Thursday, January 06, 2005

Where's the Love? My short List of under-appreciated actors..

For anyone who knows me, you know that I am a big movie fanatic. Drama, comedies, Independent, you name it, I'll watch it. I almost love movies more than porn and Hip Hop.. Almost. There are many actors who I feel are overrated and receive praise that they don't deserve. The following list are actors who I feel, are underrated and should be recognized for their magnificent acting ability.

Don Cheadle-One of the most talented individuals on the list, and probably the most under-appreciated. People don't give this guy credit for being one America's best actors, and that is sad. He first caught my attention in the movie "Devil in a Blue Dress" as Denzel's right hand man named "Mouse", and ever since he has been blazing a trail in Hollywood. Standout performances in "Rosewood(1995) ", "Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault(1996) (TV)", Boogie Nights (1997)The Rat Pack (1998) (TV),A Lesson Before Dying (1999) (TV), and Traffic (2000) to name a few. Hopefully, he will be a household name and people will understand his amazing talents.

Suggested viewing:
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
The United States of Leland (2003)
The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004)
A Lesson Before Dying (1999)
Boogie Nights (1997)
Rebound: The Legend of Earl 'The Goat' Manigault (1996)
Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)

Jeffrey Wright- The opening line on his biography pretty much sums it up: "Quite possibly the most underrated and underexposed actor of his caliber and generation." This guy is remarkable, he first captured my attention playing in "Basquiat" as the lead character, talented artist Jean Michael Basquiat. He was the only watchable thing in the 2000 version of "Shaft", playing the villain named 'Peoples Hernandez". His role as Martin Luther King in the movie "Boycott" and his supporting part in "Ali" were absolutely brilliant. Anyone who has HBO say him do his thing in "Angels in America". This guy has pure acting skill, and the mere fact that he isn't a household name is rather troubling.

Suggested viewing:
"Angels in America" (2003)
Boycott (2001) (TV)
Basquiat (1996)

Phillip Seymour Hoffman- He is defintely what you would call a character actor, so maybe it is his intent to be "under-appreciated", but his body of work is fiiled with great performances. Boogie Nights (1997), Flawless (1999), Magnolia (1999) ,The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Almost Famous (2000), Love Liza (2002), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), 25th Hour (2002) ,Cold Mountain (2003), Along Came Polly (2004). The guy holds his own whenever he is in front of a camera, and any guy who can steal scenes away from Robert De Niro gets my vote.

Suggestive viewing:
Boogie Nights(1997)
Almost Famous (2000)
25th Hour (2002)

Ryan Phillippe- This guy definitely has acting chops, but he is overshadowed by his more successful wife Reese Witherspoon. He first caught my attention in 1996 in a movie called "Whits Squall", as a teen who is sent off on a experimental program where he sent off to sea for a few months, and comes back with a new confidence. His breakout role came with "Cruel Intentions", that is when people really started to know who he was. He has great performances in 2001's "Gosford Park", and his role as a Hacker in "Antitrust". My favorite role of his is when he played a convict alongside Benecio Del Torro in "The Way of the Gun", one of my personal favorites. Definitely underrated, and it's a shame because I feel that he can act circles around his wife.

Suggested Viewing:
Gosford Park (2001)
Antitrust (2001)
The Way of the Gun (2000)

Angela Bassett- Let me start by saying that she is one of our finest black actors out there, male or female. The woman has a talent that can't be equaled, and I personally feel that she is underused when she is in certain movies and she is ignorantly not considered for other movies. I respect her because she has turned down roles based on her personal integrity(i.e "Monster's Ball") and you can't beat that. Plus, lets face it, she can act circles around Halle Berry. Memorable performances include Malcolm X (1992), What's Love Got to Do with It (1993), Waiting to Exhale (1995), How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998), The Rosa Parks Story (2002)

Suggested Viewing:
Malcolm X(1992)
Whats Love Got to Do with It (1993)

John Leguizamo- The first thing I saw him was 1991 "Hanging with the Homeboys", but I would of never thought from that performance that John Leguizamo would emerge as a legitimate actor. Many of you know him from his Broadway one man shows, which are absolutely brilliant.(Sidenote: To do a one man/woman show has to be the hardest thing in show-business, exposing yourself to the masses and still making it entertaining.) He has had good performances in Carlito's Way (1993) Romeo + Juliet (1996) King of the Jungle (2001) Moulin Rouge! (2001) Empire (2002), and Spun (2002). Definitely underrated, but definitely a respectable member of Hollywood.

