New York Stories (1989)
After small roles in TV movie Home at Last and one episode of Annie McGuire , Adrien Brody nabbed a part in New York Stories .
This was one hell of a way to enter into movies: a triptych of tales, the only common factor being the Big Apple, directed by Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen. Brody shows up in Allen's segment 'Oedipus Wrecks' in a teensy role that would've no doubt helped to confirm his Hollywood aspirations.
Serious Scale: Allen's segment of the portmanteau piece is a comedy, unlike Scorsese and Coppola's contributions.
King of the Hill (1993)
After a supporting role in the little-seen drama The Boy Who Cried Bitch , Brody got to work with another notable directorial talent in the form of Steven Soderbergh.
Genre-hopper Soderbergh was adapting the memoirs of A.E. Hotchner. The story follows Aaron (Jesse Bradford), a fourteen-year-old looking for a way to be reunited with his younger brother. Brody plays Lester, who gives the young lad some help and support.
Serious Scale: Depression-era period trappings and a touching story mean this is Soderbergh doing pretty straight-down-the-line seriousness.
AKA Angels in the Outfield , this sporting fantasy from Disney stars a pre- Third Rock from the Sun Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a kid who wishes that his local baseball team would improve.
His prayers are literally answered by a bunch of angels (led by Christopher Lloyd), who start assisting the team and help them towards league success. Adrien Brody is one of the players, and his fellow teammates include Matthew McConaughey and Neal McDonough.
Serious Scale: The schmaltz-fest jettisons any shred of seriousness when the divine beings turn up in the diamond.
Ten Benny (1995)
Adrien stepped up to meatier role in a Jailbreakers , a 50s-set TV movie from William The Exorcist Friedkin. He followed that with another leading role in Ten Benny .
Brody is Ray Diglovanni, a salesman living in New Jersey who dreams of escaping his working class roots and owning his own business. After taking out a loan that he struggles to repay, Ray starts to test the patience of his family and friends. Brody shows promise in this fairly standard drama.
Serious Scale: Jail breaks and family troubles mean two more notches on the serious tally.
After starring alongside Heather Graham and Roddy McDowall in telly production Bullet Hearts , Adrien appeared in Bullet , alongside Mickey Rourke (who also wrote the screenplay).
Rourke stars as the improbably named Butch 'Bullet' Stein, a heroin user who has recently left jail. The film follows his beef with drug lord Tank (Tupac Shakur). Adrien has a small role as one of Bullet's brothers, the artistically-gifted Ruby (the Rourkester seems to have a bit of a knack for names).
Serious Scale: You may not end up taking this film as seriously as Rourke intended.
Mario Van Peebles stars in this piss-poor rip-off of The Terminator and RoboCop . Solo (Van Peebles) is a government weapon: a cyborg built to replace human soldiers.
Virtually indestructible, Solo seemed like a good investment until he develops a conscience and starts disobeying directives. Brody is the doc who invented him.
The film becomes almost watchable when viewed as a comedy, and the presence of Robert Patrick clone William Sadler (as the upgraded Solo) helps in that regard.
Serious Scale: On the ludicrous side.
The Last Time I Committed Suicide (1997)
Brody starred alongside Keanu Reeves and Thomas Jane in this 40s set drama. Jane romps his way through numerous women as philandering Beat icon Neal Cassady (upon whose letter the film is based). Reeves is Neal's friend Harry, providing a game drinking partner for the former when he is torn between two women.
Outwatted by charmers Jane and Reeves, Adrien Brody barely gets a look in as Ben.
Serious Scale: Weighty, but the rebellious leads keep things light.
The Undertaker's Wedding (1997)
Adrien Brody is Mario Bellini, a happy-go-lucky undertaker. He ends up getting in over his head when the mafia find a good use for his services.
Brody does a decent job of the luckless schmuck, but his likeable performance isn't enough to hold this uneven mob comedy together.
Serious Scale: Despite the morbid subject matter, this errs on the side of silliness.
