Ten Best Performances of John Cusack’s career

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Following up on yesterday’s article on Love & Mercy, which features one of the best John Cusack performances to date, I wanted to look at his whole career and list his all time best work. As such, a new top ten list is here for your reading pleasure. This one obviously looks at Cusack’s best so far, which sadly has yet to garner him an Academy Award nomination. Hopefully he’ll score with Oscar one day, but regardless, he remains an underrated actor in Hollywood. Take a look below, and be sure to check him out in Love & Mercy this weekend, which again is one of his top notch turns. Enjoy!

Here now is a look at Cusack’s ten best performances so far:

10. The Raven – Not many people give Cusack credit for this one, but he does a much better job than you’d expect, considering the silly premise. Playing Edgar Allen Poe lets us see another side of the actor, one that anchors a somewhat disposal flick like this in a bit of emotional truth.

9. True Colors – A criminally under-seen film, there’s an interesting role reversal on display. Cusack plays the seedier character, while James Spader is the wholesome one. It’s an interesting performance, showing just how much range this talented actor truly has to share with us.

8. Bullets Over Broadway – One of Woody Allen’s most purely enjoyable romps, with Cusack a very strong stand in for Allen. He’s able to recite the legendary filmmaker’s dialogue and interprets his mannerisms with aplomb as well. It’s harder than some think to do Woody roles, but Cusack more than pulls it off.

7. Grosse Pointe Blank – Cusack has proven to be solid in action type roles, but this action comedy is where he put those skills to best use. He co-wrote this action comedy, but also turns in one of his better black comedy roles. There’s more evidence of his range on display right here with this one.

6. Better Off Dead – A surreal comedy with Cusack darkly hilarious throughout, this is one of my favorite movies he’s ever been in. It’s very odd and unlike a lot of his other roles, especially his early ones, but this has a ton of charm to share, much of it from Cusack. Check this one out if you haven’t seen it before.

5. Being John Malkovich – As weird a premise as any Oscar nominated film to date, this succeeded in large part due to Cusack. He helped to execute Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman’s singular vision in a way that not every leading man could have. This was definitely an Oscar snub type situation for him.

4. Say Anything – Probably Cusack’s most iconic part ever, but there’s a lot more to this role than just holding a boom box over his head. He’s the perfect everyman, as well as the man we all strived to be as teenagers. It’s a pure performance, one that announced Cusack as a star in the making.

3. Love & Mercy – His newest work is one of his best, as Cusack brilliantly channels the pain of Beach Boy front man Brian Wilson in his 1980’s funk. I wrote about it yesterday, so I’ll keep it brief, but just know that you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t give it a shot.

2. Grace is Gone – A quietly heartbreaking role, this was supposed to be Cusack’s Academy Award vehicle. Sadly, the film wasn’t given a big enough release, but it’s a low key performance that’s easily among his best. It was another Oscar snub, no doubt about that. He definitely deserved to be recognized for what he did in this one.

1. High Fidelity – Cusack’s best film is always the one he gives his best performance in. A hugely entertainingly yet shockingly knowing look at fandom, love, relationships, and list making, it’s an all time favorite of mine. He co-wrote this one too, and deserved awards recognition for that adaptation. It’s all around a nearly perfect movie, including his audience addressing role. I just love it.

Honorable Mention: City Hall, The Ice Harvest, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Sure Thing, and War Inc.

Don’t miss one of Cusack’s best in Love & Mercy, which is out on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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