The Actor Spotlight: Heath Ledger

28 Jul

Before the star’s untimely death in 2007, Heath Ledger was well on his way to two Oscar nominations. One for his quietly haunting turn in Brokeback Mountain and the other for his yet unseen portrayal of The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. His star was burning bright and like so many before him, his time came too early. Now we look back at Ledger’s ten best performances according to Flickchart viewers. 

The Dark Knight

Perhaps the most horrifying portrayal of a madman captured on film. Jack Nicholson’s Joker was said to be unmatched, but then along came  Heath Ledger and blew the lid off the whole film. The Joker is a lot like Jaws in that seemingly he has no motivations, nothing wanted, nothing gained, only destruction. Arguably Heath Ledger’s best performance, The Joker, represents the self-destructive, selfish nature of humanity. Each backstory he presents is one of loss, betrayal and ultimately, violence. His mind is one of optimism that eventually came crashing around him as the world didn’t match it. Unable to deal with the consequences of pain his mind warps to complete evil. The mask within the mask.

  • ranked #1 of all-time
  • ranked 703,874 total times
  • 1,741 have it at #1
  • 16,184 have it in their top 20

Brokeback Mountain

The scene above says it all really. Like the ending of Brokeback Mountain which is revealed only through a single object, Ennis is only revealed through a series of gestures.  Ennis is a man strangled by how he thinks he should be. He should be the provider of a family, he should be happily married to a nice girl, he should be happy with what he has. But he isn’t and the tragedy of Ennis Del Mar is the only happiness he had is rejected by the world.

  • ranked #671 of all-time
  • ranked 207,631 total times
  • 116 have it at #1
  • 2,157 have it in their top 20

10 Things I Hate About You

The film that made Heath Ledger a household name (for any home housing a teenage girl anyway). His comic turn in the film made him a heart-throb across the nation and made this film possibly the most appreciated of the Shakespeare’s revisions. Try listening to “Janie’s Got a Gun” without thinking of Heath crooning Aerosmith from the top of metal bleachers. Seriously try it, it’s impossible.

  • ranked #833 of all-time
  • ranked 210,177 total times
  • 151 have it at #1
  • 2,602 have it in their top 20

I’m Not There

Bob Dylan as a man will never really be known. So when six actors were selected to play the guises of Mr. Zimmerman it was no surprise that Ledger was selected to play  the matinée idol version of the counterculture star. The shades he wears may say, “I’m cool,” but what they really mean is, “leave me the hell alone.” His life is being crushed under the daily grind of stardom.

  • ranked #876
  • ranked 11,594 total times
  • No one has it at #1
  • 19 have it in their top 20

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Ledger’s second go-around with Terry Gilliam was a turbulent one. When Ledger passed away not quite halfway through production Gilliam was left at a crossroads: continue with a different actor or scrap it entirely? Thankfully Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law stepped up to fill the role. What could not be filled in was the fevered pace of Ledger’s Tony. In many realms at once, he dazzles the audience aptly controlling all the worlds on the other side of the looking glass.

  • ranked #899 of all-time
  • ranked 13,767 total times
  • 1 has it at #1
  • 27 have it in their top 20

A Knight’s Tale

Pop history was never this much fun. An underdog from the get-go, William Thatcher is a serf who was dutiful in service until his knight died. Faced with the prospect of eating leather boots he decides to impersonate a knight and ends up jousting against the cartoonishly evil Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell). A medieval rock opera that leaves you tapping your toes.

  • ranked #1183
  • ranked 141,938 total times
  • 22 have it at #1
  • 502 have it in their top 20

The Patriot

As the eldest son of Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) Gabriel is a headstrong young man who rushes to war. War is a young man’s game, but directed by old men. Frightened and unprepared for the aftereffects of war Gabriel is simultaneously thrilled by the blood-lust and anxious to quit fighting and start a life with his love, Ann.

  • ranked #1370  globally
  • ranked 242,363 total times
  • 129 have it at #1
  • 2,766 have it in their top 20

Lords of Dogtown

One of the founding fathers of skateboarding. He may not be the most responsible pioneer, but he got the job done. Skip, the mentor to the Z Boys came up with the polyurethane wheels essential to the skateboard’s grip, coined the name, and gave them the t-shirts and set them on their way. He was the struck match that set the scene ablaze. Drunken and in the dark of a back room he makes his transition to crafting surfboards and waves goodbye to the movement after the Z-Boys move on to commercial stardom.

  • ranked #1504 globally
  • ranked 6803 total times
  • 0 have it at #1
  • 7 have it in their top twenty

Monster’s Ball

Like father, like son. Racism is passed like blood in the Grotowski clan and Sonny is not going to have a part of it anymore. Between the beatings of his father Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) and the insults hurled by his grandfather (Peter Boyle) Sonny chooses to break the chain. A heart-breaking turn in one of the most devastating films of the past decade.

  • ranked #1517  globally
  • ranked 38,001 total times
  • 2 have it at #1
  • 36 have it in their top 20

The Brothers Grimm

Paired along with brother Wilheim (Matt Damon) Jacob (Ledger) travel throughout countrysides of Germany staging phony magic shows. Wilheim is a cynic, but Jacob holds out the slightest chance that he believes. Unfortunately for them, magic is real and once the two fraudsters are found out by Delatombe (Jonathan Pryce) – righthand to Napoleon – they are sent to an actual magic forest to combat demons. ‘Grimm‘ gives Ledger a chance to stretch out his fantasy muscle and he does not disappoint.

  • ranked #2269  globally
  • ranked 54,517 total times
  • 1 has it at #1
  • 61 have it in their top 20
  • Marvelboy888

    Ledger sang “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” in 10 Things I Hate About You. “Janie’s Got a Gun” from Not Another Teen Movie, where Chris Evans parodied the scene. =)

    • Fitz

      Don’t I feel stupid. Thanks.