Total Recall: James Woods's Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Straw Dogs star.

James Woods

Anyone who can claim the titles "ace poker player," "antiques dealer," and "MIT dropout" is bound to be a pretty interesting guy -- and two-time Academy Awards nominee James Woods is living proof. Over the course of his four decades in showbiz, Woods has cut an intriguingly eclectic path, popping up everywhere from Oliver Stone movies to family flicks (that's his voice you hear in Stuart Little 2 and Hercules), video games (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas), and TV (where he's tormented Family Guy's Peter Griffin for years). But he's never received the Total Recall treatment, and when we saw his name on the cast list for Straw Dogs, we knew we needed to repent. It's time to Total Recall, James Woods style!


75%

10. Nixon

Woods cashed in his chips with Oliver Stone for a role in Nixon, convincing the director to give him a role he'd originally intended for Ed Harris: H.R. Haldeman, the presidential aide whose ruthless politics helped make him a natural lightning rod -- and eventual scapegoat -- for the Watergate scandal that ended Nixon's administration. He ended up becoming part of an impressive ensemble cast that included Joan Allen, J.T. Walsh, Mary Steenburgen, Bob Hoskins, Anthony Hopkins as Nixon, and, yes, Ed Harris (who ultimately played CIA operative E. Howard Hunt) -- and although none of those names were enough to attract much of an audience during the movie's theatrical run, the end result was impressive enough for critics like Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman, who wrote that "it's overwhelming to see the many sides of Richard Nixon brought together with this kind of epic force. More than just biography, Nixon is a dizzying and cathartic spectacle -- a free fall through 50 years of American political imagination."


76%

9. The Virgin Suicides

Movies about suicide are generally a pretty tough sell. To make a movie about the suicides of five teenage girls, you'd have to be nuts -- or Sofia Coppola, who made her directorial debut with this adaptation of the Jeffrey Eugenides novel about five girls (Kirsten Dunst, Leslie Hayman, A.J. Cook, Chelse Swain, and Hanna R. Hall) whose relationship with their overprotective parents (James Woods and Kathleen Turner) leads them to make some fairly reckless, and ultimately tragic, decisions. The Virgin Suicides was understandably not a huge hit at the box office, but it proved a critically auspicious debut for Coppola, whose surprisingly assured direction helped inspire Moira MacDonald of the Seattle Times to call it "A disarmingly poetic -- and specifically female -- vision of adolescence that it belongs in a category of its own."

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89%

8. Eyewitness

Screenwriter Steve Teisch followed up his Academy Award-winning script for 1979's Breaking Away with Eyewitness, a murder mystery thriller about a janitor (William Hurt) who has a chance to pursue his long-standing crush on a local newswoman (Signourney Weaver) after a successful businessman is murdered in the building where he works. Woods delivered a memorable supporting turn here as Hurt's best friend, a shifty fellow janitor named Aldo, helping convince the New York Times' Vincent Canby that "Eyewitness is not terrifically strong on logic. Instead, it runs on the energy generated by its appealingly oddball characters, all beautifully acted by the members of a large cast of mostly New York actors."

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80%

7. Videodrome

When a movie can be justifiably described as one of David Cronenberg's weirder pictures, you know it's got to be pretty darn strange -- and Videodrome does not disappoint, following the increasingly bizarre adventures of a Toronto cable channel president (Woods) whose exposure to a pirated cable signal leads him into a dark spiral of conspiracies, violence, and unforgettably strange nightmares. In 1983, Videodrome's fevered vision of a culture soured by lowest-common-denominator reality television seemed over the top; now, it seems prescient. As Jeremiah Kipp wrote for Flipside Movie Emporium, "Nearly twenty years after Videodrome was shot, it still feels contemporary."


80%

6. Casino

Get Martin Scorsese together with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and a script about life in the Mafia, and you know the results are going to be pretty entertaining -- and 1995's Casino, which reunited Woods with his Once Upon a Time in America castmate De Niro, was no exception. Starring De Niro as Ace Rothstein, a sports handicapper who goes to Vegas to head up a (you guessed it) casino for the Mafia, Pesci as the predictably short-tempered Mob enforcer who makes life difficult for Ace, and Woods as the shyster who disrupts his marriage, Casino broke $100 million at the box office, earned Sharon Stone a Best Actress Oscar nomination, and won praise from critics like Variety's Todd McCarthy, who wrote that "Martin Scorsese's intimate epic about money, sex and brute force is a grandly conceived study of what happens to goodfellas from the mean streets when they outstrip their wildest dreams and achieve the pinnacle of wealth and power."

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Comments

Dave J

Dave J

Best ones coming out of James Woods in my opinion has got to be "Once Upon A Time In America" and "True Believer". I also liked "Cops" and "Best Seller" as well, but they both more production values!

Sep 14 - 04:33 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I meant to say that "Cops" and "Best Seller" need more production values!

Sep 14 - 04:59 PM

John Matrix

John Matrix

James Woods is awesome. Videodrome and Once Upon a Time in America are all-time favorites of mine.

