Top 5/Bottom 5: Steve Buscemi

Posted Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 02:05 PM PST by

by Aaron Peck

Steve Buscemi is now the star of one of HBO's most popular and elaborate shows. On 'Boardwalk Empire' Buscemi plays Enoch "Nucky" Thompson. He may appear to the people of Atlantic City to simply be the city treasurer, but in reality he's an underwold crime kingpin making a killing in bootlegged liquor sales. Buscemi is the right man for the job. He's unassumingly dangerous. He doesn't look like he could destroy you, but when he starts talking there's no doubt that he'd make you pay.

Buscemi has been in his fair of stinkers over the years. Pretty much any time he teams up with Adam Sandler you know you're in for a crappy Buscemi experience. On the other hand, whenever Buscemi teams up with the Coen Brothers, you know you're likely in for a great movie and performance.

Let's take a look at Steve Buscemi's career and see if we can narrow down his top five and bottom five movies shall we?

The Best

'The Big Lebowski'

I'm on record, somewhere, as saying I don't get the big deal about 'The Big Lebowski.' I know just about everyone loves the movie, but I personally don't have that abiding love for it as most people do. That's okay though, because I can admit that it's a very competently made Coen Brothers movie and as I looked over Buscemi's filmography I couldn't find a movie that should bump 'The Big Lebowski' out of the top five (although, 'Barton Fink' and 'Miller's Crossing' came very close). I don't hate the movie, far from it, it's just not on my list of favorite movies of all time like it is with so many other people.


Another Coen Brothers movie and another memorable performance from Buscemi. Not only does he do a great job as Carl he also provides for one of the most memorable death scenes in all of cinema. I know it's not actually him being fed into that wood chipper, but still, whenever you think of Buscemi, doesn't the wood chipper scene jump right to the front of your mind?

'The Messenger'

No one saw 'The Messenger' and that's a shame. I saw it at Sundance and thought it was a fantastic, realistic story of what it must be like to be the soldiers that have to go tell families that their loved ones have died on the battlefield. Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson play the two soldiers tasked with the somber duty. Buscemi isn't in the movie for very long, but his appearance is commanding. He plays a distraught father who takes his rage out on these two messengers. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing this movie, seek it out.

'Monsters, Inc.'

'Monsters, Inc.' remains one of Pixar's best movies and Buscemi was the perfect voice for the slithery villain Randall. His voice brought just enough unease to the character to create a very believable cartoon villain.

'Reservoir Dogs'

Quentin Tarantino's early classic is still remembered as one of his best. And who can forget the performance Buscemi gives as Mr. Pink? His rants are still some of the most memorable scenes of that movie. The scene that always sticks out in my mind is when he lays into Mr. White when they fight about taking Mr. Orange to the hospital.

The Worst


It's big, dumb, and uses Buscemi in a "Gee look at how crazy I am" role, which is never where his talent really flourishes. I know that 'Armageddon' may be on people's guilty pleasures lists, and that's fine, but there's no real denying that it’s a bloated, melodramatic mess.


For every classic like 'Reservoir Dogs' an actor like Buscemi still, for some reason, gets roped into doing a voice for a CGI hamster in a movie like 'G-Force.' Granted Buscemi's part in the movie is actually the funniest the movie gets, but that's like saying those pieces of corn are the best part of that turd.

'Grown Ups'

Every time Buscemi teams up with Sandler I shudder. Such a great actor under used, and usually exploited because he looks unusual. I really wish he'd stop doing movies like 'Grown Ups' with Sandler.

'I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry'

Another bit part in another Adam Sandler movie, sigh. Here Buscemi plays an investigator who is trying to find out if Sandler's marriage to Kevin James is legit. Just typing that sentence makes me quiver. I still can't un-see that movie.

'Mr. Deeds'

Last, and definitely least, is Buscemi in yet another Adam Sandler movie playing a character literally called Crazy Eyes. Need I say more?

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Tags: Steve Buscemi, Top5/Bottom 5, Aaron Peck, Fun Stuff (all tags)