Tuesday, 28 May 2013

FILMS

35 underrated actors who deserve better

I haven’t seen any films that would qualify for Overlooked Films at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom this week. I did, however, dash off a protest letter to my DTH cable operator demanding the restoration of TCM which was taken off the air last year. They have promised to look into my grievance. Meanwhile, here’s something to bite into…

I have drawn up a list of 35 actors who, in my opinion, are underrated in spite of landing major roles in many films. They are a big part of mainstream cinema and yet I can’t help picturing them on the kerbstones of the Hollywood walk of fame. These are actors whose films I have enjoyed watching immensely. I have also had the satisfaction of watching every one of the 20 films listed below. I chose them because I remember them well, over a 20-year period I’m familiar with. I am aware that I have left out many fine actors, both underrated and forgotten, who should have made it to this list. But then, all lists are subjective and so is this one. I’d be delighted if you made additions (or subtractions) to it.

Jeremy Irons in The French Lieutenant's Woman, 1981

Kevin Kline in Consenting Adults, 1982

Michael Biehn in The Terminator, 1984

Josh Brolin in The Goonies, 1985

William Hurt in Children of a Lesser God, 1986

Richard Dreyfuss in Stakeout, 1987

Emilio Estevez in Young Guns, 1988

Jeff Daniels in The House on Carroll Street, 1988

Tom Selleck in An Innocent Man, 1989

Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, 1990

Tim Curry in Oscar, 1991

Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs, 1992

Harvey Keitel in The Piano, 1993

Bill Paxton in Tombstone, 1993

John Goodman in Born Yesterday, 1993

Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers, 1994

Forest Whitaker in Species, 1995

Christian Slater in Broken Arrow, 1996

Bill Pullman in Independence Day, 1996

Kevin Spacey in The Negotiator, 1998

15 honourable mentions: Kiefer Sutherland, Colin Firth, Don Cheadle, Kevin Bacon, Matthew Broderick, Alan Rickman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mathew Modine, Liev Schreiber, David Morse, Alfred Molina, Tom Skerritt, Robert Carlyle, Gabriel Byrne, and Powers Boothe.

Now why didn't I think of reviewing one of these films?

18 comments:

  1. A fine list of thesps though that still from CONSENTING ADULTS brought back some horrible memories Prashant! A real low point for all concerned.

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    1. Thank you, Sergio. I was forced to use the poster of CONSENTING ADULTS because I couldn't find a still of Kevin Kline alone. I saw the film once and wouldn't like to see it again.

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  2. Definitely some good actors in that list. I always thought Michael Biehn could have been much bigger than he was. I liked his movies.

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    1. Thank you, Charles. I like watching Michael Biehn play the bad guy like he does in TOMBSTONE and THE ROCK. Haven't seen many of his films, though.

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  3. I could comment about almost all of these. But just a word about Kevin Kline. He is trained as a stage actor and it's unusual to see him in a screen role that's well suited to his talents. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the filmed stage production of CYRANO DE BERGERAC.

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    1. Ron, thanks for the insight on Kevin Kline who, I'd think, is one of the most underrated actors on this list. I've always thought of him as more of a comedian. I'm afraid I'm not familiar with CYRANO DE BERGERAC though the title rings a bell. I'll have to read up on it.

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    2. Interesting you'd say that, as Cyrano is a great classic comic role.

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    3. Ron, I seem to have missed it completely. The history behind CYRANO DE BERGERAC is impressive and the play has made it through every medium. I was surprise to read that veteran Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah acted in one of the plays in London in 1995.

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  4. Some of these are not so much under-rated as underused. Kevin Spacey gets lots of parts. He was just on the first season of HOUSE OF CARDS and is making season two.
    Josh Brolin seems to be doing pretty well as does Woody Harrelson and John Goodman. I would agree with a number of them like Forest Whitaker (it may be he is doing directing) Also you may not see some of their parts on US TV. I think Dreyfus has had health issues.

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    1. Patti, thanks for the latest on some of these actors. I rarely get to hear what they are up to unless I sit down and read about them online, something I do only in context of a film I may have seen or one I might be writing about on my blog. Many films and most serials released in the US don't make it to Indian television and if they do, it's after a considerable time lag. For instance, I'd never heard of Kevin Spacey's HOUSE OF CARDS. I thought Josh Brolin and Woody Harrelson were in hibernation. I have always wondered about Brolin after seeing NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. I think he is a terrific actor.

