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Top 10 Bill Murray Performances

VO: Rebecca Brayton
This is one comedian who is only getting better with age. Born September 21st, 1950, Bill Murray made a name for himself as one of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players on "Saturday Night Live" in the 1970s. Soon, he struck out on his own for a film career that has lasted ever since, and has been filled with classic quotes and roles. From goofy roles in "Ghostbusters" and "Caddyshack" to more serious turns in "Lost in Translation" and "Rushmore," Bill Murray is one actor who has range. In this video, counts down our picks for the top 10 best Bill Murray performances.

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Who ya gonna call? Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for Bill Murray’s top 10 performances.

#10 – Don Johnston – “Broken Flowers” (2005)

Kicking off our list is one of Murray’s more recent film successes. As a middle-aged womanizer whose life is in neutral, he is sent an anonymous letter informing him he has a 19-year-old son. Murray is charming and entrancing in the role, and he brings a new energy to the tired mid-life crisis story. He is also remarkably restrained, which hasn’t been his go-to move throughout his career but is astonishingly successful.

#9 – Ernie McCracken – “Kingpin” (1996)

Like most successful Bill Murray roles, we can’t imagine anyone else playing the bad guy in this Farrelly brothers’ comedy. Murray puts his skills to good use, and gives an unforgettable performance as the swaggering, hustling pro-bowler Ernie McCracken. While the humor isn’t exactly high-brow, Murray helps bring everything to his level of comedic genius. Nice hair, by the way!

#8 – John Winger – “Stripes” (1981)

Just a year after leaving “Saturday Night Live,” Murray portrays a lazy guy who joins the army to get in shape and meet women. While the film was originally envisioned with Cheech and Chong in the main roles, the pairing of straight-man Harold Ramis with Murray and his one-liners more than makes up for the missing stoners. If all recruits were like John Winger, we’d enlist in a heartbeat.

#7 – Francis Xavier Cross – “Scrooged” (1988)

In this ‘80s remake of the classic Dickens tale, Murray takes the place of the cynical main character. Heartless TV exec Frank Cross fills the void in his life with success, anger and vodka, but one Christmas three ghosts help him see the light. Wait, we thought you weren’t afraid of no ghosts? Argue if you want, but this is the best Christmas movie of all time.

#6 – Steve Zissou – “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004)

This is a typical Wes Anderson film, and perhaps an atypical Bill Murray vehicle. As melancholy oceanographer Steve Zissou, Murray leads the ensemble cast on a revenge mission to find the shark who ate his friend. The movie may be a mixed bag, but Murray’s performance is universally praised. But he’s not the first actor we’d choose to see running around with a gun in a Speedo.

#5 – Herman Blume – “Rushmore” (1998)

This movie marks the beginning of a new era in Murray’s career. His first film with Anderson marked his first turn away from the goofy one-liners of the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Murray taps into his sad side to battle Jason Schwartzman’s character for the love of Miss Cross. It’s one of Murray’s strongest supporting roles since “Tootsie,” and it earned him a Golden Globe nod.

#4 – Bob Harris – “Lost in Translation” (2003)

Without Bill Murray, this Sofia Coppola opus would never have existed. And without “Lost in Translation,” we might never have realized the full breadth of Murray’s talent. Low-key, restrained and natural, Murray plays against type as a lonely middle-aged actor with an emotional connection to a younger woman. But you can see glimpses of his comic nature, and that’s where the true genius comes out.

#3 – Carl Spackler – “Caddyshack” (1980)

This flick is definitely not the smartest role in Murray’s career, but it’s one of the funniest. He steals every scene he’s in, which is no mean feat next to comedy greats like Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield. The film was co-written by Murray’s brother, too, so comedy runs in the family. If only he could catch that damn gopher...

#2 – Phil Connors – “Groundhog Day” (1993)

From gophers to groundhogs. In this philosophical comedy, Murray relives the same day over and over and over as a bitter TV weatherman. This performance gives us a glimpse of what makes Murray great: his one-liners and quips are all set against the backdrop of his indifferent demeanor. With anyone else as the star, this movie could have been insufferable, but with Murray it’s a classic.

#1 – Peter Venkman – “Ghostbusters” (1984)

Few movie action heroes look like Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson, but that’s part of what made this 1984’s biggest movie. Another huge part goes to Pete Venkman. Half of the film is dry Bill Murray improv, and the rest is a great mix of action, witty and quick dialogue, plus a helluva lot of quotable lines. Murray’s comic genius stands up next to the effects-heavy storyline, and shows that you don’t need to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger to save the day.

Bill Murray truly has a ton of great movie roles, so we’re sure we missed some of your favorites. Let us know in the comments section!

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