Morgan Freeman Movies

I got to thinking about Morgan Freeman movies last night. Take a look at his IMDB page: it's a Murderer's Row! You can make the argument that his best movies rank with or ahead of anyone's. (I have only gone back fifty years so far, but no one has been in more Best Picture winners than Freeman (3), and so far only two people have that many.)

I wanted to do a Top Ten list of Morgan Freeman movies. Stipulated that: A) I haven't seen a few that conceivably could make the list, like STREET SMART, MOLL FLANDERS or THE BUCKET LIST; B) I am not including THE DARK KNIGHT in this list, because I haven't had time to think about the movie properly, as to where it might place; C) I didn't include Narration, but I think we can agree that hands down Morgan Freeman is the best Movie Narrator of all time; D) I am judging the Movie, not his performance. Judging the "acting" would constitute a different list.

Honorable Mention: Gone, Baby Gone; Nurse Betty; Outbreak


#10 Million Dollar Baby - I found the ending to this film to be a fraud (I don't believe either character would act in that way), so I was tempted to leave the movie off entirely. But it did win Best Picture, Morgan did win his own Oscar, and so here it is.

#9 Unforgiven - Another Best Picture winner I have serious problems with, though I seem to be the only one. In any event, Morgan is great in this beloved Western, loved by most.

#8 Wanted - This image makes me wonder what PULP FICTION would have been like with Moran Freeman as Jules. For that matter, picture Samuel L. Jackson with Miss Daisy. I'm sensing "foot-up-the-ass" in the near future!

#7 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - Because everyone turned on Costner with WATERWORLD (and the following decade of awd-gawful dreck), Robin Hood gets downgraded in your memory. But it's terrific, and Morgan Freeman MAKES this movie. His Azeem is the best movie interpretation of a Muslim I can think of. Hmm.... Maybe another top ten list. I'm open to ideas.

#6 Batman Begins - I love this image capture: "Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Bruce?" In a series that's as well-cast as Harry Potter or LOTR, Morgan Freeman blends perfectly with his Lucius Fox. Anytime you'd be interested in an entire movie on a small character who doesn't even get to do anything; that's acting, baby.

#5 Se7en - People tell me that Morgan Freeman (and for that matter, Mr. Denzel) always play the same character. But what they're really saying is, that's all they see. If you rank Freeman in the caliber of actors that I do, then you understand that the subtle shades of degree are where genius lies. Anthony Hopkins does it--the difference between his butler in REMAINS OF THE DAY and Hannibal Lecter is razor-thin, but Viva la Difference! It's time we realized that Morgan Freeman is capable of this too. Yes, he's often cast as the benignly stern (but really gentle) wise grandfather-type, but compare Eddie Dupris in MILLION DOLLAR BABY to William Somerset here in SE7EN. There is not much difference, BUT THERE IS SO MUCH DIFFERENCE!!!! I'm saying it right here and right now: any list of the best ten actors in the world today HAS to include Morgan Freeman, and to say otherwise is to declare war.

#4 Amistad - It's hard to believe a Steven Spielberg picture is one of the most underrated films of the '90s, but there you go. This film should be required in all schools. And, since I have nothing else to add, if I were in charge, Morgan Freeman would be required to always wear a cape. As would I.

#3 Driving Miss Daisy - I saw the film the other day. It seems dated, which is a weird phenomenon, since it was originally a fresh perspective on a dated time and place. Don't get me wrong; DMD still is amazing, but with where the culture has gone the "lessons" come across differently. Who wants to lay odds that Dan Ackroyd is never getting into another Best Picture winner?

#2 Glory - Dude, Morgan Freeman had GLORY and DRIVING MISS DAISY come out in the same year. You have to go back to Victor Fleming ('39) for a guy to have a year like that. [Actually, now that I think about it, Spielberg had SCHINDLER'S LIST and JURASSIC PARK both in '93, although he's not an actor. At the very least, Freeman's on the short list for greatest years.] Back to GLORY, it stands out in my mind as the first R rated film that my parents brought home. They considered it extremely important that my brother and I see it. I agree. The violence is scary, but I would show this film in 5th grade, explaining the significance of certain traumatic events. (Obviously the dying, but the lash marks, etc.) Arguably the greatest assembly of black actors in history (with the possible exception of UNDERCOVER BROTHER. Just kidding.)

And the number one Morgan Freeman movie (but just by a hair) is.....

#1 The Shawshank Redemption - I have to be the only person in America who would spend the majority of the night sick to my stomach over how to rank my top five. I know; I care too deeply, but Morgan Freeman is important, dagnabbit, and I wanted to do right by him. What tips the scales (even though this wasn't supposed to be a factor) is that Freeman's "Red" is so wonderful a character. It is Red that made us fall in love with Freeman the actor, made us trust him through thick and thin, and gave him that instant respect anytime you see him on screen. It is also Red's narration that made us all realize that Morgan Freeman should narrate everything. An amazing film that has not lost one step in the last 14 years.

You could do far worse than have a Morgan Freeman night. I'm not saying he's 100% responsible for the great films above (and others), but he has added to every film I've ever seen him in. With his recent serious-car crash and personal difficulties, there seemed no better time than to honor one of the Screen Titans. This is me throwing him a "Keep your head up, Morgan." Freeman always hated being called "black," feeling that it limits him (and others). I'll honor that. From now on this site will not call Morgan Freeman anything other than Awesome.

I love me some Vincent the Vegetable Vampire

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Morgan, my man. Here's to a swift recovery from your recent auto accident injuries.