5 best Brad Pitt performances
In this film publicity image released by Fox Searchlight Pictures, Brad Pitt, left, and Laramie Eppler are shown in a scene from "The Tree of Life." (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight Pictures, Merie Wallace)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Choosing Brad Pitt's five best performances was tough, but getting a chance to look back on his career was a joy.
Ever since his breakout role as the sexy and mysterious drifter J.D. in "Thelma & Louise" (1991), Pitt has repeatedly proven that he's so much more than just a pretty face. He's shown a knack for choosing meaty, intelligent films and working with the most respected directors, which has allowed him to explore every facet of his versatile talent.
This week he stars in "Moneyball" as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, a role that lets him be both charismatic and vulnerable. It's some of his best work; here are five other examples:
— "Fight Club" (1999): The first rule of Brad Pitt is, it's impossible not to talk about Brad Pitt. He's larger than life here, mythological almost, as Tyler Durden, the leader of the secret fight club and the key to Edward Norton's salvation — or so he initially thinks. Sinewy and swaggering, Pitt radiates sexy masculinity in an almost primal way. The fact that he also challenges the men who follow him on emotional and psychological levels makes him not just charismatic but downright frightening. This is one of several films Pitt has made with director David Fincher — and you might put "Se7en" or "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" on your list of his top performances — but this is the one that stands out most for me.
In this image released by Focus Features, Brad Pitt is shown in a scene from "Burn After Reading." (AP Photo/Focus Features)
— "The Tree of Life" (2011): Between this and "Moneyball," Pitt is having a pretty great year. But the performances come in two films that couldn't be more different. Terrence Malick's hypnotic meditation on family, memory and the origin of life itself is full of mesmerizing imagery. But it also allowed Pitt to do some of the best work of his career as a husband and father of three in 1950s Texas. Pitt makes the character an intimidating figure, a capricious mix of toughness and tenderness. His actions may seem questionable, even abusive at times, but you get the sense that he's questioning, struggling, trying to figure out how to be the best man he can be without abandoning his traditional notions of manhood.
— "Inglourious Basterds" (2009): He's pretty much doing a bad impression of George W. Bush here — campy but irresistible — and it is always such a joy to watch him let go and goof off. Pitt tops a tremendous ensemble cast in Quentin Tarantino's daring, revisionist World War II saga as the twangy Tennessean Lt. Aldo Raine. He's the leader of a band of Jewish American soldiers who hunt Nazis with the goal of not just killing them but scalping them and sometimes carving swastikas into their foreheads. He offers a rousing mix of aw-shucks earnestness and slam-bang bravado.