18. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
After the superhero movie genre’s popularity exploded, director Ang Lee’s “Hulk,” starring Eric Bana with Universal Studios didn’t seem enough for Marvel Studios, especially after the box office success of “Iron Man” and the plan of making an Avengers movie in mind; thus, they decided to make a new Hulk film and called it “The Incredible Hulk.”
Edward Norton initially turned down the Bruce Banner role, but after he met director Louis Leterrier, he accepted. Liv Tyler plays Dr. Elizabeth Ross, Tim Roth plays the antagonist Emil Blonsky/Abomination, and William Hurt plays General Ross.
With one of the most fan-favorite Marvel superheroes as the main character, this film could be better, especially with this cast. It is still an entertaining journey, and it is also good to see Norton trying a superhero movie with a character that he is a fan of, and having some fun.
This film has a special place in Norton’s career, for the infamous feud between the actor and Marvel Studios. He notoriously didn’t jump the bandwagon and didn’t promote the film like all the big budget movie stars did, and he even said he didn’t like the script that much.
This was probably the reason for the boycott of the big studios that was made against him. And after that, he started to not be able to find big roles like he used to, although he was one of the most talented stars in the industry. In “The Avengers,” the role went to Mark Ruffalo, who was the director’s first choice against studio’s first choice Norton.
17. The Italian Job (2003)
The remake of the 1969 classic with the same name, the F. Gary Gray-directed “The Italian Job” was a box office success. The cast includes Mark Wahlberg, who reprises Michael Caine’s role in the original movie, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Donald Sutherland, Mos Def, Seth Green and Edward Norton as the bad guy, who once was in the gang and after a heist betrayed all of his friends, took the money and ran. The movie tells the story of this group, as they try to take back the money and teach the bad guy a lesson.
Why did it become successful? Because they do it in style, with Mini Coopers and boats in Venice. The whole cast took driving lessons for the movie, and they agreed that Theron was the best driver in the group. Norton signed a three-movie deal with the studio, and he stated that the only reason he was in this movie was because of the contract. To see him as a moustache-twirling bad guy is fun, and the film itself is entertaining, so everything’s okay for the fans.
16. Pride & Glory (2008)
Three NYPD officers in one conjugal family, and the husband of the daughter who is also a police officer in the same precinct: you’d think this thing right here is what this world is about now, the answer to everything is knowing the right people with influence.
If you don’t have someone as a reference, forget about the job. This really draws attention and you know the ending from the beginning with this clue. There is something going on here, and it might just be worse than you think.
This cop thriller/family drama is nothing we haven’t seen before, but somehow it keeps you on tenterhooks, and this success partly comes from the acting from all these talented actors: Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Jon Voight, Noah Emmerich and Jennifer Ehle (our Elizabeth Bennet).
The director is Gavin O’Connor, who is set to direct the second “Suicide Squad” in the near future. This time, Norton plays the squeaky-clean policeman with a conscience, the cleanest one in the family.
15. The Illusionist (2006)
A boy with nothing on this earth discovers a magic world, and then he becomes Eisenheim (Edward Norton), the master of this very world. The only one who was his friend when he was a child was a girl (Jessica Biel) from a royal family; they made them separate because of the so-called social inconvenience of this relationship.
When he became Eisenheim the Illusionist, they met at one of his shows; they knew each other immediately and started to see each other again. But there was one problem: the fiancee of the girl, the prince heir to the throne (Rufus Sewell), who was a fan of magic tricks and obsessed with his fiancee, too.
As a result, Eisenheim and the Prince became enemies. Could this great magician who seemly could resurrect the dead from their sleep, overcome this obstacle and live with the love of his life forever?
The movie itself becomes an illusion after a while, and just like after seeing a great magic trick, the film makes audience go wow. Writer-director Neil Burger has a great cast, which also includes Paul Giamatti as an inspector. Set in Austria and filmed in Czechia, the atmosphere, the lightning, and the costumes of the era make the film enchanting, just like its theme. Norton did most of the magic tricks himself.
14. Red Dragon (2002)
One of the most famous fictional serial killers is Hannibal Lecter, and rightly so. The most famous film of the Hannibal series, “The Silence of the Lambs” is mostly remembered for the dynamics between Lecter and the FBI agent Clarice Starling, acted memorably by Jodie Foster, who won an Oscar, just like Anthony Hopkins who played Hannibal.
Before Agent Starling, there was Agent Will Graham. He is nearly as clever and as imaginative as Lecter, so he becomes the one who puts him in jail. If Starling is the student of Lecter, Graham would be his rival. So Lecter might be a little bit jealous of him, and also admire him at the same time. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from trying to make another serial killer, Red Dragon, from killing his whole family.
