographical sports drama about Micky Ward, a struggling boxer and his older half-brother Dicky Eklund, a recovering cocaine addict. Directed by David O. Russell, The Fighter won Christian Bale his first Oscar. He played the role of Dicky Eklund, the junkie ex-boxer training his brother to be the fighter he never was. His physical comedy and expressions won everyone’s praises.
The Big Short (2015)
The Big Short is a biographical comedy-drama film with Christian Bale starring as a hedge fund manager in a Wall Street office fielding calls and reading data off a computer screen, compelling. Bale channels real-life 2008 financial crash augur Michael Burry in this Adam McKay directional. Bale paints a complex picture of a man who’s somehow superior yet sensitive, chipper yet humorless. It earned Bale a deserved third Oscar nod.
Empire of the Sun (1987)
Steven Spielberg’s war film Empire of the Sun, based on J. G. Ballard’s semi-autobiographical novel, is Christian Bale’s first starring movie. And he gave one of his greatest performances in this Second World War epic. Christian Bale plays the role of Jamie, an upper-class English schoolboy separated from his family at the start of World War II. He was taken prisoner when the Japanese army invades British Shanghai. His journey in the movie from privileged to feral and unrecognizable to his parents is heartbreaking.
The Machinist (2004)
Brad Anderson’s psychological thriller, The Machinist stars Christian Bale as Trevor, an insomniac lathe operator. Bale went through one of the most extreme body transformations with this movie. He only snaps out of his character in the movie is to focus in Reznik’s fantasies starring an idealized version of himself.
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma is the story fo civil war veteran and small-time rancher Dan Evans. It’s his first official western where he accepts the unenviable task of guarding apprehended criminal Ben Wade (Crowe) until the titular train arrives to transport him away. As they wait for the 3:10 to arrive Evans and his son William must fend off a slew of encroaching gunners. All these to regain his lost honor and retrieve his barn from Glen Hollander.
American Psycho (2000)
This satirical psychological horror film based on Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel was the start of Bale’s obsession with extreme character transformation. Mary Harron’s American Psycho has Bale playing the lead Patrick Bateman, a wealthy investment banker and a psychopath with uncontrollable blood lust. Moonwalking into murder scenes, Bale took his inspiration from nouveau shaman Nicolas Cage’s exaggerated performance in Vampire’s Kiss (1988).
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Christian Bale lent his voice to wizard Howl for the movie Howl’s Moving Castle. Although it’s almost impossible to think that an intense and serious actor like Bale as a character in a PG-rated animated film, it’s one of the best things Bale has done. Bale voices the titular hero in the English dubbed version of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated classic. The imaginative film follows Sophie, a teenage girl who is cursed by a witch that turns her body into an old lady. But all that changes when she befriends wizard Howl living in a magical flying castle.
The Flowers of War (2011)
This historical drama war film directed by Zhang Yimou is set in 1937, at a war between China and Japan ensues and the Imperial Army overruns the capital city of China. Bale plays the American John Miller. As the battle rages on, the story follows Bale and a group of school children, and 13 courtesans as they try their best to survive.
Directed by Kurt Wimmer, Equilibrium is a sci-fi set in a world where every form of human emotion is prohibited. Bale plays the role of Preston in Libria, an officer responsible for implementing the law. But when he skips a dose of the government-mandated drug that reduces emotion and finally realizes what he’s been missing, he decides to revolt against the system.
Intent To Destroy (2017)
Intent To Destroy is a documentary about the Armenian Genocide directed by Joe Berlinger. Berlinger met with historians and scholars to discuss the genocide. He explored the complicated web of responsibility that has driven a century of denial by the Turkish government and its strategic allies.
Little Women (1994)
Gillian Armstrong’s period drama Little Women is the closest Christian Bale has ever come to playing the heartthrob. Based on Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel of the same name, Little Women is Bale’s first romantic lead.
Rescue Dawn (2006)
This epic war drama by Werner Herzog follows the fighter pilot named Dieter who gets caught by peasants following a crash during the Vietnam War. Bale dropped 55 pounds for this movie and was suckered with hungry leeches, dragged behind water buffalo and submerged into a narrow well with hands tied behind his back. Bale’s good-humored portrayal of a German-American pilot is one of his best roles.
Christian Bale plays the role of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in the movie Vice. Christian Bale transformed into a man he looks absolutely nothing like in Adam McKay’s biographical drama. Bale not only physically looks the part but also captured the essence of Dick Cheney in tremendous detail. Bale shines throughout, and his final jaw-dropping monologue directly into the camera is the proof of the actor’s boundless talent.
American Hustle (2013)
Directed by David O. Russell, American Hustle is a black comedy crime inspired by the FBI Abscam operation of the late 1970s and early 1980s. As a slippery con man, Irving Rosenfeld Bale provided some essential and well-praised layers to his character. Loosely based on real-life charlatan Mel Weinberg, there is a frazzled exterior and a tender interior to Rosenfeld. Bale excelled in the role without overshadowing the ensemble.
Some others of Bale’s best movie that are also our favorites are, Henry V (1989), Hostiles (2017), Public Enemies (2009), All the Little Animals (1999), Out of the Furnace (2013) and I’m Not There (2007).