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Amazing Acting Performances In Otherwise Garbage Movies

Updated June 18, 2019 5.7k votes 1.2k voters 34.1k views15 items

List RulesVote up the excellent performances that stand out in otherwise not-great films.

Acting: it's hard! But some people manage to do it so spectacularly they carry an entire poorly-written movie. Unlike bad movies with great casts, these horrible films only have one - maybe two - redeeming performances. But if you can look past all the distracting CGI, tired tropes, and hollow dialogue, you can glimpse master artistry at work. 

When starring in an Oscar-bait film loaded with money and big-name stars, it's easy for an individual actor to phone in a solid performance. In such films, there's never a shortage of dazzle, so a few weak moments can easily be overlooked in the name of the final product's grand elegance. However, without the support of well-executed movie magic, the actors must take responsibility for making their movie at least partially watchable. And when performers rise to the challenge, it's obvious to absolutely everyone. 

Vote up the actors who were simply too good for the movies in which they appeared.

  • Despite Jared Leto's highly-publicized attempts at method acting, which for some reason included sending a pig carcass to his costars, Margot Robbie is the one who truly gets it right in Suicide Squad. Always one to commit, critics praised her performance, even as they admitted she couldn't save the film.

    Although the movie has essentially the same vibe as a 14-year-old My Chemical Romance fan come to life, Robbie provides a dark, funny, and layered performance.

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  • Obsessed more with technology andvisual effects than with creating a story that's actually interesting, Tron: Legacy underwhelmed critics by lacking plot and character development. Olivia Wilde, who plays Quorra, adds a touch of humanity to the film's digital world, which otherwise feels cold and largely devoid of emotion.

    Although critics have used some odd adjectives to describe Wilde's performance, including "fragrant" and filled with "feline innocence," everyone seems to agree she delivers a warmth the rest of the film notably lacks. 

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  • Sandra Bullock In 'Bird Box'
    Photo: Netflix

    Although certainly entertaining, Bird Box is filled with horror tropes and gratuitous gristle. Even though the filmmakers arguably squandered Sandra Bullock and Sarah Paulson's romantic chemistry on sisterhood, Bullock makes the film watchable. She delivers just the right amount of emotion to make her character's relationships believable, regardless of the banal dialogue and lengthy run-time.

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  • Zooey Deschanel In 'Failure To Launch'
    Photo: Paramount

    In both morals and humor, Failure to Launch falls short. Just like Trip fails to launch his adult life, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey fail to deliver believable romantic chemistry, and the filmmakers fail to deliver a logical plot. Zooey Deschanel - Paula's antisocial roommate - is the highlight of the film, so much so that some critics argued she deserved to be billed among the movie's leads. 

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