Sean Penn is one of those many actors who people love or love to hate, or simply don’t think about. His talent is such that you can’t knock the guy as a hack considering that he’s helped to create so many different and well-remembered characters that calling him anything other than a talented actor at the very least would be an insult. Yet for all that he’s kind of laid back in a way that seems just perfect considering that he doesn’t seem to get all that mad when people berate him now and again. It’s true that he’s made some movies that aren’t all that great, but a lot of actors have done this and their reputation, like his, are still intact. He might be seen as kind of controversial at times but in truth he’s the kind of guy that doesn’t make apologies when he doesn’t feel the need, largely because people tend to take him the wrong way sometimes.
Here are some of his best films thus far.
5. Dead Man Walking
Forgiving a man that kills your child and remains unrepentant is an impossibility for a lot of people, but hearing that he has a side to give voice to might be more than anyone who’s ever suffered this can bear. Some might be able to forgive such a person, while others would never be able to bring themselves to do so. Penn puts in a powerful performance that allows people to absolutely hate him, and then perhaps make up their minds as the movie rolls on whether to continue hating him or finally see the point of forgiving someone that’s done such vile things. For many people it’s simply too hard to forgive someone that would murder another person.
4. Gangster Squad
The movie itself wasn’t all it was hyped up to be but Penn’s character, Mickey, was something else. He was almost like a rabid dog in the way he went about his business, but with much more cunning and ruthless aggression as he continually sought to eliminate the squad and reassert his dominance throughout the movie. Part of this story actually did happen as the gangster that Penn portrayed did exist, but a lot of it was just fantasy that was made up for the sake of the movie. Of course if movies were all about what really happened a lot of them would be left on the cutting room floor.
3. Mystic River
When neighborhood friends drift apart there’s usually a reason, but in this case Dave’s abduction is something too horrific for him to talk about to his friends, and they simply go their own way as a natural side effect of time and growing up, despite living in the same neighborhood. When Jimmy’s daughter ends up dead however and Dave starts acting in an erratic manner the accuastions begin to come quickly and after a while Jimmy deduces that Dave must have killed his daughter. Taking vengeance for his child Jimmy learns far too late that Dave had nothing to do with her death and has now come under the watchful eye of another old friend who is with the cops.
2. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
There’s a lot more to this film than just Spicoli but he’s one of the more entertaining parts of the entire movie since this is Sean Penn in one of his best if most brainless roles. The funny thing is that according to trivia that can be found concerning the film he stayed in the Spicoli persona even when the cameras weren’t rolling so as to stay in character as much as possible. This is something that Penn has done for a while it seems, keeping the character going for as long as he can in an attempt to really sink himself into it and make the whole character believable to the audience.
1. I Am Sam
The tears were absolutely flowing for this film when it first came out since the idea of a mentally-handicapped man taking care of a child who would one day grow to be smarter than him, by the time she was 7 in fact, was kind of a horrifying thought in some ways. But the great thing about the film is that Sam eventually does learn how to take care of his daughter and does develop a very strong network of friends that are able to help him along the way, creating a stable and very loving environment for his daughter and giving her the kind of life that allows her to thrive and excel as she needs to.
Sean is the kind of guy that really throws himself into his work and doesn’t make excuses or apologies for anything that people don’t like. Honestly if people don’t like him they don’t have to watch.