The Ten Most Overrated Performers Ever

What better way to follow our Ten Most Overrated movies ever than with a list of the countless performers who inhabit many of them? Beloved the world over for almost no reason at all, these ten performers are the epitome of what it means to make it in Tinsel Town without shining anything but a marketable gimmick.

Kate Hudson

What she usually plays: An assertive, in-control type who doesn’t mind cutting loose with her girlfriends.  She likes to roll her eyes when the guy she loves (usually Matthew McConaughey) does something stupid.

What she’s actually good in: Almost Famous. After it launched her career she went on rom-com auto-pilot.

Kevin Costner

What he usually plays: He actually has quite a diverse career, it’s just that everything he touches seems to either win Oscars or garner acclaim that it doesn’t deserve.

What he’s actually good in: Mr. Brooks and Bull Durham. No,  Field of Dreams is not the epitome of sports films, but Bull comes pretty close. 

Sandra Bullock

What she usually plays: The confident, yet secretly insecure middle-aged feminist who can’t help but fall for the obnoxious Type-A male after he sees her trip and fall over a few things. She plays a variation of this character in almost every single movie she appears in, adding either a scowl if it’s a drama or a perky smile if it’s a comedy.

What she’s actually good in: Crash and (I hesitate a little bit) The Blind Side.

Hugh Grant

What he usually plays: The charming British guy.  Seriously.  That’s it.

What he’s actually good in: About a Boy.


Julia Roberts

What she usually plays: The laugher who learns to be herself either by getting married or getting really pretty.

What she’s actually good in: Closer. I never expected her to tell Clive Owen what Jude Law’s semen tasted like, and I wish she took risks like that more often.


Nicolas Cage

What he usually plays: A monotonous whispering know-it-all who needs to find something important or stop catastrophe using his  special trait.

What he’s actually good in: Adaptation and Raising Arizona. Two off-the-wall performances that stick with you, yet he continues to choose crap like Knowing.


Tom Hanks

What he usually plays: Like Kevin Costner, Hanks’ career is fairly diverse, but not much of it is that note-worthy.  Yet, he somehow remains one of the most acclaimed actors in history, winning Best Actor two years in a row in the 90’s.

What he’s actually good in: Road to Perdition and Toy Story 1 & 2. The former in particular will wow you.


Reese Witherspoon

What she usually plays: Legally Blonde trapped her rom-com hell, which she has readily exploited with one cash-in movie after another.  Her Oscar has helped her with that as well.

What she’s actually good in: Walk the Line. She won the Oscar for it, and for good reason.


Will Smith

What he usually plays: Either he is the smooth, charming and funny version of his off-screen self in Hitch or he is an all-too serious Denzel Washington type action hero who has the muscles and heartbreak to save the world in I am Legend or I, Robot. Of course there is the iconic Will Smith where he combines the two and ends up with Bad Boys, Hancock, or Independence Day.

What he’s actually good in: The only movie Will Smith has ever actually succeeded in acting in is The Pursuit of Happiness. Even in his other serious or acclaimed roles like Seven Pounds or Ali he was caught trying way, way too hard.


Natalie Portman

What she usually plays: A diverse career for the most part, taking roles where executives couldn’t get Keira Knightly so they opted for the less talented look-a-like. She’s most noted for her Star Wars stint and the quirky, make-me-vomit manic pixie dream girl in Garden State.

What she’s actually good in: V for Vendetta is about the only Natalie Portman movie worth watching, and part of that is even attributed to her performance.

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32 thoughts on “The Ten Most Overrated Performers Ever

  1. Interesting list. Gotta disagree on Hanks, he is the man, but as somehow who proudly loathes Nic Cage and often wonders what the hell happened to Kate Hudson, I’m right there with ya. Thought Portman’s best was The Professional though.

    • Yeah, a lot of people love Tom Hanks, there is something essentially 1990’s about him that I don’t think we are ever going to get rid of. I’m personally not a fan. I have not seen The Professional yet.

      • I’m not a fan of Hanks either, but he did wow me in some movies, i.e. Castaway, The Green Mile. I do agree with a lot of them on this list, though I’d add Matthew McCougnahey, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Sarah Jessica Parker, just to name a few. Oh, don’t forget Jennifer Aniston, which like Castor said, belongs in the one-note performers.

        You’ve got to see The Professional, Luke, that’s truly Portman’s best role in there.

        • I totally agree with you on SJP being really overrated. I would have agree about Matthew (one note) but I enjoyed Lincoln Lawyer, which I think showed his potential. Aniston is a bit one note, but I think she’s likeable.

