The 10 Best Kevin Spacey Movie Performances

5. Beyond the Sea (2004) Dir. Kevin Spacey

Beyond the Sea (2004)

“Memories are like moonbeams, we do with them what we will.”

In this passion project, Kevin Spacey stars in this enchanting biopic as volatile, ambitious Bobby Darin who is a perfectionist and believes he’s living on borrowed time. Darin slowly builds his way up to stardom, but soon begins to struggle balancing his career, health, marriage and family life.

Kevin Spacey not only stars in this film, but he directed, produced, co-wrote, and even did all of his own singing. Although this film was highly criticized for Spacey was considered to be ‘too old’ to play a character in his twenties, his performance makes it incredibly easy to suspend disbelief. His singing stunned audiences with how similar his voice matched that of Bobby Darin’s. When asked why he wanted to star as Darin, Spacey responded, “

When I heard they were making a movie, or trying to make a movie at Warner Brothers, I thought, ‘T“his is the part for me. I’’m born to play this part. I’’ve got to play this part.’””


4. The Ref (1994) Dir. Ted Demme

The Ref (1994)

“You know what I’m going to get you next Christmas, Mom? A big wooden cross, so that every time you feel unappreciated for your sacrifices, you can climb on up and nail yourself to it.”

On Christmas Eve, Gus, a jewelry thief played by Denis Leary, is abandoned by his partner during a heist. In order to hide from the police, he takes a bickering couple, Lloyd and Caroline (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) hostage forcing them to drive them to their house.

Little does he know that their juvenile delinquent son and obnoxious in laws are on their way over for a big family dinner. The incessant bickering begins to drive him insane and he must try to resolve the family’s differences with the police hot on his trail.

This cult Christmas comedy is beloved by many for its offbeat humor, witty one-liners, and convincing performances. The entire cast has terrific chemistry, especially Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey who are fantastic at portraying a dysfunctional, bickering couple. Spacey’s sarcastic, deadpan performance perfectly matches Leary’s angry, unorthodox humor. The Ref is the perfect Christmas movie for those who enjoy a more unconventional comedy during the holidays.


3. Se7en (1995) Dir. David Fincher


“Nothing wrong with a man taking pleasure in his work. I won’t deny my own personal desire to turn each sin against the sinner.”

In this film, a rookie (Brad Pitt) and a veteran detective (Morgan Freeman) attempt to hunt a serial killer who chooses and torments his victims according the way of the Seven Deadly Sins. They try to track down John Doe (Kevin Spacey) who always seems to be one step ahead of them. His deliberate clues left behind at the horrifying crime scenes are one of the only things that helps them track the killer down, but the detectives are unaware that they are becoming a part of his diabolic scheme.

David Fincher masterfully created this disturbing and clever thriller that is rife with suspense and incredible acting. Kevin Spacey is mesmerizing as the insane John Doe, and gives one of the most convincing performances of all time, despite only being in the film a mere thirty minutes. The script, cinematography, and camera work are all spectacular. The chilling, mysterious mood stays consistent throughout which causes you to stay on the edge of your seat until the very end.


2. The Usual Suspects (1995) Dir. Bryan Singer


“How do you shoot the Devil in the back? What if you miss?”

After an apparent drug heist goes horribly wrong leaves dozens of people dead, the sole survivors are a badly burned Hungarian criminal and Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint, a con man with cerebral palsy. Verbal is interviewed by police and as his recollection of the story begins to unravel, it seems as though legendary criminal mastermind, Keyser Soze, is pulling the strings.

The Usual Suspects is pivotal piece milestone in movie making as it completely changed mystery films. Kevin Spacey is completely convincing as Verbal Kint, and to help get into character, he filed down his shoes to help him walk with a limp and glued his fingers together on his left hand.

Although he only had a minor role, Benicio Del Toro gave a memorable performance as Fenster and completely came up with the character’s unintelligible dialect and mannerisms. Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Baldwin, and Kevin Baldwin are all outstanding in this film as well. This film is one of the few that is more enjoyable watching the second time around.


1. American Beauty (1999) Dir. Sam Mendes

American Beauty bath

“Let’s all sell our souls and work for Satan because it’s more convenient that way.”

In this psychological drama, a middle aged father named Lester Burnham is experiencing a midlife crisis. He suffers every day at the hand of his malicious, narcissistic wife and angsty teenage daughter, who both think he’s a failure. Lester is given very little respect at home and in the workplace. But after becoming infatuated with his daughters best friend, he snaps out of his catatonic state and begins to living life to the fullest.

American Beauty was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won five, including the award for Best Actor. The acting in this film is remarkable and both Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening give mesmerizing performances in roles that almost seem to be written for them. American Beauty expertly displays the dysfunction in suburban life through relatable and realistic characters. This is a film that stays with you long after the credits roll.