7. Woody Harrelson A psychotic, sadistic mob boss with an inexplicable soft spot for his pet Shih Tzu? Cool. Woody Harrelson as said psychotic, sadistic, inexplicably animal-loving mob boss? Brilliant. Mickey Rourke was originally cast in this part, but after a falling out with the filmmakers (resulting in Rourke dubbing the director a jerkoff and taking to Twitter to trash the film), Harrelson got the gig, and everything fell into its right place. Sorry Mick, but once you see him on screen, you realize that it had to be Woody.
6. Tom Waits The cast of Seven Psychopaths reads like a who’s who of fearless weirdo character actors, and if you want to talk about people with phenomenally unique line deliveries, Tom Waits is near the top of that list. Naturally, Waits kills it here as a rabbit-cradling, lovelorn “killer of killers” who’s all to eager to divulge his deeply bizarre exploits.
5. Ben Davis
Davis got his start shooting Matthew Vaughn’s work, and lent a really nice sheen to both the eternally underrated Layer Cake and Kick-Ass, but his visual prowess is especially impressive here. Taking cues from Westerns and big-budget blockbusters alike, Davis’ cinematography lends what could have been a very visually generic post-modern comedy a genuinely epic feel. When you’re doing a movie about movies, you want someone who knows how to keep that referential quality alive in the visuals, and Davis delivers in a big way.
4. Colin Farrell
Farrell doesn’t have the showiest role here, but make no mistake, it’s a key one all the same. As Marty, the drunken Irish writer equally exhausted by all the blood and carnage around him as he is by his attempts to complete his screenplay (titled Seven Psychopaths…), Farrell is the straight man in a rogues gallery of, well, psychopaths, who grounds all the insanity around him while also getting a few moments to let loose. Is Marty a surrogate for writer/director Martin McDonagh? Sussing out the script’s more self-referential elements is part of the fun, but Farrell’s endearingly bewildered work here is his best since his last collaboration with McDonagh.
3. Christopher Walken
Walken is the unexpected heart and soul of Seven Psychopaths, and not only is his turn here genuinely moving, but his pronunciation of the word “hallucinogens” alone is worth the price of admission.
2. Sam Rockwell
We’re longtime fans of Sam Rockwell, who always somehow manages to make every movie he pops up in even better (seriously, if you haven’t already, check out Confessions of a Dangerous Mind now), but this feels like a deliriously giddy new high for him. As Billy Bickle, Marty’s wannabe actor friend who punches out directors at auditions and takes a moment to burp before insulting Gandhi’s legacy, Rockwell is absolutely magnetic here.
1. Martin McDonagh
Few writers know how to handle tone better than Martin McDonagh. Leaving his tremendous work for the stage aside (“The Pillowman” and “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” are both great reads in and of themselves), In Bruges effortlessly oscillated between black comedy, tragedy, and thrilling action, often times within single scenes. And while Seven Psychopaths doesn’t quite try to be similarly schizophrenic, it confirms McDonagh as one of our great moralists, while elegantly balancing a formal ambition that would trip up most sophomore efforts. Add in his increasingly sharp eye behind the camera, and you have someone with a very bright future ahead of them, even if they (by admission) only want their work in Hollywood to be sporadic at best.
So go see Seven Psychopaths this week – it’s only made a middling nine million dollars so far after its second weekend of semi-wide release, and we need to make sure this isn’t the last time McDonagh’s demented genius is displayed on the big screen. Besides, there are at least six other reasons it’ll keep you entertained too.