A-list actors have gained their reputations due to them consistently giving good performances, but these fantastic acting jobs are really underrated.
- A-list actors have given underrated performances in various film genres, often overlooked due to the popularity of their more well-known roles.
- Robin Williams’s performance in “One Hour Photo” is horrifying and deserves more praise for his portrayal of a stalker.
- Daniel Radcliffe’s performance as Weird Al Yankovic in “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is hilarious and one of his best, despite being overshadowed by his role in Harry Potter.
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A-list actors are A-list because of their frequent fantastic performances, but these 15 movie performances are incredibly underrated. The best performances from many actors are often their most well-known ones, as it’s why they’re so famous. However, A-list actors are in all kinds of films, meaning that some performances have flown under the radar – and here are the 15 most underrated ones.
Movie stars have given underrated performances in all kinds of genres since the beginning of film. Due to the nature of film, more popular movies are often going to get talked about more than less popular movies. So, whether it be a movie that just wasn’t very successful or a performance that didn’t get the respect it deserved until years down the line, here are the 15 most underrated performances from A-list actors.
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15 Robin Williams In One Hour Photo
Robin Williams was one of the biggest comedic actors of his time, being most well-known for his fantastic performances in movies like Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Jumanji. Williams has given some dramatic performances in projects like Dead Poet’s Society and Good Will Hunting, but in these films, he was a warm, lovable mentor. Robin Williams’ performance in One Hour Photo, however, is absolutely horrifying, with him completely embodying the persona of a stalker in a way that deserves far more praise.
14 Paul Newman In Nobody’s Fool
Paul Newman was one of the biggest actors throughout the 1960s and 1970s, headlining some of the most commercially and critically successful films of the decade. However, one of the actor’s best performances didn’t come until decades later in 1994’s Nobody’s Fool. The film follows a disgruntled and washed-up construction worker who has to become the father figure he never was when his son attempts to reconnect, leading to a beautifully touching performance from Newman.
13 Letitia Wright In Mangrove
While Letitia Wright may be most known for her role in the MCU’s Black Panther movies, her best performance is one that is rarely talked about. Wright stars in Mangrove, one of the five films in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series, and she gives a powerhouse performance. Wright plays real-life Trinidadian Black Panther leader Altheia Jones-LeCointe, with Wright giving a revolutionary performance in Mangrove‘s telling of the story of the Mangrove Nine.
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12 Michael Keaton In The Founder
Michael Keaton was a huge actor throughout the 1980s and 1990s, starring in movies like Batman and Beetlejuice, and he has recently had a resurgence in the 2010s with films like Birdman and Spider-Man: Homecoming. However, one of Keaton’s best performances can be seen in a little-known 2016 film called The Founder. In the film, Keaton plays Ray Kroc, the former McDonald’s CEO, and the level of complexity Keaton brings to the character causes him to carry the entire film.
11 Woody Harrelson In The People Vs. Larry Flynt
Woody Harrelson has appeared in all kinds of films since his boom of popularity in the 1990s, but one of his best ones was in 1996’s The People vs. Larry Flynt. In the film, Harrelson plays Larry Flynt, the pornographer who was the subject of a major Supreme Court case due to his works in Hustler magazine. Harrelson nails the dramatic aspect of his character, but the actor also gives one of the best comedic performances in his filmography, meaning that The People vs. Larry Flynt deserves to be talked about a lot more.
10 Penélope Cruz In Open Your Eyes
Penélope Cruz is a fantastic dramatic actor that has appeared in all kinds of acclaimed films throughout her career, such as Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Parallel Mothers. However, one of her best performances can be seen in 1997’s Open Your Eyes. Cruz’s performance in the film is one of the movie’s highlights, and while she returns in the American remake Vanilla Sky, she really excels in the Spanish original.
