Advertisements

James Gandolfini – Top 10 Roles

james gandolfini rip

I haven’t done anything like this before really. Whilst I’m busy behind the scenes purging my site of the IMDb reviews, I just couldn’t let the sad news of James Gandolfini passing away without offering my thoughts on it.

In the spookiest of coincidences, I was sat at home watching The Incredible Burt Wonderstone when my phone went. It was my friend telling me Tony Soprano had died. I jumped straight online and sure enough, the news was everywhere. You know when there are those celeb death hoaxes, well this time I hoped it was another one. Sadly it’s not, and the big man really is gone.

I just wanted to put something in print really about him and how much his performances meant to me. So I came up with this list, and I offer you my personal top 10 performances and roles James Gandolfini gave the world. Some you may not have seen, others you will have done. You may not agree, or think other films of his should have made the cut. And that’s fine, please shout out in the comments below. However this list is my personal top 10. I know a lot of my family and friends know him simply as the guy from that gangster show I am obsessed with. There was more to him than that, and he excelled either in bit parts or as the lead. Here are my personal highlights, with the notable exception of Killing Them Softly, as I’m yet to see it. Some fan I am………

#10 – Welcome to the Rileys (2010) 

Douglas Lloyd 'Doug' Riley

Douglas Lloyd ‘Doug’ Riley

Playing the kind, caring man looking out for a stripper (Kristen Stewart), Doug shows a softer side to Gandolfini that he wanted to make more films in the mould of. He wanted to get away from the angry man who beat up women, and here he puts in a sweet performance that wasn’t seen by too many people if box office takings are anything to go by. Stewart tends to be like marmite, and people avoid her movies. Not only is she excellent (and nearly naked) here, but her relationship with Gandolfini is touching, poignant, and more than deserving of your time.

#9 – The Last Castle (2001)

Col. Winter

Col. Winter

The role of Col. Winter came as Gandolfini’s star was rising. After a couple of years on The Sopranos, here he is as second billing behind Robert Redford. Playing the angry, smug prison ruler, he puts in an assured but memorable performance. The film is good, nothing spectacular but a sure sign of better things to come and bigger movie roles.

#8 – Surviving Christmas (2004)

Tom Valco

Tom Valco

Ok, so this might not make many peoples lists of top anything. Bottom 10 maybe. I don’t like romantic films, or cheesy rom coms. I have no sentimental side that loves a cosy Christmas movie. Yet I love Surviving Christmas and watch it every year. Sure, maybe Ben Affleck is a guilty pleasure of mine, but there is only 1 reason I watched this, and still enjoy it to this day; James Gandolfini. Not only does he put in a fun performance and show his comedy side, he has an incredible beard. Couldn’t be further from his Tony Soprano role here, and I just remember hoping he wouldn’t do many more films like this, but as a stand alone, I do love me some Surviving Christmas.

#7 – The Mexican (2001) 

Winston Baldry

Winston Baldry

Mob related, starring alongside Brad Pitt & Julia Roberts, you can see why he did this movie. Sure, it was a little weird seeing him as a gay hitman so soon after The Sopranos hit the big time, but he is fantastic as Winston, and I loved his relationship with Julia Roberts, who was less annoying than usual thankfully. I even went to the cinema to watch this, with my wife. For different reasons, obviously she was there to perve on Brad Pitt, whilst I was there to see more of James Gandolfini and his blossoming Hollywood career.

#6 – Lonely Hearts (2006) 

Det. Charles Hilderbrandt

Det. Charles Hilderbrandt

This movie took a beating at the box office, but what a cast it boasts!! John Travolta, Salma Hayek, my other man crush Jared Leto and of course Mr Gandolfini. I was very excited to see this, and again it warranted a trip to the cinema. It was released around the last season (before the split) of The Sopranos, and whilst I was upset that was coming to an end, seeing him face off against actors of this calibre and in a film this good (I loved it anyway) I knew this wasn’t the last we were going to see of him. True story, murders, deceit, Jared Leto and more importantly Gandolfini, what more could a guy ask for?! If you haven’t checked out Lonely Hearts, you really should!

