Brad Pitt is undoubtedly one of the biggest movie stars in the world. The man is a household name and a prolific actor who has consistently been a fixture on our cinema screens for the last two and a half decades. He is also something of a tabloid mainstay, much to his own chagrin, and in 2016 has seen his marital strife with Angelina Jolie plastered all over the headlines.
This hasn't stopped him working, however, and last week saw the release of his latest film Allied. A romantic war epic co-starring Marion Cotillard and directed by Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away, Forrest Gump), the film has been lukewarmly received by critics. The box office has also reflected this, with the movie only managing to debut at number four on the charts.
So, with his most recent movie failing to set the world on fire and his personal life in turmoil, what better time than now to do something nice for the man?
To that end, we're going to look at our picks for the ten best Brad Pitt movies, a diverse collection of greats from across an enviable career.
10. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
1995 was a very good year in the career of Brad Pitt. He starred in two films in this year, and both have spots on this list. Firstly we have Twelve Monkeys, Terry Gilliam's neo-noir science-fiction film. Pitt starred in the eye-catching supporting role of time-traveling mental patient Jeffrey Goines. He played superbly opposite Bruce Willis in the main role and received a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination for his efforts.
The story goes that Gilliam initially didn't feel Pitt was right for the role, but casting director Margery Simkin convinced him otherwise. He was hired on a fairly small salary, as he was still fairly unknown. But by the time the movie saw release, Pitt had become A-list thanks to Interview With The Vampire and Legends Of The Fall. This boosted the film's profile and box-office takings, and it's a great watch to this day.
9. Sleepers (1996)
Brad Pitt. Robert De Niro. Dustin Hoffman. Kevin Bacon. Billy Crudup. Minnie Driver. Jason Patric.
At the time of its release in 1996, Sleepers had one of the most impressive ensemble casts ever assembled. Barry Levinson's legal crime drama was a powerful film, full of raw emotion and harrowing scenes that affected audiences on a deep level. Bacon's despicable Sean Nokes particularly burnt an impression on viewer's souls.
Over the years, it may have gotten a reputation for being slightly melodramatic, but we've always felt it was a great film full of great performances. We can forgive some melodrama whenever titans of cinema like Pitt, De Niro and Hoffman are on-screen together.
8. True Romance (1993)
Directed by the late Tony Scott and scripted by a pre-fame Quentin Tarantino, True Romance is a scintillating crime romance. Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are electric as Clarence and Alabama, the young lovers who find themselves targetted by vicious criminals after Clarence murders Alabama's pimp Drexl and accidentally steals a large amount of cocaine. The film is classic Tarantino, filled with quotable dialogue, sharp bursts of violence and oddball characters aplenty.
Pitt plays one of these oddballs, an affable stoner named Floyd, who only appears in a few scenes. It's okay though, as superb actors like Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, James Gandolfini, Val Kilmer, Samuel L. Jackson and Dennis Hopper more than pick up the slack!
Interestingly, Floyd was the inspiration for the Seth Rogen/James Franco action-comedy Pineapple Express, as producer Judd Apatow thought it would've been funny to watch the lazy pothead get chased by bad guys!
7. 12 Years A Slave (2013)
Another head-turning supporting role here for Pitt. In a cast headlined by Chiwetel Ejiofor and backed up by Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch, Pitt's extended cameo as Samuel Bass still makes an impression. His scenes are reflective and insightful, and Pitt wonderfully embodies a man deeply uncomfortable with slavery, who was willing to risk his life to help Ejiofor's Solomon Northup.
12 Years A Slave was an Oscar darling at the 2014 awards ceremony, receiving nine nominations and taking home three statues. Lupita Nyong'o won Best Supporting Actress and John Ridley won Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie also won Best Picture, making Steve McQueen the first black director to direct a Best Picture winning film.
6. Ocean's Eleven (2001)
All of the films so far have been fairly heavy going, but that is not the case with Ocean's Eleven. Steven Soderbergh's breezy heist movie is the very definition of a glossy Hollywood production. It's smartly scripted and witty, with some brilliant set-pieces and memorable characters. Mostly, though, it's a showcase for a bunch of extremely good looking A-list stars to do what they do best: be movie stars.
Pitt is effortlessly charming as Rusty Ryan, Danny Ocean's (George Clooney) right hand man. He sparks nicely off Clooney, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. Overall, the movie is simply a blast, a fun time at the movies to be had by everyone.
