5. Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
You knew this was coming – you saw the title and you said to yourself “Eternal Sunshine will be on this list.” Then you shoveled some more nachos in your mouth and then stuck some stickers on your cat’s tail and watched her freak out until you got bored. That last part might have just been me, actually.
Anyway, yeah – We had things like The Truman Show and The Majestic, and more recently The Number 23, but you just can’t compare it. Like Steve Carell in Sunshine, Carrey gives off a pathetic, beaten down feel of a man who only gives us a hint of something more – a silliness not unlike Carrey himself that only comes out in the absolute thickest blanket of familiarity and comfort. Check out his dry narration at the very beginning of the film:
4. Jackie Gleason in The Hustler
I’m rather surprised that this role doesn’t come up more in similar lists I’ve seen. Even though Jackie Gleason did take on his fair share of dramatic roles he is really only known for two things: Ralph in The Honeymooners and legendary pool player Minnesota Fats, who serves as Fast Eddie Felson’s white whale in The Hustler. His performance is rather stoic against Paul Newman’s hustler charm, showing only enough personality to interact with those in the pool hall as much as he is expected to interact. While Eddie is always looking for a challenge, Fats has the luxury of not having to go far to take on new blood, making him a fairly looming opponent throughout the film. Here’s Eddie and Fats’ first interaction of the film, setting the stage for incoming defeat our hero ensues:
3. Jay Mohr in Playing By Heart
Not only is Jay Mohr’s performance as a young gay man dying of AIDS in a hospital bed while slowly rebuilding his relationship with his mother an extremely hidden gem in this film, but the film itself – Playing By Heart – seems to be a gem of it’s own. Starring a ridiculous cast including Sean Connery, Ellen Burstyn, Angelina Jolie, Ryan Phillippe, Dennis Quaid, Gillian Anderson, and Jon Stewart in yet another serious performance. The movie follows a collection of romantic tales that eventually find themselves interweaved with one another. Mohr’s role in the entire mess of things is both significant and hard to watch as he comes to terms with the decisions he has made and his personal relationships while on his deathbed. This is the first we see of him:
2. Jon Lovitz in Southland Tales
I’ve heard mixed reactions to this film – personally I thought it was really fun. Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly’s downright odd casting – choosing to go with comedy or action film actors for relatively non-comedic roles, is personally my favorite feature of this film. While Cheri Oteri, Dwayne Johnson, Sean William Scott, and Kevin Smith come to mind as especially odd choices, the winner absolutely has to be Job Lovitz as the racist, corrupt cop Bart Bookman. His presence in this film, while somewhat laughable, is nonetheless oddly disturbing. It’s this weirdness that pushes him so far up this list for me.
1. Bill Murray in The Razor’s Edge
I never understood why people made such a big deal out of Lost In Translation. It’s a wonderful movie, but it always seems to get praised for Bill Murray’s dive into serious acting. Truth is, he actually made this dive nearly 20 years earlier when he did the film The Razor’s Edge. It was good to. Really good if you ask me.
The film was made in accordance with his contract when he did Ghostbusters – Murray had agreed to do the now classic comedy only if he was allowed to do this film as well, which was actually shot before but released after his iconic appearance as Dr. Peter Venkman. Watching just the preview below is enough to have a very surreal experience, let alone watching the entire film. His dramatic performance throughout, while genuine and quite good, still can’t subdue the smile I get just by looking at this man. There is seriously nothing that Bill Murray can do to make me anything but happy.