CATEGORIES FeaturesIn the early '90s, TV star George Clooney transformed himself from sideline dud/e on 'Roseanne' to 'ER's' hunk of wood with one visual expression -- that tilt of the head accompanied by furrowed brow that exuded a jaded yet benign sense of superiority -- to becoming that rare thing, an empathetic movie star who can act.
With three films -- 'Up in the Air,' 'The Men who Stare at Goats' and 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' -- rolling out in theaters this fall, we figured it was high time to look at the highest highs and lowest roles of this bona fide movie star. In the early '90s, TV star George Clooney transformed himself from sideline dud/e on 'Roseanne' to 'ER's' hunk of wood with one visual expression -- that tilt of the head accompanied by furrowed brow that exuded a jaded yet benign sense of superiority -- to becoming that rare thing, an empathetic movie star who can act.
With three films -- 'Up in the Air,' 'The Men who Stare at Goats' and 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' -- rolling out in theaters this fall, we figured it was high time to look at the highest highs and lowest roles of this bona fide movie star.
10. 'One Fine Day' (1996)
Who He Plays: Clooney plays a single dad and jaded journalist, who's really ready for love.
Why It Ranks: Hello, Mr. Movie Star: Clooney's performance may have come layered in ham, but he steps up as a romantic lead opposite Michelle Pfeiffer, strongly planting his feet in the role of affable, loveable guy -- who's even good with kids!
9. 'From Dusk Til Dawn' (1996)
Who He Plays: Clooney literally shoots from the hip as a criminally-minded fugitive who battles with vampires.
Why It Ranks: Hey, who is this guy? In the same year he makes puppy eyes with Pfeiffer, Clooney commits murderous mayhem alongside Quentin Tarantino. The guy's got range!
8. 'Burn After Reading' (2008)
Who He Plays: Nervous and horny, Harry Pfarrer is an outlandish paranoid womanizer that only writer-directors the Coen brothers could dream up; and few could play so well.
Why It Ranks: Clooney's character's nervous tics somehow didn't make us nervous; and his unsympathetic character somehow made us more sympathetic. That's called good acting.
7. 'Out of Sight' (1998)
Who He Plays: Bank robber Jack Foley who's in the hunt for a big heist.
Why It Ranks: You sexy dog you: any man who can get in a trunk with Jennifer Lopez, as Clooney does in this super slick caper directed by Steven Soderbergh, was on his way to Hollywood cool.
6. 'Good Night, and Good Luck' (2005)
Who He Plays: As real life television producer Fred Friendly, Clooney stands up for what is good -- in black and white.
Why It Ranks: Clooney directs himself in a supporting role, providing a perfect double assist to journeyman actor David Strathairn. Now, that's classy.
5. 'Syriana' (2005)
Who He Plays: Clooney's Robert Barnes is a CIA operative with a conscience, which makes him an enemy of the state
Why It Ranks: The actor's political conscience shines through in this political thriller in which he put it all on the line, really injuring himself during the film's graphic torture scene. Clooney won a Best Supporting Oscar for the role.
4. 'Three Kings' (1999)
Who He Plays: Playing Major Archie Gates, Clooney comes up with a crazy scheme to get rich during the first Bush war in Iraq.
Why It Ranks: The man can play over the top, all right, but better than that: he was a stud among studs, working alongside Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg.
3. 'Michael Clayton' (2007)
Who He Plays: George Clooney is Michael Clayton, the hotshot fixer for a white shoe law firm, who goes rogue.
Why It Ranks: Overcoat + search for justice + exploding car = Clooney, the defender of all that is good, and looks good while doing it.
2. 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' (2000)
Who He Plays: If the name of Clooney's character, Ulysses Everett McGill, sounds like a good ol' Southern boy caught in his own Odyssey, that's because that's exactly what he is.
Why It Ranks: At the beginning of his movie star reign, Clooney takes a wild step into left field for this Coen brothers musical romp, showing he's got slapstick chops and picks his parts without fear.
1. 'Ocean's 11' (2001)
Who He Plays: Danny Ocean is recently out of jail and itching for his next big score
Why It Ranks: A classic movie star needs a pack; and amongst A-listers, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Matt Damon, he's the leader. This is the movie that cemented Clooney's place in Hollywood's elite class as it defined what he does best: sophisticated fun.
5. 'Ocean's Twelve' (2004)
Who He Plays: Danny Ocean is back, looking for another big score to cover for his last big score.
Why It Ranks: Too much of a good thing is just too much. In this smug, self-satisfied celebration of their own celebrity status, everyone -- director Soderbergh and his cast -- looked bad. And, as the shining leader of this crew, Clooney takes the hardest fall.
4. 'The Peacemaker' (1997)
Who He Plays: A Special Forces officer who must save the world
Why It Ranks: Being paired with Nicole Kidman in this international thriller ought to be remotely appealing, right? And yet, it is so not, and neither is he.
3. 'Intolerable Cruelty' (2003)
Who He Plays: Miles Massey, a top-notch divorce lawyer with everything and yet nothing.
Why It Ranks: A romantic comedy that is neither funny, fun, nor romantic is never going to work; and Clooney's pairing with Catherine Zeta-Jones suffers for it.
2. 'Return to Horror High' (1987)
Who He Plays: Oliver, a cocky actor who gets what he deserves
Why It Ranks: Most actors have skeletons in the closet and Clooney's are here, in a movie that can't claim the same cult status of his other yuck-splat clunker, 'Return of the Killer Tomatoes.'
1. 'Batman & Robin' (1997)
Who He Plays: Bruce Wayne/Batman -- yes, with nipples!
Why It Ranks: There's nothing that worked in this version of the caped crusader, but the worst part is Clooney's inert turn in this gaudy disaster. Nothing could save this performance -- and Clooney has pretty much said so himself.