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Top 10 British Performances That Were Better Than The Film


Written by Marc Turner Even a bad movie brings out their best. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British performances that were better than the film. For this list we’re ranking performances by British actors that stood out from otherwise poor or mediocre films[3] - with the movie’s success judged on its box office sales, as well as its critical and audience reception. Special thanks to our user RichardFB for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 British Performances That Were Better Than The Film



Even a bad movie brings out their best. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British performances that were better than the film.

For this list we’re ranking performances by British actors that stood out from otherwise poor or mediocre film - with the movie’s success judged on its box office sales, as well as its critical and audience reception.

#10: Michael Sheen
“Tron: Legacy” (2010)


This sequel to the 1982 film “Tron” received mixed reviews, with critics praising its visual effects while criticising its story and cast performance. Sheen, though, received universal acclaim for his portrayal of the flamboyant club owner, Castor. Sheen said he drew inspiration for the role from Mae West, Tim Curry, and particularly British music legend David Bowie. His camp theatrics add a much-needed dose of humour to a film that often takes itself too seriously.

#9: Andrea Riseborough
“Brighton Rock” (2010)


The 1948 version of Graham Greene’s novel is widely considered one of the best British films of all time. The 2010 remake . . . not so much. Helen Mirren and Andy Serkis do give excellent performances, but Riseborough is the highlight of the film, playing a naïve young waitress drawn into a gangland lifestyle. Riseborough skilfully moves her character from bumbling infatuation to suicidal devotion in a display that earned her two BIFA award nominations. It’s just too bad that the film wasn’t of comparable quality.

#8: Mark Rylance
“The BFG” (2016)


Spielberg's adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel was one of 2016’s biggest box-office flops, with “The Hollywood Reporter” magazine claiming it could cost Disney up to $100 million. Critics were generally kind to the film, but generally underwhelmed, except when it came to Rylance, who received plaudits for his portrayal of the loveable title character, the Big Friendly Giant. Motion-capture tech can often obscure an actor’s performance, but not so with the Oscar-winning Rylance, whose work has been likened to that of Andy Serkis as Gollum in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

#7: Tim Roth
“Planet of the Apes” (2001)


While Rupert Wyatt and Matt Reeves gave new life to this beloved franchise with their rebooted trilogy, Tim Burton’s earlier 2001 attempt wasn’t nearly as successful. The director brought style to this updated vision of a planet ruled by apes, but audiences were left scratching their heads at the bizarre twist ending, and critics were generally unimpressed. Roth however, makes it worth a watch. In the film, he plays the ape antagonist General Thade - managing to convey extreme, dangerous intelligence with authentic animalistic movements - and his dedicated performance was rightfully praised.

#6: Michael Gough
“Batman and Robin” (1997)


Often regarded as the worst Batman film ever made, this movie’s negative reception was so severe that Warner Bros opted to cancel a sequel and reboot the series. While Arnold Schwarzenegger left us cold with his barrage of shockingly bad puns, and the rest of the cast similarly phoning it in, Gough proved the film’s one redeeming feature with his warm and dignified portrayal of Batman’s butler, Alfred. He even provides us with one of the franchise’s most poignant moments as he offers this insight to his troubled master.

#5: Ewan McGregor
“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” (2002)


Opinion on the Star Wars prequels may vary, but few would contest that they don’t hold up to the original trilogy. And the less said about sand… the better. Whilst Hayden Christensen earned a Razzie for his performance as Anakin Skywalker, two aspects of the film drew particular praise: the fact that Jar Jar Binks received limited screen time, and the superb performance of McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Though also often lumbered with clunky dialogue, he still manages to lift the franchise with characteristic style and wit.

#4: Paul Bettany
“The Da Vinci Code” (2006)


This adaptation of Dan Brown’s best-selling novel was almost universally slammed by critics, with most reviews labelling it a letdown. But Bettany was one of the few actors to emerge with his reputation unscathed, thanks to his portrayal of the murderous, self-flagellating monk Silas. Amidst the senseless puzzles and the predictable car chases, Bettany delivers a character who is both genuinely creepy and yet strangely sympathetic.

#3: Naomi Watts
“Shut In” (2016)


Watts once revealed that she doesn’t watch her own films, and perhaps it is just as well in this case. The approval rating for “Shut In” on review website “Rotten Tomatoes” is an eye-watering 8%, with critics dismissing it as blandly generic and “achingly inept”. A trained method actress, Watts is wasted on this paper thin role of a grieving child psychiatrist, but she still gives it her all. It is a stirring and forceful performance of a woman who is genuinely concerned over the fate of a missing young boy.

#2: Alan Rickman
“Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (1991)


For many, this is a ‘guilty pleasure’ film, but critics generally panned it for offering a violent and depressing take on the classic story. Whilst Kevin Costner spent the film trying to make a questionable version of the famed archer seem interesting, Rickman won a BAFTA for his delightfully wicked portrayal of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Later, Rickman admitted to rewriting some of his character’s lines with the help of friends, most notably this exchange with two women in Nottingham Castle.

#1: Tim Curry
“It” (1990)


OK, technically this was a TV mini-series at first, but it qualifies because it was subsequently repackaged and sold as a movie on VHS and DVD. Stephen King’s “It” is a horror classic, but this adaptation suffered from some wooden acting, as well as an ending that even Curry described as hugely disappointing. Curry, though, delivers one of the best horror performances of all time as Pennywise, the sinister clown who knows your every fear. Indeed, he was so frightening in character that he reportedly even scared some of the child actors on set.
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