10 Best Steve Buscemi Movies
While it might seem like actor Steve Buscemi is permanently destined for supporting roles, he doesn’t seem to be too bothered by it. Buscemi manages to deliver some of the greatest performances of the late 20th and early 21st century consistently and without fail. He’s incredibly funny and beyond talented, managing to deliver comedic and dramatic performances like a natural. Buscemi has an indescribably unique voice (and an equally one-of-a-kind look) that really makes any performance of his memorable. Whether he’s starring in a cult classic or doing a favor for an up-and-coming filmmaker, the actor doesn’t seem to limit himself to only blockbusters or only indies. Buscemi’s filmography is a nice mix of the two, and it proves to be a very impressive one for that reason.
One of the Coen Brothers’ most iconic films of the 1990s also happens to contain one of the most iconic Steve Buscemi performances so far. He’s a bad guy — something he doesn’t often play but still plays very well — and he’s perfectly cast. Plus, he gets to be a part of a scene that will probably be talked about not only as one of the Coen’s greatest moments but as one of the most jarring sequences of the 90s as a whole.
The Big Lebowski
Another Coens movie means another iconic supporting role from Buscemi. This movie’s all about bowling, so of course, there’s plenty of great bowling alley gags from Buscemi throughout the film. Jeff Bridges and John Goodman deserve all the praise they get for The Big Lebowski, but Steve Buscemi is doing just as good of a job here. It’s great.
Quentin Tarantino’s early work is a lot less flashy than his more recent films, but there’s still no lack of great actors giving equally great performances. It’s something that has remained consistent throughout the ups and downs of his filmography, and Buscemi helps make Reservoir Dogs one of Tarantino’s very best films.
While they seem to be churning out more sequels than they used to, Disney/Pixar used to be known for their dazzlingly original animated features. Monsters, Inc. is one of their earliest (and most impressive) works. John Goodman and Billy Crystal are the stars here, but Steve Buscemi delivers another killer performance in the villain role. Randall, a primarily purple lizard-looking monster with the ability to change colors to fit into his surroundings, is the perfect role for Buscemi’s distinguished voice.
Buscemi’s only playing a supporting role in Joel and Ethan Coen’s Barton Fink, but his scene-stealing abilities are always unmatched. His character, a hotel concierge named Chet, gets plenty of really funny lines despite being put on the back burner in relation to the plot. John Turturro might be the titular star, but the role of Chet wouldn’t be the same without Buscemi.
In Miller’s Crossing, Buscemi’s playing another supporting role with a four-letter name—instead of Chet, he’s Mink. The Coens wouldn’t dare waste his talents, which is why he always manages to deliver some of his very best work whenever he works with them. Mink is a seedy and untrustworthy bookie, a sad sap that Buscemi plays with ease.
Writer and director Jim Jarmusch’s 1989 film Mystery Train follow three different stories occurring simultaneously within one dingy Memphis, Tennessee motel. Buscemi’s story tracks him (alongside two other men) as he attempts to reconcile with his shortcomings after a failed heist. Jarmusch’s films are filled with humanity and tenderness, which makes them a perfect home for Buscemi.
Lean on Pete
One of a few horses movies from 2018, Lean on Pete follows a young man named Charley who finds himself stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of despair and misery in his life. He finds comfort in caring for an injured racehorse named Lean on Pete. After the horse’s owner, played by Buscemi, says that the horse needs to be slaughtered, Charley and Pete make a run for it. For the duration of Buscemi’s role, he brings a few dollops of brutal honesty that Charley desperately needs to hear.
Living in Oblivion
Buscemi is almost always in front of the camera, rarely behind—that’s why it’s interesting to see him playing an independent filmmaker named Nick in Tom DiCillo’s 1995 film Living in Oblivion. It’s a dramatic and comedic look at the effort that goes into making a low-budget film, with Buscemi perfectly cast in the leading role (a placement that Buscemi isn’t always lucky enough to score).
One of many cult classics with Buscemi in their cast list, Ghost World stars Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch as Rebecca and Enid, two soon-to-be high school graduates who must analyze their lives and determine what they want to do with them in the real world. Buscemi ends up being the object of Enid’s affection, playing a character named Seymour. It’s based on a graphic novel, but a viewer unfamiliar with the source material would hardly be able to tell — Buscemi’s doing great work here, as is the rest of the cast.