Actors who reliably choose good projects

Even a great actor cant save a bad movie. This is a list of actors who steer away from crappy projects. It notably doesnt include some great actors - like Christian Bale or Nicholas Cage - who end up getting roped into bad films just enough to make you unlikely to see a picture just because their name is attached.

The idea is that you can see a film because one of the actors on this list is in it, and be comfortable that it will at least be up to a certain standard. Of course, even the most vigilant actors have quality control missteps now and then, but I believe the actors on this list have higher than success rates, and their filmographies show consistency, and give them a good deal more to be proud of than there is to be uneasy about.

If one of these people is in a movie, its at least worth reading a trusted review about.
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
Vera Farmiga
Actress, The Conjuring
Vera Farmiga is an American actress who received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Up in the Air and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Bates Motel. She was born Vera Ann Farmiga, the second of seven children...
 
2.
Harvey Keitel
American actor and producer Harvey Keitel was born on May 13, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York City. An Oscar and Golden Globe Award nominee, he has appeared in films such as Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, Ridley Scott's The Duellists and Thelma & Louise, Peter Yates' Mother, Jugs & Speed...
 
3.
Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore was born Julie Anne Smith in Fort Bragg, North Carolina on December 3, 1960, the daughter of Anne (Love), a social worker, and Peter Moore Smith, a paratrooper, colonel, and later military judge. Her mother moved to the U.S. in 1951, from Greenock, Scotland. Her father, from Burlington, New Jersey, has German, Irish, German-Jewish, and English ancestry...
 
4.
Steve Buscemi
Actor, Fargo
Steve Buscemi was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Dorothy (Wilson), a restaurant hostess, and John Buscemi, a sanitation worker. He is of Italian (father) and English, Dutch, and Irish (mother) descent. He became interested in acting during his last year of high school. After graduating, he moved to Manhattan to study acting with John Strasberg...
 
6.
Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender was born in Heidelberg, Germany, to a German father, Josef, and an Irish mother, Adele (originally from Larne, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland). Michael was raised in the town of Killarney, Co. Kerry, in south-west Ireland, where his family moved to when he was two years old. His parents ran a restaurant (his father is a chef)...
 
7.
Jessica Chastain
Actress, The Martian
Jessica Michelle Chastain was born in Sacramento, California, and was raised in a middle-class household in a northern California suburb. Her mother, Jerri Chastain, is a vegan chef whose family is originally from Kansas, and her stepfather is a fireman. She discovered dance at the age of nine and was in a dance troupe by age thirteen...
 
8.
Brad Pitt
An actor and producer known as much for his versatility as he is for his handsome face, Golden Globe-winner Brad Pitt's most widely recognized role may be Tyler Durden in Fight Club. However, his portrayals of Billy Beane in Moneyball, and Rusty Ryan in the remake of Ocean's Eleven and its sequels, also loom large in his filmography...
 
9.
Carey Mulligan
Actress, Drive
Carey Mulligan is a British actress, born May 28, 1985, in Westminster, London, England, to Nano (Booth), a university lecturer, and Stephen Mulligan, a hotel manager. Her father is of Irish descent and her mother is Welsh, originally from Llandeilo. Her first major appearance was playing Kitty Bennet in Pride & Prejudice alongside Keira Knightley...
 
10.
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche was born in Paris, France, to Monique Yvette Stalens, a director, teacher, and actress, and Jean-Marie Binoche, a sculptor, director, and actor. Her mother was born in Czestochowa, Poland, of French, Walloon Belgian, and Polish descent, while her father is French. Juliette was only 23 when she first attracted the attention of international film critics with The Unbearable Lightness of Being...
 
11.
John C. Reilly
Character actor, dramatic leading man, or hilarious comic foil? With an astonishing range of roles already under his belt, John C. Reilly has played an eclectic host of rich characters to great effect over the years, from seedy ne'er-do-wells, to lovable, good-natured schlepps. The fifth of six children...
 
12.
Viggo Mortensen
Since his screen debut as a young Amish Farmer in Peter Weir's Witness, Viggo Mortensen's career has been marked by a steady string of well-rounded performances. Mortensen was born in New York City, to Grace Gamble (Atkinson) and Viggo Peter Mortensen, Sr. His father was Danish, his mother was American...
 