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    2. HOUSE OF CARDS is a Netflix production and available only there. It's a remake of the British series by the same name from 1990.

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    3. Ron, Netflix has said it plans to launch in India but they don't say when. It will have a good market in this country where films and cricket are man's best friends.

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  5. You think these actors are underrated? By who? Half the list is made up of either Oscar winners or Oscar nominees. Hmmm, we seem to live in different movie worlds.

    I thought Christian Slater was really something special when he was younger (HEATHERS, UNTAMED HEART, TRUE ROMANCE - all brilliant work) but now he doesn't do a thing for me. Of those you list here Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman, I think, are the most talented and the most consistently interesting in anything they do. Each of them should've been a big star but for the narrow-mindedness of Hollywood.

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    1. John, I personally think they are underrated because, in spite of being such fine actors, they don't seem to be on level with many celebrated actors, some of whom are, inversely, overrated. I do not find them underrated because they are not busy or they don't have enough films under their belt, nor because they haven't been nominated or haven't won awards. They don't seem to be a part of the Hollywood A-list and, I think, they deserve to be in it. A matter of opinion.

      I agree, we seem to be living in different movie worlds because I don't hear of these actors or their films (or television series) as frequently as I do of their more famous counterparts. Hollywood seems to be sticking to the A-listers. I also agree that Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman are very talented actors and I'd have liked to see them in more films, in lead roles, just as I'd have liked to see more of Michael Biehn, Jeff Daniels, Tom Selleck, Josh Brolin, and Kiefer Sutherland. Many of these actors have been cast in secondary roles that doesn't do justice to their talents.

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  6. Great food for thought, Prashant. But I think Jeremy Irons is too well known to be on this list. Has been a favorite since I watched him in Granada Television's BRIDESHEAD REVISITED years ago. He's also won an Oscar. For that matter so did Richard Dreyfuss, Forest Whitaker, William Hurt, Kevin Spacey and, I believe, Kevin Kline. All wonderful actors not known for being 'STARS' if you know what I mean. Not personalities, but true working actors.

    LOVE Kevin Kline especially. He was SO FABULOUS in DAVE and IN AND OUT and a whole bunch of other stuff.

    William Hurt used to be a big star once upon a time, but time seems to have let him down. I heard some not so nice things about his personal life so maybe that turned me off him. But I still loved him in DARK CITY.

    Lots to think about here, Prashant. You always come up with 'thinking' posts. :)

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    1. Yvette, thanks for your kind appreciation. I'm glad you mentioned Jeremy Irons. I was hoping someone would poke me in the ribs with his name. He has been one of my favourite actors, too. Apart from his film mentioned in my post, I also liked Irons in THE MAN WITH THE IRON MASK and THE MERCHANT OF VENICE and loved his voice (for Scar) in THE JUNGLE BOOK. Yet, I can't help thinking that Irons should have had some big hits to his credit. I have always considered him as a character actor rather than as a star. I haven't seen BRIDESHEAD REVISITED. Jeremy Irons, of course, has had a successful stage career.

      Among the other names you mentioned, Kevin Kline, William Hurt, and Forest Whitaker are special. I don't remember if I have seen Hurt's DARK CITY. I don't know anything about his personal life though I have wondered where he disappeared to.

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  7. Too many that I like here to comment on. I will start with Kevin Spacey in The Negotiator. I loved that movie and he did a great job. I like Bill Pullman and I also like the actor in the lower right of that still for Independence Day, Adam Baldwin. I have always liked Jeff Daniels and Richard Dreyfuss. This is a very fun post. And I also like the title that Yvette mentions for Kevin Kline: Dave. I loved that movie. I could watch it over and over.

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    1. Thank you, Tracy. I have seen and enjoyed many of Kevin Spacey's films, including THE NEGOTIATOR, and a little-known movie called THE SHIPPING NEWS that many found boring. I thought he acted well in that film. My first introduction to Bill Pullman was as a young punk in RUTHLESS PEOPLE in which he didn't have much of a role, the film being all about Danny DeVito, Bette Midler, Judge Reinhold, and Helen Slater. I'm glad you like Jeff Daniels whose potential has never been fully utilised by Hollywood.

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