Monologues are to actors what analogies are to bullshit writers who have no idea how to start their list article about monologues. What I mean is that every actor should have a really good understanding on how to perform a monologue – at least I assume so considering that they are the most common tools for auditioning for a part. To someone like myself, who couldn’t act even if Hitler’s death depended on it, I really have no idea what goes into a monologue – however I do know what comes out of a good one. So when I judge the talent of these I’m really just judging how effective they seemed to be, not necessarily the amount of artistic effort that was put into it. Simply put, these are some terrific monologues.
14. Hugo Weaving on the human virus in The Matrix
It’s actually three different monologues that are intercut with other scenes – but each one tells a single progressing story: Agent Smith is freaking crazy. It’s terrific how he goes from this calm and collected piece of programming to actually showing an emotional repulsion to the human race. It’s kind of a moment where all bets are suddenly off, and we realize that there is much, much more to this villain, and much more to the properties of the Matrix, than we originally thought. Hugo Weaving pulls the whole thing off absolutely perfectly, making the seamless transition over from bot to lunatic.
13. Zach Galifianakis’s wolf pack speech in The Hangover
This is really the defining moment of Zach’s one-man wolf pack character in this film – awkward, emotional, antisocial, and horribly inappropriate. The prepared speech aspect of it is damn funny, as well as his stumbling over-clarification of his upgrade from one to two men in his wolf pack. Then there is the obvious denial of being a ‘lone wolf’ and instead calling yourself a single member of a pack of wolves. All that is great, but my favorite thing about this speech is the other men’s tolerance and acceptance of how weird it all is – actually enjoying the funniness the same way the audience is. Then of course, like any gathering, it all derails the moment someone starts cutting their hand.
12. Christopher Walken tells the story of the gold watch in Pulp Fiction
There are a lot of awesome speeches in this film I could have also gone with, but I really think this one takes the cake. First of all, this entire sequence is the pivotal piece of motivation for Butch to risk his life retrieving the watch, so it absolutely has to work. You have to believe that you would, in his situation, have to get that watch too. No better way to do that than this truly epic story involving generations upon generations passing this hunk of gold from father to son, only for it to end with a seven-year up-the-butt sacrifice. If someone hid something up their butt for that long just to give it to me, I too would rather die than lose it. What I love about this monologue is that Walken tells the story in such a detailed and passionate way, such a stoic description on these brave men, right until he gets to the part of the story that he personally witnessed. All of a sudden his character instantly loosens up as he very casually talks about sticking a watch up his ass.
11. Bill Murray rallies the troupes in Stripes
Oh, sweet Bill. Truly an American hero is this man that his rallying cries could even make Jello Biafra join the army. If you ever need to convince someone of the merits of being an American citizen you need not look further than this speech. We are truly the biggest mutts of the world, and by big I do mean overweight. What gets me is the mix of Kindergarten-level compassion given to these supposed army men combined with the honesty that no one in the room was smart enough to stay out of the army. The childish way he makes people raise their hands if they cried during Old Yeller is almost as good as the childish way they hesitantly go along with him. It’s adorable.
10. Viggo Mortensen talks about the fall of man in The Return Of The King
What I dearly love about pre-battle warm up speeches in movies is that at some point they had to have prepared something ahead of time… like, they know they will have to give a big dramatic speech before battle so they certainly must have practiced it in the mirror a few times first. This speech is particularly terrific because, unless I am mistaken, it marks the first time that Aragorn gets to do this as a leader – man, he must have had this speech prepared for years! It’s a good one too, quick and to the point, one to rival Mel Gibson’s Braveheart speech (a speech I omitted from this list because it felt too expected).
9. Tommy Lee Jones recalls a dream in No Country For Old Men
Every aspect of this film, from the characters to the (lack of) music and sound, is incredibly simple in this weird way. What I mean is that even the most chaotic element of the story, Javier Bardem’s sociopathic Chigurh, runs on very basic and set principles that are pretty damn straightforward in nature. The complexities come from watching these rather stubborn characters’ basic motivations and personalities chug along to the inevitable moment in which they collide with one another, because we all know that not everyone is going to get what they want, and everyone wants something drastically different. This ending speech with Tommy Lee Jones retelling an extremely symbolic dream perfectly represents this as such a profound vision of his father is both recognized as such and nonchalantly told the way one would tell any dream. It’s just so simple in every way, but says something so complex about his character and about the film.
8. Brad Pitt explains the in and outs of the nuthouse in Twelve Monkeys
It’s a little scattered in that Brad Pitt’s character Jeffery is pretty much in a constant state of monologue throughout this movie. It was this role when I first realized that Brad Pitt could act, and since then I have had a warm fondness for the man, but lately I’ve been hoping to see him do something as out there as this character was; I don’t think he’s really ever topped this. The dialogue itself is great, as is the way he delivers it, but the thing I love most is the body language and facial expressions; he truly looks bat shit crazy with his hand flicking and face twitching. Along with that, whenever the nurse scolds him he seems to have this great moment of remorse each time, as he knows full well that he is acting out, only to almost instantly forget it. The cherry is Bruce Willis’s drugged up droopy face as he slowly puts together just how nuts this guy is. There should be more films like this film.