Grossly overrated actors

My first OP since resurfacing here after a couple of years of absence.

No more preambles. Maybe this belongs in the BBQ pit. We’ll see. This list without order of preference.

1. Robert De Niro.
Spends more and more time as a somnambulant in all movies. Can register two emotions (sombre and that stupid fake grin of his) but not convey them to the audience. Has not made one good performance since Cape Fear .

2. Al Pacino
Terribly overacting, which started with A scent of a woman. Has since shown poor judgement in choosing parts, or overacted his parts. His own Richard III shows him for the terrible actor he is. Bru Ha.

3. Mel Gibson
Almost half of his listed feature films at IMDB are about revenge, and the only things he seems to be able to convey is rage, to justify the revenge and “Har-har I’m such a guufy dood!”. Revenge movies that come to mind are Braveheart and the Patriot, but of course, there are a dozen more on the theme.

4. Meryl Streep
She hasn’t had a hit movie in years. I find it ironic that the female and the male I find most overrated made their mark in the same movie, Deer Hunter. Streep has the same fake grin, but her eyes always betray her. She doesn’t feel her part. I can always see her acting the part, rather than being the character.

5. Dustin Hoffman
If that’s not enough, his recent obsession with action movies, as he grows older, is totally pathetic. Is he afraid of getting older and trying to conjure up some machismo to be able to score younger women? Whatever, it doesn’t work for me. Both Sphere and Outbreak got even worse for casting Hoffman.

6. Michelle Pfeiffer
If sucking your cheeks in, being anorectic and wearing dark makeup makes you a good actor, Mrs Kelly is a fine example. The valley girl from Grease 2 has gotten older and is good at portraying a cold hearted bitch. I never see her doing anything else, which for me makes for a pretty bad actor. Why do casting agents give her work? Why do people still claim her to be sooooo beautiful. She looks like a mannequin.
7. Juliette Lewis
If a mark of a good actor is looking like po’ white trash and thereby portraying po’ white trash, Ms Lewis gets top grades. However, if acting is about being able to portray different personalities, and make the audience feel, this person in the audience is left cold.

8. Harrison Ford
With Attack of the Clones coming up, local TV is showing all the older SW movies. When I saw Episode 4, a New Hope, it struck me how terribly bad Ford acts in it. It got me thinking about his other movies. He always portray a surly, stonefaced man who, like De Niro, appears like a somnambulant on the screen. I guess he’s a big heartthrob for women, and he certainly is a Moviestar with box office appeal, but he sucks at acting. Since he can’t act, he walks around trying to look mysterious and macho.
9. Cuba Gooding Jr.
Since Jerry McGuire and his winning of an Academy Award, he’s been doing the same part over and over. I will not see a movie he’s in, because I know he will be screaming his lines throughout the movie. He’s no better than Martin Lawrence, but at least Lawrence doesn’t pretend to be Oscar material.

10. Robin Williams
Is so pretentious it hurts my eyes. He has done some funny shticks in comedy. He was great as a DJ in Good Morning Vietnam, but the dramatic part of the movie bored me to pieces. He was great as Genie in Aladdin. When he’s improvising, and imitating he’s a truly fun guy. However, he lives with the misconception that this gives him the ability to carry of leading roles in dramatic movies. He invariably fails. And anybody with a trackrecord of doing Jumanji, The Bicentennial Man and Hook has automatically disqualified himself from calling himself an actor.
"I’m not an actor! I’m a MOVIESTAR!!!"
Peter O’Toole in My Favourite year

A few of those you’ve mentioned have never been touted as great actors. Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Harrison Ford, and Robin Williams come immediately to mind.

As for the others I think to judge them you’ve got to look at their entire body of work. It isn’t fair to just look at their more recent work.


I agree with Mel Gibson (nice to meetcha, Mr. Gibson!) that if you’re going to choose someone as grossly overrated, you can’t just pick out their worst movies.

However, I agree about De Niro.

I think you killed this thread with the OP, but I’ll add mine anyway: Bill Paxton. I’ve never seen him play anyone other than Bill Paxton. Twister, U571, Titanic, Vertical Limit, Apollo 13, True Lies… all the same guy.

OTOH, Saying that e.g. De Niro and Pacino are great actors, based on Deer Hunter and Godfather and a few other films, is quite as wrong. When I say overrated, I mean just that. They are by many regarded as great actors, but the body of their work has been in crappy roles. Come on guys, De Niro as Louis Cyphre in Angel Heart…? Pacino in Any Given Sunday and The Devil’s Advocate?
If they’re such great actors, i.e. presumably smart and can also afford good agents, why do they keep making such crappy films? Maybe they aren’t that great, maybe their big things were due to good screenplays and good directing?

I agreee on Bill Paxton. Makes me think I could start acting.

There are a frew reasons I can think of.
I would think that some actors could feel pressured to make a movie just so they don’t fade away into obscurity.

Some actors probably just need to make a few bucks now and then to maintain whatever lifestyle they’re accustomed to.

And finally some movies probably look great in script form but by the time the film is finished it ends up being a steaming load of crap.

I’m sure there are other reasons why good actors do bad movies.


I can’t believe I’m the first to say Russell Crowe. What a fireplug.

Hmmm, people seem to have some sort of weird myopia when it comes to De Niro and Pacino. Is it because their best work is behind them? Or that they’ve made questionable choices in material in the past decade? These two practically defined 1970’s cinema and to dismiss their work with a pat “Deer Hunter and Godfather and a few other films” does a grave discredit to their body of work.

