Hot List: Top 10 films of ‘Monuments Men’ actor, director George Clooney

PR still of George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and Sam Epstein in “The Monuments Men” (2014). (Credit: Claudette Barius, © 2013 Columbia Pictures Ind., Inc. and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.)

WASHINGTON, February 6, 2014 – George Clooney’s new film “The Monuments Men,” set in World War II, opens on Feb. 7. In his successful career thus far, Mr. Clooney has received eight Oscar nominations in a record six categories.

The List this week looks at the actor’s Top Ten films.

10. The American (2010) – Mr. Clooney plays Jack, the moody, archetypal hit man in this suspense thriller that looks a lot like a European film. It’s handsomely photographed, beginning with its frightening opening sequence of a killing on a frozen lake in Sweden. There is a brooding atmosphere that permeates this film, but Mr. Clooney keeps us spellbound as the often-complicated plot unravels in stunning Italian locations.

9. Intolerable Cruelty (2003) – In this screwball comedy directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, Mr. Clooney displays his comic skills as smooth operator Miles Massey, the prince of divorce lawyers in Los Angeles, who specializes in forging iron clad pre-nups. Miss Zeta-Jones is cast as an aspiring mercenary named Marylin Rexroth. The film pulled in over $121 million worldwide.

8. Ocean’s Eleven (2001) – In this remake of Frank Sinatra’s 1960 Rat Pack film, Mr. Clooney leads a star-studded cast that includes sidekick Brad Pitt. His intrepid band is out to rob an underground vault that serves three Las Vegas casinos. Steven Soderbergh directed this caper that looks like a “Mission Impossible” on paper. Andy Garcia plays the casino owner, and Julia Roberts is his lackluster spouse, who also used to be Ocean’s girl. Elliott Gould, Carl Reiner, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle make up the rest of the cast. The film made over $450 million worldwide. It was Mr. Clooney’s biggest box office hit.

7. The Good German (2006) – In this black-and-white film Mr. Clooney plays war correspondent Jake Geismer, sent to Berlin in in July 1945 to cover the Potsdam Conference, as the victorious powers divvy up the spoils. The film bombed at the box office. But Steven Soderbergh’s directorial skills and cinematography gave the film a bygone era feel and the whole effort is film noir at its best. Yet the film barely made over $1 million at the box office.

6. The Perfect Storm (2000) – Mr. Clooney and Mark Wahlberg star in this true-life tale of the Andrea Gail, the swordfishing boat caught in a monstrous weather anomaly in 1991 off the New England coast. Author Sebastian Junger captured that storm in his best-selling novel of the same name, which served as the inspiration for the film. The movie was a box office hit earning over $328 million worldwide. It was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound.

5. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) – Written and directed by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, this chase farce follows three fugitives from a Mississippi chain gang during the 1930s. Mr. Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson play the trio as they pursue a buried treasure along with freedom. The cast also includes John Goodman and Holly Hunter. The film received two Academy nominations and Mr. Clooney won the Golden Globe award for Best Actor.

4. Out of Sight (1998) – Steven Soderbergh directed this stylish Elmore Leonard adaptation that paired Mr. Clooney opposite Jennifer Lopez. Mr. Clooney stars as Jack Foley, an incompetent bank robber behind bars. Foley makes a break for freedom and accidentally involves federal marshal Karen Sisco, played by Miss. Lopez. The film garnered two Academy Award nominations for Adapted Screenplay and Editing.

3. Michael Clayton (2007) – As the title character in this intense thriller, Mr. Clooney plays a legal fixer at a big Manhattan corporate law firm who’s sent to sort out guilt-ridden partner, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), who is set to expose the firm’s dirty laundry. But Clayton discovers he’s in sympathy with Edens and suddenly he’s a targeted man. Mr. Clooney won an Oscar nomination in the Best Actor category. The film was Tony Gilroy’s directorial debut.

2. The Descendants (2011) – Mr. Clooney delivers one of the best performances of his career as Matt King, the scion of an old Hawaiian family that owns an undeveloped parcel of land on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. His family wants him to cash in the land before the family trust expires, but King gets waylaid with a family crisis involving secrets about his dying wife. The film made over $175 million worldwide and earned Mr. Clooney the Golden Globe award for Best Actor. He was also nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actor category.

1. Up in the Air (2009) – Mr. Clooney, is sensitive and charming, as Ryan, a man with the unenviable job of firing people from their jobs. He is devoid of family and friends and spends the majority of his life traveling from airport to airport. Ryan comes to realize his un-rooted life might be far emptier than he ever imagined. The film connected with American audiences at a time when the nation’s unemployment rate was rising above a disastrous 10 percent with layoffs becoming a dismal staple on the nightly news. The film made over $166 million worldwide and earned Mr. Clooney his third Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

Special mention: Clooney’s recent film “Gravity” (2013) with Sandra Bullock, which involves astronauts in serious trouble in space, was not reviewed for this list but has earned high praise from the critics along with considerable box office success.

“Monuments Men” Trailer:

Compiled by John Haydon

Sources: The Washington Times, Sunday Mirror, The Express,, IMDb.

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