13.
Marisa Tomei
Actress, The Wrestler
Marisa Tomei was born on December 4, 1964, in Brooklyn, New York to mother Patricia "Addie" Tomei, an English teacher and father Gary Tomei, a lawyer. Marisa also has a brother, actor Adam Tomei. As a child, Marisa's mother frequently corrected her speech as to eliminate her heavy Brooklyn accent...
 
14.
Paul Giamatti
Actor, Sideways
Paul Giamatti is an American actor who has worked steadily and prominently for over twenty years, and is best known for leading roles in the films American Splendor, Sideways, and Barney's Version (for which he won a Golden Globe), and supporting roles in the films Cinderella Man, The Illusionist, and San Andreas...
 
15.
Woody Harrelson
Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning actor Woodrow Tracy Harrelson was born on July 23, 1961 in Midland, Texas, to Diane Lou (Oswald) and Charles Harrelson. He grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, and, after receiving degrees in theater arts and English from Hanover College, had a brief stint in New York theater...
 
16.
 
17.
Bryan Cranston
Bryan Lee Cranston was born on March 7, 1956 in Hollywood, California, to Audrey Peggy Sell, a radio actress, and Joe Cranston (Joseph Louis Cranston), an actor and former amateur boxer. His maternal grandparents were German, and his father was of Austrian, German, Irish and Jewish ancestry. He was raised partly by his grandparents...
 
18.
John Goodman
John Stephen Goodman is a U.S. film, television, and stage actor. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Virginia Roos (Loosmore), a waitress and saleswoman, and Leslie Francis Goodman, a postal worker who died when John was a small child. He is of English, Welsh, and German ancestry. John is best known for his role as Dan Conner on the television series Roseanne...
 
19.
Ed Harris
By transforming into his characters and pulling the audience in, Ed Harris has earned the reputation as one of the most talented actors of our time. Ed Harris was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, to Margaret (Sholl), a travel agent, and Robert Lee Harris, a bookstore worker who also sang professionally...
 
20.
Frances McDormand
Actress, Fargo
Frances Louise McDormand was born on June 23, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois. She was adopted by Canadian-born parents Noreen Eloise (Nickleson), a nurse from Ontario, and Vernon Weir McDormand, a minister from Nova Scotia, who raised her in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. She earned her B.A. in Theater from Bethany College in 1979 and her MFA from Yale in 1982...
 
21.
Edward Norton
Actor, Fight Club
American actor, filmmaker and activist Edward Harrison Norton was born on August 18, 1969, in Boston, Massachusetts, and was raised in Columbia, Maryland. His mother, Lydia Robinson "Robin" (Rouse), was a foundation executive and teacher of English, and a daughter of famed real estate developer James Rouse...
 
22.
Casey Affleck
An accomplished and striking performer, Academy Award® winner Casey Affleck has established himself as a powerful leading man with performances in multiple upcoming projects. Caleb Casey McGuire Affleck-Boldt was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts. His mother, Chris Anne (née Boldt), is a school teacher...
 
23.
Zooey Deschanel
Actress, Elf
Zooey Deschanel was born in 1980 into a showbiz family. Her father, Caleb Deschanel, is an Academy Award-nominated cinematographer (perhaps most notably for The Passion of the Christ) and her mother, Mary Jo Deschanel (née Weir), is an actress who appeared in Twin Peaks. Her paternal grandfather was French, and her other roots include English, German, Scottish, Irish, and Dutch...
 
24.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Actor, Inception
Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt was born February 17, 1981 in Los Angeles, California, to Jane Gordon and Dennis Levitt. Joseph was raised in a Jewish family with his late older brother, Dan Gordon-Levitt, who passed away in October 2010. His parents worked for the Pacifica Radio station KPFK-FM and his maternal grandfather...
 
25.
Leonardo DiCaprio
Actor, Inception
Few actors in the world have had a career quite as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio's. DiCaprio has gone from relatively humble beginnings, as a supporting cast member of the sitcom Growing Pains and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3, to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s, as the hunky lead actor in movies such as Romeo + Juliet and Titanic...
 