Suggested viewing:
Carlito's Way (1993)
King of the Jungle(2001)
Empire (2002)

Paul Giamatti- Even though this guy has been around for a while and has appeared in some memorable flicks, he is definitely under-appreciated. He has built the majority of his career being a character actor, just beginning to come into his own over the past five years. You have probably seen him in movies such as "Singles", "Donnie Brasco", "Private Parts", "The Negotiator", "Big Mamma's House", "The Truman Show", and "Saving Private Ryan". But he has stand out performances playing a con man in "Confidence", animator Harvey Pekar in "American Splendor", and a newly divorced, failed writer in the recently released "Sideways". Amazing Talent.

Suggested viewing:
American Splendor(2003)
Confidence (2003)

John Turturro- First stand out role was in Spike Lee's 1989's "Do the Right Thing" playing "Pino", Sal the Pizza owners son. He showed his remarkable gift for acting back then, and he has continued to showcase his acting prowess ever since. In roles such as Barton Fink (1991) The Big Lebowski (1998) Rounders (1998) O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), he has made a case as to why he is acting force to be reckoned with. Amazing actor, with a range so wide he could virually play anything.

Suggested viewing:
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Barton Fink (1991)
Rounders (1998)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Brad Pitt- I know what you are all saying right now, "How in the fuck is Brad Pitt under-appreciated?" Well, Brad Pitt is definitely one of the most recognizable actors out there, but I think that people are so focused on his looks that they discredit his acting ability. The guy is a outstanding actor, his work speaks for itself-Thelma & Louise (1991), A River Runs Through It (1992), Kalifornia (1993), Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994),Se7en (1995), Twelve Monkeys (1995), Sleepers (1996), Seven Years in Tibet (1997), Fight Club (1999), Snatch. (2000). Come on, wake the fuck up everybody!!

Suggested viewing:
Kalifornia (1993)
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)
Se7en (1995)
Sleepers (1996)
Fight Club (1999)
Snatch. (2000).


josie said...

you names some very good movies.

ShellyP said...

Ooh, I like your list. Needless to say, some of these actors I haven't even heard of which supports your point. One actor I would have to add is Samuel Jackson. How he got passed over in Pulp Fiction is beyond me.

sJea said...

Critic - thanks for stopping by my spot and showing me some blog love.

Your blog is nothing short of brilliant. I will have to bookmark you and visit again and again.

I agree with your assessment of under-appreciated actors. I will add to the list Taye Diggs, but only because of his most recent role as Kevin Hill. Prior to his excellent work in that role, his choice of roles were rather lame and somewhat predictable. This role allows his talent to shine.

Critic - keeping doing what you do. You do it rather well.

SunShyn said...

I am digging this, we do have some very outstanding performers that have been incredibly underrated due to their skin color.

And, you know one of my favorite part for John Leguizamo was in Spawn, how he wore that make-up was wild, I never knew it was him until the credits.

I want to add Mark Wahlberg(?)(I know, I know another singer turned actor) to this list only due to his role in Stephen King's Dreamcatchers, though this wasn't the best movie, again, I had no idea it was him until the credits.

Mary said...

Okay so I'm going to start typing a comment and hopefully by the time I'm done I can think of someone to add to the list.

First off, Ryan Phillipe and Don Cheadle are excellent choices. The Way of the Gun is a great flick and Phillip S. Hoffman was awesome in State and Main.

To me, the reason sometimes actors are underrated is that they make it look so easy, that no one gives them any credit for how great they are.

On the flip side of that, I kinda like when people are underrated because once the media gets a hold of them, you're sick of seeing their face and they can't "disappear" into a role as well as they do.

Just my 2 cents and I can't think of another one to add. I'll mull it over. Good post!

a beer sort of girl said...

Excellent, excellent picks. I agree with th epost that says the problem might be that they make it look so effortless, as if they are just playing themselves, that they don't get the recognition they deserve. Don Cheadle is one of my all time favorite actors.

You know how you can see a movie preview, and miss the plot, but notice that so-and-so is in it? When I see Don Cheadle, I think that it must be a good film.

BrownSuga said...

I'm feeling you on a lot of your choices. Don Cheadle is dynamic, I'm glad somebody else recoginizes this. But John Leguizamo's movie Empire was a hot mess. Entertaining, but just unrealistic.

Anonymous said...

I gotta say, I think Don Cheadle may not be eligible for this list much longer. If he doesn't get a nomination for Hotel Rwanda, something is seriously wrong.
I saw it the other night, and I think his performance (and the film) should get some much needed attention. Please go see this movie ya'll.

Jeffrey Wright is also one of my faves. He is the definition of a chameleon. He disappears into any role he steps into.

On another note, I'd like to nominate Eddie Murphy for the list. Now, before you laugh and disregard it, let me say this.
The guy has some serious acting skill, but it gets overshadowed by his comedic talent. Take a look at Beverly Hills Cop. He has some good dramatic scenes in there.
And, trust me, anyone who can play like 6 different characters in the same movie (see Coming to America) deserves some love. Give him a serious dramatic role, and he would probably knock it out the park.


kalisah said...

