19 Remarkable Acting Efforts Hindered by Their Films

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When you think of great acting performances, you tend to think of great movies. For instance, Sidney Poitier in Lilies of the Field, Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice, and Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood spring to mind. It’s only natural that great actors and actresses shine in the great movies. But what about when good actors play in mediocre movies?

Now and again, a bad movie has an excellent acting performance. One internet user has asked their peers for the “Best performances trapped in terrible movies,” and these are some of the best answers.

Keep this list handy for the next time you want to watch one of your favorite actors rescuing a so-so film; it might be good for a laugh!

1. Raúl Juliá in Street Fighter (1994)

Raúl Juliá in Street Fighter
Photo Credit: Capcom Entertainment.

The original poster gives Raúl Juliá’s performance as General M. Bison in Street Fighter as an example, but that hasn’t stopped several other users from saying it as well. In his last theatrical appearance before his untimely death, Juliá was terrific.

He was far too professional to give this movie anything other than his best despite it being atrocious. Seeing the performances of people like Kylie Minogue and Damian Chapa in the same film was almost comical.

2. Frank Langella in Masters of the Universe (1987)

Frank Langella in Masters of the Universe
Photo Credit: Golan-Globus Productions.

Masters of the Universe was a terrible movie, with Dolph Lundgren playing a terrible He-Man. The whole thing was a drab adaptation of a colorful cartoon and toy line. However, Frank Langella portrayed Skeletor brilliantly.

A couple of moviegoers suggest Langella’s Skeletor performance, and rightly so. Langella has expressed how much he enjoyed playing the iconic villain and worked hard to make the role as exciting as possible.

3. Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves isn’t as bad as most of the movies on this list, but it’s not good. Some of its stars are, however, woefully miscast. The late Alan Rickman isn’t one of them because he plays a fantastic Sheriff of Nottingham.

One user gives Rickman’s performance as an answer, and many others agree. He won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, which was well deserved.

4. Florence Pugh in Don’t Worry Darling (2022)

Florence Pugh in Don't Worry Darling
Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

As one user points out, Florence Pugh shines in everything she does. That was no different in Don’t Worry Darling, an otherwise poor movie for which she received widespread critical praise.

In response, another poster says putting her opposite Harry Styles was a terrible idea. She’s so good, and he’s so poor that having them as scene partners throughout the film is unflattering for him.

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5. Christian Bale in Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

Christian Bale in Thor: Love and Thunder
Photo Credit: Marvel Studios.

Several Marvel fans give Christian Bale in Thor: Love and Thunder as their answer. Bale portrayed Gorr, the God Butcher, the movie’s main villain, and he gave it his all. The film itself, however, was very underwhelming.

One user who hadn’t realized Bale was in the movie says they might even watch Thor: Love and Thunder now that they’ve learned he’s in it, although they’ve heard it’s poor.

6. Ana de Armas in Blonde (2022)

Ana de Armas in Blonde
Photo Credit: Netflix.

Many cinephiles say Ana de Armas in Blonde as their answer. One of those users concedes that she wasn’t a particularly great Marilyn Monroe, but it was still a brilliant standalone acting performance in a reasonably poor movie.

That sentiment is echoed by critics, as de Armas received several nominations for major awards for her performance, perhaps most notably for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

7. Michael Fassbender in Prometheus (2012)

Michael Fassbender in Prometheus
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

Prometheus splits opinion, so this might be a controversial inclusion, but one user suggests Michael Fassbender’s performance as the android David fits the bill for this list.

Several others who think Prometheus is a terrible film comment in agreement. One says Fassbender’s performance almost makes them want to finish watching the movie, while another says they selectively block everything but David from their memory.

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8. Meshach Taylor in Mannequin (1987)

Meshach Taylor in Mannequin
Photo Credit: Gladden Entertainment.

Mannequin is a quintessentially cheesy 1980s movie and a guilty pleasure for many people. However, there’s no denying it’s not very good. Kim Cattrall is likable in it, but she’s not great. One critic says Meshach Taylor’s excellent performance in the film is suitable for this discussion.

Another user, excited about being reminded that Mannequin exists, says that the late Taylor was always a joy to watch.

9. Delroy Lindo in The Core (2003)

Delroy Lindo in The Core
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The Core is a pretty terrible disaster film that’s essentially a B-movie. It has a decent cast that includes Stanley Tucci, Hilary Swank, Richard Jenkins, and Alfre Woodard. However, as one user says, only one actor stands out.

Delroy Lindo gives a proper acting performance while everyone else is hamming it up in a big way. Someone’s reply says he looks happy in the film, as though he’s also enjoying himself.

