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10 Amazing, Overlooked Performances in Film

Hollywood is filled with many talented actors who are forced to constantly take a backseat and have supporting roles for the more popular, A-list actors. With that being said, some of those actors might pull off incredible performances, but are for some reason completely forgotten. This could be that they had a very small role, were part of a very large ensemble cast, or just overshadowed by an even greater performance. With this list, I wanna look back at some of the best performances of recent memory, that for some reason or another just don’t get talked about as much.


Ted Levine – Silence of the Lambs

Levine’s performance in this film is absolutely terrifying. Not only does he steal every scene he is in, but he really pulls off the insanity of his character while still making him believable. I consider his character, Buffalo Bill, to be one of the most creepy villains ever in film, but he just so happens to be in the same film as Anthony Hopkin’s Hannibal Lecter. Unfortunately, most people think Hannibal Lecter first and forget about how great Levine’s performance was.

Keith Stanfield – Short Term 12

While most people think of Brie Larson’s incredible performance as one that stood out from all the rest, Stanfield probably gives the next best performance as the troubled teenager with a broken past. Stanfield doesn’t have to do much to depict the turmoil and pain of his character. You can see it in his eyes.

Carrie Coon – Gone Girl

Carrie Coon is one of the most underrated actresses working today in Hollywood. In this particular film, she pulls off an amazing performance with a character that easily could have been written off or forgotten about. She has great chemistry with Affleck, rips off fabulous one-liners, and portrays the emotion and distress in her character very well. Rosamund Pike got all the attention, but more people should recognize the brilliant work Coon did for her character.

Sam Rockwell – The Green Mile

Sam Rockwell has been one of the more consistent actors working in Hollywood for the past few decades, and it is great to finally see him grabbing lead roles in film. In The Green Mile, he has a very small role, but steals every scene he is in, and is extremely memorable. His character, Wild Bill, is chaotic, nutty, and every bit of insane. Rockwell really gives it his all in this performance, but is overshadowed by the more popular actors and the brilliant performance from Michael Clarke Duncan.

o-william-h-macy-loser-facebookWilliam H. Macy – Boogie Nights

William H. Macy has pulled off so many great performances throughout his entire career, but the ones that don’t seem to get talked about much are his performances in the two early Paul Thomas Anderson films, Boogie Nights and Magnolia. My personal favorite is his performance in Boogie Nights. This particular film has a large ensemble cast filled with many fantastic roles and performances, but Macy gives one of the best performances in the film, despite his role being so minimal. His character is extremely tragic, and Macy really pulls off the pain and anxiety in his character.

Melissa Leo – Prisoners

Leo has had a long career, and has proven time and time again why she is a talented actress. She even won an Academy Award back in 2011 for her performance in The Fighter. However, her role in Prisoners is fantastic and is arguably just as good. She is barely recognizable in her role, but steals every scene she is in. Leo is sadly overshadowed by the two other great performances from the leads Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, but should get more recognition for the work she did.

Ethan Hawke – Training Day

I don’t think people give enough credit for how great Hawke was in this film. He displays his character with righteousness, where you instantly root for him, but at the same time a large amount of sensitivity and uneasiness. You really feel bad for his character as things continue to go worse and worse for him. This is one of the best performances of his underrated career, but he just happens to share most of his scenes with a Denzel Washington at the peak of his powers.

Paul Dano – There Will Be Blood

Dano has had a very fortunate young career, finding himself in some of the best films of our generation. He also gives a great performance, but is regularly overlooked or forgotten. One perfect example is his performance in There Will Be Blood, where he plays a young Pastor of a young church who becomes a rival with the lead character, Daniel Plainview. Dano really pours everything he’s got for this role, but was sadly overshadowed by one of the greatest performances in film history by Daniel Day-Lewis. Dano was completely left out during awards season for that year, but his role should remain one of the better supporting performances of the 2000s.

Alan Rickman – Harry Potter Franchise

The late, great Alan Rickman will never be forgotten, but his performance in the Harry Potter franchise should be praised more. He lived and breathed this character and stole every scene he was in. It amazes me how he is able to use the monotone  in his voice to enhance the dialogue his character speaks. He was also very fortunate to have a full, three-dimensional character that had a brilliant character arch that lasted the entire franchise. He embodied sympathy with his character that few actors could have pulled off. Rickman, in my opinion, gave the best performance in the entire franchise and should be praised more often for it.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman

I wold like to end this list by praising one of the greatest actors of our generation who passed away far too soon back in 2014. I could think of a handful of wonderful performances that he has given that may have been overshadowed or forgotten about. Whether it was his flamboyant, but tragic character in Boogie Nights, the overly aggressive character in PunchDrunk Love, or the veteran journalist in Almost Famous, Hoffman always seemed to give everything he had in his role and embodied his characters extremely well. He was a chameleon who could play multiple, different roles with ease. Personally my favorite performance of his was in Magnolia. That performance was overshadowed due in part to the large ensemble cast and one of Tom Cruises best roles, but Hoffman gave an emotionally drenching performance and was just so likable. I hope his legacy lives on forever, and whenever you watch a film that has Hoffman in it, really pay attention to how phenomenal of an actor he was, no matter how big of a role he had.



  1. Plain, Simple Tom

    Melissa Leo was indeed excellent in Prisoners – so scary yet restrained.
    Plus, Paul Dano is one of the best actors working today!

    1. Brendan Bellavia (Post author)

      Paul Dano must have a great agent, because he always seems to be in fantastic films lol

  2. Courtney Young

    YES @ Keith Stanfield! I actually wrote an entire post about his performance, which I found to be greater than Brie Larson. It’s a shame he’s heavily overlooked…his acting was so genuine and raw. Great post!

    1. Brendan Bellavia (Post author)

      I just read it. I loved the post!! Very well written. I loved what he said about the rap scene, and I wasn’t aware he took part in writing the rap. Stanfield has become one of my favorite up and coming actors and I expect to see him in a lot more other things. Have you seen the show Atlanta on FX? He’s a regular on that show and is becoming my favorite character on that show as well.

  3. Liam

    Buffalo Bill was one creepy villain. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget about him because of Hannibal Lecter. Alan Rickman’s portrayal was brilliant. I agree, he gave the best performance in the franchise. Great list!

  4. dbmoviesblog

    Uh, I think everyone just took for granted what Alan Rickman did. A fantastic, versatile actor he was. I think it is not only in the Harry Potter franchise he was overlooked. He should have been nominated for an Oscar for Robin Hood! As for Levine, I think everyone is just too terrified of his character in Silence of the Lambs to think about him there too much. That’s why they don’t want to talk about it at all – to forget sooner lol


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