Worst To Best: Bruce Willis

Die Hard (1988)

The Film: The action movie to end all action movies – and one of the coolest Christmas films ever made. Officer John McClane (Willis) attempts to free his wife’s high-rise workplace from evil terrorists, who are headed up by the eeevil (cos he’s British) Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman).

Willis Genius: We’d never had an action hero like this before. A wise guy. A tough nut. A one-liner machine. Willis goes through a gruellingly physical performance, coins ever-quotable lines and looks super-cool doing it – and he makes it look EFFORTLESS. This is why he’s a ledge.

Worst To Best: Nicolas Cage

51. The Wicker Man (2006)

The Movie: Sheriff Edward Malus (Cage) investigates the disappearance of a young girl on a small island and uncovers a neo-pagan community with sinister intentions.

So Cage It’s Good? Cage delivers a performance so tortured, so earnest and so hilarious, that it’s surely some sort of masterpiece in subversion.

Cage assures us it’s his favourite film he’s made, which only makes his performance the more compelling. As we’ll see over the next 50 pages, this guy has massive steel balls…

Worst To Best: Bill Murray

44. Meatballs (1979)

The Film: Summer camps in the ‘70s provided much fun at the movies – not least in this franchise-opener, in which counsellors and campers get up to all sorts of naughtiness.

Murray Magic: Murray embraces the silliness, and offers us an early look at great things to come. The film’s a bit of a disappointment, but Murray’s full of youthful energy – just check out that shaggy mane.

Worst To Best: Stephen King Movies

24. Firestarter (1984)

The Movie: Andy McGee (David Keith) goes on the run with his daughter Charlie (Drew Barrymore), attempting to escape government agents who want to exploit their psychic abilities.

What It Got Wrong: A flabby mid-section stops Firestarter from being the explosive firecracker it should be. The first 40 minutes provide intrigue and on-the-run excitement, but that’s all lost when Charlie and her paps are caught by The Shop. A Carrie-aping climax attempts to reignite things, but comes too late.

50 Greatest Improvised Movie Scenes

50. Inception (2010)

The Improvisation: “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling,” advises Eames (Tom Hardy), as he shoulders Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) out of the way and whips out a super-huge firearm.

What Was In The Script: The “darling” part was Hardy’s own affectionate, plummy addition. “The ‘darling’ part was accidental,” the actor admits. “I came out with ‘darling’ and we kept it in because it was funny.”

50 Greatest Courtroom Dramas

50. Jagged Edge (1985)

The Case:
Lawyer Teddy Barnes (Glenn Close) is hired by Jack Forrester (Jeff Bridges) when he’s put on trial for the murder of his wife.

Only In The Movies: A number of fun, tried and true courtroom conventions fire up Jagged Edge. Not only has Barnes not practiced criminal law in a while but, naturally, she also falls in love with Forrester. Who says law’s dull?

50 Most Extreme Movie Performances

10. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

The Movie: Ground-breaking sequel in which future saviour of mankind John Connor is targeted by a deadly new Terminator (Robert Patrick).

The Extreme Performance: Linda Hamilton went from poofy-haired wallflower in The Terminator to ball-busting warrior in T2. She trained for 13 weeks, three hours a day with former Israeli commando Uzi Gal. Her training included lifting weights, Judo and learning to pick locks. It was so extreme that she refused to do it all again for T3.

50 Greatest Star Wars Scenes

50. The Arena

The Scene: In Attack Of The Clones, Anakin, Obi-Wan and Padme are all tied to towering stone columns in a colossal colosseum. Then giant monsters are released into the arena. To think Russell Crowe only had to fight tigers…

The Awesome: It’s Episode II’s Rancor moment, and a neat little set-piece that includes Padme saving herself instead of waiting for the boys to rescue her.

49. Torture

The Scene: In The Empire Strikes Back, Vader and his evil minions hold Han Solo hostage and torture him with very pointy things. His screams will give you chills all over.

The Awesome: There’s no end to Vader’s evil, and this is just one example of how far he’s willing to go in order to acquire information.

The Exterminator (1980)

If you’ve ever wanted to see a man put through a meat grinder, The Exterminator’s here to help. James Glickenhaus’ silly shocker puts the ‘x’ into exploitation: topless ladies get maimed and pimps are roasted alive, which makes up for Robert Ginty’s bland anti-hero, a vigilante bent on bringing down a granny-bashing gang.

More engaging is Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter, whose trip to New York’s once sleazy 42nd street (one of Exterminator’s locations) is the set’s best extra. 2/5

100 Worder: Chalet Girl (2011)

Felicity Jones recalls her namesake Bridget in this chilly charmer, as her likably blabbermouth heroine bumbles into all sorts of comedy scrapes.

Among those are a cockle-warming encounter with rich boy Ed Westwick, who she’s working for at a super-slick ski resort.

The predictable romance won’t melt many hearts, but Jones is a good sport in what is essentially a silly snowboarding romcom.

And any film that gives Bill Nighy the odd chance to snark it up (here as Westwick’s pa) is worth a frost-free reception. 3/5