#5 – Get Shorty (1995)

Bear

Bear

This role came a few years before The Sopranos, and up until this point he wasn’t really a known face. Sure, he had been in some great movies, but more often than not he was in a small supporting role. In this scene stealing performance, Gandolfini is sublime and Bear is such a great character. The first time I saw Get Shorty I had no idea who the guy playing Bear was, but I couldn’t help but be impressed. It’s even more impressive seeing the film now knowing what I know. I refuse to believe a sequel to this was ever made by the way……Be Cool indeed.

#4 – 8MM (1999)

Eddie Poole

Eddie Poole

I love 8mm (the sequel, not so much) and Nicholas Cage shows why he used to be so good. This is not a film for everyone, since it deals with the strange world of snuff movies. Looking past that, and whilst the film is full of random but excellent performances (Joaquin Phoenix bringing the crazy) Gandolfini as the sleazy talent scout showed a man on the brink of stardom. Critics were divided, but Roger Ebert liked it and if you can put up with dark stories and plots, then 8mm is an excellent movie.

#3 – Fallen (1998)

Lou

Lou

A year before The Sopranos was introduced to the world, Gandolfini appeared in Fallen. It stars Denzel Washington as Det. John Hobbes, who is convinced that when killer Edgar Reese, played by Elias Koteas (someone who deserves way more recognition) is executed, all of his troubles are over. But when people he knows and people on the street start to sing the same tune that Reese sang in the gas chamber, and those same people taunt him, he is told that maybe the cursed fallen angel Azazel is behind it all. Supported by John Goodman and of course the big man himself in a supporting role, Fallen really is a hidden gem. The plot may sound a little out there, and it is, but so worthy of your time and for my money one of the best twist endings I’ve ever seen.

#2 – True Romance (1993)

Virgil

Virgil

I remember seeing True Romance within a few months of my epiphany moment (the time I saw Casino), and whilst you may be sceptical, I can honestly say watching the bathroom fight scene with Patricia Arquette not only broke my heart, but made me take notice of the guy beating her up. Little did I know this guy would go on and be so important to me, and before I grew up and got the internet, I had no way of keeping tabs on this actor. He was terrifying, and menacing, and not afraid to hurt a woman. He seemed to enjoy it. All these traits appeared in Tony Soprano near enough, and in my mind no performance of Gandolfini’s is as near to his Tony role as here with Virgil. A horrible man, yet a performance I couldn’t take my eyes off.

#1 – The Sopranos (1999–2007) 

Tony Soprano

Tony Soprano

Only last week (give or take) I asked you all what your favourite TV show was. I picked The Sopranos, and that was just one of the many occasions I’ve mentioned my love for that show on my site, and probably on some of yours. Watching that show gives me so many good memories. I watch all 6 seasons every year, without fail, and will continue to do so. It never gets old, or stale. Just perfect television. When it first started in 1999 I became obsessed with it. Cookbooks, games, Sopranos clothes, memorabilia – you name it I had it. I still wear tracksuits because that’s what those guys did. Tony was the epitome of cool mixed with bad, and if I could have joined his messed up family I would have done it in a heartbeat. James Gandolfini made this show. He credited the writing, but he is just incredible to watch and has given the world the greatest TV character of all time. Bar none. I was devastated when the show ended, but not as much as the news last night. Whether we would have got another series, or a prequel, or movie, who knows, it was just good to have hope knowing that maybe one day……..just maybe. Now, there is no chance. There is no Sopranos without THE Soprano – Tony.

james gandolfini

There it is, my Top 10. It’s crudely written, and I’m not sure if I was reviewing the movie or talking about it. I probably said his name too much, or missed things out I’ll kick myself about later. What the hell. Just another tribute, but it’s my tribute, and I’d love to hear from other fans of his below what you’re favourite memories of James Gandolfini are. Or maybe what films you’re going to watch in his honour. I’m going True Romance & 8mm tonight I think. Thanks for reading folks.

