John Waters says that when you get bored in a movie, you should look at the lamps. Sometimes, though, a not-so-great film yields treasure besides light fixtures — namely, a performance that stays with you long after everything else about the movie has completely vanished from your mind.
1. JAY CHOU
"The Green Hornet"
One of Taiwan’s biggest pop stars, Chou was relatively unknown in this country when he was cast as Kato in the reboot of the adventures of one of superhero-dom’s C-listers.
Just like Bruce Lee, who played the role in the 1960s TV show, Chou stole every scene he was in, with a combination of wit, charisma and good old ass-kicking.
And he turned English as a second language into a wonderfully unflappable comic deadpan — while a slimmed-down Seth Rogen does a lot of Seth Rogen–ing, it's Chou who gets most of the laughs by keeping it chill.
2. TEYANA TAYLOR
"Madea’s Big Happy Family”
Some actors get rave reviews, some get awards, and some get fat paychecks — but how many of them inspire a wave of YouTube impersonators?
Taylor’s hysterically funny bit part as a trashy fast-food cashier and single mom is so uniquely braying and grating that kids online attempt to do her voice. It’s one of the most deliciously shrill comic performances since Jean Hagen’s portrayal of a tone-deaf silent film star in “Singin’ in the Rain.”
Once you've seen her turn the name "Byron" into a word with something like 17 syllables, you'll find yourself imitating her yourself. Even if you don't do it on YouTube.
3. STEPHEN FRY
“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”
Amidst the CG, slo-mo and explosions that riddle Guy Ritchie’s loud new sequel, it’s a relief to have Fry pop in like a visitor from the pen of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, giving the audience some respite from all the noise with his hilariously droll portrayal of Mycroft, the smarter of the Holmes brothers.
Whether he's out-deducing his coked-up brother Sherlock (Robert Downey Jr.) or dismaying household staff and female guests alike with his penchant for at-home nudity, Mycroft feels like one of those genuinely British eccentrics who have provided comic relief for everyone from P.G. Wodehouse to Alfred Hitchcock.
4. LIN SHAYE
This horror hit felt like a cobbled-together collection of highlights from “Poltergeist” and “The Exorcist,” but amidst the ghosts and goblins came a terrific turn from Shaye, previously best known as the over-tanned landlady from “There’s Something About Mary.”