5. Christian Bale as Dicky Eklund in The Fighter
Like Christian Bale was ever going to pass up a chance to lose a butt-ton of weight for a role. If you asked this guy to play Gumby he’d dye himself green and sew all his fingers together, but the weirdest part would be when he’d actually pull the role off.
We’ve all had someone like Dicky Eklund in our lives at some point. Someone who is retrospectively hilarious, but in the moment serves as a royal pain in the ass. One of those delightful souls that can only be appreciated from a distance. Bale does a fantastic job at it, having spent weeks upon months hanging out with the real Dicky Eklund in Lowell, Massachusetts studying his exact mannerisms and speech patterns.
It’s pretty amazing… I mean, the weight loss is one thing, but can you imagine having to spend time in Lowell, Mass? That’s commitment right there.
4. Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice in W
Okay, this isn’t so much of a biopic as it is a cinematic guess. That said – a disturbing amount of it was based on actual accounts of our former president’s less than flattering past, well… depending on who you talk to of course.
Accuracy aside, you can’t deny how well everyone played their part, and while it wasn’t a particularly huge part, Newton’s Condoleezza Rice seemed like the clear victor amongst victors. There’s no way to say it besides uncanny. She just looked and sounded like Rice. End of story. This is especially amazing considering how not at all alike these two look and talk, Newton being a good 20 years younger and British. It’s no wonder then that the actress struggled with the part, taking months to perfect the role.
3. James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins in Hitchcock
If you haven’t seen Hitchcock yet, you should. The film is filled with very large personalities, all orbiting the biggest of personalities in Alfred Hitchcock. While everyone does a fantastic job managing these giant egos, the only character in the film that invoked audible gasps in the theater happened to be the most passive one. When I say, “audible gasps” I’m not exaggerating either. I literally heard people gasping when I saw this film.
The reason why is evident when you watch it; while D’Arcy doesn’t look perfectly like Perkins – his tone and facial expressions are, for lack of a better word, exact. It’s spooky. And being someone unfamiliar with D’Arcy as an actor, my assumption was that he was chosen because he at least sounded similar to Perkins – turns out I was very wrong.
2. Benicio del Toro as Oscar Zeta Acosta in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
It might not be the most accurate on this list, but if there were ever a more outstanding portrayal of someone brave enough to hang out with Hunter S. Thompson, I’d like to see it. It’s hard to purge the image of a grown man fully clothed in a rubbish-filled bathtub wielding a hunting knife and listening to Jefferson Airplane. That kind of stuff stays in there.
While technically playing a character known only as Dr. Gonzo – the role in the book and film was based around attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta, who Del Toro gained 45 pounds to play and ended up looking remarkably like. The level of insanity shown, however, is debatable. It’s hard to confirm the validity of one account of a series of events when that account is seen through the lens of narcotics and booze. But hey, that could be said about pretty much everything that happened in the 60s and 70s.
1. Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood
Sure, Martin Landau won an Oscar, several Film Critic Awards, a SAG Award, Saturn Award, as well as a Golden Globe Award for his incredible reproduction of legend Bela Lugosi – but you’re not truly there until people on the internet are making lists about you, right? Lists are, as you know, the highest form of reverence. Why do you think we make so many around food, the very thing that sustains our life?
Anyway, there’s not much to say about it. This film could not have been cast better than it did; this entire list could have just been from this film. And yet from it all, Landau stands triumphantly above it all, conquering the conquerors like some kind of acting He-Man.