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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: George Clooney

08.15.2013

With our first installment of The Good, The Bad & the Badass, we examined the career of Paul Thomas Anderson, a brilliant director and the perfect, uncompromising talent to kick off our new column. For the second installment, we here at JoBlo.com decided to take a look at someone whose work is a little more commercial, but nonetheless consistently good, with our subject being a guy who's not only one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, but also a director and a producer, responsible for some of the most critically acclaimed movies of the last couple of years.

George Clooney

Fifteen years ago, no one would have ever thought Clooney would end up the icon he is today. Sure, he was charming as all hell on ER, but on the big-screen, despite a promising start in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, he was infamous for playing the Caped Crusader in Joel Schumacher's BATMAN & ROBIN. Reportedly, Clooney keeps a poster of that film on the wall of his office as a reminder of what not to do. In 1998, he hooked up with director Steven Soderbergh, who, in his film OUT OF SIGHT, not only established Clooney as a full-on leading man, but also broke him of a lot of bad habits he had as an actor, including a gimmick where he constantly bobbed and dipped his head to look up at people (it's all over BATMAN & ROBIN, as well as his failed action vehicle THE PEACEMAKER).

From there, Clooney was on his way, alternating passion projects with auteurs like The Coen Bros., Soderbergh, and his own films as a director, with commercial, mainstream fare like THE PERFECT STORM, and the OCEANS series. On the whole, very few people in the business have a filmography as consistent as Clooney's.

His best film

This is a tough one, but to me Clooney's best is a film that by all accounts he hated making, THREE KINGS. Clooney and director David O. Russell constantly butted heads, pitting the hot-headed O. Russell against the more easygoing Clooney, who apparently got into a physical altercation with the director after seeing him harass an extra. Clooney's gone on record saying he'd never work with O. Russell again, but the movie itself is great, and Clooney's performance is superb, with this being one of the few times where he got to play a real honest-to-God badass man of action. And Clooney's not the only good thing about it. The direction by O. Russell is outstanding, with the bleached visuals, which are now standard, originally being a controversial choice, as are the shots where you see bullet p.o.v's ripping through intestines. Mark Wahlberg has also rarely been better, and his work with Clooney was so good the two immediately re-teamed on THE PERFECT STORM, while Wahlberg went on to do I HEART HUCKABEES, and THE FIGHTER with O. Russell.

His most underrated film

SYRIANNA is my choice for his most underrated film, even though it did relatively well at the box office and won Clooney the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. I say it's underrated because to me, SYRIANNA is a full blown masterpiece, with Stephen Gaghan's oil and espionage expose easily being the equal of something like TRAFFIC. Clooney got the lion's share of acclaim for this, but the movie also features stand-out work by Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, and especially Alexander Siddig, who richly deserved some awards attention, but was overlooked. If you haven't seen it in a while (or not at all), I strongly advise taking a look. It's superb.

His most overrated film

I'm gonna say “films” as I've never liked the OCEAN'S trilogy. Sure, OCEAN'S ELEVEN was a decent, fun remake of the old Rat Pack vehicle, but the movie ended up being wildly overrated. Did it really need to spawn two sequels? Both sequels felt like we were just watching Clooney hang-around with his pals Brad Pitt and Matt Damon on vacation, while the film itself was incidental. They were all style, no substance, and I'm glad that Clooney and Soderbergh have gotten them out of their system.

His most memorable moment

For me, the obvious choice is Clooney's hotel seduction of Jennifer Lopez in OUT OF SIGHT. It's sexy, but also tasteful and classy. Jennifer Lopez has never been better than she was here, and OUT OF SIGHT really was the movie that, to me, made Clooney someone to be taken seriously. Nowhere is this more evident than in this scene. This is what sizzling big-screen chemistry is all about.

What's next?!

Clooney's next film is a biggie. He's directing a large-scale WWII heist movie called THE MONUMENTS MEN, which looks like a throwback to a great WWII action movie called THE TRAIN (which I've heard is one of Clooney's favorite films). It reunites him with one of his favourite co-stars, Matt Damon, and also features the great Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, and more. I can't wait. He's also co-starring in Alfonso Cuaron's GRAVITY with Sandra Bullock, although I suspect he's going to have a relatively small part as he's barely been featured in the (impressive) trailers. Again, Clooney's ambition here seems to be quality, not quantity.

My Five Favorites

1. THREE KINGS
2. SYRIANNA
3. MICHAEL CLAYTON
4. OUT OF SIGHT
5. UP IN THE AIR

What are your favorite Clooney films? Least faves? Best moments from his movies? Strike back below!

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Extra Tidbit: While it was a flop, THE PEACEMAKER is actually a perfectly decent late-nineties techno-thriller. Great score by Hans Zimmer.
Source: JoBlo.com

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+3
2:17PM on 08/16/2013

Cool article!

