While David Bowie is almost unrecognisable in Christopher Nolan's The Prestige, he makes his role as genial inventor Nikola Tesla count. His entrance, casually walking through electrical currents, alone is worth seeing. Darn good (if nutty) movie too.
THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST
If there was one person I did not expect to pop up in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation Of Christ it certainly was David Bowie. He plays the role of Pontius Pilate and he plays it purposely with no extravagance whatsoever, which is bold and refreshing since usually actors tend to go all out as Pilate. An unexpected, if welcome, cameo.
TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME
As if Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me wasn't enough of a mind-f***, David Bowie just kinda walks into the movie and disappears just as quickly in one of the film's most confounding moments. Even David Lynch himself has no idea what just happened!
Not a great movie, admittedly, but Bowie single-handedly makes London gangster flick B.U.S.T.E.D watchable. He's brilliant in every scene he's in, even when actors around him are giving below-par performances, but he also gets to say the line "You lot are a bunch of f***ing turkeys." in a cockney accent and that gets me every time. So good.
THE LINGUINI INCIDENT
David Bowie starred in this madcap dark comedy and his performance might have been enjoyed a little more by more people had the film not been called The Linguini Incident. The film's extremely hit-and-miss but Bowie is clearly having a ball throughout and that just makes the movie tons of fun.
Tony Scott directs this 1983 vampire movie which starred Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. The film was a beautifully atmospheric, gothic effort which did get a tad too pretentious at times but David Bowie's entire character arc was so bloody good you just wanted that to be the whole movie. After he exits the story, The Hunger never quite recovers.
THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH
Though I'm still not entirely sure what happens in this movie and it never fails to confuse me, it's hard to deny just how unique The Man Who Fell To Earth is. The arty yet somewhat gritty experimental alien film was David Bowie's feature acting debut and one couldn't have picked a better actor tot take on the fish-out-of-water role.
Growing up in the late 80's, chances are you sat through Labyrinth and it, very quietly, blew your mind. On the surface here was a harmless kids' movie with puppets but really it was kind of messed-up in various ways. For one thing there's an unspoken romance between a very young Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie's villainous (yet fabulously dressed) Jareth the Goblin King, for another the whole thing's super trippy. One second Bowie's dancing around with a baby, the next he's walking upstairs upside down, playing with crystal balls... Need I say more? It's freakin' Labyrinth!
David Bowie basically steals the show as Andy Warhol in this mini biography of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. And in a film with such an all-star cast that's no easy feat. His caricature of the legendary artist is nothing short of hilarious and just like Bowie's own Andy Warhol song: simply perfect.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE
David Bowie got to prove himself as one hell of a good actor in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, a unique movie about British prisoners of war detained in Japan. The film is incredibly atmospheric, mostly thanks to Ryuichi Sakamoto's amazing score, but everything about it has an otherworldly quality to it. Not only does it feel like it was made in the 50's or 60's but it boasts some captivating performances from all involved, especially Bowie who could always shine with a small role but do even more when trusted with a full part.
Also honourable mention to Bowie's entertaining cameo in Zoolander and performance in Gunslinger's Revenge. Basically good luck trying to find a David Bowie role you won't like. as an actor he did relatively few films but he always picked something a little off-beat he could work a little magic with. A great loss for music and cinema.