          I don’t agree at all about Brad Pitt. He has been in some of my favorite movies, and he always does justice to the role (even though his crying face is a bit funny sometimes). I don’t find him overrated, since I think he deserves the praise he’s received, and he has shown his talent in a broad spectrum of roles. His partner, on the other hand, varies. Jolie was great in Girl interrupted, but i haven’t seen her do anything else on that level (Changeling was good, but she wasn’t as convincing in that role). Clooney is funny and charming in most of his roles, so i wouldn’t say he’s overrated.

  2. Intriguing Most Overrated list. I like Portman but you are right, she hasn’t really broken out despite showing such great promises early on in Leon. I somewhat agree with Reese Witherspoon but I think she is at her best in those indies movies she made early in her career like Freeway and Election. The Kate Hudson, Hugh Grant kind of actors, I don’t really care about since they have never shown me anything more than being one-note movie stars

    • Reese is great in Election, and alright in a handful of other films, but lately its been crap like Four Christmases and Sweet Home Alabama crap, more like what you said… one note.

  3. yeah this is entertaining. id have to add leonardo dicaprio, johnny depp, ben stiller, and heath ledge to the list. all really overrated

    • Hmmm, I appreciate your readership and willingness to share random dude, but I’m going to have to say, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” All of those actors that you listed are all amazing who actors who are/were rarely recognized for their talents until very late in their careers. They constantly deliver great performances in great films and their talent is recognized throughout the industry by top critics, directors, executives and audiences. I’d like to hear your reasoning.

  4. I am not sold on Clooney and Pitt being overrated. I think they have both been pretty diverse and delivered some great roles. I think their problem is that their off-screen fame overshadows their careers too much.

    • Be that as it may, I think great actors should be able to ‘disappear’ into their roles no matter how famous they are. Even when Russell Crowe was in the tabloids/news a lot during his scandal with Meg Ryan, he continues to be believable when playing a character, same with Christian Bale. But Clooney and Pitt just don’t impress me much, but for whatever reason, they keep garnering kudos. I think those two deserve to be in this list more than Hanks.

  5. I have to disagree with some of this list. Nic Cage is the effin’ man, cause even though he does those crappy movies, like knowing, he at least makes em watchable with his always hammy performances. Kate Hudson and Natalie Portman, with a bit of Reese Witherspoon, I’ll give ya.

    • The problem with Cage is multiple. First, you can never forget that its Cage the actor and see him as his character. A really good actor does that. Then he’s continually miscast into roles he’s not suited for. His best, absolutely-nailed-it, perfect role he was made for, his moment of greatness: Raising Arizona.

  6. I have to disagree on Julia because, well, somebody’s got to (but I love your writeup on her: the “laugher”. And for me Will Smith has never been impressive. For some reason I feel inclined to add Denzel Washington to the list along with the well deserved inclusions of Costner (who only impressed me The Upside of Anger) and Tom Hanks.

  7. Great list and awesome idea for a post (although we might have words with you calling Costner overrated). Roberts, Cage and especially Hudson (who is should be placed on a “least talented” list instead) definitely deserve to be here:)

    Hanks has tons of talent and charm but while I disagree with you, I can argue a case for him being “overused” instead of “overrated”.

    I like Ruth’s addition of Matthew McCougnahey, but I think he too should be on a “least talented list”:)

    • Yeah, Hudson and McCognahey are definitely some of the least talented, but Hudson at least showed a lot of potential at the begining of her career and somehow garners critical praise. I agree though, no talent, the two of them can be seen at their best (worst) together in Fool’s Gold. Match made in heaven.

      I don’t know what it is, I just can’t stand Hanks. To me, he is the Will Ferrell of drama.

      • Well I am in the same boat with you regarding Ferrell and I feel the same way about Ben Stiller too. Yet I am very very slowly learning to like (well tolerate is more like it) Will Ferrell’s brand of humor. Can be funny but most of the time is just over the top and if you’re not selling the joke by now, then put down the stick my friend…that horse is dead. And Stiller is even worse!!

        But in the end it all comes down to personal preference…stuff either works for you or it doesn’t.

  8. Why Tom Hanks? He was in Forest Gump. That movie made it in the AFI top 100 list. That is a big achievement.You clearly don’t know shit.

