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Tommy Lee Jones: A Viewer’s Guide
The highs (and lows) of the Texan’s big-screen career

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Raised in a one-horse town in Texas – aside from a few years at Yale, where he befriended one Al Gore – Tommy Lee Jones has been bringing his growly charisma to the screen since the late ‘70s. He’s back on it this week in creaky-knee’d comedy Hope Springs alongside Meryl Streep, before moving on to a brace of real-life characters in Emperor and Lincoln later in 2012. What better time to revisit the Lone Star star’s career to date? Well, his birthday maybe. Guess what? It’s his birthday on Saturday! (September 15, if you’re sending a card).

WORDS PHIL DE SEMLYEN
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Tommy Lee Jones: A Viewer’s Guide |

ESSENTIAL VIEWING: The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada (2005)

A thoughtful, meditative Western that’s paced at a trot rather than a gallop, Melquiades Estrada is Tommy Lee Jones’ first and so far only directorial feature. On this basis, we’d love to see more. He handles the elemental tale of justice and revenge, themes almost as old as the sunburnt Texan hills of the movie, with unfussy flair. He’s more than solid on the other side of the camera too, bringing grizzled determination to bear as he hauls his dead friend and the man’s killer, Barry Pepper’s border guard, across the border for burial. We’re inclined to think that it was this film that clenched his casting in the similarly thoughtful, similarly excellent No Country For Old Men.
 




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Your Comments

1 First oscar nomination?
Seriously !!! He was nominated for JFK and won an Oscar for The Fugitive !! More

Posted by Leofloripa21 on Saturday September 22, 2012, 22:08

2 First Oscar Nomination???
In The Valley...Did not score him his first Oscar Nomination. He won an Oscar for The Fugitive! I'm not even a big fan and I know that! How hard is it to google the man you are writing about??? More

Posted by cokiebulme on Wednesday September 19, 2012, 20:21

3 Shameful Omissions
What about his insanely over-the-top ( but immensely entertaining ) performance as Warden McCluskey in Natural Born Killers? Or the Executioner's Song? Low points include a duff Irish accent in Blown Away. Admittedly, he was sidelined by that awful Jim Carrey in Batman Forever -is but that wasn't his fault. He's a truly talented and intelligent actor, always watchable. Just love that big Tex-Mex drawl of his ... More

Posted by Bill Marcus on Monday September 17, 2012, 19:00

4 Shameful Omissions
What about his insanely over-the-top ( but immensely entertaining ) performance as Warden McCluskey in Natural Born Killers? Or the Executioner's Song? Low points include a duff Irish accent in Blown Away. Admittedly, he was sidelined by that awful Jim Carrey in Batman Forever -is but that wasn't his fault. He's a truly talented and intelligent actor, always watchable. Just love that big Tex-Mex drawl of his ... More

Posted by Bill Marcus on Monday September 17, 2012, 18:56

5 Low Point
'batman forever' was a low point, tommy lee played it like an adam west 'batman' tv villain. jones and andrew davis had trilogy with 'the package', 'under siege' and 'fugitive'. More

Posted by spark1 on Monday September 17, 2012, 10:19

6 RE: Tommy Lee Jones: A Viewer’s Guide
Pamela Andersens cake? Erika Eleniak you mean. Any old Baywatch star will do I suppose. Should have gone for the Hoff More

Posted by Evil_Bob on Monday September 17, 2012, 10:07

7 Hello, Harvey TwoFace, anyone?
If you're really on the lookout for over-the-top TLJ, look no further than 1995's Batman Forever for his giddy and growling Harvey "two face" Dent, a performance that Aaron Eckhart couldn't touch, (though I doubt he'd want to) opposite Jim Carrey's Riddler, a role that would likley make a "for the fans list" for him as well. It More

Posted by Capatl on Sunday September 16, 2012, 16:38

8 Always Watchable
TLJ is the man really,always on form even in below par stuff(I personally enjoyed US Marshals because of him). Hard to topple the Fugitive, No Country... and Elah, IMO. Even decent in his few scenes in Men in Black 3 More

Posted by cadz on Sunday September 16, 2012, 09:31

9
it's not Friedkin's best film but I'm a massive fan of The Hunted, and TLJ is on top form in it as well, as well as Benicio Del Toro being all dark and brooding and all that More

Posted by jordieb on Sunday September 16, 2012, 00:37

10 Sunset Limited?
I know it was made by HBO and this probably constitutes as a TV Movie but he did direct The Sunset Limited two years ago. A hell of a good film and possibly better than Three Burials. More

Posted by patrickrock1983 on Sunday September 16, 2012, 00:10

11
The Executioner's Song, made for TV, I think, but worth a watch. More

Posted by Mr Notino on Saturday September 15, 2012, 18:52

12 Native America
Although of Welsh ancestry, TLJ had a Cherokee granpa. When you watch The Missing, you can swear this guy has Injun blood in his veins!!! Great actor, great man indeed. More

Posted by Grimm on Friday September 14, 2012, 22:29

13 The Missing
I liked him in Ron Howards slightly supernatural, bathshit insane Western, The Missing. Well worth a watch, that one! More

Posted by Teamwak on Friday September 14, 2012, 18:56

14
You remembered to include MIB 2 in the one to avoid but not MIB 1 in essential viewing? Come on! More

Posted by Psycho Savager on Friday September 14, 2012, 17:05

15
haha its funny how the one to avoid is mib 2 and not batman forever lol More

Posted by joe (mavrick) horton on Friday September 14, 2012, 15:06

16 Pamela Anderson's cake?
Oh yeah! They were together in the 90's and made that video. Now THAT'S an essential viewing! More

Posted by Pelle on Friday September 14, 2012, 13:59

17
Under Seige his most over-the-top role? Batman Forever anyone? More

Posted by fraser1978 on Friday September 14, 2012, 13:13

18
There is an error in this article Tommy Lee Jones also directed the film the Sunset Limited, which is amazing BTW also. More

Posted by alpat24 on Friday September 14, 2012, 13:05

19 Under Siege
Poor forgotten Erica Eleniak More

Posted by varoh on Friday September 14, 2012, 12:32

20
I would happily watch Men in Black 2 over Under Siege any day. More

Posted by NCC1701A on Friday September 14, 2012, 12:32


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