30 Times Musicians Acted In Movies And Blew Us All Away

·26 min read

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In case you haven't noticed, musician-turned-actors are having quite a moment!

MGM / Via giphy.com

We've got Lady Gaga in House of Gucci, Will Smith in King Richard, and the Haim sisters in Licorice Pizza.

MGM / Via giphy.com

Also the Haim parents!!!

And so I thought, why not look back at the best film performances that musicians have given us this century? Let's give these multi-hyphenates some love!

Warner Bros / Via giphy.com

A few quick ground rules! 1) I'm only including films that have come out since 2001, so if your favorite Madonna, 2Pac, or Michael Jackson performance is missing, that's why. 2) We're looking for great performances in all genres of film, not just Oscars-y dramas. 3) Musicians playing themselves, or versions of themselves, don't count (Ed Sheeran in Yesterday, I'm looking at you).

And so, here are 30 incredible film performances by singers, rappers, and wannabe combat journalists.

MGM / Via giphy.com

1.Alana Haim - Licorice Pizza (2021)

Alana Haim stands in an political office

After nearly a decade performing alongside her sisters in their band Haim, Alana Haim is finally arriving on the big screen with a mighty splash. As the lead in Paul Thomas Anderson's follow-up to Phantom Thread, Alana nails her role as an aimless girl in the '70s who thinks she's found purpose in a relationship she develops with a 15-year-old child actor/water-bed salesman. Both her sisters and her parents show up in small supporting roles, but it is Alana who makes a name for herself here (even if she can't manage to find an age-appropriate love interest). While this casting may seem a bit out of the blue, the Haim sisters have had a close working relationship with PTA for years, as he directed six of their recent music videos. Perhaps Danielle or Este will be the star of his next movie?

Musical High Points: "Want You Back," "Gasoline," "The Wire," and "Right Now"

Other Great Performances: It's her debut!

Buy tickets.

MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

2.Andra Day - The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021)

Natasha Lyonne and Andra Day walk by a pond

Andra Day had barely ever acted before she landed the lead role in this Billie Holiday biopic, but boy did she blow the doors off on her introduction to Hollywood. Not only does she nail the vocal performances including Holiday's mangum opus "Strange Fruit," but she acts her ass off as the legendary singer hounded by the corrupt US government and battling substance abuse. Day was asked to play a dizzying array of emotions on her first turn out, and she pulled it off with an Oscar nom to boot. Can't wait to see what she takes on next.

Musical High Points: "Rise Up" and "Forever Mine"

Other Great Performances: Outside of cameos and voice roles, Day hasn't had another opportunity, but more is certainly to come.

Watch it on Hulu.

Takashi Seida/Hulu/Courtesy Everett Collection

3.Andre 3000 - High Life (2018)

Andre 3000 sits in an outer space greenhouse

Andre 3000, or Andre Benjamin as he's called in screen credits, has been quietly building a filmography for nearly two decades. After a stint opposite Regina King on the under-appreciated American Crime, however, he arrived in theaters as a part of Claire Denis's sci-fi horror adventure about a spaceship full of convicts hurtling toward a black hole. Benjamin feels right at home among heavy hitters like Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche as the mission's stoic gardener coming to peace with their imminent demise. A somber role for an artist known for party bops, but one that leaves me asking for Mr. 3000 in a leading role soon.

Musical High Points: "Hey Ya!," "Ms. Jackson," and "Party"

Other Great Performances: American Crime

Watch it on Hulu.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

4.Awkwafina - The Farewell (2019)

Awkwafina hugs ZHAO Shuzhen

The pipeline from singing about your vagina to Critics Choice Awards is not one oft travelled, but perhaps after Awkwafina, more up-and-coming artists will try to ride genital rhymes into tearjerker films about grandparents. The YouTube rapper has all but eclipsed her early musical fame in recent years as she's stolen the show repeatedly in a series of big budget films. Nothing so far, however, has struck quite the note that The Farewell did. The film about a Chinese American family returning to Asia in order to spend time with their dying matriarch (who doesn't know she's dying) is a beautifully crafted love letter to international families. I laughed. I sobbed uncontrollably. I cussed out my laptop when it was snubbed at the Oscars. A nearly perfect film with Awkwafina at the center and nary a vagina mentioned.

