The traditional idea of the “Movie Star” has faded from what it once was, but actor popularity has risen. Social media has made actors much more accessible to their fans. This has led to a lot of actors being classified as movie stars. It also helps that there are so much content being made and so many different ways to consume it. Actors are filming and putting out movies at a high clip and keeping their names relevant, more than the actors of the past. While there may be more chairs at the “Movie Star” table, there are still a large number of actors that don’t get the credit they deserve. These “underrated” actors are, often times, are putting out better quality work than the most popular actors and they are doing it more consistently. A lot of times these actors are in your favorite films and give great performances but they don’t find themselves at the top of the bill.
In this post, I’m going to highlight 10 actors that aren’t getting the credit that I think they deserve. This definition can vary based on the actor because underrated can mean different things for different actors. There are some actors on this list that are great actors but haven’t been acknowledged at the highest level, whether that is an Oscar or consistent casting as the lead in a big budget film. There are other actors that have done great work in smaller roles or films that have gone unnoticed. Regardless of the reasoning all of these actors are excellent at what they do and deserve as much attention as possible. Each of them has either done a film this year or is scheduled to have one released.
10 Underrated Actors
10. Lakeith Stanfield
Film from this Year: Sorry To Bother You
Other Notable Work: Short Term 12, Get Out, Atlanta
Stanfield is having a breakout year. He has built off the success of his previous year when people really started to take notice. This year Atlanta has gone to another level and in turn has made most of that casts into stars. He also was the lead in one of the more talked about indie movies of the year Sorry to Bother You. Stanfield is an incredible actor with enormous potential, he will be a super star sooner than later.
9. Anya Taylor-Joy
Film from this Year:Thoroughbreds
Other Notable Work:The Witch, Morgan, Split
Anya Taylor-Joy is one of my favorite actresses. She’s underrated because a lot of her work is goes unnoticed because of the scale of her films. If you’ve seen her then you know why she’s on the list, she is a great actor. Most know her from Split, which was a great performance, but her best performance is quite possibly from The Witch. She also has one of my favorite performances from this year in Thoroughbreds. Much like Stanfield, her potential is crazy. She’s only 22 and if she continues to make good choices she’ll be one of the best in all of Hollywood.
8. Toni Collette
Films from this Year: Hereditary, Hearts Beat Loud
Other Notable Work: The Sixth Sense, About A Boy, Little Miss Sunshine, The Way Way Back
Collette is underrated because she just seems to constantly be forgotten about. She is low key having one of the best years of anybody. Hereditary is one of the most talked about films of the year and her performance was outstanding. To this point that is still the best performance I’ve seen from anybody this year. She was also in the incredibly underrated Hearts Beat Loud. She also continually puts out great work and makes really smart choices. Toni Collette is an actress that we’ve all seen but haven’t appreciated nearly enough.
7. Regina King
Film from this Year: If Beale Street Could Talk
Other Notable Work: Ray, The Leftovers, American Crime
Regina King isn’t just underrated by audiences she is underrated by Hollywood. She has been putting out great work for a very long time and just never seems to get the break that she deserves. Over the past few years she has started to get recognized for her work on TV, which is great, but it still is proportional to her talent. Hopefully that will change later this year when the highly anticipated If Beale Street Could Talk is released.
6. Daniel Bruhl
Work from this Year: The Cloverfield Paradox, 7 Days in Entebbe, The Alienist
Other Notable Work: Inglorious Bastards, Rush, Captain America: Civil War
You probably know him as the European antagonist is a couple of movies that you like, but Daniel Bruhl is so much more than that. He is one of my favorite actors because his range is so wide. His catalog is full of performances that call for different accents, languages and personalities, and he wears them all perfectly. He’s had a few smaller movies that didn’t do well (The Cloverfield Paradox & 7 Days in Entebb) but he also had The Alienist on TNT that was received very well. If you want to see the real reason why he is on this list check out Rush. He gives an incredible performance in that film and shows his out of this world talent.
5. Gugu Mbatha Raw
Films from this Year: The Cloverfield Paradox, A Wrinkle in Time
Other Notable Work: Beyond the Lights, Black Mirror (San Junipero), Miss Sloane
Gugu Mbatha-Raw has a long list of credits with a wide variety of films but she still seems to be rather unknown. This is probably due to the lack of success in the films that she’s in. She is the classic case of good performance in a bad film. She makes the list because of her work in the incredibly underrated Beyond the Lights and probably the best episode of Black Mirror, San Junipero. Those performances show an undeniable talent and hopefully that well be showcased properly on a larger stage.
4. Oscar Isaac
Films from this Year: Annihilation, Operation Finale, Life Itself
Other Notable Work: Inside Llewyn Davis, Ex Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Oscar Isaac is somewhat of an indie darling. Inside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year and Ex Machina made him that way. His role in Star Wars is where most people know him and he makes the list for that exact reason. It’s great that people might start to take notice of him and his great talent, but we should have been here a long time ago. He elevates everything that he is apart of and has some performances that are simply breath taking.
3. Tessa Thompson
Work from this Year: Sorry to Bother You, Westworld, Annihilation
Other Notable Work: Dear White People, Creed, Thor: Ragnarok
If you don’t know who Tessa Thompson is by now it’s time for you to wake up. She almost doesn’t belong on this list but she makes it because Tessa Thompson isn’t just good, she’s one of the best. Her last year and a half can’t be touched by anyone, from Thor: Ragnarok to Sorry to Bother You she just keeps putting out incredible work. Her 2019 looks to be just as great as the past two years, which means she’ll become a household name before we know it.
2. John Cho
Film from this Year: Searching
Other Notable Work: Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, Star Trek, Columbus
From Harold & Kumar fame, John Cho has been underrated for a very long time. It hasn’t been until the past couple of years that I really noticed it. He has quickly become one of the most intriguing actors for me. He was in one of my favorite films from last year, Columbus, alongside another one of my favorites Haley Lu Richardson. Just recently he starred in Searching. He is an incredibly nuanced performer with an understated charisma that is captivating. Columbus really showed that and Searching solidified it.
1. Constance Wu
Film from this Year: Crazy Rich Asians
Other Notable Work: Fresh Off the Boat
Constance Wu has been somewhat of a revelation this year. She has been doing TV for the past few years in Fresh Off the Boat and has a good amount of film credits, but most people are just now discovering her. She is quite the discovery, Wu is an absolutely incredible actress. She has everything you would look for in a movie star. She is incredibly talented and very charismatic. She shines on Fresh Off the Boat and she has completely stolen this year because of her performance in Crazy Rich Asians. I’m hoping to start seeing her in more things, because she deserves to be in everything.
Did your favorite actor make the list? If not, let us know what underrated actors missed the cut!