Descendents and up in the air for me. Dunno if it's because i'm getting older but i connected with those characters the most
Descendents and up in the air for me. Dunno if it's because i'm getting older but i connected with those characters the most
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3:26AM on 08/16/2013

noone mentioned

The American.
i know that this movie is probably just a quick shot to earn money while being near his home in Italy. But i just love the mood and the minimum dialogue. I felt related to the character being aging and finally found someone to live with for the rest of his life. although that arc didn't get a happy ending
The American.
i know that this movie is probably just a quick shot to earn money while being near his home in Italy. But i just love the mood and the minimum dialogue. I felt related to the character being aging and finally found someone to live with for the rest of his life. although that arc didn't get a happy ending
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10:59PM on 08/15/2013

good choice

I agree. As a kid watching Clooney I was never impressed. When he started thinking outside the box however and taking a few risks he eventually became what he is now, one of the industry's finest talents. And what's more, the way Clooney carries himself he reminds me of a very classic movie star, the type of celebrity you would attach the words "they don't make celebrities like that anymore." He has also become one of my favorite directors. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is so underrated and
I agree. As a kid watching Clooney I was never impressed. When he started thinking outside the box however and taking a few risks he eventually became what he is now, one of the industry's finest talents. And what's more, the way Clooney carries himself he reminds me of a very classic movie star, the type of celebrity you would attach the words "they don't make celebrities like that anymore." He has also become one of my favorite directors. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is so underrated and features an terrific performance by one of today's most underrated actors, Sam Rockwell. As a director Clooney shows that he knows how to work with actors as to make them want to give it their best. A point he proved again with Good Night And Good Luck. As an actor, I'd say his top 5 performances would be Michael Clayton, The Descendants, Up In The Air, The American, and O Brother Where Art Thou? I look forward to his next directing effort The Monuments Men and his upcoming performance in Alfonzo Cuaron's Gravity.
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10:38PM on 08/15/2013

My Top 4 List...

1. Ocean's Eleven - It was fun and cool...and what guy wouldn't want to be THAT cool?
2. Michael Clayton - Insanely good writing, superbly acted
3. O brother Where Art Thou? - Makes me wanna get some Dapper Dan right now
4. The Peacemaker - Not critically acclaimed i know but I like it 'cause it showed with the right story, he can kick ass with the best of them
1. Ocean's Eleven - It was fun and cool...and what guy wouldn't want to be THAT cool?
2. Michael Clayton - Insanely good writing, superbly acted
3. O brother Where Art Thou? - Makes me wanna get some Dapper Dan right now
4. The Peacemaker - Not critically acclaimed i know but I like it 'cause it showed with the right story, he can kick ass with the best of them
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+1
8:46PM on 08/15/2013

Best of Clooney

1. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
2. Burn After Reading
3. O, Brother Where Art Thou?
4. Fantastic Mr. Fox
5. Michael Clayton

Looking forward to The Monuments Men, Gravity and Tomorrowland.
1. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
2. Burn After Reading
3. O, Brother Where Art Thou?
4. Fantastic Mr. Fox
5. Michael Clayton

Looking forward to The Monuments Men, Gravity and Tomorrowland.
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8:39PM on 08/15/2013

pt 2

I haven't seen a difference from ER to now in the Oceans movies. Enjoy if you're into mediocrity
I haven't seen a difference from ER to now in the Oceans movies. Enjoy if you're into mediocrity
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8:38PM on 08/15/2013

Why God?

Maybe the most over rated actor ever. Absolutely awful. No range. He has playing the same character over and over again down I'll give you that....
Maybe the most over rated actor ever. Absolutely awful. No range. He has playing the same character over and over again down I'll give you that....
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8:25PM on 08/15/2013

Best George Clooney movie is...

O, Brother Where Art Thou? Out of Sight would rank a close second. However, I still haven't seen any of his directorial efforts.
O, Brother Where Art Thou? Out of Sight would rank a close second. However, I still haven't seen any of his directorial efforts.
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6:01PM on 08/15/2013

FDTD

From dusk till down! Bad ass caracter!
From dusk till down! Bad ass caracter!
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2:48PM on 08/15/2013
He is one of my favourite directors.his shot-taking is mindblowing esp. in Confessions of a dangerous mind
He is one of my favourite directors.his shot-taking is mindblowing esp. in Confessions of a dangerous mind
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2:30PM on 08/15/2013
O Brother Where Art Thou got major accolades.
I like Clooney. Underrated is Solaris.
For my money his best acting was in the Descendants. Great drama.
O Brother Where Art Thou got major accolades.
I like Clooney. Underrated is Solaris.
For my money his best acting was in the Descendants. Great drama.
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2:23PM on 08/15/2013

From dusk til dawn yo.

