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The Trinity: Mark Ruffalo

The Trinity: Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo continued his trend of starring in little-seen indie films by wearing ill-fitting pants in “Thor: Ragnarok,” which you can read more about right here. That makes him the subject of the latest The Trinity series, in which I write about three of my favorite films by a performer of my choosing. I choose you Muffalo. Let’s get in on this, starting with My Favorite Of All Time. 

Zodiac

Ruffalo is simply at his best when he is at a newspaper or, in the case of “Zodiac,” at least newspaper-adjacent. As the San Francisco Police Department detective tasked with the fruitless task (you can’t spoil a 50-year-old cold case) of tracking down the Zodiac killer, Ruffalo plays a grumpy, frustrated man incredibly well. This must be the part that got him the chance to play the third iteration of the Hulk. That, or it was his ability to handle Robert Downey Jr. on the rebound. One of those things, I’m pretty sure. 

Spotlight

The movie industry wants you to remember they supported the newspaper industry before the whole thing collapses and dies. So does Ruffalo, who … plays a similarly determined, though less beaten down, version of his Dave Toschi character from “Zodiac” with tremendous results. What makes Ruffalo such a great actor is that he can be a great straight man while also injecting humor into movies that are, y’know, about serial killers and child predators. That’s, uh, difficult. 

You Can Count on Me

Did you want to check out "Manchester by the Sea," but were put off by the presence of Casey Affleck? Great news! Kenneth Lonergan directed "You Can Count on Me" 16 years earlier, and it's about 30 percent less sad! Ruffalo plays a ginormous fuck-up opposite a secretly (almost) as fucked up Laura Linney. You also get to see baby Rory Culkin, which is cute! Ruffalo is confused, angry and deeply unhappy in one of the best performances of his career. This isn't Lonergan's best film (sorry, "Manchester" is better), but this is one of Ruffalo's best performances. 

A couple of films that would have made this list, if expanded to five entries, include the aforementioned “Ragnarok” where Ruffalo actually gets to have a little fun for once. Director Taika Waititi unleashes Hulk in the new film with great results, something I hope continues in later films. I’m also a pseudo-fan of “The Kids are All right,” where Ruffalo has to talk to both women and children — you know, something he only does much of in one of the above movies. It doesn't go that well. 

Something I tried out for this piece is polling my Twitter feed. Here’s what the audience had to say about their favorite Muffalo films. It's a diverse list, which is nice. 

On Taika Waititi's refreshing honesty

On Taika Waititi's refreshing honesty

Thor: Ragnarok is a party that comes with a hangover

Thor: Ragnarok is a party that comes with a hangover