"A Beautiful Mind" (2001)
The look: Playing his most fallible character yet, Crowe turns mathetmatician John Nash into an outlier. In his furrowed brow, rumpled shirt collars and odd posture, Nash is a man uncomfortable in his own skin, more comfortable at work with the academic theorems and formulas that would win him the Nobel prize.
The reaction: Another film, and another Oscar nomination—this time for tapping the wounded heart of a man at odds with himself. Crowe plays Nash as a man with little control over his own mind—a brain that both propels him to fame but also traps him in a perpetual battle against paranoia and schizophrenia.