Musical High Point: "My Vag"

Other Great Performances: Crazy Rich Asians, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Nora From Queens.

Watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

5.Beyoncé Knowles-Carter - Dreamgirls (2006)

Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce Knowles, and Anika Noni Rose sing together in matching dresses

OK, now is the point in this list where I tell you how history has wronged us. On behalf of Oscar voters, our lord and savior Beyoncé has never been nominated (let alone won) an Academy Award. She should have at least three: one for Best Original Song for "Woman Like Me," one for Best Original Song for "Spirit," and one for Best Actress in Dreamgirls. She is mesmerizing as Deena and uses every bit of her star-powered charisma to sell the role. She sings. She acts. She dances the Motown choreo the house down boots. And if we just take a quick look at the field she was competing against, we've got a bunch of perennial contenders doing fairly average work. It was a weak year for Best Actress, and Beyoncé should have been up there onstage right next to Jennifer Hudson (and not just for their bop of a Dreamgirls medley). Also, this film lost out on a Best Picture nomination to Babel, The Queen, and Letters From Iwo Jima. Ugh. I'm livid. I'm going to listen to The Pink Panther soundtrack to calm myself down.

Musical High Points: "Love on Top," "Get Me Bodied," "Mine," and the entirety of Beychella.

Other Great Performances: Cadillac Records, The Lion King, and Lemonade

Watch it on HBO Max.

Dreamworks / ©DreamWorks/Courtesy Everett Collection

6.Cher - Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, and Cher stand in a restaurant

Full disclosure: My editor suggested cutting this one from the list, claiming that it was a second-rate Cher performance in the grand scheme of her career. To that I say, there is not a single thing about the camp-tastic Mamma Mia sequel that is second-rate. Every second of it is lovable, joy-filled splendor, and that includes the fact they reverse engineered an entire plot arc for Cher and Andy Garcia so they could include the ABBA song "Fernando" (which the original musical presumably left out because it was hard to shoehorn in). As the TikTokers would say, Cher "understood the assignment." When she signed up for this role, she was in on the joke. She knew this extended cameo as Amanda Seyfried's grandmother was a slightly unhinged endeavor, but she, her cane, and her white pant suit showed up ready for full ridiculousness. This is a professional Oscar-winning woman who does not take herself too seriously, and that we must applaud. One of the best bits of stunt casting in recent memory, and Cher plays the entire thing in exactly the key the film demands.

Musical High Points: "Believe," "Dark Lady," and "I Got You Babe"

Other Great Performances: Silkwood, The Witches of Eastwick, and Moonstruck

Rent it on Amazon Prime Video.

Jonathan Prime/Universal Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

7.Common - Selma (2014)

Common giving a speech in a shirt and tie

In recent years, the film landscape has welcomed more and more rappers-turned-actors including one Lonnie Rashid Lynn (or Common as he's commonly known). Perhaps his most well remembered link to Ava DuVernay's masterful MLK biopic is his performance (and subsequent win) of "Glory" with John Legend at the Oscars. But Common also appeared in the film as one of MLK's spiritual advisors Reverend James Bevel. Common has repeatedly proven his acting chops, bringing a sturdy stoicism to roles in blockbusters and awards contenders alike. He can fill out a soundtrack and a cast list at the same time.

Musical High Points: "The Light," "Come Close," and "Universal Mind Control"

Other Great Performances: John Wick: Chapter 2 and The Hate U Give

Rent it on Amazon Prime Video.

