Harvey Dent once said, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” In Christian Bale’s case, he lived long enough to become the villain. Earlier this month, Bale swapped sides, going from Dark Knight to Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder. Bale knocked it out of the park, bringing an equally captivating and terrifying villain to the screen. If you, like any sensible person, found yourself wanting to see even more of Bale, we’ve got you covered.
In the past, we’ve brought you noteworthy performances from Bale beyond Batman and our favorite movie moments. But in this era of streaming basically everything, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite Bale films available to watch on various streaming platforms. Keep reading for Christian Bale movies to watch after Love and Thunder.
American Psycho – HBO Max
Naturally, I have to start this list with one of his most notable and best roles to date – Patrick Bateman. If you haven’t seen the movie, at the very least you’ve probably seen the memes featuring Bale wielding an axe in one of the most iconic scenes from the movie. Based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name, American Psycho follows Patrick Bateman, an NYC investment banker who works in
murders and executions mergers and acquisitions by day. But at night, Patrick’s bloodlust takes over, and his violent tendencies soon consume his daily life.
While I am, admittedly, rather biased, I remain steadfast in my stance that no one could pull off Patrick Bateman the way Bale did. His performance is STILL iconic 20+ years later for a reason. He encompasses everything that makes Patrick Bateman who he is in a way that’s engrossing and believable. He’s unnerving and, at times, utterly terrifying. If I could only recommend one Bale film to watch, this is it.
Howl’s Moving Castle – HBO Max
Throughout his career, Bale has almost exclusively taken on live-action roles. One of the exceptions is the English-language release of Studio Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle. The animated film follows Sophie, a young woman who’s cursed with an old body. Her only hope in breaking the spell is to enlist the help of a wizard named Howl, his talking fire companion Calcifer, and their walking castle.
Even in animation Bale offers a dynamic version of Howl. He brings the self-indulgent yet mysteriously captivating wizard to life in a way that keeps viewers invested in the story. As the movie progresses, viewers gain more insight into Howl, paired with an appropriately evolving performance from Bale. He reveals Howl’s insecurities and fully leans into his occasionally melodramatic nature.
3:10 to Yuma – HBO Max
In this remake of the 1957 classic western, Bale stars as Dan Evans, a small-time rancher whose family has hit some rough patches with regards to their land. Meanwhile, an outlaw named Ben Wade and his gang are terrorizing the area. Wade is eventually captured, and, due to a case of good timing, Dan agrees to bring Wade to the “3:10 to Yuma,” a train that will transport Wade to his trial. However, Wade’s gang is close on their trail as Dan faces several other obstacles.
If you’re searching for a good western, might I direct your attention here. It’s an action-filled movie with great performances across the board. Throughout, Bale showcases Dan’s motivations. When it comes to Wade, Dan is no-nonsense but doesn’t embrace the brutality of Wade. On the flip side, Bale offers a slightly more gentle version of Dan, who just wants the best for his family, which is apparent in the way he interacts with his son, played by Logan Lerman.
The Fighter – Netflix
Based on a true story, The Fighter focuses on Micky Ward, a boxer trying to win a major title and advance his career. However, Micky struggles to escape the shadow of brother Dicky Eklund (Bale), a former boxer who helps train Micky.
As is common with Bale, he gives his all to the role, including a drastic (though not quite as drastic as that for The Machinist) weight loss to create a believable rendition of Eklund. He’s excellent at portraying Eklund’s turbulent personality and steals every scene he’s in. No matter the relationship of Eklund to other characters, Bale meshes perfectly with each of his co-stars. It’s no wonder he earned an Oscar for this role.
Vice – Netflix, Hulu
In Vice, Bale reunites with The Big Short director Adam McKay and The Fighter co-star Amy Adams. He takes on another real-life figure: Former Vice President Dick Cheney. The biopic chronicles Cheney’s career as he began as an unassuming D.C. insider and scaled the ranks to become the quietly powerful second to Former President George W. Bush.
It’s no secret that Bale has a propensity for accepting projects centered around real-life people. For me, one his most memorable (and more recent) ones is Former VP Cheney. Per usual, Bale gives his all to encompass Cheney, using his acting prowess, research, and physical dedication to recreate the Former VP for audiences. He’s near unrecognizable as he loses himself in his performance and works so well across his co-stars. The role scored him various award nominations, including best actor at the 2019 Oscars.
Reign of Fire – Hulu
When 12-year-old Quinn accompanies his mother to work one day, he stumbles upon a hibernating dragon that, oops, is now awake. Fast forward several years later. An adult Quinn (Bale) resides in a small English outpost, and the world has been ravaged by dragons. The tides may be turning in his favor when a group of Americans appear and their leader claims to know how to kill the dragons.
Reign of Fire isn’t the pinnacle of cinema, but it’s a good time, nevertheless. It’s always fun to watch Bale thrive in an action movie, and this one is no different. He gives a high energy performance during action sequences that keeps viewers privy to severity of the situation. In the quieter moments, he taps into a goofier side and also demonstrates Quinn’s more personal struggle and his protectiveness of his group.
Post-Gorr, Bale reunites with The Fighter and American Hustle director David O. Russell for the upcoming Amsterdam, which releases this November. He also re-teams with Out of the Furnace and Hostiles director Scott Cooper for Netflix’s The Pale Blue Eye. The film does not yet have a release date, but it’s expected sometime later this year. Bale is also set to star in and produce The Church of Living Dangerously, which is currently in development.