The Source: The Machinist (2004)
The Moment: Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) confronts Trevor Reznick (Bale) with evidence that he - not his imaginary nemesis, "Ivan" - is the man standing in a photograph. Trevor angrily dismisses the possibility, even as Bale's face breaks with the effort of maintaining his self-deception.
The Source: The Dark Knight (2008)
The Moment: One of the pleasures of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is that the action has consequences, and Bale has the gravitas to show them as a grief-stricken Bruce Wayne cradles his mask following the death of Rachel Dawes.
The Source: Public Enemies (2009)
The Moment: Has Bale ever looked cooler outside of mask and cape than in his introduction as FBI Special Agent Melvin Purvis, taking down escaping gangster Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum) with an expert long-range rifle shot?
The Source: The 68th Golden Globe Awards (2011)
The Moment: Bale accepts his Best Supporting Actor award for The Fighter , only to get bleeped on-air for swearing. Why? He saw idol Robert De Niro and blurted out, "he's the shit." [Ironically, Bale would go on to star opposite De Niro in American Hustle .]
The Source: American Hustle (2013)
The Moment: SPOILER WARNING. After spending the film being used by FBI agent Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper), Bale's Irving Rosenfeld turns the tables with a hustle that leaves the Fed high and dry. As Richie blusters through his options, the sparkle returns to Irv's eyes as he taunts his nemesis: "Really? Is that the story you're going with?"
The Source: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The Moment: A wrenching parting between lifelong friends, as Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) reveals to Bruce Wayne that Rachel Dawes didn't love him. Bale, hurt and angry but hiding his emotions, coldly sends his butler packing: "goodbye, Alfred."
The Source: Rescue Dawn (2006)
The Moment: Bale met a kindred spirit in Werner Herzog, a director famed for forcing his actors to go through hell. When Dieter Dengler is rescued from the jungle by helicopter, Bale and Herzog refused to let a stunt double be hoisted into the sky and the scene benefits from its documentary-style veracity.
Finger Pointing Songs
The Source: I'm Not There (2007)
The Moment: Bale shared top billing with five different actors to portray different aspects of Bob Dylan's life and personality. As 'Jack Rollins,' Bale channels the firebrand folk singer of the early 1960s, notably getting in trouble for drunkenly comparing himself to Lee Harvey Oswald and then berating his followers for using him for his "finger-pointing songs."
The Source: The Prestige (2006)
The Moment: Alfred Borden is the master of sleight-of-hand and, for all the film's intricate, secretive plotting, Bale's best piece of magic involves conning a prison guard into thinking Borden has lost his touch, only to reveal he's cuffed the guard to a desk.
The Source: Harsh Times (2005)
The Moment: Jim Davis, psychologically damaged under the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, admits to pal Mike (Freddy Rodriguez) he's carried drugs over the Mexican border. Angered by Mike's reaction, Jim goes into a rage and puts a gun to his friend's head, before breaking down in tears. "My shit is wired!" Jim proclaims, and means it. Bale's range has rarely been better utilised in a single scene.