Sep 14 - 04:48 PM

david h.

david hurlburt

Sadly I've not seen any of these films. I have only seen the first 30 minuits of Nixon. However the two films I really like him in is Hercules and the Ghosts of Mississippi. To bad they didn't make the list. And of course his parts in Family Guy, to bad they killed his character off.

Sep 14 - 04:51 PM

BLBnow

Brad Barfoot

Maybe its just because I like everything Denzel Washington is in, but I dont get the critical hate of "John Q".

Sep 14 - 04:57 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Neither did I. It was a solid movie.

Sep 15 - 05:50 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

John Q got what he wanted by being a terrorist. Then the film pointed the finger at hospitals and insurance companies. I don't like Insurance company policy or health care either, but they aren't Terrorists. John Q being a hero for acting like a terrorist sends a conflicting message that a lot of people just don't like.

Sep 15 - 07:01 AM

w@velength

In Your Dreams

Americans got what they wanted by being terrorists. Then the colonies pointed the finger at the English and taxation without representation. I don't like taxation or imperialism either, but they aren't terrorists. America being a hero for acting like a terrorist sends a conflicting message that a lot of Europeans just don't like.

Sep 15 - 03:59 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

I think you stated what I wanted to say...but I'm not sure. If your use of terrorist would work better in quotes, say "terrorist," I think you nailed it.

Sep 15 - 10:35 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Come on now, you are comparing The American Revolution to John Q?

What happens is John Q doesn't commit an act of Terrorism. His son gets the heart from the reckless female driver. If John Q would have sat and done nothing and trusted in the system he was against, his son still would have lived and he would not have gone to Jail for a federal crime.

Where is the sense in this ridiculous movie?

Sep 16 - 07:24 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.

Sep 16 - 07:34 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

I love the Simpsons episode with Woods. Classic.

Sep 16 - 07:36 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I meant to say that "Cops" and "Best Seller" need more production values!

Sep 14 - 04:59 PM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

I haven't seen any of these films, but I will one of these days. To be honest I have a crap load of other really good films that I have yet to see as well. I have a lot of work on my hands. :/

Sep 14 - 05:00 PM

Irukandji

Chris Skoufis

Dude, see a movie with James Woods in it! He steals the show and never gives it back. He's friggin' incredible!

Sep 15 - 05:17 AM

Beau R.

Beau Ryker

Best Seller ought to be in there somewhere. Good hitman movie.

Sep 14 - 05:20 PM

DJ A.

DJ Adams

I've only seen Casino and The Virgin Suicides which are both good films, but why is none of his voice-over work on here? He did a great job as Hades in Hercules and it has an 84%.

Sep 14 - 05:26 PM

nongshim

Kathryne C

yeah. he was the best part of hercules.

Sep 14 - 05:33 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

I loved him as Hades in that flick! That entire movie is fairly underrated in my opinion.

Sep 14 - 05:40 PM

Myerla

Elliot Newton

He also did voice overwork for Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

Sep 15 - 03:21 AM

DJ A.

DJ Adams

Stuart Little 2 also has an 84% and isn't up there.

Sep 15 - 04:23 PM

nongshim

Kathryne C

yeah. he was the best part of hercules.

Sep 14 - 05:33 PM

Movie Monster

Bentley Lyles

Hope this dosen't offend but this is so funny!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wd_TJZKiHDQ

Sep 14 - 05:33 PM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

Once Upon a Time a America;
The Onion Field;
Stephen KIng's Cat's Eye;
John Carpenter's Vampires;
The Hard Way (with Michael J. Fox);
THE BOOST (TOTALLY! with Sean Young---they are waaay coked-up) . . .

(Whatever happened to Sean Young ????. . . she didn't like following The Rules and Jumping Through The Hoops of Hollywood and disappeared.)

This list is AWESOME Rotten Tomatoes !!!!!!!!

Sep 14 - 05:34 PM

BLBnow

Brad Barfoot

She was recently on "Celebrity Rehab"....which is a guilty pleasure of mine.

Sep 14 - 06:29 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Cat's Eye was a favorite of mine back in the day. Woods and Hayes stories were great; Barrymore's less so, but still decent.

Sep 15 - 05:50 AM

King Crunk

King Crunk

Once Upon a Time in America and Videodrome are my favorites. James Woods is awesome and has a one of a kind presence in all of his films.

Sep 14 - 05:40 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

I loved him as Hades in that flick! That entire movie is fairly underrated in my opinion.

Sep 14 - 05:40 PM

EDWARD R.

Edward Rodriguez

I LOOOOOOOOVE Videodrome and another thing:Wheres Hercules?

Sep 14 - 06:25 PM

BLBnow

Brad Barfoot

She was recently on "Celebrity Rehab"....which is a guilty pleasure of mine.

Sep 14 - 06:29 PM

Noah James

Noah Kinsey

What, no John Carpenter's Vampires or The Hard Way? Haha!

Sep 14 - 06:58 PM

ritesh s.

ritesh sharma

cars for sale

Sep 15 - 12:21 AM

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