Advertisements
Previous Post
Leave a comment

71 Comments

  1. Great list, glad you included The Mexican, my favorite role of his. Rest in peace, big guy. You will be missed.

    Like

    Reply
    • Such a good film, glad you liked it Nick. I’d watch Brad Pitt in most things to be fair, I think he is brilliant.

      He most certainly will be missed. Too soon, 51 is nothing.

      Like

      Reply
  2. Glad you put that role from 8mm in there, Tyson. It’s a flawed film, but Cage and Gandolfini make so worth the viewing. Fine list and tribute.

    Like

    Reply
    • Definitely. I overlook the flaws, love the movie!! Cage on top form is a treat, but the subject matter really put people off. Unfairly so, people need to see it!

      Thanks Michael 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  3. Paul

     /  June 20, 2013

    I think you’re pretty much spot on here man. I might have put Welcome To The Rileys a little higher if I made a list but apart from that, I agree with most of the other rankings. R.I.P Mr. Gandolfini.

    Like

    Reply
    • I’ve only seen it a couple of times, so maybe in a few years I’ll re-think my rank. What to demote…..tricky. I’m glad you like it so much though!! 🙂

      Cheers Paul.

      Like

      Reply
  4. theipc

     /  June 20, 2013

    Wow – I had all but forgotten about 8MM – I should give that a re-watch someday when I want to feel dirty and need a shower. Great post! Good to hear from you : )

    Like

    Reply
    • Haha, yeah it’s not a happy film is it. If anyone besides me has seen the sequel I would of guessed you would be the man. Have you??

      Thanks buddy, I had to delay something to write this, but hoping to get back to normal and actually visit peoples sites! I’ve been slacking off and need to get into gear 🙂

      Like

      Reply
      • theipc

         /  June 20, 2013

        You know – I never have. I remember I rented it once from the video store and had to get it back before I watched it. Was it any good?

        Like

        Reply
        • There’s either lesbians or a weird 3-way. Maybe all of that. Ideal for that smut site you run 😉

          I wouldn’t pay a lot to watch it again put it that way, but if you ever see it playing on TV, maybe give it a peek.

          Like

  5. Great list here. It’s a real shame that James Gandolfini has gone from us and I will be commemorating this by watching a double bill of In The Loop and Where The Wild Things Are in the next few days.

    Like

    Reply
    • I never watched The Thick of It, so never got round to In The Loop……I hear nothing but good things though. Enjoy your double bill Tony, thanks for stopping by buddy. 🙂

      Like

      Reply
      • I’ll say one good thing about James Gandolfini in In The Loop here as the film is a great show for his comedic acting talent, I mean he was able to keep a straight face whilst doing complex military equipment equations of a kids calculator whilst it was making all of the silly ‘boinging’ sound effects. Such a good actor and it’s a shame that he’s gone.

        Like

        Reply
        • I really have to watch it, would be nice to see all of his work. The scene you describe made me smile so I hope the rest will too 🙂

          Like

  6. was just going to say that you missed the big one and there it was, True Romance! nice one Tyson!

    Like

    Reply
    • Yeah, couldn’t topple Sopranos obviously, but that fight scene alone merits inclusion in any list. I love True Romance, but especially Gandolfinis appearance.

      Cheers Kev 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  7. It’s really sad that he’s gone. He seemed like he was an awesome dude, and no doubt an exceptional actor.
    What’s the deal with the IMDB purge btw?

    Like

    Reply
    • He was exceptional, and I wouldnt do this for 99.9% of actors, but the guy meant a lot to me.

      As for the purge, I thought you read all my stuff Smash!?!? LOL – this explains it 🙂

      http://headinavice.com/2013/06/03/time-for-some-changes/

      Like

      Reply
      • I love to read all of your stuff! I’m still loyal, don’t cut me!
        I guess I just missed this one, and now I feel like a total heel…
        I think this is a good decision. Personally, I prefer reading the stuff that you write. And I like finding new bloggers more through the Desert Island stuff anyway. So as long as that feature is here to stay, it’s all good!
        And congrats on the baby! I can’t believe I haven’t said that yet. Hopefully little he or she inherits their dad’s love of film! 🙂

        Like

        Reply
        • Haha I’d never leave you out!! Glad you understand, and want to read my stuff. Desert island is here so stay, as are you I hope!!

