Best Michael Shannon Performances

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  01 Apr 2016 

With this weekend’s Midnight Special, Michael Shannon and writer-director Jeff Nichols reunite for their fourth feature — and if early reviews are any indication, it’ll join its predecessors in earning Certified Fresh status. In anticipation of Special’s arrival, we’ve decided to dedicate this week’s feature to a look at some of the many highlights from Shannon’s still-growing filmography — a group that includes collaborations with Nichols as well as an array of other fortunate filmmakers.

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7 Revolutionary Road
imdb
rating

7.3

Revolutionary Road (2008)

Drama, Romance

Shannon earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his work as an allegedly crazy neighbor in Revolutionary Road, a 2008 period drama about the unraveling of a middle-class marriage between two suburbanites in 1950s America. Directed by Sam Mendes, Road didn’t win any points for cheeriness — in fact, a good number of critics were turned off by the grueling series of disappointments faced by Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in the central roles — but on the whole, Justin Haythe’s screenplay, Mendes’ direction, and the performances of a talented cast helped make the medicine go down. Calling it “bitter, nerve-wracking, ugly and relentless,” Detroit News critic Tom Long wrote, “Revolutionary Road is Big Drama done right, a mesmerizing look at desperate lives, wrong moves and spoiled dreams that hits hard right from the beginning and never lets up.”

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A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children. Based on a novel by Richard Yates.

actors:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Wheeler   Kate Winslet as April Wheeler   Michael Shannon as John Givings   David Harbour as Shep Campbell   Kathryn Hahn as Milly Campbell   Kathy Bates as Mrs. Helen Givings   Zoe Kazan as Maureen Grube   Dylan Baker as Jack Ordway   Jay O. Sanders as Bart Pollock   Ryan Simpkins as Jennifer Wheeler   Ty Simpkins as Michael Wheeler   Max Casella as Ed Small   Richard Easton as Howard Givings  

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6 The Runaways
imdb
rating

6.6

The Runaways (2010)

Drama, Music

Before they were solo stars, Joan Jett and Lita Ford were members of the all-female rock group the Runaways — and their fascinating, turbulent, and often rather lurid story can’t be told without making room for their larger-than-life manager, Kim Fowley. While Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning received the lion’s share of The Runaways’ pre-release attention after they were cast as Jett and Runaways vocalist Cherie Currie, many critics felt Shannon stole the film with his performance as Fowley, which captured his provocative essence without delving into the dark side that later came to define his public persona. As Ann Hornaday argued for the Washington Post, “While Jett and Currie emerge as blurry, half-formed characters, Shannon’s Fowley brings the contradictions the Runaways embodied into sharp, biting focus.”

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Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), two rebellious teenagers from Southern California, become the frontwomen for the Runaways -- the now-legendary group that paved the way for future generations of female rockers. Under the Svengalilike influence of impresario Kim Fowley, the band becomes a huge success, with Joan as the band's hard-rocking heart, and Cherie as the sex kitten. However, the teens' stormy relationship threatens the band's future.

actors:
Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett   Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie   Scout Taylor-Compton as Lita Ford   Alia Shawkat as Robin   Michael Shannon as Kim Fowley   Robert Romanus as Guitar Teacher   Tatum O'Neal as Marie Harmon   Johnny Lewis as Scottie   Brett Cullen as Donald Currie   Riley Keough as Marie Currie   Stella Maeve as Sandy West   Hannah Marks as Tammy   Lisa Long as Sandy West's Mom   Peggy Stewart as Grandma Oni   Allie Grant as Club Girl  

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5 Take Shelter
imdb
rating

7.4

Take Shelter (2011)

Drama, Thriller

The restless worry rumbling under the remnants of America’s middle class in the early 21st century were mirrored in Take Shelter, writer-director Jeff Nichols’ 2011 drama featuring Michael Shannon as a father and husband whose happy home life is disturbed by a series of increasingly frightening apocalyptic visions. Convinced he’s bearing witness to a prophecy and determined to protect his wife and children, he sets about building a storm shelter — while starting to display signs that he may suffer from the paranoid schizophrenia that runs in his family. “Shannon is astounding, playing a good man pushed to the brink of sanity, maybe beyond,” wrote Bill Goodykoontz for the Arizona Republic. “He portrays a sense of quiet desperation — a feeling recognizable to many.”

