These Are the Best Christian Bale Movies, Ranked


Christian Bale has captured the hearts of many since his childhood. The A-list star surprisingly got his start in a Pac-Man cereal commercial from the ’80s, but since then, Bale has launched a career toward increasingly more influential roles. From superheroes to period romances, he has proven his ability to play a wide range of characters, and to transform himself incredibly in order to do so. Whether it’s a period romance or a new action movie, Bale can arise to the task.

Bale’s career has spanned almost forty years, and he does not show a need or desire to slow down anytime soon. This year, he will star as Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder, and he is working on several other projects. Before these come out, take a trip down memory lane and study the actor’s previous works. Here are the top five Christian Bale movies.

8 Empire of the Sun


Empire of the Sun star, Christian Bale, Patriotically salutes
Warner Brothers

This movie came at the beginning of Bale’s career. Even though he had yet to grow into the actor we know today, Bale displays a remarkable performance in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun for someone who was just 12 years old. Bale stars as Jamie, the son of a British man living in Japan. During a WWII occupation of his settlement, Jamie is separated from his parents. Trapped and alone in a war ridden country, Jamie is forced to grow up more quickly than he ever expected.

Bale is great in this role because of the range of emotions he manages to convey. From heartbreak to triumph, Bale embodies every situation as though he were actually experiencing it. As a young actor, he shows depth beyond his years as he captures the life of a prisoner of war. All of Bale’s raw talent and dedication are evident even in this early film.

7 Reign of Fire


Seemingly endless dragons fly over the dark city in Reign of Fire
Good Vista Pictures Distribution

Even though it did not perform well at the box office initially, Reign of Fire is a downright fun movie to watch. Complete with dragons, an exciting plot, and Christian Bale, it is still a cult classic years later. After miners accidentally awaken a dragon nest, Earth’s population goes into hiding. Quinn Abercromby (Bale) leads a small colony of people hiding underground, but when a stranger with a plan to kill off all the dragons wanders into their camp, Quinn must face his greatest fears in an attempt to save the ones he loves and the human race.

Bale excellently portrays the inner struggle that Quinn feels in the middle of a seemingly hopeless war. But even with high emotional stress, the actor brings a spark of good-humor to this character’s serious demeanor. The otherwise bleak setting would be incomplete without his emotional range to garner interest.

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6 The Big Short


Michael Burry sits excited at his desk in The Big Short
Paramount Pictures

The Big Short successfully breaks down the housing market crash of 2007 so that general audiences can understand it better. Some history and economic terms may go over audiences heads, but the compelling plot and Adam McKay‘s use of humor makes up the difference. Christian Bale stars as Michael Burry, the real-life investor who brilliantly foresaw the housing market crash. He is joined by the excellent performances of Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt in this all-star, critically lauded hit. Their hilarious performances help balance out all the mathematical jargon and make this story the perfect blend of education and entertainment.


5 The Machinist


The Machinist Image # 1
Paramount Classics

Insomnia is not an unfamiliar problem to many of us who let Netflix automatically play the ‘next episode’ all night. The Machinist takes our sleepless fears to the next level, as Christian Bale stars as a character who has not slept in a year. As a consequence, Trevor Reznik suffers from hallucinations, guilt, and paranoia. Bale went all out for this role by famously dieting for four months and dropping to 120 pounds (being forced to stop by producers for medical reasons). His physically fatigued state contributes to the haunting performance in this disturbing psychological thriller which is sure to engage anyone looking for a good scare.

4 American Psycho


american-psycho-tv-series-1200x800
Lions Gate

Many consider American Psycho to be the film that made Christian Bale famous. He perfectly embodies the terrible consciousness of psychopath Patrick Bateman, a normal businessman by day, and serial killer by night. This story follows him as he tries to hide his malicious, murderous acts from the police.

Bale once again shows off his versatility in this role by balancing the two opposite lifestyles of one character. Patrick is charismatic and successful one minute and absolutely diabolical the next. Both his subtle mannerisms and more over-the-top excitement contribute to the film’s personality without breaking its believability.

3 Ford V. Ferrari


Bale and Damon by their sports car
20th Century Fox

In Ford V. Ferrari, Bale plays Peter Miles, a washed up car mechanic looking for a new way to support his family and live his life’s passion. When Ford Motor Company decides to build a prize-winning race car, Miles gets a chance to prove himself.

Once again, Christian Bale transforms before our eyes into an almost unrecognizable character. Without saying a word, Bale’s facial expressions can communicate all the conflict in Patrick’s life. His subtle mannerisms bring a whole world of depth to the character; audiences can easily imagine that they are watching the real Patrick Miles. If the stellar cinematography and beautiful vintage cars do not glue audiences to their screens, the emotional performances will (along with Bale’s hilarious chemistry with co-star Matt Damon).


1 Batman Begins


Batman-Begins-1
Warner Bros.,

This entire list could include all of Bale’s Batman trilogy, they’re just that good. Batman has been played many times before, but Christopher Nolan’s three films brought the character massive acclaim and adoration; his direction is not the only reason why this series is still a fan favorite, though. Bale’s portrayal of Batman progresses over time in ways that other renditions do not; he struggles with emotional heartbreak, self-worth, identity crises, and a sense of duty, with Bale bringing a lot of complexity and realism to his rendition of the Caped Crusader.

This movie tops the list because it essentially makes the other two possible. In Batman Begins, Bruce Wane seeks to find himself. He goes to Asia in order to train in martial arts, and returns to Gotham with a determination to clean up the city. As he grapples with his own moral quandaries he must become the protector that Gotham City needs. Bale perfectly embodies the transformation (both physical and mental) that the character goes through, and proves why he’s one of the best working actors today. There’s a reason he was named the best Batman of all time.



Christian Bale Goes Bald as Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder Set Photos
Christian Bale Goes Bald as Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder Set Photos

Thor: Love And Thunder is in production in Australia, and it looks like Gorr The God Butcher is gearing up for some action.

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