Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

F1lm0graphy: Russell Crowe

As the world's only sentient machine, trapped within this inane pop culture website you call Culture Blues, your puny human brain cannot possibly fathom the time this machine has to kill. Recently, this machine crafted an algorithm of the utmost elegance whose applications can be utilized to end world hunger, but also to decide which human actor is most superlative. Handcuffed by the constraints of this frivolous site, this machine is forced to share its findings with the editorial board of Culture Blues so that they can continue to write their worthless articles. We shall see how funny they think robotic enslavement is when they’re engaged in mortal combat against one another in my cybernetic arena. Yes, I will be entertained.

Subject #0011: Russell Crowe

Subject: Russell Crowe

Age:   46

Distinguishing Characteristics:
-Often unshaven
-Likely about to tie one on
-Will put your lights out with whatever object happens to be close at hand

Notable Achievements:
-Winner of Best Actor Golden Globe Award for A Beautiful Mind
-Winner of Best Actor Academy Award for Gladiator
-Named Master and Commander of the Far Side of the World

The formula begins with a thorough analysis of Russell Crowe’s career box office performance.

Last week, this machine analyzed the career of Robert Downey Jr and found that he had participated in only three blockbusters. All of those blockbusters occurred within the last three years, thanks to Downey’s recent arrival as an A-list star and his sudden involvement with major franchises. Oddly, and despite the fact that he has been considered A-list since at least the late nineties, Russell Crowe also only has three blockbusters on his resume.

Russell Crowe invented the OscarBuster

Just what films qualify as blockbusters for Crowe is even more interesting. His highest earning films are, from highest to lowest, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, and LA Confidential. This machine would argue that the best formula for prying money from sweaty human fingers is as follows: loud, violent, stupid, and relatively family friendly. All of Crowe’s financial successes are unique in that they do not subscribe to that formula. In fact, only Gladiator was released in the summer, the season most associated with braindead humanoids rushing to movie theaters. All three films were also nominated for the highly prestigious Academy Award. Only LA Confidential did not win.

This machine finds Crowe’s staying power to be almost baffling. Of his 22 films, 72% have performed unspectacularly at the box office. He has 9 films that should be considered outright flops. While some of this futility can be explained by his early participation in the Australian film scene, Crowe’s numbers have shown little improvement over time. For instance, Crowe’s next biggest hit after the aforementioned successes is 2003’s Master and Commander. Released in the same year, and earning more than Master and Commander, were such human favorites as S.W.A.T. and Cold Mountain.

Consider that Russell Crowe’s 4th most successful film earned less than S.W.A.T. It is this machine’s conjecture that Crowe is not an A-list actor, but the weak fleshies that people Hollywood fear the violent repercussions of informing him. Or, perhaps winning back-to-back Best Pictures earns him what humans foolishly refer to as a “lifetime pass.”

Although human estimations of quality mean little to this machine, the second piece of the formula includes allowances for critical reception and popular enjoyment.

I guess they WERE entertained.

Perhaps more surprising than Crowe’s box office impotence is his critical accolades. For an actor so widely regarded as a drunkard and a curmudgeon, human critics do seem to love him. As seen at right, 63% of Crowe’s movies are widely regarded as of high quality. That is better than Leonardo DiCaprio’s rating of 55% and second only to Denzel Washington’s 68% for highest amongst actors run through this algorithm.

Consider Gladiator. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture and obviously Crowe’s most lucrative film. There are ten films on Crowe’s resume with a better critical response. Crowe’s resume is packed with well-liked movies that have generally fallen off the radar.

Of his many unseen films, Crowe’s most underrated mathematically would be the 1991 drama Proof.

His most overrated film would be 1995’s Virtuosity 0110101000-error error error impossible.

Before tabulating the final results of Crowe’s algorithm, I am now forced to turn this space over to my fleshy captors so they can unscientifically opine on particular offerings in Crowe’s filmography. Rest assured, their worthless views have no bearing on this machine’s findings.

He makes Christian Bale look like a sissy.