9 Samuel L. Jackson In Hard Eight
Samuel L. Jackson has been in a ton of movies, and because of this, he has given some fantastic performances. However, his most underrated can be seen in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1996 film Hard Eight. Jackson plays Jimmy, a security professional, and although the film is early in Jackson’s career, it features many of the hallmarks that would go on to define his career.
Related: 10 Acting Performances That Saved The Whole Movie
8 Michelle Rodriguez In Girlfight
Michelle Rodriguez is one of the highest-grossing actresses of all time, with her having a leading role in the incredibly popular Fast and Furious franchise. While Rodriguez has given some great performances in blockbuster films, she has never been able to surpass her excellent performance in her debut film, 2000’s Girlfight. Rodriguez plays a troubled boxer named Diana Guzman, with Rodriguez’ fantastic performance making her one of the best movie boxers of all time.
7 Zach Galifianakis In Birdman
Zach Galifianakis is almost strictly a comedic actor, with him being most well known for The Hangover trilogy as well as his show Between Two Ferns. However, Galifianakis has a surprisingly great dramatic role in 2014’s Birdman, and in a film full of fantastic performances, he is a standout. Birdman is easily the best performance Galifianakis has given, which makes it sad that he is rarely recognized for his fantastic dramatic work.
6 Dustin Hoffman In Straw Dogs
Dustin Hoffman has been a consistently popular actor since 1967’s The Graduate, with him starring in massively popular films like Rain Man, Tootsie, Kramer vs. Kramer, Hook, and more. However, one of Hoffman’s best performances can be seen in Sam Peckinpah’s controversial 1971 thriller Straw Dogs. In the film, Hoffman manages to give a fantastic performance of an unlikable and cowardly character who finally snaps, and this transition feels incredibly real.
5 Tyler Perry In Gone Girl
Tyler Perry is most well-known for starring in the Madea movies and TV shows, with these projects defining his career. However, Perry surprisingly has a role in 2014 thriller Gone Girl, and his performance in it absolutely elevates the film. Perry plays the attorney of Ben Affleck’s Nick Dunne, and although he isn’t in it much, he steals every scene he is in.
4 Val Kilmer In The Prince Of Egypt
Val Kilmer was a massive action star in his height throughout the 1980s and 1990s, playing iconic movie characters like Iceman, Doc Holliday, and even Batman. However, one of his most underrated performances is actually his voice work in the 1998 animated film The Prince of Egypt. Kilmer does a fantastic job voicing Moses, but he also voices God in the film, showing off his vocal range while furthering the thematic point of the film.
3 Jerry Lewis In The King Of Comedy
Jerry Lewis was one of the most popular comedic actors of all time, appearing in hit after hit throughout the 1950s and 1960s. However, Lewis continued acting after his comedic prime was over, leading him to get a role in Martin Scorsese’s 1982 film The King of Comedy. In the film, Jerry Lewis plays a late-night TV host named Jerry Langford, with him turning what could have been just a homage to his career into one of the best performances in his filmography.
2 Jennifer Lawrence In Causeway
Jennifer Lawrence has appeared in all kinds of popular movies across all kinds of genres, from The Hunger Games to No Hard Feelings. However, one of Lawrence’s best dramatic performances is also one of her most underrated, with her starring in 2022’s Causeway. In the Apple TV+ film, Lawrence plays Lynsey, an injured veteran who struggles to acclimate herself to returning home. Lawrence’s performance is quiet, but she conveys an incredible amount of emotion in the powerful film.
1 Daniel Radcliffe In Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
Although Weird: The Al Yankovic Story may seem like a joke movie, Daniel Radcliffe’s performance as the titular musician is absolutely one of his best. Although Radcliffe is most well-known for the Harry Potter series, the actor gives it his all when playing a fictionalized version of Yankovic, and he is absolutely hilarious. Radcliffe is surrounded by comedians in the film, but he still manages to be the funniest part, meaning that Weird: The Al Yankovic Story contains one of the most underrated movie performances from the well-known actor.