The 10 best contemporary male monologues tackle philosophical, historical, personal, tragic, economic, violent, bizarre and hilarious topics. They serve as central pieces to the motion pictures from which they were culled, though these monologues stand on their own equally as well. Warning: spoilers!
- “Ass Watch / You Will Know My Name is the Lord / I Am the Shepherd” “Pulp Fiction” has a total of three show-stopping speeches, each of which is one of the best contemporary male monologues. Two of them come compliment of Samuel L. Jackson, while Christopher Walken delivers the jaw-dropping “ass watch” piece.
- “Have You Passed Through This Night” “The Thin Red Line” is more or less three hours of existential monologues and slowly unfolding visuals portraying the dichotomy of good and evil and its manifestation in man. Each monologue in the film is good enough to be here, though “Have You Passed Through This Night” takes the cake for manifesting the film’s beauty and horror as one and the same.
- “The Spectacle of Fearsome Acts” Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the greatest actors of contemporary cinema and never has he given a better monologue than Bill the Butcher’s description of creating a spectacle of fear in order to survive the brutality and indifference of the world. It’s a perfectly delivered piece that is chock full of potent allegory.
- “You’ve Been Hoodwinked” Denzel Washington delivers this impassioned summary of the black experience in America that began with slavery and came to a violent head with the Civil Rights movement of the early 1960s not long after emerging from prison a changed man in “Malcolm X.” It is one of the best contemporary male monologues.
- “Greed is Good” Michael Douglas delivers this iconic speech in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street,” a film about American business attitudes in the 1980s and the manner in which that decade in particular stood as a turning point in the American business mentality. Delivered properly, as it is by Douglas in the film, it’s a chilling piece.
- “Wash Away the Garbage” “Taxi Driver’s” titular psycho gives a number of monologues, none better than his May 10 journal entry in which he described a biblical storm to wash away all the human filth polluting New York City. Hats off to Robert De Niro for his delivery.
- “You Can’t Handle The Truth” We all know this one. Jack Nicholson’s incensed tirade against Tom Cruse’s naive prosecutor is an oft-quoted monologue about the dichotomy of American life: We want freedom, but we don’t want to pay the high cost required.
- “Always Be Closing” Alec Baldwin shows up in “Glengarry Glen Ross” for just a few minutes, but in that time he gives one of the best contemporary male monologues. His ABC philosophy—"Always Be Closing"—summarizes the American attitude of commodification and boundless lust for capital that drives American business.
- “Today Is the First Day of the Rest of My Life” Charlie Kaufman wrote one of the best contemporary male monologues to come out of his own mouth, sort of. Nicholas Cage delivers this bizarre, hilarious, self-depreciating monologue at the beginning of “Adaptation,” in which he plays both Kaufman and his fictitious twin brother.
- “Seduce and Destroy” Tom Cruse’s character in “Magnolia” more or less delivers one enormous monologue broken into three parts that reveal important facets of his complex character. This is one of the best contemporary male monologues because the piece is expertly written and perfectly acted.
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