Michael Keaton’s career has been nothing if not varied. He has been the leading man, the comedic foil, the villain, the supernatural, the corporate slime ball, the plastic doll (Toy Story 3 in case you wondered) and a superhero. But, has Hollywood given Keaton enough attention? Possibly not. He’s only ever received one leading actor nomination at a major award ceremony, and despite his undoubted talent and impressive CV Keaton remains known for two iconic roles early on in his career.
With that in mind, and with the excellent BiRDMAN arriving in cinemas today, now is the perfect time to take a look at five of Michael Keaton’s best performances.
The most recent film on the list see’s Keaton playing a washed up actor who is most famous for his role as a popular superhero, sounds familiar right? Keaton goes through a full range of emotions throughout the film, showcasing his various talents for drama, comedy and a little bit of crazy thrown in for good measure. Keaton has always had the qualities of a leading, but Hollywood has not always been so kind to him, but here he puts in his best performance in years, and one that should, quite rightly, earn Keaton his first Oscar nomination.
If you thought fanboys were a modern-day creation, then you should have been around in 1989. When Michael Keaton was cast as the lead in Tim Burton’s take on the Dark Knight, very few people were happy, and in those dark pre-internet days Warner Bros. were bombarded with letters from fans ensuring the studio knew just how unhappy they were with their casting choice. Of course, Keaton was a success in the role and his performance became iconic, with many fans still citing Keaton as the best on-screen Batman.
Jackie Brown, 1997
Quentin Tarantino has a habit of casting great actors that Hollywood has seemingly forgotten about, and giving their career a timely boost. In Jackie Brown, Keaton plays Ray Nicolette, an ATF agent who brings Jackie in for possession of drugs. Keaton was magnetic as always in the role, and went with understated instead of OTT. It may not have brought him a Travolta style resurrection, but it marked a return to form for Keaton, who had not been relevant since Batman Returns in 1992.
Possibly the ultimate Keaton performance, and his most iconic outside of Batman. This was Keaton’s first collaboration with Tim Burton, and was released only a year before Batman hit screens. It was a role that made Keaton a household name, and saw him usurp Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis who actually had top billing in the film.
Live From Baghdad, 2002
Live from Baghdad is a little known made for TV film that was released in 2002, it is also the only time Keaton has been nominated for a best actor award, albeit at the Golden Globes. Keaton plays CNN reporter Robert Wiener, who takes a news crew to report on the first Gulf War in a film that showcases the hardships of reporting from a war-torn country, and the daily battle journalists face not just to report the news but also to stay alive.