Chekhov's Gunman


Ten Overshadowed Performances

Life isn’t fair. Sometimes you just don’t get your due. Often that involves people cutting in line, unplanned pregnancies, or surprise hurricanes. But sometimes it is you giving a great acting performance only to have your work covered up by someone that everyone paid attention to more. You could call this the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.”

Obviously, this is not every performance that has ever been overlooked. If you can think of one, leave it down in the comments, or yell at me on Twitter.

Art Mullen Justified Nick Searcy

10.)    Nick Searcy as Art Mullen on Justified
Overshadowed by Timothy Olymphant as Raylan Givens, Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder, and The Guest Stars

Justified has always been Raylan’s story. The pilot is about him, and we follow him every single moment we’re not following Boyd Crowder or this season’s sinister southern racketeer. But some of the best and most consistent parts of the show revolve around Art Mullen. As a Chief Deputy U.S. Marshall, Searcy is a great boss, dealing inexplicably well with the troublesome nutcases in his care, who rack up bodies like most grocery stores rack up Campbell’s Soup. And Searcy manages to avoid that most hated of police boss tropes by not being a total buzzkill. He does his job well and often has to come down hard on Raylan, which should bring us down harder than when that sort of things happens in a Lethal Weapon flick, but through charisma and smart writing, Art manages to keep a place in every Justified fan’s heart.

Andrew Garfield The Social Network Eduardo Saverin

9.)    Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network
Overshadowed by Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg and Armie Hammer as The Winklevoss Twins

Eisenberg is the one who got the Oscar nomination (right so) and I’ve already sang the praises of Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss twins, but Garfield is truly the unsung hero of the whole picture. It’s his heartbreaking performance as the guy who gets shafted out of Facebook’s masthead that makes the ending of this movie not only work, but drive itself into the pit of your stomach every single time. He also has the movie’s funniest line, getting exasperated over how fish eat other fish (the salmon and the trout).

scott pilgrim vs the world cast

8.)    Everyone in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Overshadowed by The Filmmaking

Scott Pilgrim is the perfect showcase for Edgar Wright’s impeccably-paced filmmaking, turning Wright into my favorite filmmaker and Pilgrim into what I recently called the best comic book movie ever. The editing is impeccable, the staging perfect, the feel exactly like that of a video game or fast-reading comic book. The only problem is that I’ve never heard anyone talk about the acting in this movie. Everyone I know loves this movie, no one’s seen it only once, but no one ever talks about the acting- the wonderful and memorable cast of characters on display in our fast-transitioning Toronto. Even the greatest of Michael Cera detractors didn’t doubt the little guy as he fought Captain America and Superman and won both times. This movie is destined to be an all-time cult classic, due in no small part to fantastic performances throughout, even from Chris Evans who I don’t like in anything else but absolutely love in this.


Ben Wyatt Parks and Recreation Adam ScottParks and Recreation Anne Perkins Rashida Jones

7.)    Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt and Rashida Jones as Anne Perkins on Parks and Recreation
Overshadowed by Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope and Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson

The Emmys have seen fit to consistently nominate Amy Poehler for her performance without much chance of her ever winning, and the sheer amount of Ron Swanson content on the Internet is an absolute testament to Nick Offerman’s powerhouse performance. In the past, I’ve acknowledged Aubrey Plaza’s April as one of the most underrated performances, but even I have skipped over these two. Ben Wyatt and Leslie Knope are television’s most adorable couple, with much of that credit being due to Scott’s social awkward and Batman-versed Ben Wyatt, former mayor and creator of Ice Town. And Jones has been a force on the show since the beginning, doing great and memorable work even when the writers have never really given her anything to do. Anne Perkins beats at the show’s heart and it is lit’rally… ONE of our favorite people IN the world, if you believe Chris Traeger.

John Watson Martin Freeman Sherlock

6.)    Martin Freeman as John Watson on Sherlock
Overshadowed by Benedict Cumberfanlove as Sherlock Holmes

Watson is a thankless role, and Freeman is perhaps our most thankless actor. Famous for giving great performances in things that aren’t that good (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie, The Hobbit movie I won’t stop telling you is bad). And playing second fiddle and straight man to the Internet’s most beloved human isn’t helping things. But Freeman is splendid as military medical man Watson and gives us a nice, grounded diving board for Sherlock to keeping jumping off of. Freeman doesn’t just deserve better roles, but really his own show. Let’s see how The World’s End pans out. Fingers Crossed.

Tommy Lee Jones Lincoln

5.)    Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln
Overshadowed by Daniel Daygoddamn-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln

I am no fan of Lincoln. I talked about it a week or so ago. A lot of that is due back to the fact that none of the characters change. They have no arcs or movement, and mostly just stand there being obnoxious and telling what seems like dozens of overlong and irrelevant stories or making funny faces while looking at a pit of legs. Everyone, of course, except for Tommy Lee Jones, which I suppose is the reason why he is easily the best part of the movie. As a congressman who leads the charge for Lincoln’s slavery-abolishing legislation, Jones turns in a hell of a performance and really wins the day and remains the only part of that movie that left me feeling better than bored out of my mind.

