Robert Downey Jr. has been to the brink and back, but one thing has never wavered: His immense talent. An Oscar nominee and box office king, Downey is back on the big screen with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
The film reunites him with Jude Law (Dr. Watson) and director Guy Ritchie. As Game of Shadows hits screens and The Avengers fever continues at a fever pitch for the film arriving May 2012, we look back at the career of one of Hollywood’s most gifted thespians and give you the Top 10 Robert Downey Jr. Movies!
10. Natural Born Killers
In 1994, Downey headed into the world of Oliver Stone with Natural Born Killers and in many ways, played a journalist that would echo the way journalism would be heading for the next 15 years: Sensationalist. He followed Juliette Lewis and Woody Harrelson into the depths of hell as the two serial killers had the means of telling their story in Downey’s journalist.
9. Wonder Boys
Robert Downey Jr. was just beginning his latest comeback when he appeared opposite Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys. His acting talents still in top form, it was nice to see Downey return to greatness after years of making headlines for things other than acting. Wonder Boys is a heartwarming film and if you are a Downey fan, it is a must-see.
8. Less Than Zero
Less Than Zero, in hindsight, could have been a cautionary tale. At the time it served as a revelation of the astounding gifts of Downey. Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz and Downey played recent high school graduates with their entire life in front of them. When McCarthy returns to their Southern California home from his East Coast college, he discovers his friends in various forms of disarray -- particularly Downey who is drug-addled and on the verge of killing himself.
It is one powerful film and was one of our first looks into the true talents of a master thespian.
Downey does flamboyant with his turn in the soap opera parody Soapdish. The actor played a writer on one of the biggest soaps on TV and is, on one hand, being manipulated by one of the show’s stars (Cathy Moriarity), and on the other hand he is trying to manage his workload with the head writer (Whoopi Goldberg). With his third hand (yes, that’s how manic his character is!) he's trying his best to appease the show’s superstar (Sally Field).
Believe it or not, Soapdish has aged quite well and still stands the test of time. It’s also a fascinating study into soap operas as they begin their expedited trip to extinction.
6. Sherlock Holmes
Following becoming a blockbuster star in 2008’s Iron Man, Downey delivered another blockbuster as the iconic character from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books in 2009 with Sherlock Holmes. English accent: perfect. Classic Holmes swagger: nailed it. Required repartee with Dr. Watson (Jude Law): impeccable. We cannot wait for you all to see the follow-up, A Game of Shadows, opening this Friday.
More audiences should have seen this powerful film based on the true story of the Zodiac serial murderer. Downey starred in Zodiac with Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo in director David Fincher’s killer film that fell on deaf ears when it hit theaters, but has enjoyed success on home video. If you missed it and consider yourself a Downey fan, it is a must-see.
4. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an utter blast. It should be illegal to have this much fun at the movies and that is largely in part to the performance of Downey and his costar, Val Kilmer. The film is classic film noir that also never takes itself too seriously. Downey’s character, Harry Lockhart, serves as the film’s narrator.
The petty criminal begins the film by running away from a botched robbery into a room of actors auditioning for a film. He kills the audition, is flown to Hollywood for a screen test.. and the rest you will have to watch for yourself. Also, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was produced by Susan Levin, who would become Mrs. Robert Downey Jr.
Downey earned his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Charlie Chaplin in the biopic Chaplin. Directed by the master helmer Richard Attenborough, Downey effortlessly channeled the Little Tramp and firmly established himself as an actor worthy of awards praise.
2. Iron Man
Iron Man rocketed Downey to the top of the A-list pack. An enormous hit that was also a terrific film, there was no better choice to play Iron Man than the actor. Sure the sequel lacked a little muscle, but Iron Man the first has everything you want from not only a superhero movie, but any film. Downey displayed humor, power and panache in a role that will forever be equated with him. Like Christopher Reeve and Superman, any actor until the end of time will forever be compared to him.
1. Tropic Thunder
Downey blew doors on so many levels with his performance in Tropic Thunder. Where to start? He played an Australian theater-trained method actor who was playing an African American in the middle of a war in Asia. With any other performer, this task could have proved impossible. Yet, in the hands of Downey he makes it look effortless. To us at Movie Fanatic, Tropic Thunder will always be the best in a long line of bests for the actor who will also serve as the definition of how to stage and maintain a comeback for the ages.