Ten Deep 3.21.13: Top 10 Bill Murray Movies
Posted by Mike Gorman on 03.21.2013
From Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day to Lost in Translation, Zombieland, Scrooged and more, 411's Mike Gorman counts down the top 10 Bill Murray movies of all time!
" Top Ten Bill Murray Movies"
Well Spring is allegedly here and most of the country is still being slammed with some pretty nasty Winter weather. This has of course caused a backlash directed at Punxsutawney Phil, the poor groundhog who predicted that Winter would be ending early this year. It seems I cannot check my Facebook or Twitter feeds these days without someone calling for Phil's head. Instead of jumping on that bandwagon I decided instead to find a way to celebrate the good memories we have of the groundhog, namely his appearance in the hilarious film Groundhog Day. This inspired me to broaden my scope and since there are not 9 other groundhog films I decided to turn my gaze on the work of his co-star, Mr. Bill Murray. Consider this week's Ten Deep an unofficial sequel of sorts to last week's column also, where Mr. Murray made the list of best film actors who started on TV.
Bill Murray has made a pretty solid career out of playing the "loveable loser" roles. In Meatballs he not only embraces that idea but becomes the mentor to a whole camp troop of underdogs. The film is silly 80s fun laced with some solid messages including Murray's famous "It doesn't matter" pep talk, which you can see here.
9. What About Bob?
There is something to be said for an actor that can pull off being supremely annoying in one moment and then warm you up the next. This is certainly the case when Murray plays the patient who will not leave his psychiatrist, Richard Dreyfuss, alone in What About Bob?. Murray and Dreyfuss play very well off of each other inverting the dynamic of who is the crazy one by the film's climax. Dreyfuss seems to be the only one aware of just how much trouble Murray is, as evidenced in this dinner scene.
In Zombieland, Murray simply played himself, and it turned out to be one of his best performances ever. The heroes of the film head to the Hollywood Hills to seek refuge from the zombie hordes and find themselves at the home of Bill Murray (mostly because Tallahassee was a huge fan!) They assume that Murray had succumbed to the zombies at some point but soon find out that he has survived and has used make up & acting to move amongst the undead safely. The moment is hilarious and comes out of nowhere which makes all the more tragic the conclusion to this sequence. Here is the moment Murray is discovered to be alive.
When I started composing this list I was discussing the topic with a friend who mentioned Scrooged and he said, "How will you fit this one in? It's just Murray playing the same character he played throughout the 80s." At first I agreed, until I realized it was for that very reason that Scrooged deserved to be on this list. No one plays the unlikeable yet somehow likeable jerk like Bill Murray and in this film he teaches a master class on it. From the very first moments we meet Murray's Frank Cross until the heartwarming credits sequence below, this film is a holiday classic and one of Murray's best.
In Rushmore, Murray took on a slightly different role from the usual types we have seen him in and he showed that he had the acting chops to carry the work. In this early film by Wes Anderson, Murray excels as Herman Blume, friend and adversary to Jason Schwartzman's Max. Murray's abilities allowed him to bring to life Anderson's unique vision. The interplay between Murray and Schwartzman was truly brilliant as scene in this clip detailing their elaborate revenge attempts.
5. Lost in Translation
Lost in Translation gave us all something we sadly might not ever see again, and that was Bill Murray nominated for an Academy Award. If Rushmore was a departure from Murray's more slapstick antics, than Lost in Translation was continents away. Here Murray exposes us to a rawer, emotional side of himself in this film that explores loneliness and connections in a truly foreign environment. In this clip below, Director Sofia Coppola talks about what it took to get Bill Murray in this film.
4. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Bringing to life obsession, eccentricity, and melancholy in one character, Bill Murray dives deep in Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. While surface premise of an oceanographer (clearly a simultaneous homage and parody of Jacques Cousteau) bent on revenge against the shark that killed his partner is undoubtedly fascinating, it is again the story of the characters existing within this world that is truly most engaging. Murray is able to be both quirky and genuine at the same time here. This clip is just a little taste of Zissou for you.
3. Groundhog Day
This is the film that inspired this week's Ten Deep and it fittingly kicks off the top three selections for here we start to dive deep into classic Murray territory. In Groundhog Day Murray is a man forced to relieve Groundhog Day over and over until he gets it right. I say this is classic Murray because he again transforms from unlikeable and grouchy to a character with real heart. It helps that this time the surrounding story and elements add up to comedic bliss for the audience. At his best, no one can match Murray's wit. In this scene we see how the perpetual loop of the day is starting to affect his mind.
In this movie, Murray is one of the leads but not the only lead, and it is within this strong comedy ensemble that we find movie magic. Murray, with his co-stars, takes us into a world that should for all intents and purposes be pretty scary but leaves us laughing at every turn. Ghostbusters earned itself a spot in our pop culture pantheon and remains popular to this day with a long rumored third film inching itself into production. Whether Murray will be involved or not is a good question as the answer seems to change quite often. Even if he is not, we will always have moments like this opening scene to look back on.
It is Murray's turn as Carl Spackler, the enigmatic golf course groundskeeper, that earns Caddyshack the top spot on this week's countdown. His antics in pursuit of that pesky gopher are truly epic and his performance is just as outstanding. Murray creates a truly unique character in Spackler who may not exist within the main storylines of the film but shines just as brightly. His story is one that is touched upon here and there, building to its ultimate crescendo. He never quite vanquishes his nemesis but we certainly have an awesome time watching him try. The film is extremely quotable with many hilarious lines, some of which are highlighted in this montage.
Bitter that Garfield missed the top ten or that I left off Stripes (A close #11, believe me!)? Tell me all about in the comments below.
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