26.
Elizabeth Olsen
Elizabeth Chase "Lizzie" Olsen (born February 16, 1989) is an American actress. She is known for her roles in the films, Silent House, Liberal Arts, Godzilla, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. For her role in the critically-acclaimed Martha Marcy May Marlene, she was nominated for numerous awards...
 
27.
Michelle Williams
A small-town girl born and raised in rural Kalispell, Montana, Michelle Ingrid Williams is the daughter of Carla Ingrid (Swenson), a homemaker, and Larry Richard Williams, a commodity trader and author. Her ancestry is Norwegian, as well as German, British Isles, and other Scandinavian. She was first known as bad girl Jen Lindley in the television series Dawson's Creek...
 
28.
 
30.
Jesse Eisenberg
Curly haired and with a fast-talking voice, Jesse Eisenberg is a movie actor, known for his Academy Award nominated role as Mark Zuckerberg in the 2010 film The Social Network. He has also starred in the films The Squid and the Whale, Adventureland, The Education of Charlie Banks, 30 Minutes or Less...
 
31.
Ellen Page
Actress, Inception
Ellen Philpotts-Page was born on February 21, 1987, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Martha Philpotts, a teacher, and Dennis Page, a graphic designer. Page wanted to start acting at an early age and attended the Neptune Theater School. She began her career at the age of 10 on the award-winning television series Pit Pony...
 
32.
Robert Duvall
Veteran actor and director Robert Selden Duvall was born on January 5, 1931, in San Diego, CA, to Mildred Virginia (Hart), an amateur actress, and William Howard Duvall, a career military officer who later became an admiral. Duvall majored in drama at Principia College (Elsah, IL), then served a two-year hitch in the army after graduating in 1953...
 
33.
Gene Hackman
Actor, Unforgiven
Eugene Allen Hackman was born in San Bernardino, California, the son of Anna Lyda Elizabeth (Gray) and Eugene Ezra Hackman, who operated a newspaper printing press. He is of Pennsylvania Dutch (German), English, and Scottish ancestry, partly by way of Canada, where his mother was born. After several moves...
“ This is a list of working actors. Im making one exception here to honor the greatness. This man exemplifies consistentently choosing good material for decades, and he always sunk his teeth into it deeper than anyone else. ” - krems81
 
34.
Vincent Cassel
Actor, Black Swan
Blue-eyed Vincent Cassel was born in Paris to a leading actor father, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and a journalist mother, Sabine Litique. Often labeled as a tough guy because of his roles, eclectic choices and talent have made of him a star of European cinema. First in La Haine, the young actor, actually coming from upper classes...
 
35.
Michael Shannon
Michael Corbett Shannon was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Geraldine Hine, a lawyer, and Donald Sutherlin Shannon, an accounting professor at DePaul University. His grandfather was entomologist Raymond Corbett Shannon. Shannon began his professional stage career in Chicago. His first acting role was in "Winterset" at the Illinois Theatre Center...
 
36.
Patton Oswalt
Patton Oswalt has been headlining at comedy clubs all over the United States since 1996, as well as appearing in his own standup specials on Comedy Central and HBO. He was chosen as Entertainment Weekly's "It" comedian in 2002. He is a regular on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. His other television credits include appearances on Seinfeld and NewsRadio...
 
37.
Tilda Swinton
The iconoclastic gifts of the visually striking and fiercely talented actress Tilda Swinton have been appreciated by a more international audience of late. She was born Katherine Mathilda Swinton on November 5, 1960, in London, England. Her mother, Judith Balfour, Lady Swinton (née Killen), was Australian...
 
38.
Catherine Keener
Catherine Keener is an American actress, Oscar-nominated for her roles in the independent films Being John Malkovich and Capote. Acclaimed in her community for her quirky roles in independent film and mainstream such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Keener got her start as a casting director in New York City...
 
39.
Oliver Platt
Oliver Platt was born in Windsor, Ontario, to American parents, Sheila Maynard, a social worker, and Nicholas Platt, a career diplomat. His parents were both from upper-class families, and his maternal great-grandmother, Cynthia Roche, was the sister of Princess Diana's maternal grandfather, Maurice Roche...
 
