50 Hammiest Movie Performances

Willem Dafoe in Spider-Man (2002)

The Scenery-Chewing Performance: He starts off in fairly neutral territory, but it isn’t long before the full range of gibbering hysterics are on show as Norman Osborn becomes the Green Goblin.

Why We Love It:
Naff, Power Rangers-esque suit aside, Dafoe is a sight to be seen in this one, cackling and snarling like a man possessed.

Jack Nicholson in Batman (1989)

The Scenery-Chewing Performance: Tim Burton lets Jack Nicholson off the leash to bring the Clown Prince of Crime into gaudy life.

Why We Love It: Jack may not be the definitive Joker, but he’s certainly a whole lot of fun to watch…

Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon (1987)

The Scenery-Chewing Performance: Gibson is playing a loose cannon in Martin Riggs, giving him free rein to overact as much as he likes. Jolly good fun it is too.

Why We Love It: Gibson’s hamming is utterly suited to this kind of OTT action spectacular, with Danny Glover’s world-weary moping setting it off a treat.

Ben Kingsley in BloodRayne (2005)

The Scenery-Chewing Performance: The unlikely pairing of Uwe Boll and Ben Kingsley is a joy to behold. “I have always wanted to play a vampire, with the teeth and the long black cape,” explained Kingsley later. “Let's say that my motives were somewhat immature for doing it.”

Why We Love It: Any film in which Kingsley has a one-liner-studded dust-up with Kristanna Loken is alright by us.

Uma Thurman in Batman And Robin (1997)

The Scenery-Chewing Performance: Thanks to Arnie’s hysterics, it’s easy to forget that Uma Thurman also turns in a performance of toe-curling excess. She too knows her way around a pun…

Why We Love It: She acts as though she’s in a porno! “I need a sign,” whimpers Robin. “How about ‘slippery when wet’?” comes the response. Oh, behave!

Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns (2006)

The Scenery-Chewing Performance: Spacey is great as Lex Luthor, bringing a panto, boo-hiss quality to the character. Poor old Brandon Routh didn’t stand a chance.

Why We Love It:
Camper than a row of tents, it’s easily the most enjoyable element of a rather ho-hum adventure.

John Travolta in Battlefield Earth (2000)

The Scenery-Chewing Performance: Travolta ensures the spotlight stays firmly trained on him by abruptly SHOUTING certain parts of his DIALOGUE!

Why We Love It:
It’s so spectacularly awful it brightens up what is admittedly a slog of a movie. “While you were still learning how to SPELL YOUR NAME,” booms John, “I... was being trained... TO CONQUER GALAXIES!” Indeed.

Al Pacino in Scarface (1983)

The Scenery-Chewing Performance: Beloved by rappers the world over, Pacino delivers an indelible me-against-the-world performance with a lot of heavily accented shouting. Grrrr!

Why We Love It:
You have to admire Pacino’s energy, even if it gets operatically silly by the end. Say hello…

Michael Sheen in Twilight (2009 2012)

The Scenery-Chewing Performance: Sheen is vastly overqualified for this cackling baddie routine, and as a result, performs it in a ham-laden fashion that often seems to be bordering on contempt!

Why We Love It:
Sheen freely admits he took the part to please his daughter, and seems to be the only one aware of quite how daft the whole thing is.

Delroy Lindo in Congo (1995)

The Scenery-Chewing Performance: Lindo appears as an erratically-tempered military man, playfully singing “liar liar pants on fire” one minute and putting the fear of God in Tim Curry the next.

Why We Love It: “Stop eating my sesame cake!” Enough said.