David O. Russell Movies

Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 9:15 am

David O. Russell Movies

The Fighter may have earned David O. Russell his first Oscar nomination for Best Director, but the talented filmmaker has been in the moviemaking game for over 20 years. During that time, he’s turned out a number of critically-acclaimed projects ranging from existential comedies to socially conscious war movies.

He’s also notorious for his on-set antics. And by “antics,” I mean getting into shouting matches or knock-down-drag-out fights with his actors. The two most notorious examples involve George Clooney and Lily Tomlin. On the set of Three Kings, he and Clooney reportedly came to blows over Russell’s perceived treatment of the crew, while the filming of I Heart Huckabees included an explosive and curse-laden exchange between he and Tomlin.

But Mark Wahlberg doesn’t seem to mind. The hunky actor and former rapper/singer/lifter of cinder blocks has done three films with Russell, and he’s already committed to a fourth, an adaptation of the video game Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.

The following list includes all major David O. Russell movies, and these can be viewed by becoming a member of Netflix. With over 100,000 films to choose from, as well as multiple subscription plans, it’s small wonder that Netflix is the nation’s leading online rental service.

Spanking the Monkey (1994) – While he directed two films prior (Bingo Inferno and Hairway to the Stars), our list of David. O. Russell movies begins with the project that first gained him significant attention. A black comedy that will leave close-minded viewers aghast, Spanking the Monkey stars the ever-quirky Jeremy Davies as a young man forced to stay at home and care for his injured mother (Alberta Watson). As his personal problems begin to mount, and his emotions run wild, he soon finds himself entering into an incestuous relationship with dear ‘ol mom. Despite its lack of popularity in the Bible Belt, the film still managed to pick up the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.

Flirting with Disaster (1996) – Mel Coplin (Ben Stiller) and wife (Patricia Arquette) have just had their first child, but Mel refuses to name the baby until he tracks down his biological parents who put him up for adoption. Accompanied by a sexy-yet-dimwitted adoption agent (Tea Leoni), the Coplin family takes to the highways and byways of America on a comical quest. The supporting cast includes Mary Tyler Moore, Alan Alda, George Segal, Lily Tomlin, Richard Jenkins, and Josh Brolin.

Three Kings (1999) – Considered one of the best modern war movies, although the film’s protagonists (George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube) are initially more concerned with liberating a stash of Saddam Hussein’s gold than the people of Iraq. The production was troubled throughout, with budget cuts, a reduced shooting schedule, constant studio interference, and the famous on-set fistfight between Clooney and Russell. But the final product exceeded all expectations, managing to combine graphic violence, dark comedy, and all manner of political and social commentary.

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I Heart Huckabees (2004) – My least favorite of all David O. Russell movies, I Heart Huckabees is still a must-see for those who like their comedy filled with heaping helpings of introspection. Jason Schwartzman stars as Albert Markovski, an environmentalist who hires a pair of eccentric detectives (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin) to follow him and get to the bottom of his existential funk. In the process, we also get to know an anti-petroleum fireman (Mark Wahlberg), a shallow executive (Jude Law), and his unhappy spokesmodel girlfriend (Naomi Watts). This isn’t your usual mindless Hollywood comedy, so make sure you’re ready to pay attention while watching.

Soldiers Pay (2004) – After directing, writing, and producing a number of feature films, David O. Russell changed gears and teamed up with fellow filmmakers Tricia Regan and Juan Carlos Zaldivar for a documentary about the 2004 Iraq War. While the film’s bias becomes evident early into its 35-minute runtime, Soldier’s Pay is still successful in forcing viewers to think about the consequences of war and promoting intelligent debate.

The Fighter (2010) – After a six-year absence from directing feature films, David O. Russell returns for this uplifting tale of real-life boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his underdog climb to the top of the welterweight division. While he receives support from an attractive athlete-turned-bartender (Amy Adams), Mickey must also contend with his problematic family, including a crack addict brother (Christian Bale) and manipulative mother (Melissa Leo). Widely praised as one of the best sports films in years, The Fighter received seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Bale), and Best Supporting Actress (Leo and Adams). What a shame that Ward’s in-ring rival and close friend Arturo Gatti passed away the year before the film’s release.

After a brief dip in success, it looks as though David O. Russell movies are once again on the rise. The talented director already has a number of new projects lined up, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on another Oscar nomination list in the near future.

You can watch all the movies listed above by subscribing to Netflix, America’s leading online rental service. We do get a small commission if you sign up via our website, and this allows us to stay in business and keep bringing you quality articles like the following:

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This entry was posted on Thursday, February 24th, 2011 at 9:15 am and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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