Thursday, May 3, 2012

Top 5 Films Featuring Samuel L. Jackson

This list is in no particular order. These are just some of my favorite films that Samuel L. Jackson, the actor and one of the stars of the new film The Avengers has been in over the years that I enjoyed either based solely on his performance or it was just a generally well made and enjoyable film that he happened to part of in a supporting capacity.

These probably aren't the best choices from an artistic point of view by which I mean the man has certainly made some more meaningful films. But I can't help it if these five films in particular are what I consider to be some of his more memorable work. For instance, I instantly know I will get some flak for not having something like Jackie Brown in here. I like that movie, Mr. Jackson does a fantastic job in it as do the rest of the cast (if I ever do a list of Bridget Fonda's best films it will certainly be included). But his performance, while good, doesn't make the movie for me. It doesn't help that the movie itself isn't exactly what I consider to be all that amazing in the first place. Now don't get me wrong here, I like it just fine, but I would rather watch something like Deep Blue Sea again just because I have more fun with that one (the quality of the film not withstanding). So yeah, if you just finished reading all that then I am pretty sure I pissed you off but you know what, so be it. These are my personal picks for one of the most iconic actors of our generation and movies he graced with his talent that I will stand by till the end.



There are probably a great many people out there that believe Mr. Jackson's role as S.H.I.E.L.D.'s elite super agent Nick Fury is his first tour of duty in the realm of comic books, but they would be wrong. A little over a decade ago the actor played a somewhat out of character role in M. Night Shyamalan's comic book homage and follow up to his break out hit The Sixth Sense called Unbreakable. Starring alongside Bruce Willis, Jackson isn't exactly playing the type of character most associated with the man at the time of its release. One could argue that Shyamalan worked his "magic" on the actor which resulted in Jackson giving one of his more reserved performances to date, but I tend to think of it more as his attempt to try to distance himself from the loud and obnoxious characters he had been typecast as prior to this. That being said though, I found his vulnerability as Elijah Price to be a good fit for him which provided us with a somewhat unconventional performance from an actor who is usually only seen in roles of power and confidence, in a suitably unconventional super hero movie.



The film that jump started a ton of careers and saved many others. I really have nothing to add to the conversation about the historical significance of the film (Quentin Tarantino's first hit, John Travolta's return to fame, etc.). But there is Mr. Jackson's inclusion in the film that needs some more clarification. Up to this point he had been playing bit parts in a slew of smaller films (one is on this list as a matter of fact) but he never had that one stand out role, that one part in a film that every actor craves until this came along. I am talking about a star making performance, the thing that everyone will remember them for no matter what comes after it and that is what Pulp Fiction did for the man. His role as Jules can almost be considered stereotypical for him anymore but at the time it was electrifying seeing those eyes grow larger as his voice grew louder just before he smoked a motherf**ker. This was the role that solidified him as a true star and also the film that provided the groundwork for just about every role in every film he played in after it for the next decade. Nothing I can say can stress how pivotal this film was to his career.



Now this is just a fun as hell movie. I would call this a guilty pleasure but that would be admitting that there is something wrong with liking it, which there isn't. I will admit up front that most people will not agree with this pick but I don't care. Not only is it a funny ass movie with an all star cast but it is also one of the very few times Mr. Jackson lets loose with a more comedic role (Loaded Weapon 1 being the only other one that pops into mind). His character is in no subtle way a direct recreation of Don King, but done in a much more likable way of course. He is a self-centered and conceited scumbag and Jackson plays the part to perfection as usual. I would be lying if I said I like this movie only for his glowing performance because everyone here is at the top of their game. Jeff Goldblum, Jon Lovitz, Damon Wayans, Cheech Marin, Jamie Foxx and a particularly inspired turn by actor turned director Peter Berg (Hancock, Battleship) as Irish Terry Conklin, they all show up with their comedic game faces on. You really can't go with this one just so long as all you are looking for is a quick 90 minutes of consistent laughter and nothing more.



Probably the only film of his on this list that has the man in a less than supporting role but a pivotal role nonetheless. I saw this film before many of his more well known films so I never really put it together that he was in this until seeing it again well after the fact. One thing that hadn't changed for me though was how much I love this movie. The story of a young boy trapped in a world of drugs and thugs trying to fight his way out using his brain instead of a gun is not your typical gangland style movie but most certainly a mesmerizing one. It came out during a time when theaters were being pummeled with gangster movies (Boyz N the Hood, Menance II Society, etc.) and because of its unconventional story mixed with the obscurity of being released in a sea of other similarly focused films, it fell through the cracks at the time. While it still has never quite gotten the love or respect it deserves, that doesn't change how powerful and masterful a film it is. If you have not seen it yet then I highly suggest seeking it out because it will blow you away.



The most no frills movie on this list is also probably the most entertaining one on here as well. Your world will not be blown away, you will not sing praises of its glory and you will most likely not even give it much of a second thought after watching it but none of that changes just how well executed this genre piece really is. You have two powerhouse actors, Mr. Jackson and Kevin Spacey, in roles tailor made for both men in a film about betrayal, murder, deceit and revenge. That last part there is the kicker though. Think about it, what is the perfect scenario to stick an actor with qualities such as Samuel L. Jackson in? How about a wrongly accused police negotiator who has nothing to lose and in turn takes hostages to buy time as he tries to piece together how his life fell apart so suddenly? If you want to see him yell and scream at people like only he can then look no further than here cause when he lets loose you better believe he means business. Great f**king flick with a great f**king cast.



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