Atsushi Nishijima/Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

8.FKA Twigs - Honey Boy (2019)

FKA twigs hugs Noah Jupe by a pool

Honey Boy is an imperfect film, and one made more problematic by the assault allegations against its writer and star, Shia LaBeouf. What cannot be disputed though, is FKA Twigs' gentle performance at the film's heart. Cast as a woman who lives in the same motel complex as the Lort family, FKA Twigs is the one there to comfort Otis (Noah Jupe) when his dad mistreats him. You can feel the kindness oozing out of her in one neon-drenched poolside encounter, giving the boy shelter in his helter skelter world of child acting. The situation for the genre-defying musician may have been harrowing off camera, but on camera she brings the stillness the film so desperately needed.

Musical High Points: "Two Weeks" and "Cellophane"

Other Great Performances: This is her only major role so far.

Watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

Amazon Studios

9.Harry Styles - Dunkirk (2017)

Harry Stiles, Aneurin Barnard, and Fionn Whitehead sit on a beach toghether in the waves

As the brother of a One Direction groupie so crazed she was written up in the local paper for saving her cat's life with their music, I was informed early and often that Harry Styles (or Mr. Janie Huff as he was once known) would be starring in Dunkirk. I was also subjected to a running commentary of "oh here he comes" and "he's really good in this scene" by my sister the entire time I watched this in theaters. But despite all the illegal theater whispering, Styles' performance stood out in a film crowded with cute boys in uniforms. He's captivating onscreen whether he's talking or nearly being crushed by a boat, and he's got plenty more roles lined up to prove it. If only Dunkirk had included an upbeat bop in the soundtrack, we might have had ourselves Oscar-nominee Harry Styles.

Musical High Points: "Story of My Life," "Adore You," and "Golden"

Other Great Performances: He had a brief cameo in Eternals and will be returning to the big screen in 2022 in Don't Worry Darling.

Watch it on HBO Max.

Warner Bros. Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

10.Ice Cube - Barbershop (2002)

Ice Cube stands in a barber shop cutting hair

Ice Cube discovered his love for acting early and has stuck with it for three decades now, swinging back and forth between releasing new movies and new music. The N.W.A. rapper has most recently been the face of the Barbershop franchise, a series of comedies set in a local barbershop with plenty of Black A-listers (including plenty of musicians-turned-actors) parading through the shop. Ice Cube serves as the perfect straight man to the antics of his costars, and the trio of films are nothing if not a good time. My dad for some reason bought the third one from the Walmart $5 bin, and we liked it so much we ended up watching the first two. If that isn't a ringing endorsement of Ice Cube, then I don't know what is.

Musical High Points: "It Was a Good Day," "Pushin Weight," and "Straight Outta Compton"

Other Great Performances: Boyz n the Hood, Friday, and 21 Jump Street

Rent it on Amazon Prime Video.

MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

11.Janelle Monáe - Moonlight (2016)

Janelle Monae stands in a doorway

Miss Janelle Monáe is THE definition of a triple threat. She's out here slapping down bops. She's out here making us cry in movies. And she's singing/dancing/hosting the crap out of the Oscars. In 2016, she burst onto the scene, not only as one of the lead trio in Best Picture nominee Hidden Figures but also as the emotional core of the Best Picture winner, queer indie darling Moonlight. When Chiron needs reassuring parental figures in his life growing up, he turns to Monáe and Mahershala Ali for warmth and guidance. Monáe welcomes him to her dinner table and reassures him that he can be proud of who he is. For so many queer kids, this is the message we long to hear from authority figures, and to watch Janelle Monáe deliver her monologue so genuinely made me teary-eyed.

Musical High Point: "Make Me Feel," "PrimeTime," and "We Are Young"

Other Great Performances: Hidden Figures and Harriet

Watch it on Hulu.

David Bornfriend/A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

12.Jennifer Hudson - Respect (2020)

Jennifer Hudson sings into a microphone

As I have already mentioned, Dreamgirls was a glut of talent worthy of sweeping every damn award at the 2006 Oscars. One of the two awards it did win was for Jennifer Hudson's gut-wrenching performance as Effie White. It was this performance (including "And I'm Telling You") that led Motown icon Aretha Franklin to personally hand-select Hudson to play her in this year's Oscar contender Respect. The American Idol veteran delivers not only in the singing portions of the film, but also embodies Franklin off camera as he works to make her legendary gospel album. No one belts like Hudson, and even with a snotty, fur-lined performance in recent memory, she is making a beeline toward a well-deserved second Oscar nom.