I like Clooney, he's a good leading man and is pretty much always solid. Best films.
From dusk til dawn (at his most bad ass here)
Out of Sight
Three Kings
O' brother where art thou
Up in the air

Honourable mention to good night and good luck and his voice work in Fantastic Mr. Fox is, fantastic.
I like Clooney, he's a good leading man and is pretty much always solid. Best films.
From dusk til dawn (at his most bad ass here)
Out of Sight
Three Kings
O' brother where art thou
Up in the air

Honourable mention to good night and good luck and his voice work in Fantastic Mr. Fox is, fantastic.
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12:27PM on 08/15/2013

D:

He's the same guy in everything. I liked him in Michael Clayton, but everyone in that movie helped it along He has no range.
He's the same guy in everything. I liked him in Michael Clayton, but everyone in that movie helped it along He has no range.
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11:40AM on 08/15/2013
Re extra tidbit: I like that film a lot too. It's a solid action-thriller that doesn't get too silly, with Clooney and Nicole Kidman making a watchable pair. What's interesting about him is this guy has it all. He's devilishly handsome, but he's also proven himself as a good actor, director and producer and hasn't really been resting on his laurels like some who've achieved his level of success might. You know, I wonder how his take on Batman might have been had the tone and direction of that
Re extra tidbit: I like that film a lot too. It's a solid action-thriller that doesn't get too silly, with Clooney and Nicole Kidman making a watchable pair. What's interesting about him is this guy has it all. He's devilishly handsome, but he's also proven himself as a good actor, director and producer and hasn't really been resting on his laurels like some who've achieved his level of success might. You know, I wonder how his take on Batman might have been had the tone and direction of that particular film been a whole lot more serious.
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11:35AM on 08/15/2013
Out of Sight is my favorite. Another one of my all time favorite films features Clooney in a tiny role, at the very end of a long movie, Terence Malick's The Thin Red Line. Clooney is obviously not the reason The Thin Red Line is amazing, but he's in it. Hell, his name was heavily featured in the advertising.
Out of Sight is my favorite. Another one of my all time favorite films features Clooney in a tiny role, at the very end of a long movie, Terence Malick's The Thin Red Line. Clooney is obviously not the reason The Thin Red Line is amazing, but he's in it. Hell, his name was heavily featured in the advertising.
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11:11AM on 08/15/2013
Syriana required multiple viewings before I could really swallow everything Stephen Gaghan was trying to say. These days it's arguably even more timely than at the time it was released, what with all the talk about predator drones.

Favorites include:

Out of Sight (saw in in theaters, and immediately knew I was seeing something special)
Three Kings
O Brother, Where Art Thou
Michael Clayton
Number five might be tied between Syriana and Up in the Air (with an honorable mention for Burn
Syriana required multiple viewings before I could really swallow everything Stephen Gaghan was trying to say. These days it's arguably even more timely than at the time it was released, what with all the talk about predator drones.

Favorites include:

Out of Sight (saw in in theaters, and immediately knew I was seeing something special)
Three Kings
O Brother, Where Art Thou
Michael Clayton
Number five might be tied between Syriana and Up in the Air (with an honorable mention for Burn After Reading).
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10:51AM on 08/15/2013
I agree Clooney deserves to be here. He is a great actor and director. My favorite Clooney films are From Dusk Till Dawn and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
I agree Clooney deserves to be here. He is a great actor and director. My favorite Clooney films are From Dusk Till Dawn and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
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10:46AM on 08/15/2013
'Three Kings' is such a piece of shit.
'Three Kings' is such a piece of shit.
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2:35PM on 08/15/2013
And a blatant rip off of Kelly's Heroes.
And a blatant rip off of Kelly's Heroes.
10:43AM on 08/15/2013
Agree with pretty much everything except for Ocean's Eleven being just a "decent remake". Not only is it a heck of a lot better than decent but it's a damn masterpiece in comparison to the original, which as everyone knows was just a means of getting the Rat Pack together to have a blast.
Agree with pretty much everything except for Ocean's Eleven being just a "decent remake". Not only is it a heck of a lot better than decent but it's a damn masterpiece in comparison to the original, which as everyone knows was just a means of getting the Rat Pack together to have a blast.
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10:32AM on 08/15/2013
Clooney deserves to be in this column. My favorite being Michael Clayton and his underrated film is Good Night And Good Luck. My suggestion for next column is Clint Eastwood.
Clooney deserves to be in this column. My favorite being Michael Clayton and his underrated film is Good Night And Good Luck. My suggestion for next column is Clint Eastwood.
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