20) Jason Clarke in Everest
Pity poor Jason Clarke. Since deservedly coming to wider attention in Zero Dark Thirty some three years ago, he’s been lumbered with thankless, generic hero roles in good films (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and poorly-written supporting parts in bad ones (White House Down, Terminator Genisys). Then, to top that off, he gave a solid performance in this year’s Everest, and hardly anybody seemed to notice.
Regardless, Clarke repeats his Zero Dark Thirty success in survival epic Everest by making a blank of a character on the page into a believable living, breathing human being. His Rob Hall in Everest gets no big moments to grandstand or delineate his character, but through Clarke we just know he’s a thoroughly decent man, strong in will and stubbornly proud even as he finds himself enduring one of the most wretched situations imaginable.
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19) Jason Statham in Spy
They don’t give out Oscars for straight comedy roles, but if they did, who’s to say Jason Statham wouldn’t bag himself a nomination or even win this awards season for Paul Feig’s Spy? An action-comedy with a promising cast of comedians, Spy looked set to continue the solid comic runs of both Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne; which it does, but the real surprise of the film is Jason Statham.
Statham works so well in Spy partly because his character, the absurdly self-aggrandizing secret agent Rick Ford, is a bang-on parody of literally years of Jason Statham playing self-serious, nigh-on superhuman action men. That’s the element of surprise.
There’s also the revelation that Statham has surprisingly advanced comic timing and improvisational skills, so much so that you wonder if action movies are where he truly belongs.