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Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.

actors:
Michael Shannon as Curtis   Jessica Chastain as Samantha   Katy Mixon as Nat   Shea Whigham as Dewart   Ray McKinnon as Kyle   Tova Stewart as Hannah   Natasha Randall as Cammie   Ron Kennard as Russell   Scott Knisley as Lewis   Robert Longstreet as Jim   Heather Caldwell as Special Ed Teacher   Sheila Hullihen as Woman in Road  

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4 Premium Rush
imdb
rating

6.5

Premium Rush (2012)

Action, Crime, Thriller

The world wasn’t exactly crying out for a new bike-messenger drama after Kevin Bacon’s Quicksilver went skidding into the box office guardrails in 1986, but with 2012’s Premium Rush, director/co-writer David Koepp proved the subgenre still had stories left to tell. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a law school grad who dodges the bar with his low-responsibility, high-risk gig as a bike messenger, Rush adds an extra jolt of adrenaline courtesy of a subplot involving a particularly valuable package being chased by a corrupt cop (Shannon) who’ll retrieve it at any cost. Praising the end result as “stuffed with zingers and zippy stunts,” the New York Times’ Manohla Dargis wrote, “It comes with pretty young things of all hues and hair types – few prettier than its lead, Joseph Gordon-Levitt – and start-to-finish clever special effects, none more clever or special than Michael Shannon.”

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In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city.

actors:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Wilee   Michael Shannon as Bobby Monday   Dania Ramirez as Vanessa   Jamie Chung as Mima   Wolé Parks as Manny   Aasif Mandvi as Raj   Kym Perfetto as Polo   Anthony Chisholm as Tito   Christopher Place as Bike Cop   Ashley Austin Morris as Receptionist   Kevin Bolger as Squid   Lauren Ashley Carter as Phoebe   Aaron Tveit as Kyle / Student  

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3 Mud
imdb
rating

7.4

Mud (2013)

Drama

A year after reuniting with Shotgun Stories director Jeff Nichols for Take Shelter, Shannon joined Nichols for their third collaboration, taking a supporting role in 2013’s critically acclaimed Mud. Here, Shannon plays Galen, uncle to one of the boys who stumble upon the title character (played by Matthew McConaughey) after discovering the home he’s made for himself in a boat that was stranded in a tree by a flood. Arriving during a particularly busy time in Shannon’s career — it made its festival debut the same year he released Premium Rush and The Iceman — it doesn’t offer as much screen time as other films he’s made with Nichols, but his presence is part of the rich, Twain-inspired canvas that helped make it one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year. As Joe Morgenstern argued for the Wall Street Journal, “It’s a movie that holds out hope for the movies’ future.”

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A drama centered on two teenage boys who encounter a fugitive and pact to help him escape from an island in the Mississippi.

actors:
Matthew McConaughey as Mud   Tye Sheridan as Ellis   Jacob Lofland as Neckbone   Sam Shepard as Tom Blankenship   Reese Witherspoon as Juniper   Sarah Paulson as Mary Lee   Michael Shannon as Galen   Ray McKinnon as Senior   Joe Don Baker as King   Paul Sparks as Carver   Dalton Gray as    Stuart Greer as Miller   Michael Abbott Jr. as James   Bonnie Sturdivant as May Pearl  

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2 The Iceman
imdb
rating

6.9

The Iceman (2012)

