Neal Damiano pays tribute to late actor James Gandolfini. Widely remembered as Tony Soprano in HBO’s award-winning television drama The Sopranos, he also appeared in many great films.
10. Crimson Tide (Scott, 1995)
When a volatile Russian nationalist and Soviet Union Army seize control of a nuclear missile base, it starts the biggest global emergency since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The world on the edge of disaster, the USS Alabama sets sail, patrolling Russian waters with enough firepower to start another World War. As the crisis continues, the unthinkable occurs: the Alabama is given an order to launch its nuclear missles. In the resulting Captain Frank Ramsey, and his executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter clash over orders and fight for control of the sub. With an all star cast it’s hard to stand out here, but Gandolfini shines bright in his small role as Lt Bobby Dougherty trying to help save the US from seige.
9. The Juror (Gibson, 1996)
Annie Laird ( Demi Moore) is selected as a juror in a Mafia trial, she is forced by someone known as “The Teacher” to persuade the other jurors to vote “not guilty”. He threatens to kill her son if she doesn’t commit. When the trial is over, he can’t let her go. James Gandolfini plays a viscious hitman named Eddie, this particular film really shows his acting ability, he is so convincing one would think he is actually in the mafia.
8. Get Shorty (Sonnenfeld, 1995)
Chili Palmer (Travolta) is a loanshark from Miami sent to Los Angeles to collect a debt from a famous film producer Harry Zimm ( Devito) Unknown to Zimm, Chili happens to be a big movie fan especially of B movies. So they hit it off due to their quirky personalitites. James Gandolfini plays a larger than life Hollywood stuntman, who moonlights as a body guard for the mob. His characters name is Bear if thats not cool enough alone. He is so likable in this character, clashing with Chili at first, but Chili finds a soft spot and offers him a job. Great chemistry between Gandolfini and Travolta some really funny moments.
7. The Mexican (Verbinski, 2001)
Jerry Welbach (Pitt) has two choices. His mob boss wants him to travel to Mexico to find an antique Pistol called The Mexican or he will die. The other choice is from his grilfriend Samantha (Roberts), who wants him to end his relationship with the mob. Leroy is a gay hit man (Gandolfini) sent to kidnap Sam in return of the priceless pistol safely. The film doesn’t get moving until Gandolfini picks up Roberts. The exchange between the two in this road trip romp is so entertaining and Gandolfini’s charisma really shines through here, whether he is telling Sam about a hit he did or the men in and out of his life. He has the ability to play characters normally you would hate, but he does it with such endearing charm you can’t help but like him. He does that very well in this film.
6. Zero Dark Thirty (Bigelow, 2012)
It’s been more than a decade since the attacks of 2001, but terrorist Osama Bin Laden is still out there, somewhere. A CIA operative travels down a long dark path that ends in the killing of the most notorious terrorist in history. Although a very small role, James Gandolfini is such a dominating force as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, with such a presence in the boardroom.
5. 8MM (Schumacher, 1999)
Starring Nic Cage as a survelliance expert hired to investigate a snuff film murder. Gandolfini plays Eddie Poole and quite possibly one of the sleaziest characters in film history. A low down and money hungry porno producer, who lures girls in only to exploit them. He plays this role so well and convincing that you actually hope and can’t wait until he gets his due. This happens to be one of my favorites performances from him because he is that good.
4. In The Loop (Iannucci, 2009)
A parody of the inner workings of U.S. and British government agencies and their international relations. General Miller is played by Gandolfini, and he puts his own humorous spin on it.
3. The Man Who Wasn’t There (Coen/Coen, 2001)
As the philandering store manager who finds himself suddenly blackmailed, Gandolfini injects Big Dave Brewster with a combination of fragility and rage that makes us sympathize with him despite being terrified.
2. The Last Castle (Lurie, 2001)
A battle of morals between inmates and the warden of a military prison, based on the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. Gandolfini plays Colonel Winter, a sadistic prison warden with military background. He is the perfect villain to Robert Redford with mental and physical warfare against each other. He is just so engaging with power in this film.
1. True Romance (Scott, 1993)
Gandolfini is so convincing as a sociopathic cold blooded killer in True Romance. I don’t believe they could of gotten anyone else to play this role better. The fight scene in the hotel room between him and Alabama, is one of the best fights in film history, in my opinion. James Gandolfini is one of the reasons why True romance is one of my favorite films. His dialogue in the hotel scene is both frightening and alluring, thats what makes James so great.
Written and compiled by Neal Damiano.
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