Six Ways to Sunday (1997)
One mob comedy wasn't enough for Adrien Brody in 1997, as he also appeared in this bizzaro number.
He plays the crazily-coiffed mobster Arnie Finklestein, a supporting character in the comedy drama about a young man's odd relationship with his overbearing mother.
The film may have proved pretty forgettable, but it did at least give Brody the chance to hint at the range he possesses (though is rarely credited for).
Serious Scale: Quite high: any laughs are pretty dark.
Starring again for his Ten Benny director Eric Bross, Brody stars as Chris Calloway, one of several young waiters hoping to break into acting.
Brody is the standout in the cast (which also featured Simon The Mentalist Baker and singer Lauryn Hill), with moments of confidence underscored by anxiety.
Restaurant tries to squeeze a little too much into its running time, but it at least makes a few acute observations.
Serious Scale: Distinctly nudging into serious territory.
The Thin Red Line (1998)
The Thin Red Line , Terrence Malick's epic and majestic WW2 ensemble, was Brody's biggest movie to date. Malick's first film in twenty years, it's a pensive, slowly-paced drama, with none of the bombast of Saving Private Ryan , eschewing traditional narrative form in favour of a set of sumptuously shot images, and not-always-connected scenes.
Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, George Clooney, John Cusack, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, John C. Reilly and John Travolta are just some of the names who appear.
Serious Scale: Deadly.
Brody goes bad for this one. 'Harry Houdini' (Brody) is a murderer who enjoys playing games with the police, particularly Detective Madeline Foster (Maura Tierney off of ER ).
Brody gives good psycho in the role, and he does a nice line in smug. The film starts to lose itself in the overly convoluted plotting once it gets to about the halfway point, though. The Silence of the Lambs this ain't.
Serious Scale: The silliness of the plot works against the potentially grim serial killer theme.
Summer of Sam (1999)
Spike Lee's 70s-set drama, follows the murders of the .44 Caliber Killer (later known as Son of Sam) during a hot, humid New York summer. The relentlessly sweaty atmosphere only adds to the tension, and the killings act as a backdrop that Lee uses to explore and exploit the dynamic within a small group of friends.
Adrien Brody is confused punk Richie, who earns a living shaking his thing in gay clubs. As the manhunt intensifies, Richie's friends begin to eye him with suspicion.
Serious Scale: Lee's stylistic flourishes don't detract from the severity of the events that unfold.
Liberty Heights (1999)
Barry Levinson's semi-autobiographical tale, looks at the life of a Jewish family in mid-50s Baltimore.
Ben (Ben Foster) is a high school student who scandalises his family by dating a black girl. Older sibling Van (Adrien Brody) falls for a mysterious blonde and spends the movie chasing after her.
Levinson's creates an engagingly nostalgic tone, but the overlong movie does feel a little indulgent at points.
Serious Scale: The issues addressed earn this a moderate-to-high seriousness rating.
Bread and Roses (2000)
Ken Loach's first film set in America touches on the same issues as the director's homespun tales, but lacks a little of his usual subtlety.
Sisters Maya and Rosa work in appalling conditions as cleaners, and Adrien Brody's union man, Sam, offers them a chance for equality. Brody never quite brings his character to life: much more touching are the interactions between Rosa and Maya.
The potent message gets a little lost in the clumsily-plotted mix.
Serious Scale: The message of equality certainly counts as a Worthy Issue.
Harrison's Flowers (2000)
What sounds like an account of Indiana Jones coming across all girly, is, in fact, an earnest look at a woman's search for her husband in war-torn Yugoslavia.
This came mere months after Cate Blanchett-starrer Charlotte Gray , and was slightly eclipsed by that release. Andie MacDowell is the wife-on-a-mission, and Adrien Brody turns up as one of three photographers who join her (Brendan Gleeson and Elias Koteas are the other two, filling out a quality cast).
Serious Scale: High- this fictional film feels like it should come with a 'Based on a true story' tag.
