Posted by: ckckred | April 21, 2013

What is Your Favorite Performance By An Actor You Don’t Normally Like?

In my recent review of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love, I praised Adam Sandler’s performance, which greatly surprised me.  I’ve never been a Sandler fan, but his dedication to his character made me wish he picked up more roles like that or worked with directors as talented as PTA.

This inspired today’s question: what is your favorite performance by an actor you don’t normally like?  For me, it would be between Sandler’s in Punch-Drunk Love and Ryan O’Neal in Barry Lyndon.

Ryan O'Neal is often overlooked in Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece

Ryan O’Neal is often overlooked in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece

O’Neal hasn’t starred in a noteworthy role besides in Barry Lyndon (with the exception of Paper Moon) and he gives a power performance as the title character.  A main criticism of many of Stanley Kubrick’s movies is that they usually don’t have strong acting, which I fully disagree with and use O’Neal as an example.

But what are your picks?


  1. I don’t really have much of an opinion on Shia Labeouf, but he surprised me with his decent perofrmance in Lawless.

    • I haven’t seen Lawless and part of that is due to LaBeouf. I’ll try to check it out. Thanks for commenting.

  2. This turns out to be an easy one for me: I love the movie Pulp Fiction, but really am not fond of John Travolta. Putting aside his cult membership, he plays cheesy bad guys (Swordfish, The Punisher, Broken Arrow) or plays in movies I think are bad where his performance is nothing to write home about. I really cannot think of a single movie before or after Pulp Fiction where I like Travolta.

    Also, Barry Lyndon is an awesome movie!

    • Good point with John Travolta. I’ve never really enjoyed many movies he was in but he’s great in Pulp Fiction. Too bad his career fell down right after that.

      Barry Lyndon’s great. I think it’s probably Kubrick’s most underrated movie. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I’m not a huge Brad Pitt fan, but thought he was great in the Tree of Life…

    • I like Brad Pitt in a couple of other movies like Se7en and Moneyball, but he was great in The Tree of Life. I think he should have gotten an Oscar nomination for that. Thanks for commenting.

  4. I was never a fan of Demi Moore, but she was good in “A Few Good Men”.

    • I usually don’t like her either, but she was pretty great in A Few Good Men. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Hmm, Will Ferrel in Wedding Crashers just jumped to mind, so for now and until I can come up with better, I’ll go with that. 😛

    • Good pick. WIll Ferrell can be pretty hit or miss but he was great there. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Steve Carrell in Little Miss Sunshine. I actually haven’t seen him in anything else, but all the commercials and trailers for his stuff I didn’t like. I thought he was usually in really stupid stuff. I know he’s beloved and everything, but I avoided his stuff like the plague. I didn’t see Little Miss Sunshine because of him, but despite him. He was REALLY GOOD in that movie though, it surprised me. I feel like he’s one of those actors that I’ll only be able to stand in dramatic roles. I think he’s going to be in a more dramatic role this year too (forget the movie off the top of my head) and I’ll probably be seeing that one as well.

    • I like Steve Carrell and The Office is one of my favorite TV shows, even though it’s no where near as good as it was a couple of years ago, but he was in top form in Little Miss Sunshine. I heard he’s doing another dramatic role later this year as well, which I’m looking forward to seeing. Thanks for commenting.

  7. You called it, Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love.

    • Yeah, I agree. I wish Sandler would take roles like that instead of the comedies he usually stars in. Thanks for commenting.

  8. Well I don’t usually like Daniel Day-Lewis but he was alright in There Will Be Blood…. Lol, just kidding. 🙂 Day-Lewis is awesome. I’d say Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street.

    • Hmm, I haven’t seen 21 Jump Street, mostly because I don’t really like Tatum and Jonah Hill, but after hearing a lot about it I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for commenting.

      • You should check it out. It’s better than you’d expect it to be.

  9. That’s a tough one. I guess ‘actor’ also includes ‘actress’, so I don’t particularly like Sandra Bullock, but thought she was really good in ‘The Blind Side’.

    • I’m not crazy over Sandra Bullock either, but she was good in The Blind Side, though I wouldn’t have given her an Oscar for that role. Thanks for commenting.

  10. Not that I’m obsessed with Paul Thomas Anderson but the performances that jump to mind are (like you) Sandler in PDL but also Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights. But yeah, Sandler needs to be brave and explore that dark side again – let’s be honest, he can afford it to fail.

    • Oh, I forgot about Mark Wahlberg. Yeah, I agree. I typically don’t like him but he was actually really great in Boogie Nights. Anderson really brings out the best in actors. I wish Sandler would make another movie with him again. Thanks for commenting.

      • I’m never sure if Wahlberg was accidentally great… I mean, he plays someone who’s totally naive, pretty awkward and who can’t act! But whatever it was, it works in that role.

      • I never thought of it that way. He was perfect for that part and really provides the awkwardness of Dirk Diggler.

  11. On the subject of Ryan O’Neal, I liked him in The Driver. Maybe because he didn’t say much. But he is pretty rubbish in most things.

    • I haven’t seen The Driver, but I wish O’Neal picked better roles. He had so much potential. Thanks for commenting.

  12. I’m not a Steve Martin fan (he’s too formulaic), but his performance in Planes, Trains and Automobiles was great.

    A performance I hated by a usually good actor: Shelly Duvall in The Shining. I love her in Altman’s films — and she was in a lot of them, but her nonsensical screaming in Kubrick’s film aggravated me dearly.

    • I’m a big Steve Martin fan, though his performance in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles remains my favorite, probably since it’s his most realistic character.

      Yeah, I love The Shining, but Duvall wasn’t in very good form, though I guess I can’t really blame her since Kubrick made her do so many takes. I actually have a similar question planned for next week about the weakest films from great directors. Thanks for commenting.

  13. Reading all the comments above, I realise that maybe there are quite a few actors I really don’t like all that much at some level (and yes, Adam Sandler is one, Channing Tatum is another), but one nomination for me is Russell Crowe. He can be a good actor, but not one I necessarily enjoy watching, though weirdly (despite finding the film itself really very patchy and certainly one I wouldn’t voluntarily watch again, though my wife may have other ideas) I liked him in Les Miserables.

    • Hmm, I’m the other way around. I like Russell Crowe but thought he wasn’t very good in Les Miserables. Thanks for commenting.

  14. I’m going to have to say Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris. I don’t hate the guy but I don’t love him either. He was excellent in that film. Great question again this week.

    • Thanks! I agree, Wilson is usually hit or miss but he was great in Midnight in Paris.

  15. I’m with you on Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love. Makes me wish he would take on more dramatic roles.

    • Yeah, I was really surprised how good Sandler was. I wish he’d pick up more roles like that. Thanks for commenting.

  16. Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love.
    He’s gone way downhill with Jack and Jill. Oh, and Grown Ups 2…

    • Yeah, Sandler showed so much potential in the film. Thanks for commenting.

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