On March 3, Tom Sizemore passed away at 61 years old after suffering a brain aneurysm two weeks earlier. The prolific supporting actor was known for his brooding tough-guy persona, gaining fame for playing characters with grit — soldiers, cops, and criminals. Sizemore rose to fame in some of the great films of the 1990s, and for a time his name was a mark of masculine intensity and an indicator of quality casting. Sizemore occasionally came under the spotlight for his checkered personal history, including drug abuse, legal issues, and tumultuous relationships. That only seemed to lend credence to his roles as hard men, however, making them seem lived rather than acted.
In honor and memory of Tom Sizemore, let’s look at some highlights from his long and productive career. We think the following movies on major streaming services are some of his best.
In 1995, Sizemore joined gangster movie veterans Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Jon Voight for the ensemble crime drama “Heat.” Sizemore plays Michael Cheritto, a Machiavellian member of Robert De Niro’s crew of professional thieves. The film centers on the game of cat and mouse between criminal leader Neil McCauley (De Niro) and L.A.P.D. detective Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), but “Heat” isn’t your typical cops and robbers story. Director Michael Mann works to evoke empathy and show both sides in a fair light, with De Niro’s and Pacino’s characters developing a begrudging respect for each other. Sizemore contributes perfectly to the natural chemistry of De Niro’s hired crew, a redeeming feature of the hardened criminals.
You can watch the 1995 classic crime movie “Heat” with a Hulu subscription.
‘Strange Days’ (1995)
“Strange Days” was a box-office flop when it hit the big screen. Only retrospectively has the cyberpunk-meets-film-noir thriller gained status as one of the most underrated films of the decade. The story takes place over the final two days of an alternate 1999, when Los Angeles has become a battle zone between organized criminal groups. Some people wear a Squid, an illegal electronic device that records sensations from the cerebral cortex onto a disc to be viewed by others. Ex-cop Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) runs a lucrative black-market business selling Squid recordings until he uncovers a recording containing the sensations of a killer committing an actual murder. Tom Sizemore plays private investigator Max Peltier, a murderous, racist cop who drives home the prophetic themes in this scathing commentary on police brutality and mass surveillance.
Catch the cult classic “Strange Days” on HBO Max.
‘Saving Private Ryan’ (1998)
Following D-Day, the U.S. War Department discovers that three out of four brothers from the Ryan family have been killed in action, and the fourth brother, James (Matt Damon), is missing. Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) is chosen to lead a mission to find and rescue Ryan to spare his family their final son. A cornerstone of Miller’s unit is Sergeant Horvath (Sizemore), Miller’s long-time friend and second in command. Horvath is a break from Sizemore’s typical hardened characters. He’s an empathetic man who becomes Miller’s only confidante when he begins to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Throughout the film, Horvath struggles with the harsh realities of war and questions the point of it all, adding layers of depth to the story.
Read our review of Paramount Plus, and then subscribe to watch “Saving Private Ryan.”
‘Bringing Out the Dead’ (1999)
Considered one of Martin Scorsese’s most underrated films, this psychological drama follows Frank Pierce (Nicolas Cage), a New York paramedic suffering from depression, insomnia, and hallucinations. Frank struggles after failing to save a homeless teen months before, nor any patients since. The story takes place over three nights, and sees Frank paired with a different coworker for each shift. His fellow paramedic on the final night is Tom Wolls (Sizemore), a passionate hothead. The pair is dispatched to an incident at a drug den, where an altercation has left a dealer life-threateningly wounded. Frank manages to save him, making him Frank’s first successful patient in months. Later, Tom takes it upon himself to track down and punish the perpetrators.
Watch Tom Sizemore’s stellar performance in “Bringing Out the Dead” on Paramount Plus.
‘Pearl Harbor’ (2001)
Sizemore is back in uniform in director Michael Bay’s war romance “Pearl Harbor.” It tells the story of two childhood friends who fall in love with the same woman. Each is separated from her under different circumstances during the attack on Pearl Harbor and the beginning of World War II. As each plays their part in the war, they learn that their bond is stronger than their competition in trying times. Sizemore plays Sgt. Earl Sistern, the lead aircraft mechanic at Wheeler Airfield in Honolulu. His character is sailor-mouthed, seemingly fearless, and great comic relief. Earl is instrumental in organizing the air defense when Pearl Harbor is attacked.
Find out whether it’s worth getting Hulu to watch the 2001 box office hit.
‘Black Hawk Down’ (2001)
In perhaps his most iconic role, Sizemore heads back into battle in “Black Hawk Down.” This time it’s in 1993, during the Somali Civil War, where a corrupt dictator is hoarding aid and starving his own people. American military units attempting to intervene in the crisis become trapped in enemy territory, and Sizemore’s Lieutenant Colonel Danny McKnight is part of the rescue mission to extract the stranded soldiers. Once again, Sizemore delivers a believable lack of fear, a balance of sarcasm and seriousness, and a commanding presence who can be trusted to get things done. McKnight has become a fan favorite, with compilations of his scenes gaining high views online.
Find out what we think about HBO Max before getting it to stream “Black Hawk Down.”