For a long time, George Clooney was just another handsome rake who turned up in guest shots on TV. But his five seasons on 'ER' changed all that. Not only did his role as likable cad Dr. Doug Ross make him a household name, but it also made feature film casting directors reassess him as leading man material.

To put it mildly, Clooney's scored big in that kind of role, and has used his good looks, native intelligence, good humor and smoldering stare to manage a dual career as a serious dramatic actor and a good-time comedic lead. Clooney is unafraid to tackle films that ask serious questions about the world of politics and power. He also knows how to pick vehicles that will sell tons of popcorn.

With the release of the assassination thriller 'The American,' here's betting he does both -- just as he did in varying degrees with these, his 10 best films:

10. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
With 'ER' a ratings winner, Clooney caught the eye of Robert Rodriguez, who directed this horror flick written by Quentin Tarantino. Clooney plays Seth Gecko, a lowlife who's on the lam after a bank robbery, and stops off in a strip club that just happens to be full of vampires. (Dontcha hate that?) Since this is a horror flick, the rules dictate that Clooney eradicate as many of them as possible, which he does in graphic, bloody style (a.k.a. the Tarantino Rules). A tongue-in-cheek thriller that helped further solidify Clooney's devil-may-care screen persona.

For a long time, George Clooney was just another handsome rake who turned up in guest shots on TV. But his five seasons on 'ER' changed all that. Not only did his role as likable cad Dr. Doug Ross make him a household name, but it also made feature film casting directors reassess him as leading man material.

To put it mildly, Clooney's scored big in that kind of role, and has used his good looks, native intelligence, good humor and smoldering stare to manage a dual career as a serious dramatic actor and a good-time comedic lead. Clooney is unafraid to tackle films that ask serious questions about the world of politics and power. He also knows how to pick vehicles that will sell tons of popcorn.

With the release of the assassination thriller 'The American,' here's betting he does both -- just as he did in varying degrees with these, his 10 best films:

10. 'From Dusk Till Dawn' (1996)
With 'ER' a ratings winner, Clooney caught the eye of Robert Rodriguez, who directed this horror flick written by Quentin Tarantino. Clooney plays Seth Gecko, a lowlife who's on the lam after a bank robbery, and stops off in a strip club that just happens to be full of vampires. (Dontcha hate that?) Since this is a horror flick, the rules dictate that Clooney eradicate as many of them as possible, which he does in graphic, bloody style (a.k.a. the Tarantino Rules). A tongue-in-cheek thriller that helped further solidify Clooney's devil-may-care screen persona. (Buy or Rent the DVD)



9. 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' (2002)
Clooney made his directing debut with this outrageous -- if spurious -- biography of game show host Chuck Barris, who claimed to have moonlighted as a deep-cover CIA operative during his TV days. Clooney also appears as the government spook who recruits Barris (a kinetic Sam Rockwell) into the spy life. With Rockwell and brilliant screenwriter Charlie Kaufman on board, this is a kooky thrill ride of a movie, whether you believe it or not. (Buy or Rent the DVD)



8. 'The Good German' (2006)
Reuniting with his frequent director Steven Soderbergh, Clooney plays an American journalist who's in postwar Germany to cover the Potsdam Conference. But as everyone else winds up covering that news, he's drawn into a murder investigation that involves both his former lover (a luminous Cate Blanchett) and his driver (Tobey Maguire, playing against type as an out-and-out sadistic bastard). This stylish film noir bombed at the box office, but it was a prestige gig for Clooney, who was more concerned with telling the story the right way than with pandering to the masses. (Buy or Rent the DVD)



7. 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' (2000)
In maybe his broadest comedy yet, Clooney goes all Southern hick in the Coen Brothers' adaptation of Homer's 'Odyssey,' here set in the Deep South of the '30s. Does he make a convincing Southerner? No. Does he even provide the voice in his big singing scene? Uh-uh. Doesn't matter -- 'O Brother' works in a wacky, surrealistic way, with strange plot twists (thanks, Homer), a great cast, gorgeous cinematography and a string-band soundtrack to die for. (Buy or Rent the DVD)



6. 'Three Kings' (1999)
In David O. Russell's Gulf War action/adventure flick, a group of American soldiers (including Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg) set off on a hunt for a rumored stash of gold in hopes of making their big score before being shipped Stateside. Instead, they discover that the locals are being threatened with murder by Saddam Hussein when the Americans leave. Clooney and his fellow GIs discover a previously untapped well of personal compassion and a higher calling. And it's easily the hottest-looking movie this side of 'Cool Hand Luke.' (Buy or Rent the DVD)



5. 'Ocean's Eleven' (2001)
Steven Soderbergh's remake of the Rat Pack caper was a major hit, for good reason. Tracking the intricate plot of 11 not-so-reformed crooks looking to make the Biggest Vegas Heist of All Time, it's chock full of big names (Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle ... shall we go on?), snappy dialogue, high-tech hi-jinks and grand scenery all around Sin City. It all added up to a domestic box office haul of $183 million, which dovetailed nicely into Clooney's famous "one for them, one for me" policy. Meaning, "I'll do a blockbuster for you, if you give me my pet project in return." Which lets him do this kind of film ... (Buy or Rent the DVD)

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


4. 'Good Night, and Good Luck' (2005)
Time for the serious version of Clooney, the one who directed, co-wrote and played the role of producer Fred Friendly in this somber but riveting flick about legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow (steely-eyed David Strathairn) and his quest to bring down commie-baiting Senator Joe McCarthy. Though set in the '50s, the theme of media manipulation and corporate pressure seemed like it was ripped from today's headlines. With an all-star cast (Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey, Jr.) and a solid script, this one might have been too smart for the room, but it's a winner in every other sense. (Buy or Rent the DVD)



3. 'Up in the Air' (2009)
Before this, Clooney had often hinted at the downside of his carefree persona, but 'Up in the Air' crystallizes the mask into a chilling portrait of solitude. As Ryan Bingham, a corporate hatchet man who travels the country firing people, Clooney at first gives a nod to the glib, Teflon-coated bachelor who loves his itinerant lifestyle. Airports feel like home to this guy. But when he hooks up with Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), a comely kindred spirit, he fools himself into thinking that there might be something resembling a permanent relationship out there. The look on Clooney's face when he discovers the truth about Alex is the snapshot of a man at the instant he sees himself for what he really is. It's a moment you have to reckon with if you ever doubted Clooney as a serious actor. (Buy or Rent the DVD)

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


2. 'Michael Clayton' (2007)
As the title character in this gripping mystery, Clooney is a fixer for a high-priced law firm that has had one of its litigators go off his meds and threaten to compromise an important case. In one of his more complex roles, Clooney flirts with the dark side as a brilliant fellow who has made so many compromises along the way that he can scarcely believe where he's wound up. And when some unknown party blows up your car ... well, that ju-u-u-st might be a hint that you made a wrong turn along the way. (Buy or Rent the DVD)



1. 'Out of Sight' (1998)
As career bank robber Jack Foley, Clooney turns in his best comedic turn in this hilarious adaptation on an Elmore Leonard story. Every good comedy has a twist, in this case having Jack kidnap a U.S. Marshal (Jennifer Lopez) and naturally get the hots for her. The trapped-in-the-trunk scene is a comic highlight for both J.Lo and G.Clo (sorry, couldn't resist), and 'Out of Sight' marks the start of the Clooney-Soderbergh collaboration that became crucial to both men's careers. (Buy or Rent the DVD)

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com