Okay, so the reviews are in, and it turns out I'm not alone in thinking that Clint Eastwood's “Jersey Boys” — the 84-year-old actor-director-producer's 33rd effort behind the camera — is a bit of a dud. Worse still, it's not the only recent misfire for the four-time Oscar winner frequently referred by critics as the last true classicist in American cinema. “J. Edgar,” “Hereafter,” “Invictus” and “Changeling” all met with varying degrees of opposition, though his defenders stand firm. “Has any working director had more wobbly movies defended by auteurist critics than Clint Eastwood?” tweeted Mark Harris recently.
This iffy run of form, however, follows a recent purple patch during which Eastwood could seemingly do no wrong, as he racked up three Best Picture nominees in the space of four years (effectively erasing the less ecstatically received film that served as the precursor to the third of those). Eastwood's directorial career has always moved in fits and starts, which is what makes him interesting to study: his filmography is a blend of polished prestige pictures, more idiosyncratic personal projects and unapologetic multiplex trash, linked only by his dogged commitment to an “on time and under budget” credo.
With that range, no one's selection of favorite Eastwood-directed films is likely to look quite the same as anyone else's, so I thought he'd make an interesting subject for a top 10 list. I count myself neither as an ardent Eastwood advocate, nor a consistent detractor, but he's made a number of films that stick quite obstinately in my mind — and not always the ones you'd expect on first viewing.
Check out my list below and share your own favorites in the comments — hey, perhaps there'll even be a few “Jersey Boys” fans among you,