This weekend, David O. Russell’s “Amsterdam” hits theaters, marking his third collaboration with star Christian Bale. It was Russell’s 2010 boxing film “The Fighter” that earned Bale his first, and so far only, Academy Award, for best supporting actor (streaming on Paramount+), and Bale also co-starred in Russell’s 2013 ensemble movie “American Hustle” (streaming on Starz). “Amsterdam” is yet another period ensemble romp, this time taking place in the 1930s, and loosely based on a true story.
Bale, who has been working as an actor since childhood, rarely misses, and he has had fruitful working relationships with many prestigious filmmakers over the years, starting with his breakout role in Steven Spielberg’s epic 1987 World War II drama “Empire of the Sun” (streaming on Apple TV+ or available to rent). Bale was only 12 when he was cast in the film, which follows a young British boy who becomes a POW in a Japanese internment camp during the war.
He made a few more period pieces in the early ‘90s—the 1992 musical “Newsies” (streaming on Disney+ or available to rent), based on the true story of a group of newsboys unionizing at the turn the century, and 1993’s “Swing Kids,” about teens embracing forbidden swing music during the advent of Nazism in Germany (rent it on all platforms). Bale followed that up with a turn as Laurie in Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 adaptation of “Little Women” opposite Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, and Susan Sarandon (streaming on HBO Max).
Bale co-starred in Todd Haynes' 1998 glam-rock drama “Velvet Goldmine” (available to rent) before potentially his most memorable (and meme-able) role, in Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ “American Pyscho” (2000), the dark satire of American wealth and the world of ‘80s New York City finance bros. Patrick Bateman certainly made an impression on the culture thanks to Bale’s performance as the sadistic yuppie (stream it on HBO Max).
After “Psycho,” Bale worked with auteurs such as Werner Herzog, in 2006’s “Rescue Dawn” (streaming on Prime Video and Kanopy), and Terence Malick, in the 2005 film “The New World” (streaming on Kanopy), about the first explorers to encounter America. He later re-teamed with Malick on the 2015 Los Angeles tone poem “Knight of Cups” (Peacock or Tubi). He also worked with James Mangold in 2007’s Western “3:10 to Yuma” (HBO Max) and then again in the 2019 automobile drama “Ford v. Ferrari” (available to rent).
His most high-profile team-up with a director is probably Christopher Nolan, having worked with him on the magic thriller “The Prestige” in 2006 (available to rent), and also stepping into Batman’s iconic rubber cowl for Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy, of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” (all streaming on HBO Max).
Bale scored two Oscar noms for his collaborations with Adam McKay, first in 2015’s “The Big Short” (available to rent) and later, portraying former Vice President Dick Cheney in “Vice” (2018), which is available on Netflix or for rent.
Whether you check out “Amsterdam” this weekend or not, a watch through the best of Bale’s filmography is always worth it, especially since he’s had such a long and varied career already.