25 Wonderful Performances In Notoriously Bad Movies

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Bad script? Over-the-top characters? No problem.

For the amount of talent in Hollywood, there's always going to be stellar actors who find themselves in the middle of a cinematic stinker.

Luckily, these gifted performers went above and beyond to shine in their otherwise unremarkable projects.

1. Michael Fassbender in "The Counselor"

20th Century Fox Film Corp. / Courtesy Everett Collection

The Counselor is an ambitious and nihilistic slow-burn thriller with a bit of an identity crisis, but an incredible performance from Michael Fassbender as a lawyer who finds himself at the wrong end of the drug trade anchors the film in a tangible and devastating way.

2. Damian Lewis in Dreamcatcher

Warner Brothers / Courtesy Everett Collection

Dreamcatcher is often considered to be one of the worst Stephen King adaptations that is bolstered by its great cast, the standout of which is Damian Lewis in a haywire, multifaceted performance well-suited for the material.

3. John Lithgow in Raising Cain

Universal Pictures/ AF archive / Courtesy Alamy

Though Raising Cain is considered among the more lackluster and convoluted films in Brian de Palma's ouevre, there's no denying that John Lithgow's performance will keep your eyes glued to the screen from start to finish.

4. Paul Rudd in Mute

Netflix / AF archive / Courtesy Alamy

A visually stunning but ultimately misguided follow-up to Duncan Jones' breakout film Moon, Paul Rudd impressively ventures outside of his comfort zone to play a volatile yet empathetic black market surgeon in this sci-fi noir.

5. Jason Derulo in Cats

Amblin Entertainment / AF archive / Courtesy Alamy

Cats is a mess from start to finish, but if there's anyone who "understood the assignment," it's Jason Derulo, who embraces the outrageous nature of the musical and appears to be the only one having fun.

6. Ian McKellan in Apt Pupil

TriStar Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Another controversial Stephen King adaptation, Ian McKellan is undeniable as the sadistic and manipulative antagonist in Apt Pupil, elevating the film in every scene he inhabits.

7. Meat Loaf in Black Dog

Universal Pictures / United Archives GmbH / Courtesy Alamy

Black Dog is a fairly run-of-the-mill action film that truly comes alive during its admittedly thrilling high speed chases or when the late, great Meat Loaf graces the screen as the film's effortlessly intimidating villain.

8. Jackie Earle Haley in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

New Line Cinema / Collection Christophel / Courtesy Alamy

Samuel Bayer's lazy and abysmal take on this classic franchise fails on almost every level with the glaring exception of the inspired casting of the terrifying Jackie Earle Haley.

9. Dennis Quaid in The Intruder

Screen Gems - Hidden Empire Film Group - Primary Wave Entertainment / TCD/ Prod.DB / Courtesy Alamy

The Intruder is a modern exploitation film that redefined "dumb fun," but a scene-stealing turn from a perverse and murderous Dennis Quaid makes the whole affair well-worth your time.

10. Octavia Spencer in Ma

COLLECTION CHRISTOPHEL / Universal Pictures / Courtesy Alamy

Ma may have been a surprise hit at the box office, but the film's success is largely hitched to the amazing performance from Octavia Spencer in the titular role.

11. Anthony Perkins in Crimes of Passion

New World Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Regrettably typecast after his breakout role in Psycho, Anthony Perkins delivers a jaw-dropping and magnetic performance in Ken Russell's sleazy suspense-thriller Crimes of Passion.

12. Christopher Lloyd in Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead

Woods Entertainment / Photo 12 / Courtesy Alamy

There were many Quentin Tarantino knock-offs that emerged in the 1990s independent film scene, but Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead at least had a number of character acting greats keeping it afloat, chief of which was a memorable and darker-than-expected Christopher Lloyd.

13. Richard Dreyfuss in W.

Lionsgate / Moviestore Collection Ltd / Courtesy Alamy

Even though Christian Bale received more attention for his transformative performance of Dick Cheney in Vice, Richard Dreyfuss deserves much more credit for his more damning and biting portrayal of the former vice president in Oliver Stone's unnecessary and largely forgotten W.

14. Crispin Glover in Willard (2003)

New Line Cinema / Courtesy Everett Collection

Though the remake of Willard doesn't have the ingredients for a legitimately great film, Crispin Glover nearly buckles his knees carrying the film on his back with an unwavering commitment to its creepy, crawly premise.

15. Jessica Chastain in Molly's Game

Entertainment One / Pictorial Press Ltd / Courtesy Alamy

Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut essentially came and went in 2017, leaving behind a legacy as an underwhelming Oscar bait title that could not be saved by a phenomenal lead performance from Jessica Chastain.

16. John Travolta in In a Valley of Violence

Universal Studios / Blumhouse Productions / TCD / Prod.DB / Courtesy Alamy

Ti West's attempt to venture into the world of Westerns may have been a mixed bag, but critics and audiences agreed that Travolta's turn as the film's big bad had been some of his most captivating work in years.

17. Clancy Brown in Pet Sematary II

Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

While Clancy Brown routinely steals the films in which he appears, regardless of quality, the aforementioned actor is the menacing MVP of this oft-derided sequel.

18. Johnny Depp in Black Mass

Warner Bros. Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Often considered as one of the last excellent performances from the troubled actor, Johnny Depp is borderline unrecognizable and absolutely unsettling in this overlong and unfocused crime drama.

19. Dominic Purcell in Killer Elite

Open Road Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

Killer Elite fails to impress with a stacked cast, including Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro, but the film shines brightest through an infectiously fun performance from a mustachioed Dominic Purcell.

20. Wesley Snipes in Brooklyn's Finest

Millennium Films / Collection Christophel / Courtesy Alamy

Wesley Snipes has always been able to bring the pain throughout his career as an actor, but few of his roles have been as astounding as his understated and hypnotizing performance in the largely lame-duck crime flick, Brooklyn's Finest.

21. Tom Hanks in The Ladykillers

Touchstone Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

The Ladykillers is frequently cited as the worst of the Coen Brothers' collective output, but can never be entirely disregarded thanks to a devilishly dedicated turn from Tom Hanks that deserves your attention.

22. Delroy Lindo in Domino

New Line Cinema / Courtesy Everett Collection

Delroy Lindo is a valuable asset to any project with which he associates, but he almost solely grounds Tony Scott's otherwise frenetic and flawed Domino.

23. Ashley Judd in Bug

Lionsgate / TCD / Prod.DB / Courtesy Alamy

While many despised that Bug was not the body horror thriller that they may have expected from The Exorcist director William Friedkin, the performances on display refused to be ignored, including Ashley Judd's stunning, paranoid horrifying against-type role as a woman seduced by the conspiracies of her lover.

24. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in Southland Tales

Universal Pictures / Entertainment Pictures / Courtesy Alamy

Richard Kelly's surreal and mind-boggling sophomore feature never quite caught on with audiences, which is somewhat a shame since Dwayne Johnson really offers a performance so starkly different from the typical reserved leading roles for which he's known in this day and age.

25. Raul Julia in Street Fighter

Universal Pictures / United Archives GmbH / Courtesy Alamy

"For me... it was Tuesday." Raul Julia's final film role brought gravitas to the cartoonish and goofy Street Fighter adaptation, a Herculean feat that remains a shining testament to his legacy as one of the best performers of his generation.

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