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The Essentials: The 5 Best Ewan McGregor Performances

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist June 2, 2011 at 6:42AM

After spending much of the last decade in some of the worst theatrically-released movies around ("Cassandra's Dream?" "Stay?" "Incendiary?" "Deception?" "Amelia?" "Angels & Demons?"), Mike Mills' "Beginners" seems to be the start of a new phase of Ewan McGregor's career. Not only is the film terrific, one of the years' best (read our review here), but McGregor's great in it, the best he's been in years.

"Down With Love" (2003)
McGregor's never quite been praised for his comic chops, but he's got them in spades (every performance on this list shares a certain wit to them that few actors would have brought), and they received their best showcase in Peyton Reed's terminally underrated 2003 romantic comedy "Down With Love." A souffle-light tribute to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedies of the 50s and 60s, McGregor plays the excellently-named Catcher Block, a womanizing journalist who attempts to seduce writer Barbara Novak, a writer whose new book has caused a feminist storm in 1960s New York. Reed, who followed it up with the disappointing "The Break Up" and "Yes Man," nails the style, immaculately pastiching the Day/Hudson originals, and his cast are more than game: McGregor might be more Cary Grant than Rock Hudson, but he's enormous fun, and has oodles of chemistry with co-star Renee Zellwegger. The film tanked hard on release, crushed when released head-to-head with "The Matrix Reloaded," but it's become something of a cult classic since, and with good reason.

This article is related to: Films, Actors, Feature, The Essentials, Beginners, Ewan McGregor

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