This short series has proved to be quite popular. It has also generated a lot of debate on the posts, something I enjoy a great deal, hence this additional post. For those of you who disagree with my choices, please remember that I am saying (mostly) that they are overrated, not necessarily bad actors. Some of them are in very good films indeed, and others can make a good film seem bad. As before, please pitch in with your own thoughts in the comments, and feel free to reply to those made by others too.
I first remember Jack Nicholson in the film ‘Easy Rider’. I quite liked the film, but I was only 17 when I watched it, and couldn’t really see the point of Nicholson’s character. The following year, I saw ‘Five Easy Pieces’. He was much better in that one, but I couldn’t get past Karen Black’s strange eyes, (still can’t) so found the film hard to watch. A few years later, and he started to play Jack Nicholson, in everything! He began to substitute shouting for acting, then shouted louder when he wanted to act better. Every now and again, I saw something of the old Jack. ‘Chinatown’ was his finest hour for me; weary and cynical, and less shouting. He managed to ruin ‘The Shining’ for me, by hysterical overacting that bordered on the comedic. I should have been terrified, but instead I was laughing. By the time he got to ‘The Departed’, I had pretty much had enough, to be honest.
Will Smith seems like a nice amiable sort of man. He even recorded a song that I liked, called ‘Summertime’. Then he was in a popular US TV series, and I didn’t watch that. Suddenly, he was a serious actor, and getting roles in major films. I blinked and missed there, obviously. I will give him one good role here, that of ‘Ali’, in the biopic of the same name. But I think that was because he looked a lot like the younger boxer, and not because of the acting. (And I liked the soundtrack.) But come on, an actor? ‘Bad Boys’, ‘Wild Wild West’, ‘Bagger Vance’, ‘Independence Day’, ‘Men In Black’. They all looked like extended pop videos, with Will being good old Will. I managed to enjoy ‘Enemy Of The State’, but not because of Will, though he was adequate. Then there was ‘I Robot’, and ‘I Am Legend’. Both potentially very good films, ruined by Will’s comedic alter-ego that just won’t go away. Sorry Will, you are quite good, (sort-of) but that’s it.
To say that the diminutive Tom Cruise is overrated is a classic understatement. He is just plain bad. Before you all rush to tell me that he does his own stunts, gets injured, and that he looks great for his age, and blah blah, I know all that. But that’s not ‘acting’, not in my (very large) book. In his long career to date, he impressed me once. Just the once, and because he (almost) acted. I enjoyed the film ‘Collateral’ mainly because he played against type, and looked suitably menacing. But I can think of at least ten other actors who would have turned that into a great film. His woeful list goes on and on, but I will mention some of the worst. ‘Minority Report’, where he played opposite the wonderful Samantha Morton, who saved that average film. Who can forget the lamentable ‘Far and Away’, where even Nicole Kidman was awful? And the other films where better actors showed him up, like ‘Interview With The Vampire’, when the young Kirsten Dunst stole the film from the male leads. And ‘The Last Samurai’, where the Japanese actors showed how it should be done. No apologies Tom, you’re hopeless!
To prove it’s not only men I am talking about, here comes Sandra Bullock. If someone can earn a living playing basically the same part throughout her entire career, I say “well done to you”. But when they are boosted as an ‘actress’, that’s another story. From the start, I confess that I quite enjoyed ‘The Net’. But that was a very long time ago, (1995) and it had Jeremy Northam in it. That man can really act! Other than that, it is a case of Sandra playing Sandra, doing the same thing until my eyes bleed just watching her. OK, she was in a great film, ‘Crash’. But it’s not great because she was in it. And she was in the lamentable US remake of ‘The Vanishing’, a film that I think should just be thrown out with the trash. Sandra, here’s a tip. You are not just supposed to be Sandra Bullock. You are supposed to be a ‘character’. Just saying…
I will leave it at four today, and look forward to any comments. I want to save some others for later posts.