Mark Wahlberg’s Best Performances

Mark Wahlberg is one of the most successful actors in Hollywood today.  There’s simply no doubt about it.  At only the age of 41, his 20-plus films have amassed a total of $1.75 billion at the box office, which puts him 28th on the list all time.  Not bad for a guy who didn’t even make the cut for the 90’s boy band New Kids on the Block.

Despite the financial success of his films, he’s never exactly been a critical favorite.  He doesn’t have a target on his back the same way, say, Adam Sandler, does, but you’re more likely to find Blockbuster Entertainment Awards on his mantle than Academy Awards.  It makes sense when you think about it: No actor has ever been a box office draw by starring in critically acclaimed fare like “Brokeback Mountain” (a film which Wahlberg rejected).

So no, Wahlberg will never be confused for Daniel Day-Lewis, but this isn’t to say that his resume is entirely void of rewarding work.  In fact, Wahlberg has on occasion really made critics take notice with some surprising turns.  Here are, in the opinion of this writer, his five best performances.

The Departed

Despite the crack I made about the awards on his mantle, Wahlberg does in fact have a sole and richly deserved Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a hothead detective in Martin Scorsese’s 2006 masterpiece The Departed.  Every cast member fires on all cylinders in this one, but Wahlberg is indeed the scene stealer and the only one who received an Oscar nod.  Wahlberg rattles off brutal obscenities with such vigor and aplomb that it almost feels improvised and naturalistic.  Wahlberg makes sure that you understand that this character is hardheaded, but he finds the dedication and soul within the man.  It’s no wonder he walked away with the Best Supporting Actor prize from the National Society of Film Critics.

I Heart Huckabees

Not that The Departed is a comedy, but Wahlberg’s performance is at turns uproarious.  Perhaps he’s just better at comedy.  David O. Russell’s bizarre comedic gem I Heart Huckabees features Wahlberg in a cast of world class talent, including Dustin Hoffman, Jude Law and Naomi Watts.  Yet most critics agreed: Wahlberg walked away with the show.  As a firefighter seeking detectives to mine the meaning behind his life, Wahlberg embraces the madcap and turns in an eccentric yet touching performance.

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By Zack Mandell
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