Sam's Choices: Best Woody Harrelson performances

I saw a commercial last week about a movie coming out Saturday called "Now You See Me," starring Isla Fischer, Morgan Freeman, Dave Franco and my man Woody Harrelson. It got me thinking about Harrelson's films and how much I enjoy the range of his acting skills. I have seen him play a crazed pornographer, a sassy gay man, a goofy athlete, a zombie survivalist and many other characters. He always does an amazing job with whatever he takes on, and that makes him one of my favorite actors.

So this week I decided to pick out Harrelson's best performances and talk about why I enjoyed those films. I would like to share that I have not seen every film he has been in, so this is only a list of the best of his work that I have actually seen. I am sure there are many films I haven't seen that are equally as amazing as the ones I have chosen, so feel free to disagree and let me know what your favorites are.

'The People Vs. Larry Flynt' 1996


My professor is going to be so proud that this movie is in my repertoire because she introduced me to this amazing film in my censorship class junior year of college. We watched Woody Harrelson and Courtney Love knock it out of the park in this tale about Hustler magazine's founder Larry Flynt as part of our freedom of speech unit. I have never had a unit stick with me more than this one, and I have since watched this movie about 10 times. Harrelson's performance is unforgettable. I will never be able to get the scene of him showing up in court in a diaper out of my head. While completely amusing and amazing, this film also taught me about the history of Flynt and Hustler as well as the case that went to the Supreme Court. It is only loosely based on the case, but as soon as we finished watching the movie, I was interested in the case and went to find out more. So in this film, Harrelson not only lends his acting skills to amusing audiences everywhere, he also sparks interest in the freedom of speech and a case that is important to that right.

'Friends With Benefits' 2011

Let me first say, if you haven't seen this one, get on it. I realize that a lot of people ignored it because of that awful Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman movie of the same plot. But let me assure you, this one should have been released first because it is so much better. Harrelson plays a gay sports editor for GQ magazine. Whoever decided to cast him in this role deserves a pat on the back, because I don't think I would enjoy this movie as much as I do if Harrelson didn't play Tommy. I die laughing every time he says "Bam" and flails his arms. It's so amusing to me that my brother will copy cat the line just to make me crack up. It could be that line alone that makes me love this performance so much, but there are plenty of other great one-liners (unfortunately most are not appropriate for print).

'Zombieland' 2009

I have never really bought into the whole zombie apocalypse thing, so I was forced to see this movie by my brother. I am glad I gave it a chance because this is a great role for Harrelson. He plays a lot of serious and semi-scary characters, but he does goofy well too. This was one of those combination roles. He was supposed to be serious about his rules to survive the zombies, but the character ends up being hilarious too. I don't know any other actor who could have nailed that character like Harrelson did. Tallahassee unwillingly teams up with Columbus, played by Jesse Eisenberg, to get to an amusement park. Harrelson is obsessed with finding the last Twinkie and shoots everything. If that doesn't entice you, I don't know what will.

'White Men Can't Jump' 1992

I haven't seen this movie in a very long time, but I remember looking back and loving Harrelson so much. This film is so memorably titled and so great, there is just nothing you can say that's bad about it. I wish I could put my finger on why Harrelson is so great in this movie, but you just have to watch it and enjoy.

'Seven Psychopaths' 2012

You can tell I love Harrelson because I was completely unimpressed with this film overall, but loved his character. I know a lot of people who enjoyed this movie, but I felt like I spent most of it trying to figure out what was happening and why. And then pretty much everyone died. So what was the point? I don't know. But I enjoyed Harrelson's portrayal of the gangster whose dog gets kidnapped by a struggling screenwriter. What gangster is so seriously obsessed with his Shih Tzu that he goes on a man hunt to kill whoever took him? Woody Harrelson, that's who. Not his best film, but definitely one of the most random and amusing characters he plays.