This is the prequel to writer Thomas Harris’ “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Hannibal.” A film called “Manhunter” is based on the book, “Red Dragon,” in 1986. In this version, Brian Cox was Hannibal and William Peterson played Agent Graham.
In “Red Dragon,” Hopkins reprises his best known character, Hannibal Lecter, Norton plays Will Graham, and they are dynamite on screen. Ralph Fiennes is superb as the disturbed, lonely, and frightened man who becomes Red Dragon. Also in the cast are Emma Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Harvey Keitel. With the money he earned from this movie, Norton financed “25th Hour.”
13. Frida (2002)
Edward Norton’s then-girlfriend Salma Hayek’s passion project “Frida” tells the life story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The big traffic accident and marriage to another famous artist, Diego Rivera, and their acquaintances of some of the famous figures of history are the things that shape the vision of the famous artist.
The art direction is becoming for a Frida Kahlo movie; the colourful and moving film makes the audience know the inner world and the motivations of Kahlo. The movie won two Oscars: Best Original Score for Elliot Goldenthal, and Best Makeup. It is directed by Julie Taymor, who you may also know from “Across the Universe.”
Apart from Hayek, Alfred Molina plays Diego Rivera, and a lot of famous actors come and go as the film moves along. Some of them include Antonio Banderas, Diego Luna, Ashley Judd and Geoffrey Rush. Norton has a cameo as the rich Nelson Rockefeller of the Rockefeller Center in New York.
One of Kahlo’s nieces who liked the film gave Salma Hayek a necklace that belonged to her. If a family member is a fan of a famous person’s biography, then it probably is a solid movie. Norton worked on the film’s script and he also stated that “he wrote ‘Frida.’” But it is an uncredited work.
12. Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
Who could resist a musical starring Edward Norton, Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, Alan Alda, Goldie Hawn, Tim Roth, Billy Crudup and Natalie Portman, especially if it’s directed by Woody Allen? The film is funny as well as it’s entertaining. All the actors, with the exception of Drew Barrymore, sing their songs with their own voices; they are not Broadway actors, but they sing charmingly enough.
Norton makes the best of playing in a musical with arguably the best song in the soundtrack, “My Baby Just Cares for Me.” Allen plays the same character he always plays, this time as the love interest of Julia Roberts.
There are multiple complicated love stories, witty dialogues, and funny situations; these are the characteristics of a Woody Allen movie. If there is one thing to be said about it, that one word is “happy.” Norton plays the naive charming boyfriend of Barrymore, and they make a good on-screen couple.
11. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
One of Ridley Scott’s historical epics, “Kingdom of Heaven” is a good film with a good story and a great cast. And it lasts about three hours, just like a normal Ridley Scott epic movie. But you couldn’t be bored because there are so many things going on in it. It also is an underdog story of Orlando Bloom’s character Balian de Ibelin, which is always a plus for the audience’s sympathy.
“Kingdom of Heaven” refers to the Jerusalem; Edward Norton plays King Baldwin, the leper king of Jerusalem. After the king dies, Saladin comes with his army to take the kingdom of heaven while Balian de Ibelin tries to save his people from dying. Did he succeed at that? From history lessons, we know the end of this story: Saladin takes Jerusalem and becomes the new conqueror of Jerusalem, and it was a relatively peaceful take-over because of the surrender.
The cast also includes Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson and Michael Sheen. Norton’s face is not seen for even one second on the screen: he acts behind his mask only with his voice and the way he recites the words. But he really is the king; he can convey this to the audience. As an interesting footnote, director Ridley Scott received congratulatory messages from Muslims for his fair depiction of the religion.
10. The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
In one of the early films in his career, Edward Norton played real-life pornography publisher Larry Flynt’s famous Harvard graduate lawyer Alan Isaacman. The film tells the life story of this man, Larry Flynt (Woody Harrelson), who is a creative, clever, money-loving, rich pornography magazine owner who doesn’t care what anyone thinks, and does whatever he wants, even in courts against a jury and a judge, and believe us when we say he is sued often because of his devil-may-care attitude.
Courtney Love plays one of the women who works in his bar, and then she becomes his wife, Althea. She is even more marginal than her husband, and gets into all kinds of trouble, but their love is once in a lifetime. Even though Isaacman doesn’t approve of the things Larry does, he still believes he has to be defended in the best way possible.
And because of this, the film becomes all about freedom of speech and justice in court. “The People vs. Larry Flynt” is essentially a courtroom drama as well as a biography. The real Larry Flynt makes a cameo as a judge, and he is still alive and well today. Director Milos Forman and Harrelson received Academy Award nominations. Norton especially wanted to be in the film to be able to work with Forman. The director stated one time that he considered this film as his best.