Great list.

I agree that Don Cheadle is one of the best actors in America today.

And I loved, loved, loved "Angels in America" and thought Jeffrey Wright was AMAZING. I think he won a Tony for that role on B'way.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman gets an awful lot of critical praise so I assume you mean that he's underappreciated by the viewing public.

And Paul Giamatti may just win an Oscar this year for "Sideways."

Beana said...

Totally agree. You took the words outta my mouth!

Anonymous said...

I agree on all counts.

Your blog is nothing short of incredible. Blogrolled instantly!

Jdid said...

I was feeling you up to Brad Pitt. I guess I really havent seen any of his good stuff althought I did lik him in Seven.

Love the list, William H Macy stands out for me as an underrated star. He like mr supporting actor

Me said...

An amazing list to compliment an amazing blog, but uh, what about Sam Jack? Jamie Foxx? I think Foxx did his thing in both Ray and Redemption. It all started with Any Given Sunday. I think he's severely overlooked because of his rocky musical start. Personally, I didn't mind the album.

Apocalypse said...

Agreed on Don C- If he looked like Morris Chestnut or one of the other frequently used 6 black male actors you would hear alot more about him...I first started watching for him after he did "Goat" for HBO...hes a real actor...most for the other 5 frequently used black male actors play the same character in every movie...this guy is the real deal.

Brad P- No one talks about his acting...true...I loved him in Joe Black, I thought the Fight Club was amazing and I hope he gets an oscar one day...

Agreed on J Foxx he dosent do that UPN stick everytime you see him on some other actors I could mention. When I saw him in Ali, I knew he was the real deal.


Apocalypse said...

good post...I didnt see the "American Splendor" dude...good call on him...Phillip Seymour Hoffman, another dead on call...did you see him on Inside the Actors Studio?...hes really good.

good list!

Sunnchine said...

Once again, great post HC! You were right on the money with this one. Snatch is one of my favorites - even though I got up on it late. It's still a great movie.

Angela Basset, Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Wright....all of em. Great picks :)


E to the dwige said...

Good list especially Don Cheadle.

Helena said...

Another Don Cheadle vote from me, too...all impeccable picks...but if Mr. Cheadle doesn't get nominated, it'll prove once and for all what's been suspected for a few years now >>>coughCoughShallowCroniesGladhandingEachOtherCough..Cough<<<<<<
Can I say one thing? Without starting a total flame war? No one ever seems to think of Keanu Reeves for this stuff (oh, God, I'm going to be killed, aren't I?) I thought he did exceptionally well in "Much Ado About Nothing" and next to the classically trained Shakespearan, Globe theater likes of Kenneth Branagh, too..gutsy to take on, if nothing else. Also not bad in "The Last Time I Committed Suicide." At very worst, you can say the jury's still out on him, but that's mostly due to the fact that they guy takes risks that sometimes don't pan out (Little Buddha, Dracula) but even in those, he's reaching. And working with some excellent directors....

Phareal said...

YES!!!!!!! I aint even got much else to say....I feel you 110% bruh.

Dayrell said...

Great Post!! These people are truly the greatest! Kudos for shouting out my bruth Don C...b/c people ain't knowing!!

Not to mention Angela, Brad, Jeff Wright, and John Leg. Truly talent un-noticed. No doubt!

Anonymous said...

You've been assassinated!Blog Assassin

8ZERO8 said...

Great list. Don Cheadle and PS Hoffman are my favorites.

Dust said...

I definitely have to agree with your list and I'll have to raise you one Delroy Lindo and one Giancarlo Esposito...Hey, whatever happened to the kid that played Fresh? He was tight in his day...


deborah said...

Great list. Agree completely. Totally.

Anonymous said...

To see John Leguizamo at his finest, niggas need to get hip to "Freak," a one-man show that he recorded for HBO. Spike Lee directed it, and it tells the story of his NY upbringing, how he decided to become an actor, and his "reconciliation" with his estranged father. It's comedically brilliant and so, so touching. Better than any fictional movie he's ever been in (sorry to say).

nikki said...

Yep, this post has cemented you in my Bookmarks list.

Fantastic list of under-appreciated actors, I couldn't agree more. Especially Don Cheadle, Angela Bassett and Brad Pitt (the guy is one of the finest actors out there -- his looks honestly don't really appeal to me).

Fantastic blog. Honest, intelligent and entertaining.

Mala said...

Any man that likes the movie Snatch is loved by me...

Moni said...

I so love you for honoring Angela Bassett the way you did in this post! She truly has the acting talent to win an Oscar every year, what was done to her and Larry in 93' was highway robbery. I miss her like hell.

Lola Gets said...

Leguizamos "Spic O Rama" was pure genius. L