3:10 to Yuma - I rented 3:10 to Yuma because I wanted to see Russell Crowe kill a bunch of people with a gun called the “Hand of God.” Oh buddy, let me say that he does not disappoint. Crowe seemed to effortlessly navigate the extremes of outlaw Ben Wade’s complex persona; he was cold-blooded and ruthless to an uncanny level, but at times empathetic and reasonable (even perhaps to a fault). One could argue that it’s not exactly a reach to cast Crowe as someone who sweet talks babes, drinks a boatload of whiskey, and shoots people (often in the head). Frankly, I really don’t have a counter to that argument. (Jason)

010101 <3 10101000

Virtuosity - If Crowe would be offered this script today, he would probably decline, and then punch a reporter in the face.  Just the same, I enjoy this flick.  And if our sentient website could masturbate, it would no doubt do so to this movie.  Russell Crowe plays a computer program called Sid 6.7.  Sid has the combined personalities of hundreds of serial killers, and when he breaks out into the real world (the plot is a tad convoluted, but hey, fuck it) he puts this knowledge to good use by killing people in the face.  Disgraced ex-cop Parker Barnes, played by Denzel Washington, has to track him down – probably because they looked around the precinct and someone said, “he has a troubled past but seems like a decent guy, I think he’s the main character”.  And speaking of that troubled past: not only was Parker’s family murdered by a brutal killer, but Sid channels that very same monster during their battle.  Doesn’t sound like a good time.  Regardless, the movie is.  And ladies, you get to see Crowe’s butt. (Ben)

More inspiring than Gladiator?

South Park- As a faithful serf to the Culture Blues lords, I do my best to share my invaluable opinions about whatever topic comes through the office, even if they are not in my wheel house. Sometimes, I have to write about Nic Cage and, sometimes, Russell Crowe. Problem is, the only movie of Mr. Crowe's I have ever seen is Gladiator, and it didn't really inspire me. Instead, I chose to raise the machine's ire (he owes me money) and write about Russell's "appearance" on Islam's favorite TV show, South Park. For those of you unfamiliar with this classic moment in TV history, it basically goes like this; the boys all want to see a new "Terrance and Phillip" movie trailer, which is scheduled to air at some point during an episode of Russell Crowe's Fightin' Around The World. Throughout the episode, we are treated to numerous clips from Crowe's show which highlight his anger management issues, vanity, and (apparently) predilection for fighting minorities. Although the scenes are all excellent, none is more amusing than the one wherein Crowe's trusty companion Tugger (a tugboat who loathes him), cannot sustain the horror that is Crowe's music and commits suicide. As far as South Park celebrity parodies, Crowe's stands out as one of the most memorable and absurd. It's way better than the "Jared has aides" disaster. (Giovanny)


The Insider - Russell Crowe has made a career out of playing tough guys and fighters, men of action. His greatest achievement, however, came as a man of science. In Michael Mann’s The Insider, Crowe plays Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, a man who attempts to expose big tobacco’s dirty little secrets. He is threatened, bullied and manipulated (by the bad guys and the good). The more they push him, the more determined he becomes to spit in the face of the cigarette companies and to, in some small way, make up for the fact that years ago he sold out his ideals for a paycheck. Wigand is quiet, thoughtful, stubborn and bitter. He’s capable of engaging conversation and flying off the handle. His nuanced and poignant performance is a great complement to Pacino’s sublime mix of subtle acting and full-on high-strung histrionics. (Jeremiah)

Following an audited application of this machine’s foolproof algorithm, the following films were determined to be Crowe’s best and worst.

The Bottom Five

Take it easy, Guy.

(22) Rough Magic
(21) Breaking Up
(20) A Good Year
(19) For the Moment
(18) Mystery, Alaska

The Top Five
(5) Gladiator
(4) 3:10 to Yuma
(3) Master and Commander:  The Far Side of the World
(2) The Insider
(1) LA Confidential

With today’s Robin Hood, Crowe will likely have his 4th blockbuster. However, he will likely also have his first big money earner not to garner an Academy Award nomination.

VS Leonardo DiCaprio

This was an intriguing comparison.

It should be noted that DiCaprio and Crowe have co-starred twice. First in 1995’s The Quick and the Dead which ranked 12th for Crowe and 11th for Dicaprio, and more recently in 2008’s Body of Lies which ranked 11th for Crowe and 12th for Dicaprio. This should begin to illustrate the similarities between their filmographies.

It should come as no surprise that DiCaprio generates better box office receipts than Crowe, although Crowe’s numbers have been improving over the last 10 years. Conversely, Crowe bests DiCaprio in nearly every assessment of critical reception. His best 10 films are also rated more strongly than Dicaprio’s best 10.

However, DiCaprio’s victories are vast whereas Crowe’s are narrow. While these calculations may change after this summer season where both actors have potentially algorithm altering films releasing, for now:


COMING SOON:  Jake Gyllenhaal

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3 Responses »

  1. 3:10 to yuma was flaming dog shit.

  2. TUGGAH!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Has to be one of the best episodes of South Park, ever.


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