Sometimes a phenomenal performance can turn an ailing movie around and shift it back into high gear – take, for example, any drab action thriller starring Nicolas Cage. But sometimes, in spite of how hard an actor tries, they just don't have the strength to pull the picture back on their own.
Nonetheless, there are still a multitude of great performances out there that sparkle and shine in otherwise disastrous films. We've seen big franchise antagonists replaced mid-series, spin-offs and sequels run off with one good character and fall flat on their face, and ten-a-penny productions draft in gold-standard actors to try and save their hides.
Despite misplaced fan hype and studios' best attempts to market what they know are going to be middling-at-best movies, these acting talents have, time and again, stolen the show, pulled out all the stops, and made something memorable.
Strap in for 10 of the absolute best stuck within the confines of, well, 10 of the not-so-best. Because, no matter whether an actor can carry a whole production on their shoulders or save it from damnation, if they give it their all, gosh darn it, they deserve our full attention.
10. Mads Mikkelsen - Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore
The Fantastic Beasts franchise has not had an easy ride. Starting from a strong base, it has since been mired in controversy and has struggled to stretch a wafer-thin plot across a five-film timeline. Warner Bros giving the boot to Johnny Depp midway through the series probably didn't make things any easier either.
Nevertheless, though taking over from Depp in a franchise role was never going to be easy, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen arrived at the perfect time, bringing some old-world menace to the role of series antagonist Gellert Grindelwald.
The Secrets of Dumbledore shows Grindelwald's rise to power in parallel with Hitler, and Mikkelsen, who has something of a penchant for playing icy and authoritative villains, plays the part to perfection. Unlike Depp, he doesn't ham up or oversell the role - he steps into it as though wrangling a particularly tight glove, caught between some dwindling sense of humanity and the evils he must commit to meet his ends.
Alas, even the great Dane's gifts couldn’t save what is undeniably a filler movie in an already convoluted and overstretched series trying to capitalise on the last dregs of the Wizarding World IP. Poorly received by critics, Fantastic Beats: The Secrets of Dumbledore took less at the box office than any other Potterverse film. C'est la vie.