Bill Murray top 10

Movies

ByTheMinMovies

9 St Vincent (Warning – this film contains a portion of schmaltz hefty enough to put the unsuspecting viewer into a diabetic coma, so be on your guard.) If you’re familiar with the broad direction of Bill Murray’s work you’ll notice that St Vincent is something of a hyrbrid of his best characters; the irascible grump with a (deeply buried) heart of gold.

But whilst not entirely original the story nonetheless offers plenty of near-the-knuckle laughs, a star turn by Naomi Watts, and a grand finale that’s syrupy enough to warrant it’s own E Number. But hey, what's wrong with a bit of sugar every now and then? Indeed, the reveal in which Murray’s character’s motivations are disclosed develops into one of the most moving scenes of his career

With his acting chops well and truly earned Murray returns to type in the closing credits, performing (and I say this not lightly) the greatest cover of a Bob Dylan song since Jimi Hendrix set fire to a guitar in anger. Yes, it’s that good!

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8. Kingpin One of the great tributes that can be paid to an actor is to say that they retain the public’s affection despite the fact they are associated with a particularly wretched character. It is a further tribute if the actor can then get you to root for their particularly wretched character, and perhaps even wish them well in their nefarious pursuits.

It happens to some degree in Scrooged, and it happens to a huge degree in Kingpin. To wit. I *love* Ernie McCracken. If I could be any Bill Murray character it would be professional bowler/ratbag Ernie McCracken. McCracken really is a complete jerk, and at the same time entirely hilarious (a consequence, I would argue, of the number of ab-libbed scenes that make the final cut).

The tale ostensibly follows McCracken’s rivalry with fellow ten-pin bowler Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson), but the laughs lie in the acts of deceit and high treachery which are weaved around the narrative like a low-grade combover.

The film itself is in no way subtle (“Oh, my little Roy-Toy!”), appearing like a gross-out Yin to The Big Lebowski’s absurdist and cerebral Yang, but it’s no less worth your time. Let’s Get Ready To Bowl!

7 Scrooged Not a film most people would have in their top 10, I grant you, but in my estimation it’s more than worthy of it’s place. Murray’s egotistical TV boss Richard Cross is not particularly likeable at first viewing but - in keeping with Dickens’ tale - we follow his character as he experiences visions of the past, present and future which transform his life’s outlook.

Like Quick Change it’s a difficult film to pin down; it contains scenes which are unsparingly desolate, and then tries to marry them with pitch-black laughs. But, this, I believe, is why it’s worthy of our praise; not only does the film attempt a fresh take on the most daunting of source material, it does so with Murray flying solo (this his first role as lead actor).