Woody Harrelson has enjoyed a prosperous three-decade long career that, in many ways, has flown completely under the radar. He always demonstrates an ability to stand out in any role, no matter how big or small. Therefore, in honor of his new release, The Glass Castle, August's Movie List of the Month pays tribute to Harrelson's finest performances (July's list).
Honorable Mention: The Edge of Seventeen, The Glass Castle, King Pin, Natural Born Killers and Out of the Furnace
#5. Seven Psychopaths (2012)
Martin McDonagh's hysterical and under-appreciated comedic effort pits Harrelson, as an angry and unhinged mob boss, whose cherished dog is stolen by a reward-seeking dog-napper (played by Sam Rockwell). The absurdity of the film's primary storyline plays extremely well thanks in large part to Harrelson's fully committed performance. Seven Psychopaths is well worth a watch if you haven't seen it.
#4. Zombieland (2009)
Another outstanding comedy featuring Harrelson's singular talents is Ruben Fleischer's one-of-a-kind laugh-fest, Zombieland. Harrelson steals the show as Tallahassee, a vengeful and demented mad-man whose heart is as big as his penchant for zombie-killing. His off-the-wall demeanor is brought to life masterfully by Harrelson and helps cap-off this exceptional 88-minute comedic ride.
#3. The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
One of Harrelson's two Oscar-Nominated turns comes from Milos Forman's biopic The People vs. Larry Flynt. Harrelson stars in the title role as the Hustler magazine publisher who faced an enormous public blow-back that resulted in a court case battle surrounding free speech. Harrelson delivers a knockout performance that stands the test of time and serves as an illuminating reminder of his gifted acting abilities.
#2. White Men Can't Jump (1992)
Although Harrelson's role in Ron Shelton's White Men Can't Jump doesn't quite carry the same dramatic cachet as his Larry Flynt performance, the film will always stand as a staple of my childhood. Billy Hoyle (Harrelson) represents a flawed lead character whose knack for hustling on the basketball courts of Los Angeles is equally measured my his dimwitted ability for blowing all of his winnings on stupid bets. Harrelson manages to blend together a hilarious turn with tempered dramatics that illustrate his well-rounded talents.
#1. The Messenger (2009)
For an overall movie that's almost as towering as Harrelson's supporting work, Oren Moverman's The Messenger is an absolute Tour de Force. Harrelson, along with co-star Ben Foster, stars as a member of the Casualty Notification Team who's responsible for breaking the news of a soldier's death to their next of kin. Harrelson demonstrates the depths of his dramatic talents in this Oscar-Nominated turn that's every bit as powerful and moving as the film's premise suggests. Harrelson's character appears both cold but respectful in this challenging task that he's been saddled with. The Messenger serves as the epitome of independent filmmaking telling an emotional story through a modest budget and immense acting talent, thanks to the exceptional work of Hollywood legend Woody Harrelson.