Releasing this Boxing Day in cinemas is The Greatest Showman, a musical with a star-studdded cast and the film has received three Golden Globe nominations including Best Picture in the Musical and Comedy category. In the lead role as American showman, P. T. Barnum is Hugh Jackman, who himself has recieved a Best Actor nomination for the film. In my opinion, Hugh Jackman always puts in a great performance in whatever film he is in and always elevates the material. He always tends to pick really interesting projects and portray characters in a wide range of genres as well.
I thought this would be a suitable time to have a look back at Jackman’s career so far and count down his Top Five films. These films are based on both his performance in them and their quality. To get them down to just five films was a real challenge, as he has put in so many great performances.
I really struggled what to put in 5th and juggled between Darren Aronofsky‘s The Fountain and a guilty pleasure, Van Helsing, but I ended up letting CHAPPiE in. What all of these films share in common is the fact that they all recieved mixed reviews, but director Neill Blomkamp’s film is ultimately the most misunderstood. His third film after District 9 and Elysium saw his career crashing down and him being removed off an Alien film, but I think it’s a really thoughtful, entertaining piece. Jackman is particularly great in this film, playing against type as the mullet-wearing, hot-blooded villain, Vincent. Vincent is a South African former soldier-turned-engineer who is bitter when his Moose technology is turned away from his boss played by Sigourney Weaver and Dev Patel’s leading character’s android is given money for further development. Jackman is clearly having a ton of fun in the role and at times, his character is really quite nasty and it’s a departure from the norm for the actor.
4) The Prestige
The Prestige is a perfect film and is endlessly rewatchable. The plot is a masterclass by director Christopher Nolan and compared to a lot of his other films, is rather small in scale. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale both give tremendous performances in the lead role and the late David Bowie also stands out in a small role as Tesla. Jackman plays Robert Angier, a magician who comes into competition with Bale’s Alfred Borden and both characters go to extreme lengths to outdo each other. The film has many revelatory twists and features one of the best endings to a film ever. It’s a bit of a shame it’s never quite got the recognition it deserves, presumably being released between Nolan’s first two Batman films which are always going to be hotter property. But, The Prestige is a gem of a film and one not to be missed.
3) The Wolverine
Perhaps a bit of an odd choice, The Wolverine is a perfect film up until its final act that does what most other comic book films can’t – not just be a great comic book film but also a great action film to boot. Many people point to Logan as the best X-Men film (which I think it might be), but this comes so, so close. Jackman channels the comic-book character most faithfully in this film when it was released, Logan is in pain, bitter and wild when the film first opens and the setting of Japan really suits the character’s quest for redemption. James Mangold’s film features some great action sequences particularly one on a bullet train and at a funeral. Until its final action sequence that frustratingly descends into generic comic book territory, the film is a perfect adaptation of what a Wolverine film should be minus the R-rating which Logan then achieved.
Logan is not just a fantastic superhero film, it is also a fantastic Western film that just happens to have a superhero starring in it. The Western genre is a genre that is close to my heart so not only is it refreshing to be given another ace Western but for it to be in the shape of Logan is extremely impressive. The film is gritty, swearytastic and deliciously violent, fully earning the film a 15 / R rating. The performances by the cast all-round are great and returning director, James Mangold, directs this film with real flair. The film has a lot of emotional beats and really develops these characters that we have come to empathise with over the course of this franchise. The story, also manages to surprise with a couple of great twists and turns. Jackman, with the elevated age rating is finally allowed to swear which helps establish a sense of realism in the film and when the action arrives, detail certainly is dwelled upon. Jackman’s character has clearly aged and is fragile, even from something so simple as having to wear glasses to read. It’s a brilliant film and one that will certainly feature in my upcoming Best Films of 2017 list, placing 4th on my Mid-Year list.
Prisoners is my favourite film of 2013 and one of my favourites of the decade. Denis Villeneuve’s English-language debut is a harrowing, dark account of the kidnapping of a young girl and the subsequent investigation that ensues. Hugh Jackman plays the father, Keller Dover, whose multi-layered, fragmented character goes to extreme lengths to protect his family and uncover the identity of the kidnapper. This perfect film also features a brilliant score by Jóhann Jóhannsson which is wholly original and frequently haunting and is shot beautfully by Roger Deakins. For Jackman’s sake, he’s overshadowed slightly by Jake Gyllenhaal, who also puts in a career-best performance as Detective Loki but both performances are top-notch. If you haven’t seen Prisoners, go and watch it immediately and then take a look through the rest of Villeneuve’s filmography – he is one of the most exciting directors of our time and Jackman compliments this film perfectly.
So there we go. What do you think? What did I miss? If you haven’t watched any of these films, I’d highly recommend you do so as they’re all really worthwhile and I hope this actor’s career continues to go from strength to strength.
The Greatest Showman is out now in UK cinemas