Musical High Points: "Spotlight" and "If This Isn't Love"

Other Great Performances: Dreamgirls and Chi-Raq

Rent it on Amazon Prime Video.

Quantrell D. Colbert/MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

13.Jennifer Lopez - Hustlers (2019)

Jennifer Lopez wears a fur coat next to Constance Wu at the strip club

Another day. Another pop goddess snubbed by the Oscars. Jennifer Lopez has been putting in as much work as possible for decades as a singer, as a dancer, as an actor, and as an ageless vampire. And even if some of her choices (Gigli, The Boy Next Door, the fifth Pitbull single) have been questionable, she still deserves endless respect for all the great work she has done. That's why when she showed up in Hustlers as the charismatic pole dancer/con artist with a whole trunk full of Oscar clip scenes people were calling her an awards frontrunner. Somehow she was snubbed. Hopefully the backlash to the choice along with her stellar Half Time performance has proven to everyone what a force of nature she can be. Praying that she and her fur coat make it to the Oscar stage soon.

Musical High Points: "Jenny From the Block," "Waiting for Tonight," and "On the Floor"

Other Great Performances: The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan, and Selena

Rent it on Amazon Prime Video.

STX Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection

14.Justin Timberlake - Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Justin Timberlake holds a guitar while Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver shake hands in front of him

Mileage may vary on Justin Timberlake at the moment, but at the end of the day, he is a pop star of the highest caliber having rode his top-tier boy band to fame and capitalized on it with a chart-topping solo career and three (!!!!!) Super Bowl Half Time shows. While his acting career has been a wee bit spotty, there is no denying he's perfect for his role as a folk musician turned over to mainstream in this Coen brothers film. Perhaps I love him here solely because of his proximity to Carey Mulligan (and their incredible "500 Miles" performance), but he ticks all the boxes singing next to Oscar Isaac.

Musical High Points: "SexyBack," "Cry Me a River," "Strawberry Bubblegum," and "Mirrors" (plus, the entire NSYNC discography)

Other Great Performances: The Social Network and Friends With Benefits

Watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

CBS Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

15.Lady Gaga - House of Gucci (2021)

Lady Gaga stands by a car door in furs

She may not consider herself a particularly ethical person, but she is fair. And Lady Gaga is also looking to nab her second Best Actress Oscar nomination for playing Patrizia Reggiani in this campy fashion caper. The multi-Grammy winner/Oscar winner for Best Song is two-for-two in hitting her major film roles out of the park after an illustrious, buzzy, and very Italian musical career. She's on her way to an EGOT for sure, and I am praying to father, son, and House of Gucci that she arrives on the big screen again soon.

Musical High Points: "Gypsy," "Stupid Love," "Speechless," and the "Fun Tonight" accordion remix

Other Great Performances: A Star Is Born (more on this below)

Buy Tickets.

Fabio Lovino/MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

16.Lady Gaga - A Star Is Born (2018)

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga get off of a tour bus

Oh what's this? A SECOND entry for Lady Gaga on this list? How did this get here? Couldn't be me being a stan. She is talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before, unafraid to reference or not reference, put it in a blender, shit on it, vomit on it, eat it, give birth to it. When her casting in the remake of a Hollywood classic was announced, people scoffed at her, but she got the last laugh getting within a nose of an acting Oscar and cementing herself as someone to never underestimate. She served hair, body, and face. She came around with an ass like that. And of course she will always and forever be shouting AHHHH AH AHHHHH AHHH AHHHHHHHH.

Watch it on HBO Max.

