The adaptations of Stephen King‘s stories have an uneven track record in Hollywood. For every film that has done well – such as the current hit “It” – there is at least one that was a misfire like this summer’s flop “The Dark Tower.” King’s cachet has drawn from of the biggest names in Hollywood with then red-hot Tim Robbins headling “The Shawshank Redemption” back in 1994 to Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and SAG champ Idris Elba in “The Dark Tower.”
While the latter pairing are more likely to contend for Razzies than Oscars, the former was inexplicably overlooked by the academy for his work in this Best Picture nominee. Fear not, he figures in our top 10 performances in screen versions of King’s creations. Scroll down to see where Robbins ranks and who else made the cut.
10. James Caan – “Misery” (1990)
Caan may be outshone by Kathy Bates who won the Oscar, but he is the human anchor to this film and his performance gets us completely on his character’s side, wishing him to escape the clutches of Annie Wilkes.
9. River Phoenix – “Stand By Me” (1986)
This role as a troubled teen in this coming-of-age story is a key part of the actor’s cinematic legacy. Phoenix’s natural talent elevate the film, which is now considered a classic.
8. Sissy Spacek – “Carrie” (1976)
The 2013 remake of “Carrie” didn’t live up to the high standards set by its 1976 predecessor – thanks in part to a career-defining powerhouse performance from Spacek, who earned an Oscar nomination for playing the titular character in the original.
7. Tim Curry – “It” (1990)
Curry’s performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown remains in the terrified memory of many.
6. Tim Robbins – “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)
As a wrongfully imprisoned man, Robbins is the soul of this movie, which is far more appreciated now than at the time of its release.
5. Bill Skarsgard – “It” (2007)
Skarsgard delivers one of the most fascinating horror-movie performances of recent times. He manages to just about outdo Curry’s brilliance with a more lethal, unhinged playfulness which translates to genuine terror in a heartbeat.
4. Jack Nicholson – “The Shining” (1980)
King isn’t a fan of Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic version of one of his favorite books but critics regard it as a work of art. Nicholson is the essence of a man gone mad.
3. Michael Clarke Duncan – “The Green Mile” (1999)
Tom Hanks may be the star as a kindly prison guard but Duncan, who stole the film as a death row inmate with a secret power, was the one who earned an Oscar nomination.
2. Morgan Freeman – “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)
Freeman is the heart of this movie and his narration alone has been parodied and copied countless times. He steals the show from Robbins, earning a Best Actor bid as the long-time prisoner who befriends the newbie.
1. Kathy Bates – “Misery” (1990)
Her Oscar-winning performance as the obsessed fan Annie Wilkes is genuinely disturbing. She keeps the character (just about) human, too, mixing subtle nuance in among the sheer horror of moments like sledge-hammering ankles.
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.