Next Friday, Michael Keaton stars alongside Dylan O’Brien and Taylor Kitsch in the action/thriller “American Assassin”, based on the popular 2010 novel. It’s the latest in a string of big movies for Keaton, who’s had quite the decade so far. I rank his work:
1. Riggan Thomson, “Birdman”
Keaton’s performance as a has-been movie star trying to make a comeback as the star, writer and director of a new Broadway play was simply sensational. Both a comeback and defining role for Keaton, it essentially ushered in this now second major part of his career. He won two Critics Choice Awards and a Golden Globe for his performance in 2014’s Oscar-winning Best Picture.
2. Ray Kroc, “The Founder”
Hardly anyone saw this biopic on the origins of McDonald’s when it was released in a handful of theaters last Dec. and then nationwide this past January. I’m glad many people are now catching-up on it on Netflix. Keaton gave my favorite lead actor performance last year. Kroc is a deliciously devious role, full of meat and tenacity.
3. Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson, “Spotlight”
Keaton was among the ensemble of 2015’s Best Picture Oscar winner, which also included Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci. Robby, the head of The Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative team, is contemplated with multiple issues throughout the film. I didn’t find this drama nearly as riveting as others, but it honors journalists well.
4. Voice Work
Keaton’s had two memorable roles in Pixar movies: as Lightning McQueen’s rival Chick Hicks in 2006’s “Cars” and as Ken in 2010’s “Toy Story 3”. Hicks made a somewhat substantial return in this year’s “Cars 3”, though Keaton didn’t reprise the character (and hasn’t publicly commented on why). He also voiced bank-robbing family dad Walter Nelson in 2015’s “Minions”.
5. Adrian Toomes/The Vulture, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”
The best twist in any movie this summer involved Keaton’s character in this otherwise dull superhero reboot. He also delivers the film’s most interesting and engaging performance.
6. Captain Gene Mauch, “The Other Guys”
Keaton earned rave reviews for his quirky, over-the-top comedic performance in this entertaining 2010 Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy.
7. Early 2014
Keaton had average supporting roles in two of that year’s bombs: the remake of “RoboCop” and the car racing film “Need for Speed”, with “Breaking Bad”‘s Aaron Paul. Thankfully, “Birdman” saved the day about 8 months later.