Monday, March 21, 2011

10 Great Performances by Shitty Actors

Sometimes an actor is accidentally brilliant.  Either they only had one performance in them, like one shot novelists, or they just lucked into the right role.  It's why we have to hear the words Oscar Winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. in conjunction with each other.  I can't decide if I find it annoying or if I'm happy for it.  It makes you say things like, "Yeah, I know James Belushi is a terrible actor but have you seen Salvador?"

Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation

This is the movie that really made Scarlett Johansson.  And she is good in it.  Really good.  I'm not a huge fan of the movie but her performance was quite affecting.  Even though she is completely out acted by Bill Murray she really is interesting in this one.  Unfortunately, she is absolutely terrible in every other single movie she is in.  Maybe you could get me to admit she was acceptable in Girl with a Pearl Earring.  But probably not.

Lou Diamond Phillips in La Bamba

Lou Diamond Phillips has a couple of other decent performances.  OK, I have a soft spot in my heart for Young Guns but it isn't really any good at all.   He's great in Stand and Deliver and I almost picked that role for this blog but I feel like La Bamba is more indicative of what could have been.  I mean, to me, Lou Diamond Phillips (forever now known as, LDP) is Ritchie Valens.  When I see what Ritchie Valens really looks like, I think, c'mon, he doesn't look like Lou Diamond Phillips at all.  After La Bamba he does Stand and Deliver then Young Guns and then he falls off the face of the fucking earth.  You would never, to see him now, think he could have ever been good in any movie.

Gary Busey in The Buddy Holly Story

Busey is great in this movie.  He's not as transcendent as LDP in La Bamba but he's pretty great.  The agility with which Busey handles this role is only magnified by his subsequent bat shit craziness.  It's amazing he was ever competent enough to make his way through an entire movie in character.  I love him in Point Break but that's not because he was good in it.  He may have been the only person to be able actually capture "Pappas," but, c'mon, we're talking about Point Break.

Keanu Reeves in The River's Edge

Speaking of Point Break, how about Keanu Reeves in River's Edge?  He's fucking great.  If you haven't seen this movie, stop reading this and go rent it, put it in your queue or whatever.  You won't be disappointed.  It also has one of Crispin Glover's most complete and coherent performances.  He is decent in a couple other things.  A Scanner Darkly, Dangerous Liaisons, Parenthood, and, I guess, My Own Private Idaho.  In most of these movies he is supposed to be a dim witted pretty boy.  If he had stuck to that, we probably would be hailing him as one of the greatest actors of all time.  Instead, we get this.

Jean Claude Van Damme in JCVD

Sometimes a shitty actor turns in a decent, or even great, performance by mocking themselves.  No one did it better than JCVD though.  There was a lot of buzz around this movie but then it sort of seemed like no one saw it.  It was actually quite good.  Unfortunately there aren't going to be a lot of roles like this for him to play.

Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club

What a wiseacre!  I could expound on this character, and the other ones in the movie, but I'm sure someone's already done it somewhere on the internet, so I'll just let you google it.  I think people are sort of split on this movie but however you feel about this movie as a whole you can't deny the fine work of Judd Nelson in this movie.  There's only a handful of actors shittier than Judd Nelson that get work as consistently as he does.  I mean, look at his IMDb page.  Tell me you've heard of five of his movies.  Liar.

Sarah Jessica Parker in Ed Wood

I do have a bit of a soft spot for her performances in Footloose and Girls Just Want to Have Fun, not to mention Square Pegs, but this is the only movie where she truly shines.  You could argue with me about Sex and the City, I've seen it, she's not bad but lots of actresses could've done it.  This movie is also turning out to be one of Johnny Depp's best and one of the only Tim Burton movies I can watch.

Brendan Fraser in Gods and Monsters

This dude has taken some of the most offensive shits ever captured on film.  Monkey Bone, anyone?  It's true that I will drop what I'm doing and watch School Ties anytime I find it on television but that's no excuse for any of the Mummy movies.  I'd bring up Bedazzled but I don't want, damn't I did, I just threw up in my mouth.  However, he is amazing in Gods and Monsters.  It's truly one of the 90's most underrated movies.

Chris Klein in Election

A couple of American Pies and DUI's later and he's yet to nearly reach the heights of his very first performance.  I had to check to make sure he'd actually been in a few more movies.  And he has, you've just never heard of any of them.

Thora Birch and Mena Suvari in American Beauty

I just realized I put both stars of Ghost World on my list.  Thora Birch is better than Scarjo in that one but this is her only really great role.  I always kind of wondered why, she just sort of disappeared.  I guess this explains a lot.  Mena Suvari was just as good but lingered around a little longer in a string of shitty movies.

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