5. Zooey Deschanel
There’s something special about (500) Days of Summer, Marc Webb’s genre redefining rom-com, the film responsible for Zooey Deschanel’s status as Hollywood’s greatest Manic Pixie Dream Girl, even though she’s almost 40-years-old by now. Her role in Fox’s sitcom New Girl has capitalized on that image for six seasons now, even though Summer is, really, a satire of that same tired concept of romantic comedies.
Zooey can be funny on occasion (see Yes Man) and even somewhat heartbreaking (Bridge to Terabithia), but she’s been trapped on the same role for too long now, and her worst instincts have been so reinforced that we don’t know if she can break free from them. Her recent drama The Driftless Area is just more proof of that. Three Golden Globe nods or not, we’re calling it: in the battle of the Deschanel sisters, we’re Team Emily.
4. Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow did not deserve that Oscar in 1999. Even though she was radiant in Shakespeare in Love, not only that year had best performances in the race, the Oscar gave her leeway to become terribly self-involved, and that led to terrible projects that never really explored her best qualities.
And we’re not judging – if being the head of Goop (whatever that is, honestly) is what she wants to do, she should go for it, but truth be told> she was never as great as the Oscar promised us she’d be.
And thing is, she was occasionally great before that. 1996 brought to great and vastly different performances in Emma and Sydney, for example. It’s a shame that the incredible entitlement and security that comes from an Oscar win brought Gwyneth down quickly with terrible turns in films like View from the Top, Possession, Shallow Hal, Sylvia and even John Madden’s own Proof. Those early flashes of brilliance never came through.
3. Patrick Wilson
Mainly because he mostly picks good films, Patrick Wilson seem to have a good reputation among critics. He’s been twice nominated for a Golden Globe, most recently for Fargo, another great production in which he is, frankly, just okay.
The same can be said of both The Conjuring and Insidious, James Wan’s horror movies in which his cast-mates really do all the heavy lifting. He was creepy in Hard Candy, and was just another pawn in Zack Snyder’s hyper-ventilation game of a Watchmen adaptation.
Bone Tomahawk, Young Adult, Girls’ episode “One Man’s Trash”, from the second season – they’re all quite brilliant efforts in spite of Wilson’s histrionic performances. How he gets those parts, we sincerely don’t know.
Maybe he’s just a great guy and directors/writers like him, in which case we’re okay with him being successful. Good characters sometimes make a so-so actor seem better, and that seems to be the case with Wilson.
2. Josh Brolin
Yes, we’ve seen him in Milk. And in No County for Old Men. His greatest effort continue to be Oliver Stone’s W., however, a gimmicky performance that truly works and truly helps the movie flesh out its real-life character.
Since stepping back into prominence with his Oscar-nominated turn in Milk, he’s been doing some quite good movies, from his joint efforts with the Coen brothers’ to Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario and even last year’s agonizing adventure Everest.
He’s also consistently been the least interesting part of all those movies, routinely boiling his characters down to one or a few traits, their most basic definitions standing out instead of the complex, tridimensional creatures they might have become. Especially among big, terrific casts, Brolin’s work more and more seem like nothing really special.
1. Chris Hemsworth
As an actor, Chris Hemsworth is a great Thor. As the God of Thunder of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he is refreshingly charismatic, a weird but effective take on the famously pompous comics character.
The Australian actor, however, was not content in being an action star, or even a comedy secret weapon in films like Vacation and Ghostbusters – he wants to be a respected dramatic actor, so he partnered with the likes of Ron Howard and Michael Mann, to absolutely no avail.
Both his films with Howard are actually quite good. Rush is a fantastic sports film with a dynamite performance… by Daniel Bruhl; In The Heart of the Sea is also a good outing for Howard, but not thanks to Hemsworth; and Mann’s Blackhat is a divisive film, a busy thriller that doesn’t even give Hemsworth space to build a proper performance. The Aussie actor is surely still growing into his abilities, but we personally don’t think he’ll be among any best actors lists anytime soon.
Author Bio: Caio Coletti is a Brazilian-born journalist, a proud poptimist, and has too many opinions to keep them all to himself.