Love the Hard Way (2001)
Adrien starred in this crime-drama-cum-romance that was barely noticed upon release.
He slums it as a Jack Chance, a criminal of loose morals and unkempt hair, whose life changes when he meets (and falls in love with) Claire (Charlotte Ayanna).
He brings her into his life of crime, while her innocent outlook causes him to reconsider his own life choices. They make a cute couple, but the pair are unable to make the unconvincing love story work.
Serious Scale: Slap bang in the middle.
The Affair of the Necklace (2001)
Dodgy French accents abound in this turgid revolutionary romp. Adrien is pretty far down the billing as Count Nicolas De La Motte, but he sticks in the memory mainly due to a shirtless sword fight.
Hilary Swank is unable to out-act the dodgy wig that she's stifled under, though scene-stealers Christopher Walken and Jonathan Pryce are worth staying awake for.
Serious Scale: A little too high- the film could've been a damn sight more enjoyable if they had have made it a lighter caper.
Adrien Brody joined the illustrious rank of legends such as Anthony Hopkins and Michael Redgrave, playing the ventriloquist to a dummy. Brody is awkward loser Steven Schoichet, who discovers that using a dummy helps him to overcome his shyness. He's looking for a job, and ends up falling for Vera Farmiga's career counsellor.
Almost collapsing under the weight of its own quirkiness, Dummy isn't without it's charms, and Brody garners sympathy for a potentially detestable character.
Serious Scale: Falls into the 'Quirkily Serious' bracket.
The Pianist (2002)
Playing Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman would prove to be the defining moment in Adrien Brody's career so far. Awarded with the Best Actor Oscar (the youngest ever recipient of that accolade), slender Brody shed over 30 pounds for the role.
Some critics were left a little cold by Roman Polanski's depiction of the Warsaw ghetto, finding the director somewhat distant from the harrowing subject matter. But there was no disagreement over Brody's performance as the gaunt concert pianist, reduced to a ghost of a man by the necessities of survival.
Serious Scale: None-more-grave.
The Singing Detective (2003)
Brody followed up his Pianist tour de force with a supporting role in this misfiring re-do of the 1986 TV musical drama by Dennis Potter. This big screen remake was based on a script by Potter, but it was unanimously agreed that the film was not a patch on the original.
There's a host of talent in front of the camera, including Robert Downey Jr, Mel Gibson, Robin Wright Penn and modern noir staple Carla Gugino: Brody, as a hood, fails to make his voice heard over the crowd.
Serious Scale: The film flirts with wildly divergent tones (albeit less successfully than the original).
The Village (2004)
As the world was beginning to question the talents of M. Night Shyamalan, The Village had enough decent moments to grant him a stay of execution.
The plus points: Bryce Dallas Howard and Joaquin Phoenix, excelling in their roles, the superb cinematography, and some seriously effective chills.
The down sides: Brody doesn't convince as the mentally-backwards Noah, his performance jarring with the otherwise restrained cast. The standard issue Shyamalan twist: if its silliness doesn't infuriate you, it still undermines the film.
Serious Scale: Austere stuff.
The Jacket (2005)
Brody's twitchy, nervous intensity is mined again in this one. John Maybury's psychological thriller casts Brody as army vet Jack Starks, who survives a gunshot to the head and ends up in a hospital under the care of Kris Kristofferson's nutty doc. Jack then seemingly travels forward in time where he meets a girl from his past (Keira Knightley).
Brody wears the straitjacket well, and Knightley turns in a decent American accent, but the pair don't quite have you caring in the way you need to for such a tricksy narrative.
Serious Scale: High up there, despite the dodgy science.
King Kong (2005)
Adrien Brody was apparently the only actor Peter Jackson considered for Jack Driscoll, the writer turned reluctant hero. Brody is effective in the role, nicely underplaying the romance with Naomi Watts' Ann, and resisting the temptation to go all-out gung ho when the action stuff is required.
King Kong remains Brody's biggest box-office hit-to-date, and perhaps gave him a taste for jungle adventure that he revisited recently in Predators .