Great Performances by De Niro:
Mean Streets, Bang the Drum Slowly, Godfather II, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, King of Comedy, Midnight Run, Awakenings, This Boy’s Life, Heat, Wag the Dog, Jackie Brown. Based soley on these movies, he deserves to be called great. Sure, he’s also made a lot of crap, but that’s practically inevitable when you have a career spanning 3 decades.

Great Performances by Pacino:
Panic in Needle Park, Serpico, Godfather I & II, Dog Day Afternoon, Glengarry Glenn Ross, Carlito’s Way, The Insider, Donnie Brasco. And, personally, I think Scarface is one of the all-time great, wildly over-the-top, scene-shredding tour-de-forces ever put on film. I may, however, be in the minority on that one.

I have to agree about Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson, though. Lately, I’ve been actively avoiding their movies.

Dustin Hoffman seems to be in Rain Man mode ever since he made that movie. I can’t take him seriously on screen anymore. I keep thinking he will start rocking back and forth saying “yeah… definately. I’m an excellent driver. Yeah”

Jack Nicholson. Doesn’t even bother to act anymore, if he ever did. Just gets on stage and is his usual asshole self. And then, for some reason, people give him awards. I can’t fathom anyone watching him in ‘As Good As It Gets’ and saying, “Truly marvelous performance. And she’ll be lucky to end up with him at the end.” Want to pay a lot of money to have an egotistical jerk spoil your movie? Jack’s your man.

Robin Williams. I don’t know if he counts as overrated, because I don’t think anyone takes him as seriously as he takes himself. Whether having to endure his ‘comedy’ or his ‘shh! I’m acting!’ style, it’s painful. And when he’s doing both…shudder. At least they don’t do what they used to do with him in dramatic roles - give him one scene to do his dumbass pop-culture-riffing to ‘hilarious’ effect (see Dead Poets Society for a good example). “Yeah, Robin? We kind of want to completely fuck up the tone of this movie, so do you mind ad-libbing a bunch of unfunny hip references?”

Paging Ms. Roberts, Ms. Julia Roberts: That talent agency called and apparently you don’t have any.

I was going to say Keanu Reeves and Hugh Grant, but then I realized that many people recognize them for the hacks they are; hence, they aren’t over-rated.

If you’re going to trash people for their recent work, while ignoring their other accomplishments, you can’t get any worse than Marlon Brando.

I know I’ll get ripped apart for saying this, but I have never understood why Kevin Spacey won the Oscar for “American Beauty.” His performance struck me as unbelievably phony. He was legitimately first-rate in “The Usual Suspects” and (in a less demanding role) “Seven,” but two movies do not greatness make.

Am I the only one with a hatred for Ben Affleck? He’s been getting some more serious roles lately, but it upsets me because, well, HE SUCKS!!! He mumbles, he’s inarticulate, he’s got an annoying voice, he looks like a date rapist, and yet women cream at the thought of him. What’s up with that? Supposeldy, Chaning Lanes is supposed to be really good, but I haven’t gotten out to see it yet, and the new Tom Clancy movie looks promising as well, but come on, he’s a horrible, horrible actor. It’s nice to see him getting a chance, but please, STOP PUTTING HIM IN MOVIES!!!

Re: Pacino & De Niro.
Yes, I dismissed them with a few examples of their most famous movies. Of course they did other big things in the 70’s, But since the 80’s it’s deteriorated.
Wag the dog was an OK flick, but a bit transparent. De Niro did nothing outstanding in that one. Awakenings… Terrible studio concept thing designed along the lines “Let’s win an Oscar!”
Donnie Brasco. Bah. Pacino repeats his role from Frankie & Johnny on autopilot. Johnny Depp’s good though.
I Can’t even remember Pacino from Glengarry Glenn Ross. In insider he plays the same powerdrunk type as he did in Devil’s… and Any given… Too much Brua Hah. Too little acting.

Does anybody even consider Affleck an actor. Moviestar, yes. Actor no.

I will soon start thread about most underrated actors, too, but now it’s time to sit outside in the sun, with Ellroy’s brilliant Cold six thousand.

The Score was such a disappointment. De Niro mumbling and Brando mumbling even worse.
For the first time I thought Ed Norton overacted, too. Maybe because of the company.

Nicolas Cage - Awful. …but ppl like him! I don’t get it. The only movie with him in it that I liked was ‘Leaving Las Vegas’, and that’s because I like binge movies. ‘Face Off’? C’mon! “I want to tear your face off.” He gets bad lines and can’t act for squat. What was that other bad movie? The boxing one? Dumb. Dumb dumb dumb. Which reminds me…

Jim Carrey - Also awful. I don’t even know where to begin.

Cage was perfect in Raising Arizona, and Carrey did a good job in The Truman Show (IMHO). It just goes to show how much depends on script and direction.

Have to second plnnr’s sentiments there – as my father (the theater major) used to say while watching the Oscars: “Best Actor? Best at Taking Direction, more like!”

A-freaking men on Julia Roberts! Plays the same character in all her movies, then wins an Oscar for playing that character in a slightly better movie than the usual first date movie she’s in.

I would also add that Robin Williams can be very good (Good Morning Vietnam, Fisher King, Aladdin) or flat out awful (numerous others). He really needs to choose roles better.