Monday, February 21, 2011

10 Actors Who Make Movies Better Just By Showing Up

Good actors can make a good movie even better. Great actors can make a terrible movie watchable, if only for those moments they're on screen.

1. Oliver Platt - The inspiration for this list. It's impossible not to smile just seeing his name in the opening credits of something, because you know at least a few parts of the movie will be fun to watch. See: The Ice Harvest, Casanova, 2012, Lake Placid, Love and Other Drugs, every movie Oliver Platt has ever been in

2. Richard Jenkins - Richard Jenkins finally graduated from being "that guy from everything" to a name actor when he played his first leading role in Tom McCarthy's great The Visitor in 2008. Before that, he quietly distinguished himself as one of the best character actors of the last 30 years (and one of my favorite actors, period). He's been brilliant in good movies (Flirting with Disaster, Eye of God), but more often he's the one thing worth watching in mediocre movies. He even made some scenes in Eat Pray Love tolerable, despite the fact that he was required to refer to Julia Roberts' character only as "chopsticks" or "jetpack" or something. (Note: It was actually "Groceries," but I couldn't remember with all the throwup in my mouth.) See: Flirting with Disaster, Eat Pray Love, Eye of God, Let Me In, Shall We Dance

3. William H. Macy - You show me someone who isn't happy to see William H. Macy show up on screen and I'll show you a person who's dead inside. Probably outside, too. Call the ambulance. Maybe I'm overreacting. That's me. I'm a worrier. See: Mystery Men, Cellular, Boogie Nights, Homicide, Pleasantville

4. Adam Scott - Everything would be better with Adam Scott. See: Torque, The Vicious Kind, Step Brothers

5. Tom Wilkinson - Awesome? Yes. British? Very. His impact on movies is diminished somewhat just by virtue of the fact that he's a little overexposed, but that doesn't make him any less welcome in everything. He's a big part of what makes Rush Hour work. Also, Rush Hour works. See: Rush Hour, RocknRolla, Michael Clayton, In the Bedroom, Cassandra's Dream

6. Allison Janney - She's great because she knows how to make a joke work, delivering them in a way that's just slightly off-center and not what you would expect. The female character actor is a dying breed, and she remains one of the best. See: Away We Go, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Juno, 10 Things I Hate About You, Winter Solstice

7. J.K. Simmons - Everyone finally figured out how awesome J.K. Simmons is after he killed it as J. Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man movies (some people might have already thought he was awesome from watching him on Oz, but those people might be kind of racist). Nice of them to catch up. See: Up in the Air, Spider-Man 3, The Gift, Thank You for Smoking

8. Frankie Faison - Probably the only actor on this list who still hasn't really broken through, even though he makes everything better. Check out his incredible monologue in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, directed by Jim from The Office. Smirk. Shrug. See: In Good Company, Hannibal, 13 Conversations About One Thing, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

9. John Hawkes - Now that he's been nominated for an Oscar, it seems everyone is finally noticing that John Hawkes rules. That was evident 15 years ago when he got lit on fire in the first few minutes of From Dusk 'Til Dawn. See: From Dusk 'Til Dawn, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Playing God, American Gangster, Winter's Bone

10. Frances McDormand - Always great. In everything. Fargo doesn't count, because it's her movie and because of course because Fargo. See: Laurel Canyon, Wonder Boys, Friends with Money, Burn After Reading, Almost Famous

1 comment:

  1. Regarding John Hawkes, my wife and I have been rewatching Buffy and this time around I noticed he was in the episode "I Only Have Eyes For You" (second season). Makes him, as far as I can tell, the third Oscar-nominated actor I've noticed there, the others being Lindsay Crouse and Amy Adams.