Serious Scale: PJ's labour of love is heartfelt stuff, its seriousness illustrated in the casting of Brody as the lead.
A career-resuscitating Ben Affleck plays George Reeves, the tragic 50s TV Superman who died in mysterious circumstances: was it murder or suicide?
Adrien Brody is Louis Simo, the private eye who discovers that all is not rosy under the surface sheen in Hollywood. Brody invests Simo with a dogged commitment, but one can't help but wonder if the film might have been more interesting if this frame narrative was shelved to put the dynamite trio of Affleck, Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins under closer scrutiny.
Serious Scale: Very serious stuff
Also known as The Passion Within , Manolete is a little-seen biography of Spain's most famous bullfighter, Manuel Sanchez. Lookswise, Brody is so ideal in the gold-trimmed dress cape it's hard to believe nobody cast him as a matador before. The film focuses on Sanchez's relationship with actress Lupe Sino (a feisty Penelope Cruz).
Brody's passive, icy bullfighter is a hard protagonist to connect to, and as a result Manolete never really gets under the skin of the icon, or the brutal sport.
Serious Scale: The tragedy is underwritten from the beginning in this sombre affair.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Peter (Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) accompany Francis (Owen Wilson) on a journey across India. Francis misleads his brothers into thinking that the trip is one of self-discovery and brotherly bonding, but he has ulterior motives.
There's a convincing rapport between the brothers, and if you're a Wes Anderson fan, you're sure to enjoy the now familiar brew of family disfunction, awkward romance and touching observation in his Indian opus.
Serious Scale: The humour doesn't mask the sincerity.
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
Rian Johnson's follow up to culty high-school-noir Brick didn't arrive on British shores until some two years after its US release.
Bloom (Adrien Brody) and Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) are the confidence trickster siblings, out to relieve Rachel Weisz's batty heiress of her fortune. Brody plays to his strengths: Bloom is painfully shy and appears to be guarding a sensitive soul. The film, despite an intimidatingly clever screenplay, is light-hearted fun.
Serious Scale: Bang in the middle. Depending on how you want to take The Brothers Bloom you can alter the scale accordingly.
Cadillac Records (2008)
Brody was the ostensible lead in this musical biopic charting the founding of the titular record label.
As Leonard Chess, Brody ends up being overwhelmed by the roster of musical talent that surrounds him. The primary interest in the patchy flick is seeing the casting of the legendary music stars: Etta James (a scintillating Beyonce Knowles), Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright), Chuck Berry (Mos Def)…
Serious Scale: The several 'issues' dealt with mean this is pretty serious business.
Sadly this wasn't to be a return to form for Suspiria director Dario Argento.
The gory horror, in which an Italian serial killer abducts and mutilates female tourists, sees Brody's copper team up with the sister of one of the victims.
Argento has reportedly disowned the movie, unhappy with the studio's cut of the film.
Serious Scale: At the lower end, but sadly not in a good way.
After doing a little voicework in Wes Anderson's charming Fantastic Mr Fox , Brody pulled on a lab coat for this creepy sci-fi thriller.
Directed by Vincenzo Cube Natali, Splice sees Brody and Sarah Polley as research scientists who create a human-animal genetic hybrid. Dren, as she's known, grows much faster than anticipated, and soon has the scientists wondering if they've done the right thing.
The film is out in UK cinemas this Friday, and you can check out the Total Film review here .
Serious Scale: Thought provoking issues don't get in the way of this being seriously enjoyable.
Brody is clearly enjoying his sci-fi at the moment, with two entertaining efforts out this month.
The Robert Rodriguez produced flick forgets the AvP travesties, and gets the Predators doing what they do best: hunting humans.
Brody plays against type (and buffs up) as mercenary Royce, one of a group of eight tough guys plonked mysteriously onto the Predators' home turf.
The TF review is online right here .
Serious Scale: Low- this is full-on fun that harks back to 80s action classics.