Crime, Drama, Thriller

Shannon’s intense screen presence makes him an ideal pick for a movie about an infamous hitman, and The Iceman — inspired by the real-life story of prodigiously homicidal killer Richard Kuklinski — would definitely seem to fit the bill. Unfortunately, a good many critics agreed that director/co-writer Ariel Vromen’s take on the Kuklinski story didn’t really live up to its potential, sacrificing some of its stranger-than-fiction energy for the sake of delivering yet another largely generic picture about the evil that men do. The Iceman’s saving grace, unsurprisingly, was Shannon’s performance, which vested the character with suitably chilling life even when the film didn’t seem to know what to do with him. As Dana Stevens wrote for Slate, “Shannon inhabits this character so completely that by the end of this hard-to-watch, hard-to-look-away-from movie you feel you can, if not understand Richie, at least wish he had found some redemption in life.”

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The true story of Richard Kuklinski, the notorious contract killer and family man.

actors:
Michael Shannon as Richard Kuklinski   Elias Koteas as Dominick Provenzano   Winona Ryder as Deborah Kuklinski   Ray Liotta as Roy Demeo   Benicio Del Toro as Roy Demeo   Chris Evans as Robert Pronge   David Schwimmer as Josh Rosenthal   James Franco as Marty   Stephen Dorff as Joey Kuklinski   Robert Davi as Leo Marks   John Ventimiglia as Mickey Scicoli  

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1 99 Homes
imdb
rating

7.2

99 Homes (2015)

Drama

The messy bursting of the housing bubble in 2008 serves as the backdrop for this harrowing drama from writer-director Ramin Bahrani, which uses the eviction of struggling single father Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) to set up a knotty conflict that doubles as a troubling microcosm for modern American economics. After being displaced from his home by real estate broker Rick Carver (Shannon), Nash is given the chance to get back on his feet — and regain possession of his home — by working on Carver’s crew, which sets in motion a chain of events that improves his family’s financial health while threatening to upend Nash’s moral compass. “Bahrani shows what happens when it becomes more profitable to yoink away the American Dream than it is to encourage people to buy into it,” wrote Alan Scherstuhl for the Village Voice. “Shannon shows us the toll that that yoinking etches in the face, the mind, the soul.”

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After his family is evicted from their home, proud and desperate construction worker Dennis Nash tries to win his home back by striking a deal with the devil and working for Rick Carver, the corrupt real estate broker who evicted him.

actors:
Andrew Garfield as Dennis Nash   Laura Dern as Lynn Nash   Michael Shannon as Rick Carver   Tim Guinee as Frank Green   J.D. Evermore as Mr. Tanner   Noah Lomax as Connor Nash   Clancy Brown as Mr. Freeman   Nicole Barré as Nicole Carver   Cullen Moss as Bill   Wayne Pére as Frank's Lawyer   Judd Lormand as Mr. Hester   Gretchen Koerner as Neighbor Friend   Yvonne Landry as Frank's Neighbor   Donna DuPlantier as Mrs. Tidwell   Jordyn McDempsey as Mrs. Tidwell's Daughter   Gus Rhodes as Neighbor   John L. Armijo as John   Jayson Warner Smith as Jeff   Ann Mahoney as Mrs. Tanner   Juan Gaspard as Dennis's crew   Nadiyah Skyy Taylor as Tamika   Deneen Tyler as Baliff   David Maldonado as Detective #1   Cynthia Santiago as Mrs. Green   Joni Bovill as Mrs. Moros   Carl Palmer as Sheriff #2   Albert C. Bates as Derek   Tom Bui as Millionaire Businessman   Manu Narayan as Khanna   Patrick Kearns as Neighbor   Jeff Pope as Evicted Man   Richard Holden as Judge   Robert Larriviere as Commissioner Arthur Link   Garrett Kruithof as Court Clerk   Randy Austin as Deputy Randy Anderson   Luke Sexton as Crew Leader   Cynthia LeBlanc as Mansion Partiers   Elton LeBlanc as Mansion Partier   Liann Pattison as Dayna   Michelle DeVito as Neighbor   Kerry Sims as Lawer   Jonathan Tabler as Adam Bailey   Don Brady as Mr. Baldwin  

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