10. Denzel Washington in Virtuosity (1995)

Denzel Washington in Virtuosity
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Denzel Washington is a great actor with nine nominations for acting at the Academy Awards, winning two. He’s usually in good movies. Virtuosity, however, is not a good movie. He remains brilliant, though.

One user who has put Washington’s performance in the film forward as an answer in this discussion says it’s a testament to his talent that he could carry such a “garbage flick.”

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11. Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York (2002)

Photo Credit: Miramax Films.

This film is a brutal one of defeat and brutality and vengeance between rival gangs in New York City, just before the American Civil War. Despite the rather nihilistic nature and the sheer violence involved, Daniel Day Lewis gives a great performance, as always. His character in particular is one of the cruelest portrayed in the movie, and it seems like a tough one to act well, but Lewis nails it, and his performance elevates the whole movie.

12. Main Cast in The Mummy (1999)

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

The Mummy isn’t the most exciting or excellent of movies, according to some viewers, but the cast pulled together and saved what could have been a total flop. Despite rather illogical and forced laws of magic, one viewer said, “The Mummy and its sequel should have been hot garbage. The sheer beauty and charisma of the main cast completely elevates that film.”

13. Val Kilmer in Tombstone (1993)

Photo Credit: Hollywood Pictures.

Val Kilmer may not be a household name, but he played a critical role in the movie Tombstone, and he played it well. Kilmer’s character, Doc Holliday, is sick with tuberculosis, and takes a bit of a backseat to the other leads during most of the movie. Then right at the end, he circumvents another character to accept a duel and wins, ending the hostilities between 1870’s law enforcement and a band of outlaws.

One Redditor commented, “I’d say his performance was so spectacular it tricked us all into thinking Tombstone was a great movie. After a couple re-watches, it simply doesn’t hold up.”

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14. Sid Haig in House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Comedy-horror is a tough genre to pull off. It takes skill to insert humor into a horror movie in a way that’s believable, and not just macabre. Some commenters think Rob Zombie doesn’t have quite the touch to make the comedy-horror genre work, but that Sid Haig’s acting goes a long ways to remedy it.

One user said, “Some of the absolute worst movies I’ve ever seen, but Sid’s out there just ripping it up and having a good time.”

15. Michael Moriarty in Q (1982)

Photo Credit: Arkoff International.

This one stretches the boundaries of what we’re considering a “dreadful” film. Q isn’t actually terrible, but it does make Moriarty’s acting stand out in a way that benefits the film overall. So if we’re recommending anything, we’d say add this one to your watch list.

One commenter declared, “I wouldn’t actually call Q a ‘terrible film.’ Sure, its not high art in any way but it knows exactly what kind of … flic it wants to be. … But Michael Moriarty is acting like … he’s in a Cassavettes movie.”

16. Austin Butler in Elvis (2022)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Admittedly, the recent Elvis movie isn’t for everyone, but if you’re going to have a best character in a biographical drama, it’d better bet the lead. Austin Butler played Elvis Presley, and fans think “he was pretty much perfect. I’m mad he won’t be in a better Elvis movie.”

Having a perfect Elvis makes up for a multitude of sins, in our opinion. But weigh in down in the comments: did Butler save this movie, or was it already good?

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17. Adam Sandler in Men, Women and Children (2014)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The movie Men, Women and Children isn’t one we’re really hyped about. It’s a movie that shows all the potential and often real side effects of technology and internet-connections in the modern age. There are several simultaneous plots and character arcs, and most of them end in some form of tragedy.

One commenter said, “The whole plotline about a kid addicted to Warcraft was ridiculous.”

But we’ll say this: another commenter rightly pointed out that “Adam Sandler gave a great monologue in Men, Women and Children.”

18. Ian McKellen in X-Men (2000)

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

Some movies are timelessly great, and others have their moment in the sun but don’t age well. It’s just possible that X-Men is one of those; not intended to be “high art” but definitely entertaining for a moment. Still, Ian McKellen is from an older generation of actors, and we’ve known him to give each project his whole focus.

One commenter said, “In retrospect, [that movie] hasn’t aged well at all. But McKellen is as magnetic.”

19. Pedro Pascal in Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Photo Credit: Atlas Entertainment.

The latest Wonder Woman has an interesting plot that takes such wild twists that it becomes hard to suspend disbelief. It’s not that the acting is generally subpar, but the story itself is a little wild. Still, the film features Pedro Pascal, one of our favorite stars for the last few years, and his acting takes the film to a different level throughout.

One Redditor stated, “the actor is great but even he couldn’t save that stinker.”

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Source: Reddit.

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