Clay Enos/Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

17.Lenny Kravitz - The Hunger Games (2012)

Lenny Kravitz hugs Jennifer Lawrence in a holding room

On the internet, the iconic musician Lenny Kravitz may be most well known for his scarf game, for ripping his leather pants, or for being Zoë's dad. But I'd hazard a guess that many of the younger generation know him as Cinna, Katniss's caring stylist from The Hunger Games. It may have started as a bit of rock 'n' roll stunt casting, but Kravitz brought a quiet kindness and flair to the role that felt oh so needed in the universe of Caesar Flickerman and Effie Trinket. If anyone was going to design me a flame dress to wear before I drop a beehive on an enemy's head, I'd want it to be Lenny Kravitz.

Musical High Points: "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over," "Fly Away," and "Again"

Other Great Performances: Precious

Watch it on Hulu.

Murray Close/Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection

18.Ludacris - F9 (2021)

Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson stand together in the street

The artist seemingly present on every '00s track shouting "LUDA" has carved out a nice niche for himself as a Fast and the Furious staple. Arriving in the franchise's second film as a technician, Ludacris's Tej Parker has starred in six of the nine films (more than anyone outside of the family's patriarch Vin Diesel). He's driven cars all around the world (and in outer space) over the course of the franchise, and he's one of the series' most reliable players. Who's excited for both parts of the two-part 10th installment? Grab me a Corona and count me in.

Musical High Points: "Rollout," "Money Maker," and "Glamorous"

Other Great Performances: Crash and the other eight Fast and the Furious films

Rent it on Amazon Prime Video.

Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

19.Mandy Moore - Saved! (2004)

Heather Matarazzo, Mandy Moore, and Elizabeth Thai dressed as angels

Mandy Moore has been acting for so long (remember when she got coned?) that it's easy to forget she was first and foremost a pop star. But after a few breakthrough singles, she quickly pivoted to film. Perhaps her best work is in this satire about a Christian high school, where she plays an extremely devout conservative queen bee, intent on saving her wayward classmates. Whether she's dressing up as an angel or chucking Bibles at people's heads, Moore is serving top-notch comedy and creating a character not soon forgotten. The cult classic may not be Moore's most recognizable work, but Hilary Faye Stockard is FILLED with Christ's love and will keep you from backsliding into the flames of hell.

Musical High Points: "I Wanna Be With You," "Candy," and "Stupid Cupid"

Other Great Performances: The Princess Diaries, A Walk to Remember, and This Is Us

Rent it on Amazon Prime.

United Artists/Courtesy Everett Collection

20.Mariah Carey - Precious (2009)

Mariah Carey sits at a desk with a notepad

Mariah Carey has popped up a number of times in films over the past two decades, usually for glorified cameos or roles that require some of her standard showgirl pizzazz. Her appearance in Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire was therefore so far out of left field that many people watched the entire movie without even realizing it was the pop diva playing Precious's social worker. The de-glammed Carey melted into the drab cubicle of her office, disappearing into the role in a way so impressive it led to her receiving multiple award nominations. Had her costar Mo'Nique not been snatching awards left right and center, we could have seen a Mariah Carey Oscar nom.

Musical High Points: "Fantasy," "Always Be My Baby," and "All I Want for Christmas Is You"

Other Great Performances: Let's not mention Glitter.

Rent it on Amazon Prime Video.

Macall Polay/Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection

21.Mark Wahlberg - The Departed (2006)

Mark Wahlberg leans back in a chair

Marky Mark is one of the rare examples of a musician who transitioned to Hollywood so well that many people don't even realize he was ever a rapper (and, of course, a Calvin Klein model). While "Good Vibrations" is certainly a summer staple, Wahlberg has gone on to prove himself a consummate professional of the silver screen. Give him an action movie. Give him a comedy. Give him a drama. Give him a family film about adoption. He can do it all (and he's got the Oscar nomination to prove it). This Best Picture winner is jam packed with acting talent (including, of course, the rat), but it was Wahlberg who got the film's only acting nomination. Impressive, sir.

