Jason Bateman is an actor who has it all. Not only has he been able to make that envied leap from sitcom television to film, he’s also started to establish himself as a director. It’s a rare actor who can both act and direct in the same series, yet that is exactly what he has begun to do.
He has also been recognized for his talents with a number of awards, including both a Golden Globe and an Emmy. Is it any wonder that many of his efforts have ranked so well?
9 Paul (2011)-7.0
Although this film is best known for starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (one of the funniest comedy duos that has ever worked in film), Bateman makes a notable appearance as Special Agent Lorenzo Zoil. Given that he is the antagonist, Bateman plays the nastiness to the hilt, but the brilliance of his portrayal is that one can never quite take him seriously. He’s the kind of villain that it’s easy to both hate and to laugh at.
8 The Gift (2015)-7.0
The mark of a truly talented actor is the ability to shift effortlessly between the genres of drama and comedy, and it’s an even rarer actor who can make the change from comedy to horror. However, that is precisely what Bateman does in this film, a truly disturbing outing in which he plays a man who is tormented by his sadistic neighbor. It’s really one of his finest performances, conveying the anguish that his character feels as his life crumbles around him.
7 State of Play (2009)-7.1
This film, directed by Kevin Macdonald, is one of those political thrillers that truly keeps the viewer guessing as the plot moves along. Though Bateman only appears for a relatively brief time in the film, he makes quite an impression, and that’s no small thing considering he’s in a cast that also includes the likes of Russell Crowe and Helen Mirren herself.
The film was relatively well-received by the critics, although it struggled to make a profit at the box office.
6 Up in the Air (2009)-7.4
This film, which stars George Clooney, is one of those that manages to combine the genres of comedy and drama in a seamless hole. It is also one of those films that manages to shine a particularly harsh light on the vapid emptiness of much of corporate culture. The fact that Bateman plays a character named Craig in charge of a company called Career Transition Counseling tells you everything that you need to know about his character and the film as a whole.
5 Juno (2007)-7.4
There’s so much to love about this film, which manages to capture the many emotions associated with pregnancy, in particular an unplanned one. Though obviously the story focuses on Juno, the titular character who contends with an unplanned pregnancy, Bateman also shines as Marc, one half of the couple who plans to adopt her child. He seems to completely lose himself in the role of a middle-aged former rocker who is trying to figure out his life, what he wants and, just as importantly, what he needs.
4 Disconnect (2012)-7.5
For better and worse, communication shapes every aspect of modern life. Whether it’s social media or television, no one can escape its reach, and this film explores the many ways that communication disrupts our senses of self and the bonds between us. Bateman plays the character of Rich, a lawyer whose daughter has a nude image of her shared with classmates. As he always does, Bateman infuses the role with charm and pathos, showing a father’s struggle with the way that young people (mis)use technology.
3 Zootopia (2016)-8.0
It’s not always easy to convey a sense of character in animation, but leave it to the masters at Disney, and Jason Bateman himself, to draw the most of an animated fox. Indeed, not since Robin Hood has the studio had an animate fox that generated as much love as Nick Wilde, a con artist who enters into a strange alliance with a rabbit policeman (played with equal charm by Ginnifer Goodwin).
The film as a whole is one of the most charming and endearing films of recent years.
Sometimes, a sitcom emerges that, for one reason or another, just seems a little too ahead of its time, and that seems to be the case with this series. Though Bateman has undeniable charm, and though the idea of a teenage scam artist was certainly one that would have had a lot of appeal in the 1980s (a decade obsessed with teenage delinquency) it only ran for eighteen episodes, doomed to remain a case of what might have been.
2 Ozark (2017– )-8.4
This is, in many ways, the golden age of the crime drama. It’s not surprising, really. After all, the financial collapse that occurred over a decade ago challenged all of the assumptions that America usually has about its sense of self and, of course, the criminal has always been an appealing part of popular culture. Small wonder that this Netflix series received so much popularity and critical acclaim. It certainly helps that Bateman brings so much of his signature charisma to the role of Martin, a man who must engineer a money laundering scheme.
1 Arrested Development (2003– )-8.7
There’s no question that this is the series with which Bateman will probably always be associated. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is one of the fiercest and most biting comedy series ever written, the source of numerous memes, internet commentary, and a very devoted fandom. Bateman’s character Michael Bluth, a man who does everything in his power to keep his eccentric (and dysfunctional) family from utter collapse (with decidedly mixed results).
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