40.
Mia Wasikowska
Mia is an Australian actress, born and raised in the country's capital, Canberra. She is the daughter of photographers Marzena Wasikowska and John Reid. Her mother is Polish and her father is an Australian of British ancestry. She has an older sister, Jess, and a younger brother, Kai. At age eight, her family moved to Poland for a year...
 
41.
Anton Yelchin
Actor, Star Trek
Anton Yelchin was an American actor, known for playing Bobby in Hearts in Atlantis, Chekov in the Star Trek reboot, Charlie Brewster in the Fright Night remake, and Jacob in Like Crazy. He was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia, USSR, to a Jewish family. His parents, Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin...
 
42.
 
43.
Emma Watson
Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson was born in Paris, France, to English parents, Jacqueline Luesby and Chris Watson, both lawyers. She moved to Oxfordshire when she was five, where she attended the Dragon School. From the age of six, Emma knew that she wanted to be an actress and, for a number of years, she trained at the Oxford branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts...
 
45.
Juno Temple
Juno was born in England into a showbiz family. Her mother is a producer, Amanda Temple, and her father is the film director, Julien Temple. She was named 'Juno' after her parents took a visit to the Grand Canyon, during pregnancy, and found they were standing on a butte of Cape Final known as Juno Temple. She has English and Scottish ancestry...
 
46.
Gael García Bernal
Gael García Bernal was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, to Patricia Bernal, an actress and model, and José Ángel García, an actor and director. His stepfather is cinematographer Sergio Yazbek. Bernal began his acting career as a child, working with his parents in a variety of plays. When he was fourteen...
 
47.
Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman is a talented British born movie actor who played Sid Vicious in Sid & Nancy, Drexl in True Romance, and George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He starred in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the remake of RoboCop. He is also an English filmmaker, musician and author. Renowned for his "big" acting style...
 
48.
Bobby Cannavale
Actor, Ant-Man
In both career and in real life, Bobby Cannavale tends to choose the unconventional way of doing things. In the beginning, his decisions may have cost the dark, swarthily good-looking actor some acting roles and/or good-paying money but, in the end, his strong work ethic and sense of self, despite a lack of formal training...
 
49.
Stellan Skarsgård
Stellan Skarsgård is a Swedish actor. He is known for his roles as Jan Nyman in Breaking the Waves (1996), Prof. Gerald Lambeau in Good Will Hunting (1997), Bootstrap Bill in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007), Bill Anderson in Mamma Mia...
 
51.
Danny DeVito
Danny DeVito has amassed a formidable and versatile body of work as an actor, producer and director that spans the stage, television and film. Daniel Michael DeVito Jr. was born on November 17, 1944, in Neptune, New Jersey, to Italian-American parents. His mother, Julia (Moccello), was a homemaker...
 
52.
Bill Murray
Bill Murray is an American actor, comedian, and writer. The fifth of nine children, he was born William James Murray in Wilmette, Illinois, to Lucille (Collins), a mailroom clerk, and Edward Joseph Murray II, who sold lumber. He is of Irish descent. Among his siblings are actors Brian Doyle-Murray, Joel Murray...
 
53.
Amy Adams
Actress, Arrival
Amy Lou Adams was born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy, to American parents, Kathryn (Hicken) and Richard Kent Adams, a U.S. serviceman who was stationed at Caserma Ederle in Italy at the time. She was raised in a Mormon family of seven children in Castle Rock, Colorado, and has English, as well as smaller amounts of Danish, Swiss-German, and Norwegian, ancestry...
 
54.
Samantha Morton
Actress, John Carter
Born in Nottingham, England and trained at the Central Junior Television Workshop, Samantha's first television work came at the age of 13. Since then, she has played many minor TV roles in such dramas as Cracker, Peak Practice, Boon, Soldier Soldier and Medics, before reaching the big time with major roles in such TV movies and mini-series as Band of Gold...
 
55.
Timothy Spall
Timothy Leonard Spall was born in Battersea, London, to Sylvia R. (Leonard), a hairdresser, and Joseph L. Spall, a postal worker. He was raised in London. Spall auditioned and earned a spot with the National Youth Theatre and later showed great promise at RADA where he portrayed the title roles in "Macbeth"...
 