  9. hanks might be overated but hes still great… forrest gump is awesome and it was a knockout performance no doubt, everybody remembers all the funny charming parts, but what about that bit when he beat the shit outta that guy for slapping jenny at the black panther meeting! i was like damn hanks is throwing some real looking punches rite there!

    then was like “sorry for ruining your black panther party” LMAO

    none of you guys like this film? you guys effing suck… might as well get cynical about ice cream or grandmas peach cobbler while your at it…

  10. Gwyneth Paltrow belongs on this list instead of Natalie Portman, as well as Kate Hudson (who flat-out stinks- is anyone REALLY overrating her at this point?); also, Sean Penn from I Am Sam onward…

    • After seeing Portman in Black Swan, I would agree that Gwyneth deserves a place on this list more so than Portman. However, this list was made before Black Swan. As for Kate Hudson, she continues to be a big box office draw whenever she leaves her lair.

  11. Your inclusions of Portman and Witherspoon are misplaced. Portman has at least a half-dozen very good performances (Closer — I can’t believe you mention Julia Roberts being good in Closer and not Natalie, Free Zone, Beautiful Girls, Anywhere but Here, Black Swan, The Professional, Brothers, she has a brief but very affecting part in Heat, she’s wonderful in Cold Mountain (maybe the best part, and she has a bit part), The Other Woman, Hotel Chevalier, etc.). Portman is one of the best young actresses working — I feel as though you’re forgetting a multitude of her work. Also, she’s leagues better than Keira. And just because Witherspoon is in bad movies doesn’t mean she’s “overrated.” She’s always good — even in Legally Blonde. She’s always appealing and a bright spot even when the film doesn’t deserve her. Nobody considers Kate Hudson a good actress anymore. The only one I can agree with is Hanks. The others are rated adequately. When people think great actors, they don’t think Sandra Bullock — they might, however, think Portman or Hanks, which at least makes them eligible.

  12. I hate Julia Roberts, She is the most overrated sleeziest ho bag of an actress that EVER lived. She doesnt even act, she is just Julia with her dumb laugh. She is a bigger sleeze than Angelina and she totally screwed her way to the top. No question. That is probably why she hates AJ. AJ stole her shtick. She has paid off journalists and critics since Steel Magnolias 9which she sucked ROYALLY in….My reception! My Reception!) to give her good reviews and give her the Worlds Most Beautiful Person cover of People. YES! She bought that review!!! and she dumped Ben Bratt so she could screw George Clooney on the set of Oceans 11. I REALLY hate that dumb laugh of hers. And she treats customer service like slime. Words cant not express how much I hate this trashy overrated scumbag. She does not deserve her life AT ALL!!!!

  13. This is a fun list 🙂 I also think Cage is overrated, not suited for the action hero role, but I did like him in “It could happen to you”. I find Will Smith’s overacting very annoying most of the time, though some movies he’s in can be entertaining. I think Portman is ok, and she’s redeemed by her performance in “Black Swan”, which was great.

    Overall, I don’t disagree with the majority of the list, but I feel some decent actors were included (Hanks – Green Mile, League of their own; Bullock – i generally like her movies, despite the rom com cliches; and Costner – kind of stoic, yet fairly believable performances) while worse ones were left off.

    I’d substitute some of the aforementioned actors with a few others, like Sarah Jessica Parker (lackluster acting most of the time, even on SATC…where she tried to overshadow a much funnier Kim Catrall) or Steve Martin (not that funny, and def not worthy of reprising Sellers’ Pink Panther. I only liked him in Father of the bride back when I was a kid, but I recently saw the original version with Spencer Tracy, and liked it much better). Maybe I’d also add, purely based on overrated-ness, Richard Gere (though he’s ok in certain roles…i actually liked him in Chicago…double surprise – Gere and a musical!) and Travolta (not terrible, but not great either. His best, imo, was Primary Colors…regardless of whether you like the idea behind the movie or not, his interpretation was superb). I haven’t really considered some of the newer actors, since it’s hard to judge how acclaimed they really are, and their roster is shorter than these older actors.

    I appreciated the movie suggestions on the list, so thanks for posting!

  14. The list is uneven. Tom hanks is overrated because he is over-exposed, not because he can’t act. Same with natalie Portman and Reese Whitherspoon. They are all good actors who deserved their oscars and who can sell their formulaic movies with charming performances. Then you add Kate Hudson, Nicholas cage and Mathew mcCounhey in the same list. What exactly is your definition of “Overrated”? A good example would be Sandra Bullock. She is good but has never been oscar worthy. For the kind of accolades showered uupon Diane Keaton, she is way too mediocre compared to the likes of Glenn Close or Meryl Streep.

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