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Jim Carrey turns 60: From Eternal Sunshine to Ace Ventura, his 10 best film performances

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Actor and comedian Jim Carrey has accumulated a wide range of memorable performances that have made him one of the most revered movie stars in history. The Canadian-born actor started alongside great stand-up comedians like Rodney Dangerfield before ge…

Actor and comedian Jim Carrey has accumulated a wide range of memorable performances that have made him one of the most revered movie stars in history. The Canadian-born actor started alongside great stand-up comedians like Rodney Dangerfield before getting his big break on television with the classic variety series In Living Color.

Variety is ranking his 10 best film performances to celebrate the actor's 60th birthday.

Carrey's run in the 1990s is among the most dominant for any actor in film history. In 1994, he opened three worldwide moneymaking juggernauts — Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (US$107 million), Dumb and Dumber (US$270 million) and The Mask (US$351 million). From that point forward, there was no stopping him.

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Jim Carrey

He moved into the villainous Riddler in Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever (1995) opposite Val Kilmer before reprising his role in the undervalued Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, which introduced the world to a young Sophie Okonedo before she would get her Oscar nom for Hotel Rwanda (2004).

He made history as the first actor to be paid $20 million for Ben Stiller's black comedy The Cable Guy (1996), playing a mad cable TV installer who becomes obsessed with one of his customers, played by Matthew Broderick.

It was the year of Titanic, and Carrey still stayed in the conversation with his take on a lawyer who is unable to lie for 24 hours in the hilarious Liar Liar (1997). He received a Golden Globe nod for his work, an awards competition which spawned one of Carrey's best jokes: "It's insane… I mean Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Kline — I don't see how I can lose."

Jim Carrey and Jack Black in a scene from the film 'The Cable Guy', 1996.

Looking to change it up, he teamed up with Peter Weir for the dramedy The Truman Show (1998), winning his first Golden Globe for lead actor drama, over top-tier actors like Ian McKellen (Gods and Monsters) and Tom Hanks (Saving Private Ryan). However, he was famously snubbed by the Academy in favour of Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful) and Edward Norton (American History X), which he referenced hilariously when he won the MTV Movie Award for best male performance.

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Carrey's determination to venture further into the dramatic realm remained firm. He took on the life of Andy Kaufman in Milos Forman's Man on the Moon (1999), which led him to his first and only SAG nod. He also played the heartbroken Joel Barish in Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), landing him his only BAFTA nom.

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Since then, he's been a shell of his former self in terms of box office clout, but there are still hints of his greatness, such as his con-man Steven Russell in I Love You Phillip Morris (2009) and even his Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020).

Read Variety's rankings of Jim Carrey's best performances in film down below:

Honourable mentions: Batman Forever (1995), Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), Me, Myself & Irene (2000)

10. Bruce Almighty (2003)

Bruce Almighty trailer

Role: Bruce Nolan

Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Directed by: Tom Shadyac
Written by: Steve Koren, Mark O'Keefe, Steve Oedekerk

The scene that proves it: 'Wacky Bruce'

Jim Carrey's best comedy moments have been under the thumb of frequent collaborator Tom Shadyac, who always had a knack for capturing the comedian's magic. Their partnership comes together nicely in this divine comedy, where Carrey's chemistry with co-stars Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman helped lead to another box office smash.

9. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

Role: Ace Ventura

Distributed by: Warner Bros
Directed by: Tom Shadyac
Written by: Jack Bernstein, Tom Shadyac, Jim Carrey

The scene that proves it: "Let's see that again in an instant replay."

The physical comedy that Jim Carrey has exhibited and excelled at during his career is nearly unmatched by anyone in modern Hollywood. That fearless nature is on full display as the lover of animals looking for a stolen dolphin with Friends star Courteney Cox and football legend Dan Marino. One of the comedies stuck in its time, it also paved the way for the "birth from the Rhino" scene in the sequel When Nature Calls.

8. The Mask (1994)

Role: Stanley Ipkiss / The Mask

Distributed by: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Chuck Russell
Written by: Mike Werb

The scene that proves it: "Cuban Pete"

In 1994, a year that could be coined "the year of Carrey," this was the performance that earned him a Golden Globe nomination for lead actor comedy, likely responding to its massive box office. His dancing inflections and "smokin'" deliveries (alongside the birth of Cameron Diaz in cinema) still hold up today.

