50 Greatest Scene Stealing Performances

Anna Kendrick Up In The Air (2009)

The Performance: Ferocious and uptight as newbie Natalie, Anna Kendrick proved she could do more than just grin sweetly in Twilight by pulling the rug out from under George Clooney in this high-flying drama.

If They Had Their Own Movie: It would be more about youngsters struggling to make their way in the world than silver foxes avoiding commitment.

With Clooney putting in a cameo appearance.

Klaus Kinski Doctor Zhivago (1965)

The Performance: A super-smart anarchist who’s being shipped off to Siberia in chains, Kostoyed (Kinski) is a mere punctuation point in this grand epic, but boy does he make an impression.

“I am the only free man on this train! And the rest of you are CATTLE!” he bleats.

If They Had Their Own Movie: We wish he had – it would be just as involving as Zhivago’s story, though with more mad eye-rolling.

Rowan Atkinson Four Weddings And A Funeral (1994)

The Performance: Atkinson does the ‘bumbling thing’ as priest Gerald, who keeps fluffing his lines up at a wedding ceremony, getting names wrong and talking about the ‘Holy Goat’.

If They Had Their Own Movie: It would basically be a more verbal version of Mr Bean.

Leonardo DiCaprio Whats Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993)

The Performance: Lasse Hallström’s film pretends to be a coming-of-ager centred on Johnny Depp, but it’s a young DiCaprio who makes the film as Depp’s mentally-challenged younger brother.

If They Had Their Own Movie: Well, he does – just because the film’s not called What’s Eating Arnie Grape? doesn’t mean DiCaprio doesn’t own Hallström’s film.

Steve Martin The Little Shop Of Horrors (1986)

The Performance: Addicted to nitrus oxide and tending to his patients with all the sensitivity of a serial killer, Steve Martin’s performance as sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello is a comedy tour-de-force.

With really good hair.

If They Had Their Own Movie: It’d have the tone of I Married An Axe-Murderer and make us even more terrified about visiting the dentist.

Rutger Hauer Sin City (2005)

The Performance: “When he came to me, he was a tormented boy,” rasps Rutger, bald as a plucked chicken and swathed in shadow as Cardinal Roark.

He gets some of the most poetic lines of the film, and does the unthinkable by stealing our attention away from Mickey Rourke as plastered bruiser Marv.

If They Had Their Own Movie: It would be a savage indictment of modern-day religion with Hauer doing his best teeth-gritting angry face.

Benicio Del Toro The Usual Suspects (1995)

The Performance: Sure, Kevin Spacey has that iconic moment at the end of the film, but Del Toro is effortlessly enigmatic way before that in Bryan Singer’s brain-melting thriller.

Examples? Just check out the line-up scene. “Hand-me-the-fuckin-keys-what-the-fuhhh?”

If They Had Their Own Movie:
It’d be a really dark comedy with some very loud shirts.

Forest Whitaker Platoon (1986)

The Performance: “I don’t know brothers, but I’m hurting real bad inside.”

Though the cast includes the fantastic likes of Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen and John C. McGinley, it’s Whitaker who delivers sucker-punches to the heart here as Big Harold.

If They Had Their Own Movie: It would be a riveting chronicle of one soldier’s bruising experiences in Vietnam.

Er, starring Forest Whitaker.

William Hurt A History Of Violence (2005)

The Performance: Just one scene, but such a blinder that it earned Hurt an Oscar nomination for playing Joey Cusack’s brother, a total psychotic who has no qualms about ordering his sibling’s assassination.

If They Had Their Own Movie: It would probably resemble Scarface .

Judi Dench Shakespeare In Love (1998)

The Performance: Bringing a regal reserve and a rattlesnake tongue to the ‘character’ of Queen Elizabeth I, Dench is unforgettable despite only appearing in John Madden’s film for a total of eight minutes.

It’s all quality over quantity there, eh?

If They Had Their Own Movie:
Cate Blanchett would play a younger version of her.

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.