          Thanks Smash 🙂

          Like

  8. Great list. James Gandolfini was one of television’s greatest actors and The Sopranos is a perfect TV series.

    Like

    Reply
    • Perfect is correct. Never a bad episode, such incredibly high standards. Will never be matched in my humble opinion.

      Thanks buddy.

      Like

      Reply
  9. A great elegy for a hugely underrated actor.

    Like

    Reply
  10. Awesome list for an outstanding man. Glad you mentioned “Welcome to the Riley’s” on here, an underrated film. Also happy to hear you give a shout-out to K-Stew, she is massively overlooked. Her performances in “On the Road,” “Into the Wild,” and “Adventureland” are stellar. Not to mention she is quite the looker ;).

    Rest now, Mr. Gandolfini. Gone way too soon.

    Like

    Reply
    • I liked her in Panic Room…….always been a fan of her work, and yeah definitely deserves more credit than she gets. Nice to see a fellow fan 🙂

      Thanks buddy. And yeah, way too soon.

      Like

      Reply
  11. Great tribute my man. We share a love for DeNiro, you and I. Now it would seem that our love for Gandolfini is the same also.

    Such a great actor that always had presence no matter how small a role. After The Sopranos, my favourites would be True Romance, The Mexican, Killing Them Softly and Get Shorty.

    By the way, have you ever seen Romance & Cigarettes? It a John Turturro directed musical with Gandolfini in the lead, as well as, great support from Kate Winslet, Susan Sarandon and Christopher Walken. It’s a brilliant film and yes, the big man sings his heart out.

    Like

    Reply
    • We may disagree about some films, but we love the right people!

      I know Killing Them Softly would be up there for me, and I only bought the blu ray a couple of days ago. Another spooky coincidence. Will watch it asap now though.

      I started watching Romance & Cigarettes, but switched off when he sang! I know, I know……but to me he was Tony Soprano, I just couldn’t face my idol singing and prancing around. I’m more chilled as I’m older, maybe a revisit is on the cards!

      Thanks Mark 🙂

      Like

      Reply
      • We do love the right people. Fine taste when it matters.

        I had similar feelings when Romance & Cigarettes started but I worked through it. I absolutely loved the film. Despite the prancing around, the film had balls. Somewhat surreal, but superb stuff.

        Like

        Reply
        • Exactly, fine taste indeed 🙂

          Ok, I’ll give it another go. I do like Kate Winslet and I owe it to the big man to see all his films.

          Like

        • Aye, give it another crack. Im in two minds to watch it again myself tonight. You do owe it to the big man to fully appreciate the bravery of taking this role on. And Kate Winslet is exceptionally brilliant in it. It’s my favourite role of hers.

          Get on Killing Them Softly as well. Many didn’t like it but I thought it was brilliant and again, the big man was a real highlight.

          As a side note: every time I seen the cast of a forthcoming movie, I always got a little dash of excitement whenever I seen that Gandolfini was involved. Sadly, that won’t be the case anymore. Gutted!

          Like

        • I will, on both of those. And I’m the same, the movie with Tom Hardy that was due next year got better with his inclusion. That’s why I was watching Burt Wonderstone!! He’s good in that, of course! 🙂

          Like

        • Will the Tom Hardy movie reach completion now? You know how the death of an actor can be a spanner in the works. From what I hear it was just about to wrap up.

          Like

        • Not sure. Would be nice if it was done as it sounds great, but I guess we will hear soon.

          Like

  12. I really liked him in Get Shorty … but I liked everyone in Get Shorty. It’s one of the “I can watch it forever” movies. We were faithful Soprano watches until they seasons got so unpredictable and so far apart we didn’t remember what had happened the previous season.

