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Sunday, April 24, 2011

In the Name of Jesus

Give him his fucking eggs back!

Every Easter, much like every other holiday, there are certain movies that just complete the proceedings. Scary movies complete Halloween, and there are countless Christmas movies to watch every year, but what about days like today? Well, I've compiled a list of the five best people to play Jesus - from Jim Caviezel to Ted Neeley. Let's do it. 

More after the cut--

5. Ted Neeley - Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus was a bro.

I don't think I know anyone who isn't at least aware of Jesus Christ Superstar. They at least know that it's a musical, and some will know it's an Andrew Lloyd Webber piece. A love have seen the 70's film version of it, and a handful can tell you that Ted Neeley played Jesus. He wasn't the most memorable person to play our lord and saviour, but he sang his way through it quite well. Jesus is meant to be played with mercy and discontent (for a bit, anyway) and Neeley manages that neatly.

4. Will Ferrell - Superstar

The only Christ to get tanked on commencement wine.

There's something spectacular about Superstar. Admittedly, it's a terrible movie. It's lived on, though, probably just because of the Saturday Night Live skit it comes from. I think, though, another reason it's become a stagnant kind of popular over the years is because of Will Ferrell. Not his best work, but his Jesus has a kind of hidden hilarity to it that takes a while to seep in. It has, however, and rightfully it'd make any list of Christ performances I might make. But, this'll probably be the only one. Perfect for an Easter laugh after a frustrating egg hunt. 

3. Jeremy Sisto - Jesus

I thought Christ was supposed to be "homely"...

There isn't much to the 1999 mini-series that stands out amongst the pantheon of Jesus movies. It's a two-parter and a serious downer. Not much in the way of "uplifting" material. Odd that even The Passion of the Christ manages to be uplifting after two hours of masochism and torture porn. And the crucifixion in this film isn't much more pleasant to watch, despite being filmed for CBS. However, it's family friendly in terms of content, and Sisto is a very intense actor. Though, he plays Christ with that mercy and discontent I mentioned before. And it's a hell of a performance. Despite the mostly negative tone of the film, his four hour performance makes it worth it. 

2. Willem Dafoe - The Last Temptation of Christ

He later starred in Antichrist.

Martin Scorsese's take on the temptation Christ endured during his hours on the cross is a spectacular film. Mainly that's because of Dafoe's performance. Fully realized and thoughtful, with the aforementioned mercy and discontent that any Jesus-part deserves. What makes his performance so intriguing to watch, though, is that he plays Christ as fully as possible, through several different orientations. Several different orientations, with one common thread - it's all a dream, and he's still dying. Not many actors are able to do so much at once, and he's certainly one of the best to do the job to date.

1. Jim Caviezel - The Passion of the Christ

Taken moments before he throws down at "Jacks"

In terms of Christ portrayals, I can't think of one that was more committed. Learning a dead language, enduring two hours of emotional and physical torture on screen, not to mention the torture endured on set (the man was struck by lightning while hanging on a cross for several hours atop a cliff)... And all that mercy and discontent? He has it here in spades. Jim Caviezel is a supremely intense actor, and his version of Christ makes Willem Dafoe's look like the kind of thing you'd see on a Christian Cable Channel special on a Sunday morning. The Passion of the Christ is a hard film to sit through, but worth the effort. The only thing that was in my mind while watching him go through so much, and knowing what the actor went through for the role, was "love. Pure love."

Did I miss any? Have a favorite that didn't make my haphazard list? Spill it in the comments.