Musical High Point: "Good Vibrations"

Other Great Performances: The Italian Job, I Heart Huckabees, and The Fighter

Rent it on Amazon Prime Video.

Warner Brothers/Courtesy Everett Collection

22.Mary J. Blige - Mudbound (2017)

Mary J. Blige sits in an old timey kitchen

Mary J. Blige became the first person ever to be nominated for acting and Original Song in the same year. But turns out she's a trendsetter, as Lady Gaga, Cynthia Erivo, and Leslie Odom Jr. have all followed in her footsteps in consecutive years (inexplicably, Lady Gaga does not have a song for House of Gucci, which seems like an INCREDIBLE mistake). And so the musician who had done little film work prior ended up with not one but two Oscar nominations. As the Black tenant of a poor white family, she radiates strength while everything around her goes to shit. And her work (not to mention her voice) was not ignored, as she's back this year in Respect along with J. Hud.

Musical High Points: "Real Love," "Family Affair," and "Be Without You"

Other Great Performances: Body Cam and Respect

Watch it on Netflix.

Steve Dietl/Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

23.Queen Latifah - Chicago (2002)

Queen Latifah dances with a scarf

When you're good to Mama, she'll be good to you. And Queen Latifah has been very, very good to us. The rapper (much like Wahlberg) is known more for her acting than her music these days, as she's racked up a filmography full of excellent performances. But it's her Oscar-nominated performance as Mama Morton, the corrupt matron of the Cook County Jail (hope to Pop, Six, Squish, Uh-Uh, Cicero, and Lipschitz) that stands as the crown jewel. Her bawdy number early in the film sets the stage for the entire show, and she continues her splendor on through the end. If you haven't watched Chicago since its release, you gotta do it over the holidays.

Musical High Points: "U.N.I.T.Y." and "Weekend Love"

Other Great Performances: Last Holiday, Hairspray, and Girls Trip

Watch it on Hulu.

Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection

24.Sharon Van Etten - Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020)

Sharon Van Etten sits on the couch with a beer in her hand

Sharon Van Etten is pretty new to acting. After years as a singer-songwriter, she's just wading into the world of stage and screen. Post a stint on the much-loved, cancelled-too-soon OA, Van Etten took her first film role as the mother of Autumn, a girl dealing with an unwanted pregnancy forced to travel to New York to get an abortion. Van Etten's role is not large, but she brings a laconic misery to the role of negligent parent. Perhaps there are more meaty roles for her in the future.

Musical High Points: "Seventeen," "Serpents," "Tarifa," and "Love More"

Other Great Performances: She was also in The OA.

Watch it on HBO Max.

Focus Features

25.Snoop Dogg - The Beach Bum (2019)

Matthew McConaughey and Snoop Dogg stand on a boat

Snoop Dogg has carved out a niche for himself in the film world. He's certainly not doing impressions or trying to stretch outside his comfort zone with bizarre takes on method acting. Instead he's basically just playing stoners (a role he knows well). But if you can cast him in the right spot (as he was in Harmony Korine's heartfelt stoner flick), then he can really sing. Snoop Dogg plays Moondog's (Matthew McConaughey) best friend, one who was sleeping with his wife while she was alive but is giving him pep talks after she's died. The film is a fluorescent Floridian haze, and Snoop feels right at home. If only Martha Stewart had been available for the shoot as well.

Musical High Points: "Gin and Juice," "Drop It Like It's Hot," and "Sensual Seduction"

Other Great Performances: Training Day, Soul Plane, and Dolemite Is My Name

Watch it on Hulu.

Neon/Courtesy Everett Collection

26.Tim McGraw - Friday Night Lights (2004)

Tim McGraw watches a football game

No Tim McGraw was not in THAT Friday Night Lights, but before the popular TV show stole the limelight, the country singer starred in a movie based on the same book. While the prolific singer-songwriter is most well known for his hundreds of country singles, he has carved out a corner for himself in the acting world, playing a string of Southern father figures. In this sports narrative about a Texas high school football team, McGraw plays the alcoholic father of Garrett Hedlund. It's a departure from McGraw's typical clean-cut persona, and one that earned him plenty of attention and future film roles.