Dean Norris Breaking Bad Hank

4.)    Dean Norris as Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad
Overshadowed by Bryan Cranston as Walter White, Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, and Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo Fring

Breaking Bad is the best acting going on anywhere right now. Maybe of all time. I feel no shame in saying that. Everyone is stark perfect. Cranston has brought in innumerable trophies for his work, and Aaron Paul has had his fair share as well. The only issue with that becomes that someone has to be left out. That person is Dean Norris. Norris has been in since day one, turning in a funny and surprisingly nuanced performance as Walter White’s DEA Agent brother-in-law Hank Schrader. Norris could easily have played Hank as a buffoon, not even able to catch the biggest drug dealer in the area when he so frequently has dinner with the guy, but we’ve never doubted Hank for a second. His skills have never been called into question, even as he lay rehabilitating in his bed after a particularly gruesome shootout that was also incredibly awesome. And his mid-season cliffhanger last September was the best scene involving a toilet to ever grace this Earth.

In the heat of the night rod steiger

3.)    Rod Steiger as Gillespie in In The Heat of the Night
Overshadowed by Sidney Poitier as Mr. Tibbs

In the Heat of the Night is famous for three things: A powerful performance from Sidney Poitier, an incredibly out-of-place theme song, and the line “They call me Mr. Tibbs,” which made my entire class realize where that Pumba quote from the Lion King came from. What everyone forgets is that the “Mr. Tibbs” line is immediately followed by a powerful and forceful rebuttal from Steiger that makes the line so memorable. Strangely, it was Steiger that ended up winning all the awards for the film (probably because everyone was really racist), only to be a forgotten entity down the road, proof-positive that Oscars don’t mean a damn thing.

harvey dent the dark knight

2.)    Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight
Overshadowed by Heath Ledger as the Joker

The Joker has never worked for me as much as he does for other people. I find elements of chaos to get a little boring after a while, as they keep doing things for no reason, which mostly just allows writers to do whatever they want without ever having to justify it. However, I cannot deny that Ledger’s performance as the Joker in Nolan’s Bat-Middle Section is wonderful. He’s animalistic, and tenacious, and it’s great. However, I do think his death has overplayed its quality a tad. The real stand-out of the film to me has always been Eckhart’s Harvey Dent. The fall of Gotham’s White Knight is heartbreaking and stands as the crucial turning point of the entire film. His transition from Gotham’s last hope to its fallen dream is incredibly powerful, way more powerful than anything the Clown Prince of Crime had on display.

Fun Fact: Eckhart isn’t the only one Ledger overshadowed. There was also the oft-forgotten Sgt. Lincoln Osiris.

michael fassbender shame

1.)    Michael Fassbender as Brandon in Shame
Overshadowed by his own penis

There is much speculation surrounding why Michael Fassbender didn’t even get nominated for his role in Shame, despite giving the greatest performance by anyone I’ve seen in years. The most common theory is that it’s because he goes full frontal and the Academy is just not into that mostly because they are just jealous of how big it is. Fassbender’s Brandon is a broken man, driven by his vices to the point where they control his life. The performance is impossibly strong, played out in long takes and believable absolutely every second of the way. Anyone seeking evidence of Fassbender’s power as an actor need look no further than everything he’s ever been in. Even X-Men: First Class.

Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and television blog moderated by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of movies and TV and current writer of a Justified spinoff that is just Nick Searcy yelling at people. Subscribe or follow above for all of our content, and leave your comments below.

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Seriously, you guys. I cannot wait for The World’s End.


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19 thoughts on “Ten Overshadowed Performances

  1. Two great picks here…

    Aaron Eckhart is magnificent in TDK, and totally overshadowed by Ledger. His speech (about “what’s fair”) in the final showdown is downright heartbreaking.

    Tommy Lee Jones easily gave his best performance in years in Lincoln.

    • I’ve always loved Eckhart, especially in that movie, and I kind of wish he’d get his due, or at least a solid part in the last five years.

      And Jones is magnificent in Lincoln, far outrunning his Oscar-winning role in The Fugitive.

  2. Agreed, particularly about Rashida Jones and Adam Scott. Through at least season 2, Ann seemed like a serious weak link, but Jones and the writers have done a great job deepening her character since then (mostly Jones). Ben Wyatt is kind of amazing, too – both because he’s one half of the most adorable TV couple ever, and because of everything else about him.

    With The Social Network, too, Garfield was definitely the most heartbreaking piece, though Eisenberg and the rest obviously had standout performances.

    • The Social Network is positively stuffed with great performances. Unfortunately that means that someone has to be left behind.

      • True. Too bad that had to be him, though.

      • Exactly. Although he’s sitting high on a Spider-Man franchise, putting him in a better place than either of his lauded co-stars.

        Also, you are now my Top Commenter! You’ve posted more on my things than anyone else and I thank you highly for this!

      • True. I don’t like the Spider-Man movies as much as I do this, though.

        ..And yay! Thanks for letting me know!

      • I’ve only seen the first ten minutes of The Amazing Spider-Man and have little to no desire to finish it.

      • It’s stunningly mediocre. It basically retrod old ground and introduced a bunch of one-dimensional characters and jumbled subplots for next to no reason.

        Garfield and Emma Stone were charming, though.

      • All I saw was dramatic curtain closing and Peter Parker skateboarding through his high school, too cool to just walk. And I gave up hope forever.

      • That was a smart decision. I watched it in theaters, though, and the only movies I walk out of are either really offensive or basically the worst thing ever (The Internship, for example).

      • I feel sorry for your wallet, knowing the shame it felt paying to see that movie.

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