10) ‘Bullworth’ (1998): Cheadle brought real depth and nuance to what could have been a cliched gangster character in Warren Beatty’s political farce about a Democrat who rediscovers his liberalism after embracing hip-hop culture.
9) ‘Crash’ (2005): Cheadle gave another solid performance as a cop with racial prejudices of his own in this polarizing best picture winner. The merits of the movie are still debated to this day, but Cheadle’s performance was electric.
8) ‘Oceans’s Eleven’ (2001)/’Ocean’s Twelve’ (2004)/’Ocean’s Thirteen’ (2007): Cheadle showed his flair for comedy in this blockbuster caper trilogy. He played Basher Tarr, a British con who’s an expert in explosives.
7) ‘Boogie Nights’ (1997): Cheadle held his own in this all-star epic film about a pseudo-family of performers and filmmakers in the world of 70s and 80s film. Cheadle played the sweet and earnest Buck Swope who changes personas almost as much as he does sexual positions.
6) ‘Rosewood’ (1997): Although John Singleton’s gritty revisionist version of the 1923 Rosewood massacre bombed at the box office. The film and Cheadle’s performance as the heroic Sylvester Carrier are now held up in high regard as cult classics.
5) ‘Out of Sight’ (1998): Cheadle stole scenes from his real-life friend George Clooney as the ruthless criminal Snoop in this excellent Elmore Leonard adaptation directed by frequent Cheadle collaborator Steven Soderbergh.
4) ‘Talk to Me’ (2007): Cheadle earned rave reviews from bringing the real life story of popular 70s-era DJ ‘Petey’ Greene to the big screen. Greene went from being an ex-con to becoming the voice of a generation.
3) ‘Traffic’ (2000): Cheadle managed to stand out in an all-star cast (which included Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Benicio Del Toro) in this Academy Award winning film about the intricacies of the drug trade. As a narcotics cop who loses his partner tragically but triumphs in the end, Cheadle is unforgettable.
2) ‘Devil in a Blue Dress’ (1994): Cheadle’s first big breakout role and he ends up stealing this noir thriller right from under its star — Denzel Washington. Cheadle plays Mouse — Washington’s character’s trigger happy friend whose nickname couldn’t be less appropriate.
1) ‘Hotel Rwanda’ (2004): Cheadle not only paid tribute to the brave genocide survivor Paul Rusesabagina with his Academy Award-nominated performance in this riveting film — he also helped raise awareness about the plight of the Rwandan people and he continues to be an activist on their behalf to this day.
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Don Cheadle has been one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood for years. Despite years of acclaimed performances in both dramatic and blockbuster films he’s only been recognized by the Academy Awards once and is rarely given above-the-title, A-list roles.
Although, recently, that has begun to change.
Cheadle now anchors the hit Showtime TV series House of Lies and he is starring alongside Robert Downey Jr. in what is likely to be the biggest hit of the summer: Iron Man 3.
He has been one of the most respected black film performers since he burst onto the scene and he’s arguably never given a less-than-stellar performance.
With that in mind theGrio took on the unenviable task of picking his 10 best. Check our list and let us know if we got it right.