Amusingly, Rusty is seen eating some sort of fast food in nearly every scene he appears in. This seemed to alert the world to the fact that Pitt seems to do this in a lot of his movies. Perhaps he feels it adds to his characters? Or maybe he's just a foodie and no one will say he can't do it because he's Brad Pitt? More power to you, Brad. We love eating too.
5. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
We noted that Pitt had a small role in True Romance, written by a young Quentin Tarantino. In 2009, however, he went one step further and took up the main role in Inglourious Basterds, written and directed by Tarantino. And it was a beautiful thing.
Pitt anchors the movie expertly as Lt. Aldo Raine, who puts together his team of 'Basterds', a Jewish-American crew during World War II. Their mission? To spread fear amongst their Nazi enemies by killing and scalping them. Pitt exhibits a certain glee when he finally captures Christoph Waltz' villainous Hans Landa at the close of the film, carving a swastika into the man's forehead.
If this all sounds a bit gruesome and serious, we can assuage your fears. Given that this is Tarantino's version of WWII, the movie has a bizarrely off-kilter sense of humour that off-sets the potential darkness of the material at times. Pitt is actually genuinely hilarious as Raine in some scenes, which few would've expected at the outset of the movie.
4. The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)
This film is one of Pitt's biggest commercial failures. With a budget of $30 million, it brought in a paltry $3.9 million domestically. It managed to scramble together $15 million worldwide, but that's still a considerable flop. Perhaps it was the unwieldy title that put off audiences? Maybe, but then Pitt had it written into his contract that the studio couldn't change the title. Maybe it was the butt-numbing two and half hour running time? Or the general contemplative, slow pace of the film?
Whatever it was that caused the film to disappoint financially, it certainly didn't do that creatively. The film is an utter triumph. A beautifully bleak, mournful Western, it was a meditative and poetic look at the lives of legendary outlaw Jesse James (Pitt) and Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), the starstruck outsider who would go on to kill James.
In terms of pure acting, this movie might contain Pitt's very best performance, and Affleck matches him all the way. The direction and cinematography from Andrew Dominik and Roger Deakins are gorgeous, perfectly conveying the melancholy tone of the piece.
3. Thelma & Louise (1991)
Ridley Scott's road movie was a massive hit and was nominated for six Academy Awards. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon are timeless as the two friends whose road trip leads to disastrous consequences. The film was controversial at the time in some quarters for it's perceived negative portrayal of men. But it has since gone on to be considered a feminist classic, and rightfully so.
The first glimpse of Brad Pitt that most cinemagoers got was during Thelma & Louise. He appears as a sexy drifter named J.D., who seduces Davis' Thelma and beds her...before stealing her life savings and fleeing. Not cool. The role was one of those often-sought, but rarely found, star-making turns. It catapulted Pitt onto Hollywood's radar with a bang.
2. Fight Club (1999)
'We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.'
Tyler Durden is arguably the best character Brad Pitt has portrayed in his career. It makes use of all his best qualities. Durden is charismatic, anti-authority and above all else, cool. He has a way with words, including the quote above, but also has a danger lurking not too far from the surface. Pitt's double act with Edward Norton in Fight Club is dynamite, and his chemistry with Helena Bonham Carter is explosive.
The movie is justifiably a cult classic. Too weird and left-of-centre for most audience's at the time of its release, it underperformed and was misunderstood. Over the years, though, it has garnered a huge following and is now considered one of Pitt (and director David Fincher's) best works.
But not their very best. That goes to...
1 Se7en (1995)
Fincher and Pitt collaborated on Se7en a full four years before Fight Club, and we reckon it's the best movie of either man's career. A pitch-dark serial killer noir, Se7en is a truly excellent film. It's premise is simple. Pitt and Morgan Freeman play Detective's Mills and Somerset, who are tasked with bringing a serial killer to justice. The killer is using the tropes of the Seven Deadly Sins in his murders. And so begins a relentlessly bleak journey into the dark corners of the soul.
We'd argue that the only serial killer thriller able to rival Se7en is The Silence Of The Lambs. Everything else falls into the imitator category. The movie is just so compelling and bleak, but also entertaining and exhilarating when it needs to be.
It also has one of the best endings in cinema history, an ending that Fincher and Pitt had to fight tooth and nail to keep in the final cut of the film. We're glad they did, because it's the final gut punch that cements the movie as a true great.
What say you? Have we left out any top notch Brad Pitt movies that you love? Or praised any you think are overrated? Let us know in the comments section below!