The Under-Ranked: Salt
Last week director Phillip Noyce’s newest film Salt, about a CIA officer who is accused of being a Russian spy, was released as one of the big action movies of the summer. Many of the stars of Salt have some pretty great smaller films on their resumes – many of which have been ranked far fewer times than deserved. To draw attention to some of these great lesser-seen films, here are The Under-Ranked:
While Angelina Jolie plays the title character in Salt, one of her greatest performances was in the 2007 film A Mighty Heart. In this true story, Jolie plays Mariane Pearl, the wife of journalist Daniel Pearl, who desperately searches for her husband in Pakistan after he disappears mysteriously. Jolie is exceptional as the worried wife who will stop at nothing to find her partner. Jolie is perfectly restrained, yet when the moment calls for it, is able to realistically show utter despair and loss. Director Michael Winterbottom, who always makes interesting choices – from the documentary The Road to Guantanamo, to the controversial 9 Songs, and this year’s The Killer Inside Me – is unrelenting with his camera, never backing down on showing what is truly going on in this seemingly impossible search.
Liev Schreiber may have made a name for himself in such films as the Scream trilogy and as Sabretooth in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but he has also had some fantastic stand out performances in more dramatic and lesser-seen films. Also from 2007, Chicago 10 was an experimental animated documentary about the trial of eight famous anti-war protestors. The trial became noteworthy for the insanity within the court, both by the accused and the accusers. Schreiber played William Kunstler, the unconventional lawyer for the convicted. Chicago 10 is as out there as the eight men it documents, trying new animation techniques and takes on the documentary genre in a refreshing way that few films have attempted.
Chiwetel Ejiofor has become more and more in the public consciousness with roles in 2012 and American Gangster, yet his co-starring role in Talk to Me is one of his finest. Starring alongside an equally incredible Don Cheadle, Ejiofor is Dewey Hughes, program director for Cheadle’s Petey Green, a radio talk show host and activist recently out of jail. While Cheadle is bombastic, Ejiofor is his straight man, having to deal with the backlash of Green’s decisions. The film deals with the powerful issue of race in 1960’s Washington D.C., yet the screenplay invigorates the film with humor to soften the blow of the harsh reality.
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