Empire of the Sun (1987)
Although Bale started his acting career treading the boards, his transition to the big screen was cemented with his role in this Steven Spielberg second world war drama. At 13, Bale gave a heartwarming performance as James Graham, the privileged son of an English businessman based in Shanghai, who is captured by the Japanese after the invasion and sent to work in a camp.
Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Bale appeared in several films after Empire of the Sun, but apart from his role in Little Women, most failed to do well at the box office. In Velvet Goldmine he plays journalist Arthur Stuart, who is working on a story about glam-rocker Brian Slade (played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), but uses the time to also contemplate his own past. The film was loosely based on David Bowie's concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.
American Psycho (2000)
Bale's role as the slick-yet-murderous Patrick Bateman (above) is both memorable and terrifying. His depiction of the suave Wall Street psychopath attracted praise from critics. The initial reception at the Sundance Film Festival that year was chilly, but the film - based on the book by Bret Easton Ellis - went on to worldwide success.
The Machinist (2004)
To play the role of Trevor Reznik Bale went on a crash diet, losing 27kg to portray the sickly looking insomniac in this psychological thriller. The film didn't make a dent at the box office, but Bale won plaudits for his performance.
Batman Begins (2005)
Bale donned the rubber suit last year to positive reviews. Unlike others in the series, this one was a prequel and it managed to be a Batman movie in its own right.