Ever since the beginning of cinema there have been plenty of overlooked performances. In each actor’s career there will be one or two performances that he/she aren’t ever truly recognized for, which is a true shame due to the work that’s usually put into portraying a character. From the much longer list I originally composed, I’ve narrowed it down to 10 of the most underrated character portrayals in recent memory. Overlooked by either filmgoers, or The Academy Awards, these performances should have been recognized more greatly.
10. Michael Parks as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair, Death Proof, and Planet Terror.
You know that when one of today’s greatest directors (Quentin Tarantino) considers a man “the world’s greatest living actor”, there’s something special about him. As Earl McGraw, Parks brings the character to life through a thick, Southern accent and a long, slow pace. He appears in Tarantino’s Universe several times, usually briefly, and mainly serves the “Soap-Opera-Technique” (as my English teacher calls it) to the audience through his humorous puns and monologues.
9. Nicolas Cage as Terence McDonagh in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
This film, along with Cage, received a LOT of grief, and I can’t see why. This is one of Werner Herzog’s greatest directorial efforts, and it features Nicolas Cage’s greatest performance of the last 20 years. I don’t think there could have been a better actor to play the role of McDonagh. Sure, Nicolas Cage isn’t the greatest of actors, especially due to his more recent roles, but give the man credit for being so fearless with his acting. As Ebert put it, and this is the perfect way of describing the actor, “Cage doesn’t care if you think he goes over the top. If a film calls for it, he will climb to the top hand over hand with bleeding fingernails.” That’s 100% true, and is definitely visible in Bad Lieutenant.