56.
Guy Pearce
Actor, Memento
Guy Edward Pearce was born 5 October, 1967 in Cambridgeshire, England, UK to Margaret Anne and Stuart Graham Pearce. His father was born in Auckland, New Zealand, to English and Scottish parents, while Guy's mother is English. Pearce and his family initially traveled to Australia for two years, after his father was offered the position of Chief test pilot for the Australian Government...
 
57.
Kelly Macdonald
Actress, Brave
Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald was born and raised in Glasgow. Her parents divorced when she was young, and she was raised by her mother, a sales executive in the garment industry. She has one brother, David. As a hobby, she acted in an amateur theatrical club, which she enjoyed a great deal. Macdonald was working as a barmaid...
 
58.
Michael Pitt
Michael Carmen Pitt (born April 10, 1981) is an American actor, model and musician. A casting agent, whom Pitt mistook as a police officer attempting to arrest him, noticed him and recommended him for a guest role on the television series Dawson's Creek (he played Henry Parker in 15 episodes between 1999 and 2000)...
 
59.
Frank Langella
Frank Langella was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, to Angelina and Frank A. Langella, a business executive. He is of Italian descent. A stage and screen actor of extreme versatility, Frank Langella won acclaim on the New York stage in "Seascape" and followed it up with the title role in the Edward Gorey production of "Dracula"...
 
60.
Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin was born September 1, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, to Lillie Mae (Ford) and Guy Tomlin, who moved to Michigan from Paducah, Kentucky, during the Great Depression. Her mother was a nurse's aide and her father was a factory worker. She graduated from Cass Technical High School in 1957, and later enrolled at Wayne State University...
 
61.
Emile Hirsch
Emile Davenport Hirsch was born in Palms, California, to Margaret Esther (Davenport), a teacher and visual artist, and David M. Hirsch, an entrepreneur and producer. He grew up in Los Angeles and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and having been introduced to acting while still at school, he got his first acting job on TV at the age of 11 in an episode of Kindred: The Embraced...
 
62.
John Hurt
Actor, Alien
This transatlantic talent was born John Vincent Hurt on January 22, 1940 in Shirebrook, a coal mining village near the busy market town of Chesterfield, in Derbyshire, England. He is the son of Phyllis (Massey), an engineer and one-time actress, and Arnould Herbert Hurt, an Anglican clergyman and mathematician...
 
63.
Greta Gerwig
Actress, Frances Ha
Greta Celeste Gerwig is an American actress and filmmaker. She was born in Sacramento, California, to Christine Gerwig (née Sauer), a nurse, and Gordon Gerwig, a financial consultant and computer programmer. She has German, Irish, and English ancestry. Gerwig was raised as a Unitarian Universalist...
 
64.
Ethan Hawke
Actor, Gattaca
Ethan Green Hawke was born on November 6, 1970 in Austin, Texas, to Leslie Carole (Green), a charity worker, and James Steven Hawke, an insurance actuary. His parents were students at the University of Texas at the time but divorced when Ethan was 5 years old. His mother raised him alone for the next five years...
 
65.
Maggie Cheung
Maggie Cheung was born on September 20, 1964, in Hong Kong, and moved at the age of eight with her family to England. After finishing secondary school, she returned to Hong Kong, where she began modeling and appearing in commercials. In 1983 she participated in the Ms. Hong Kong pageant, winning first runner-up...
 
66.
Aubrey Plaza
Aubrey Christina Plaza (born June 26, 1984) is an American actress and comedian known for her deadpan style. She portrayed April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation, and after appearing in supporting roles in several films, had her first leading role in the 2012 comedy Safety Not Guaranteed. Plaza began her career as an intern...
 
67.
Jeffrey Wright
Quite possibly the most underrated and underexposed actor of his caliber and generation, Jeffrey Wright's undeniable talent and ability to successfully bring to life any role he undertakes is on a par with the most praised and revered A-list actors in the business. Born and raised in Washington DC, Wright graduated from the prestigious Amherst college in 1987...
 
68.
Jon Hamm
Actor, Mad Men