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It's Eastwood vs. Eastwood in our badass showdown

\Director Clint Eastwood has been on a roll since 2003's Mystic River, helming terrific movies like Letters From Iwo Jima, Changeling, and Gran Torino. Clint Eastwood the actor hasn't been too shabby either. His last starring role — in 2008's Gran Torino — was one of his all-time best, snagging some of the best reviews of the 80-year-old multitasker's career. Eastwood's latest movie as director, Hereafter — in which the lives of three people (including Matt Damon) intersect as they cope with a death — opens on Friday. To mark the occasion, we ask: Who's the bigger badass: Eastwood the actor or Eastwood the director? With the help of his five best movies in each category, we're here to find out.

CLINT

THE ACTOR

Best in Show

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

After more than a decade of building his résumé, Eastwood became a global star with the final chapter of Sergio Leone's Man With No Name trilogy. Eastwood says a lot by saying very little in the greatest western ever made.

Old School

Gran Torino

Walt Kowalski's transformation from bigoted war vet to sympathetic ass-kicker marks Eastwood's most nuanced performance. His lined face reveals everything you need to know about the hard-living codger.

Welcome Back

Unforgiven

The 15 years preceding Eastwood's 1992 comeback as an aging gunslinger were filled with stinkers like Pink Cadillac, Bronco Billy, and Dirty Harry sequels. He's kicking ass again here, and netting his first Oscar nomination.

Foreign Relations

For a Few Dollars More

Eastwood had to go to Italy for work, where Leone cast him as the lead in his classic trilogy. This second movie (from 1965) is a European filmmaker's take on the Old West, with Eastwood the ultimate cowboy.

Knockout Combo

Million Dollar Baby

Clint was nominated for his second acting Oscar for his role as a trainer wrestling with his commitment to a female boxer who's injured in the ring. Hilary Swank may be the star, but Eastwood is the heart.

CLINT

THE DIRECTOR

Best in Show

Gran Torino He stars as a crotchety old man who befriends an Asian teen, eventually stepping into a cultural battle he doesn't understand. Eastwood frames the climatic scene with equal doses of dread and defiance.

Old School

Mystic River

Dennis Lehane's novel is old-fashioned storytelling at its best. And Eastwood wisely lets the tale of three childhood friends with a secret unfold at its own pace. Two of its three stars won Oscars.

Welcome Back

Unforgiven

Eastwood won his first-ever Academy Award for his work behind the camera on this 1992 classic. He reinvents the western, while weaving what he learned from his old boss Leone into the pattern.

Foreign Relations

Letters From Iwo Jima

The second half of Eastwood's World War II saga looks at the epic battle from the Japanese side. It's a better movie than Flags of Our Fathers and more sympathetic than you'd expect from Dirty Harry.

Knockout Combo

Million Dollar Baby

Eastwood won his second directing Oscar for this 2005 heartbreaker, where he lets his macho side swing freely during the boxing scenes. But he brings home the sport's brutal reality with a punch that lands hard in your gut.

Send feedback to mgallucci@clevescene.com.

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