7. The Cable Guy (1996)

The Cable Guy movie trailer

Role: The Cable Guy

Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Directed by: Ben Stiller
Written by: Lou Holtz Jr

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The scene that proves it: "Prison visit"

As an impressionable child, the critical panning of The Cable Guy at the time is one instance in my early life that film critics convinced me to believe something wasn't good when it was downright spectacular. Nevertheless, Carrey's villainous cable installer is a divine turn, reinventing the obsessive friend archetype, executed brilliantly by Jennifer Jason Leigh in Single White Female (1992). Finding a new following in today's world, the film is one of his richest works.

6. I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)

Jim Carrey

Role: Steven Russell

Distributed by: LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions
Directed by: John Requa, Glenn Ficarra
Written by: John Requa, Glenn Ficarra

The scene that proves it: "…or you could try to suck a guy's dick, your choice…"

Seen by many OG Jim Carrey fans as his last at-bat at the Oscar plate, the romantic comedy about a conman who comes out of the closet and finds love with Phillip (played exquisitely by Ewan McGregor) shows a different side of the actor. With chuckles and a tender love story at its core, Carrey's sweet demeanour has him dialled down and offers an example of more projects he should seek out for himself.

5. Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Role: Lloyd

Distributed by: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Peter Farrelly
Written by: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, Bennett Yellin

The scene that proves it: Lloyd gagging.

It's still unbelievable how well Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels make magic together in Peter Farrelly's classic comedy. The humour can be merciless in its stupidity, like "the most annoying sound in the world" or the declaration of "goodbye my love" before crashing into another car. However, it's Carrey's long gaze at Harry betraying him that does it for me every time.

4. The Truman Show (1998)

The Truman Show: 'You never had a camera in my head'

Role: Truman Burbank

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Directed by: Peter Weir
Written by: Andrew Niccol

The scene that proves it: "You never had a camera in my head."

Compelling, funny and astutely tender, Jim Carrey's first outing in the dramatic realm has him laying it all on the line for his art. It's a home run. Teamed with the masterful Peter Weir and lavishly in tune with the magnanimous acting of Ed Harris, Laura Linney and Natascha McElhone, Truman Burbank goes down as one of his likable and empathetic characters. Unfortunately, after winning the Golden Globe for lead actor drama, no other televised precursors bit for a nomination. They just weren't ready for what Carrey was selling, even if it was priceless.

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3. Man on the Moon (1999)

Role: Andy Kaufman

Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Directed by: Miloš Forman
Written by: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski

The scene that proves it: "Tony Clifton"

Oscar-winning director Miloš Forman steers Jim Carrey's most method and mysterious turn in this biopic about comedian Andy Kaufman. Heightened even more by the underrated documentary, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017), we see Carrey's embodiment of the late performance artist, exploring his life and approach to the craft. He won his second consecutive Golden Globe for lead actor comedy for his efforts and landed his only SAG nomination before missing out on Oscar love.

2. Liar Liar (1997)

Liar Liar: 'The pen is blue'

Role: Fletcher Reede

Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Directed by: Tom Shadyac
Written by: Paul Guay, Stephen Mazur

The scene that proves it: "The pen is blue."

Comedy is one of the most under awarded and overlooked genres in cinema. Carrey's dedication as an unethical lawyer and father who constantly disappoints his son is one of his best performances. From getting pulled over by a police officer to his insult round-about in the board room, the comedian shines brighter than ever before. It's his one-person show with a blue pen that stands as his single best comedic moment ever.

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: 'I wish I'd stayed'

Role: Joel Barish

Distributed by: Focus Features
Directed by: Michel Gondry
Written by: Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Pierre Bismuth

The scene that proves it: "I wish I'd stayed."

Michel Gondry directed Carrey to his most defining and beautiful cinematic moments. Carrey's thoughtful and reserved interpretation of a man grappling with the end of his relationship and undergoing a procedure to erase his memory is visually refined.

Alongside a bombastic cast that includes Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Wilkinson, Carrey's brain battles with his Oscar-nominated co-star Kate Winslet as Clementine Kruczynski (also giving her single best performance as well). The film is one of the best modern love stories of our time. Perhaps the March release or a too-crowded lead actor field could explain his Oscar snub. It was only Globe and BAFTA, his first and only from the Brits, that Carrey could muster. The Academy missed their shot.

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Source: Entertainment News, TV and Celebrity Gossip - 9Celebrity https://celebrity.nine.com.au/movies/best-jim-carrey-movies-performances-ranked/3740e40d-beb1-4311-abf8-681758b6d350

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