Musical High Points: "I Like It, I Love It," "Live Like You Were Dying," and "Humble and Kind"

Other Great Performances: The Blind Side and Country Strong

Watch it on Peacock.

Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

27.Tom Waits - The Old Man and the Gun (2018)

Tom Waits drives a car with Danny Glover in the passenger seat

Even if you don't know Tom Waits, you know Tom Waits. His jazz and blues music, accompanied by his gravelly voice, has been swirling around in the pop culture ether for decades, and he's the definition of an "oh that guy" character actor. Most recently he was orchestrating a motorcycle jump on a golf course in Licorice Pizza. Yeah! That guy! He also recently played a member of Robert Redford's old man bank-robbing gang (along with Danny Glover) in the criminally underrated The Old Man and the Gun. The film is quite simply perfect (even if it is quiet), and Waits is just who you want as a stoic old bank robber somehow feeling things and not at the same time. Why did this movie not get more hype? WHY? WHY?!?!?!

Musical High Points: "Downtown Train," "I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love With You," and "Take It With Me" (an enormous discography to wade through!)

Other Great Performances: The Book of Eli, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and Licorice Pizza

Rent it on Amazon Prime Video.

Eric Zachanowich/Fox Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

28.Tunde Adebimpe - Rachel Getting Married (2008)

Mather Zickel, Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Tunde Adebimpe embrace

You may not have heard of Tunde Adebimpe, but you've most definitely heard his voice if you've ever listened to rock band TV on the Radio. Adebimpe is the lead singer of that Brooklyn-based ensemble, and when he's not working on music he occasionally pops up on the big screen. Most notably, he plays the man Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) is getting married to in Rachel Getting Married. As the outsider entering a tumultuous waspy family, he is the grounding force of the film. He endures Kym's (Anne Hathaway) disastrous wedding toast and still manages to make his bride happy, even as her family is imploding. If only every wedding had a groom like him.

Musical High Points: "Wolf Like Me," "DLZ," and "Staring at the Sun"

Other Great Performances: The Girlfriend Experience and Spider-Man: Homecoming

Watch it on Hulu.

Sony Pictures Classics/Courtesy Everett Collection

29.Will Oldham - Old Joy (2006)

Will Oldham and Daniel London sit by a fire

Perhaps you have never heard of Will Oldham. He publishes his music under the moniker Bonnie "Prince" Billy. But onscreen he's once again just ol' Will Oldham. The second film from Kelly Reichardt (and the first set in her beloved Pacific Northwest) follows Kurt (Oldham) and Mark (Daniel London), a pair of old friends who have grown apart, returning for a weekend reunion hike in the woods. While Mark has gone on to live a more urban, traditional life, Kurt continues to live hand-to-mouth off the land as a hippie, and the pair struggle to see eye to eye while also remembering the things they love about one another. Oldham is remarkable in film. Perhaps we could get him back in another Reichardt film soon?

Musical High Points: "Bed Is for Sleeping," "A Minor Place," and "Love Comes to Me"

Other Great Performances: A Ghost Story

Watch it on The Criterion Channel.

Kino International/Courtesy Everett Collection

30.Will Smith - King Richard (2021)

Will Smith smokes a cigarette by a tennis court

Just like Gaga, Will Smith is at the center of the Oscar hunt again this year for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams' controversial tennis coach father. After near misses with Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness, the Fresh Prince star's odds finally look stacked in his favor. He pulled out all the stops (and the short shorts) for this over-the-top role, and in the two and a half hour film, he's got plenty of time to flex all his muscles. From small-time rapper to one of the biggest names in Hollywood, Will Smith is the musician-to-actor guideline that everyone wants to follow.

Musical High Points: "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It," "Wild Wild West," and "Switch"

Other Great Performances: Men in Black, The Pursuit of Happyness, and Concussion

Watch it on HBO Max.

Chiabella James/Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection