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20 Underrated Actors and Actresses Who Deserve More Recognition

We all know one actor or actress who’s genuinely talented but hardly gets any recognition, or at least less than they should. A few fans in an online community shared their thoughts on movie stars who’ve been silently stealing the show. We’re sure you have your own opinions, but here are 20 we agree with.

1. Patrick Wilson

Fargo Patrick Wilson
Image Credit: MGM Television.

Patrick Wilson has a wealth of talent but doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves. This guy can do it all — heart-wrenching dramas and spine-chilling horror films. Remember his stellar performance in The Conjuring series? He brought depth and authenticity to the role of paranormal investigator Ed Warren. 

2. Joan Allen

Luck Joan Allen
Image Credit: HBO Entertainment.

Joan Allen is one super-talented actress who often flies under the radar. She’s given us many powerful performances and has won many awards/nominations. But that’s not all — Joan’s acting prowess shines through in every role she takes. Her captivating portrayal of a determined mother in The Upside of Anger and her complex character in The Crucible shows how she brings depth and authenticity to her roles. Yes, she has many awards, but fans say she deserves more.

3. John Goodman

Alpha House John Goodman
Image Credits: Amazon Studios.

The beloved John Goodman has been gracing our screens for years. He’s got this remarkable ability to transition from comedic roles to dramatic ones seamlessly. Who can forget his lovable character in Roseanne? John Goodman’s on-screen presence is undeniable; he can effortlessly steal the show. Despite his impressive work, he doesn’t always get the recognition he’s earned. But in the hearts of many fans, John Goodman remains a true star.

4. Parker Posey

Beau Is Afraid Parker Posey
Image Credit: A24.

Let’s talk about the Queen of the Indies — Parker Posey. If you don’t know her already, that title should do justice. She has been a staple in many independent films and delivered standout performances in each one. Her charm and unique style set her apart from the crowd. Check her out in Party Girl and Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries; Parker’s acting prowess is a breath of fresh air. She might not be a household name for everyone, but those who’ve seen her work appreciate her incredible skill.

5. Ray Wise

Digging Up the Marrow Ray Wise
Image Credit: Image Entertainment.

Ray Wise has proven his range as an actor time and again. He played the charming and enigmatic Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks. Also, he portrayed the devil himself in the Reaper TV series. Ray Wise has this captivating presence that draws you into his characters. He’s skilled at effortlessly switching between charming and menacing. He might not always get the leading roles, but his supporting performances have impacted audiences. It’s high time we recognize Ray Wise for the gem of an actor that he is.

6. Demi Moore

Ghost Demi Moore
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Some might say she’s not the best actress, but you can’t deny she was a prominent star in the ’90s. She was everywhere! Surprisingly, the Academy somehow missed recognizing her expertise in those glory days. Remember Ghost? That one was a massive hit. And how can we forget G.I. Jane?

7. Ben Foster

Lone Survivor Ben Foster
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

This guy has been delivering outstanding performances for years but remains somewhat overlooked. Whether he’s playing a troubled war veteran, a cunning outlaw, or a flying mutant, Ben’s acting skills are always on point. His raw intensity draws you into his characters, making you forget you’re watching a performance. We love his dedication to immersing himself in the roles, and true fans know he’s got game!

8. Gillian Anderson

Gillian Anderson
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Television

You probably know her best for her stellar performances in iconic shows like The X-Files, Hannibal, and The Crown. And guess what? She even scored two Golden Globes for her work in those series. With movies, though, her roles aren’t as outstanding, but no one can deny her brilliance.

9. Tony Shalhoub

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Tony Shaloub
Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Ah, Tony Shalhoub — the master of casting a magic spell on every movie he’s in. From his iconic role as the obsessive-compulsive detective in Monk to his impressive work in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Tony has repeatedly proven his versatility. He’s got this uncanny ability to add depth and charm to his characters, making them memorable and endearing. 

10. Angela Bassett

Black Nativity Black Nativity
Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

In 1994, Angela Bassett rocked it as Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It, earning herself a Best Actress nomination. But it took until 2023 for the Academy to give her another nod, this time in the Best Supporting Actress category for her role as Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Unfortunately, the award eluded her once more. Awards can be tricky, so not winning takes nothing away from her artistry.

11. Brad Dourif

The X-Files Brad Dourif
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

You might not always recognize him by face, but you’d undoubtedly recognize his voice. He’s famously known for lending his chilling voice to the creepy doll Chucky in the Child’s Play series. Brad’s talent goes far beyond voice work. He’s delivered powerful film performances, like the mentally unstable Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

12. Merritt Wever

Unbelievable Merritt Wever
Image Credit: CBS Television Studios.

This talented actress might have a couple of Emmys, but she’s still underrated, considering her exceptional abilities. Merritt has this natural knack for stealing scenes with her genuine and compelling performances. She made us laugh in Nurse Jackie and tugged at our heartstrings in Unbelievable. Merritt Wever knows how to leave a lasting impression. 

13. Jake Gyllenhaal

Nightcrawler Jake Gyllenhaal
Image Credit: Open Road Films.

From his early breakthrough in Donnie Darko to intense roles in Brokeback Mountain and Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal has repeatedly proved that he’s a force to be reckoned with. Jake’s commitment to his characters is evident in every role he takes on, and he’s not afraid to dive deep into the emotional complexities of his characters. So, here’s to Jake Gyllenhaal — an actor who consistently impresses.

14. Samantha Morton

The Serpent Queen Samantha Morton
Image Credit: Lionsgate Television.

Samantha Morton has portrayed many characters over the years, each with depth and emotional authenticity. Her fans love how she brings raw emotion to her roles and creates a compelling presence on screen. We’ve seen her play historical figures and fictional flicks. Our conclusion: She’s captivating.

15. Richard Jenkins

Killing Them Softly Richard Jenkins
Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Richard Jenkins has been gracing our screens for decades. It’s crazy that we don’t hear more of him in many movie conversations. He blends into every role he takes on and consistently brings authenticity and depth to his characters. Perhaps Richard prefers to let his work speak for itself. One thing’s for sure — his genius is evident and an essential part of the film industry.

16. Sam Rockwell

Moon Sam Rockwell
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Classics.

Sam Rockwell has starred in Oscar-winning movies where he’s giving wonderful performances, but he just happens to be overshadowed by his costars in some of them. From The Green Mile to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, he has had so many great roles over the years.

17. Nicolas Cage

Image Credit: RLJE Films.

Nicolas Cage is sometimes talked about as a joke, but no one can deny that he doesn’t bring his all to every single role he’s in. From National Treasure to Mandy, in both movies, he gives a great performance. Cage has also been in so many movies that it would be impossible to list all of his best roles.

18. Edward Norton

fight club
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Edward Norton has starred in some of the most influential movies in recent decades but he’s often forgotten about behind his fellow costars. He starred in Fight Club, Primal Fear, and Birdman. Plus, in recent years he starred in Glass Onion and Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City.

19. Janelle Monae

Janelle Monáe in Antebellum (2020)
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Janelle Monae might be known for their singing skills, but Monae has starred in a number of movies and does amazing in every film. One of their best roles is playing Mary Jackson in Hidden Figures, but they also did great work in Moonlight, Harriet, and Antebellum.

20. Kristen Stewart

Crimes of the Future Kristen Stewart, Léa Seydoux
Image Credit: Vertigo Films.

Kristen Stewart often gets credited as a bad actor because of the bad writing that was in Twilight, but Stewart has shown her acting chops as Princess Diana in Spencer, as well as a number of other movies like Adventureland and Panic Room. 

Source: Reddit

Boloere Seibidor, fondly called B.S. is a Nigerian-based writer and poet. Her favorite topics to cover include music, especially Hip-Hop, film, lifestyle, and fashion. She’s been published by Feral Journal, Fantasy Magazine, The Temz Review, and most notably, Wealth of Geeks. She enjoys romantic dinners, movie nights, and touring new sites. When she’s not writing, she’s delving back in time to the underground world of Hip-Hop, watching TikTok, or visiting the cinema.

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