    Garry’s commen last night, after asking what happened, was “He didn’t take care of himself.” He didn’t. And that’s sad. I was surprised how young he was because he looked older. Never a good sign. I have the entire set of Sopranos. I guess it’s time for a rerun. RIP, James. Too soon.

    Like

    Reply
    • He had to put on weight for The Sopranos. He never really managed to shift it for whatever reason. 51 is too young 😦

      Like

      Reply
      • garryarmstrong

         /  June 21, 2013

        I’m with Marilyn. Gandolfini’s “Bear” in “Get Shorty” is my favorite theatrical film for the big guy. It was smaller than roles to come but was such a multi-faceted performance. I also liked his co-starring job with Redford in “The Last Castle” which I think is an underrated film. 51 is way too young. A cautionary tale for folks who don’t manage their bodies better. But his Tony will be with us forever and I followed “The Sopranos” to the very end. Buda-bing!!

        Like

        Reply
        • Good to see another Last Castle fan. Was nice to see him hold his own against Redford. Tony Soprano will be with us forever.

          Cheers Garry.

          Like

  13. Forgot he was in Fallen!

    Like

    Reply
  14. A nice well written sendoff. and so soon too.

    Like

    Reply
  15. The two that immediately came to mind for me (beyond the obvious #1 as Tony Soprano) were Get Shorty and The Mexican. In both cases, he steals every scene where he appears from the big stars. He enhances both movies and was a strong supporting player. It’s great that he was able to get such an amazing TV role.

    Like

    Reply
    • Definitely enhanced those movies, as well as many others. The legacy of The Sopranos will live on for a long time.

      Cheers Dan

      Like

      Reply
  16. Great list, Tyson. I saw you say you haven’t seen “In The Loop” – you definitely should give it a chance, it’s hysterical! 😀 Even though its only voicework, I’d put “Where the Wild Things Are” up there as well, that was such a phenomenal movie, and his character was really great. 😀

    Like

    Reply
    • Yeah I did some reading on In The Loop, after its recommendation, and it does sound good. I have to see it now. I haven’t seen Where The Wild Things Are, but again, I remember it and the man himself getting lots of praise for it.

      Cheers Fogs 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  17. I’ve actually only seen him in The Mexican and 8MM, and I had forgotten he was even in 8MM it was so long since I’d seen it, way back when it was in theaters. He’s fantastic as Winston, especially that final scene where he knows that Jerry knows and basically lets Jerry win.

    Like

    Reply
  18. Nice list. As I was preparing my Many Faces of post dedicated to him there were so many great roles, nice to see you focus in on some of them!

    Like

    Reply
  19. Superb piece mate. I know you’re still not really talking to me because I haven’t seen The Sopranos, so maybe this is the perfect time to right that wrong!

    Like

    Reply
  20. The Sopranos for the win! He will live forever as Tony!

    Like

    Reply
  21. Terrific post. He was such a great actor, so memorable in every part he was in. Strong yet really tender in an odd way – like in True Romance when he is beating Alabama but still remarks “You’ve got a lot of heart, kid”.

    Like

    Reply
    • Totally agree, just an amazing scene. Hope more and more people check out and appreciate his work over time.

      Thanks Sati 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  22. Oh shit! He was in Fallen? I haven’t seen that in years, but I was so impressed with it back in the day. Saw it a couple of times in theaters. I’ll have to re-watch it one of these days.

    Like

    Reply
    • Yup, glad you liked it too, very much a hidden gem but I loved it and will be reviewing it soon. A re-watch is on the cards 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  23. I had no idea he was in half of those movies. Sad to hear the news of his passing. Thanks for the post.

    Like

    Reply
  1. The Weekend Stupor: Crumbs, Traces, Remnants, and More | The Cinematic Katzenjammer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Advertisements
  • RECENT POSTS :

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Daily Top 10 Most Viewed

  • Every Movie Reviewed A-Z

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Most Used Tags

  • Random Cool Sites

  • Meta