Top 25 SNL Alumni Movie Performances: Numbers 20-16

My list of the top 25 personal favorite big screen performances by Saturday Night Live alumni brings us to the second post encompassing numbers 20-16. If you missed part one of the series, you can find it right here:

Today’s list brings us three performers that we will see again in future editions as we move up the chart as well as a versatile and twice Oscar nominated actress and a star that we lost just as his film career was blossoming.

Let’s get to it!

20. Chris Farley, Tommy Boy (1995)

The boundless energy of Mr. Farley was certainly best encapsulated in his first major starring role alongside fellow cast member David Spade. His follow-up comedies Black Sheep, Beverly Hills Ninja, and Almost Heroes didn’t nearly match the quality of what we witnessed here. Farley’s 1997 death will always leave us wondering how his cinematic trajectory would have gone.

19. Joan Cusack, School of Rock (2003)

Cusack only was on SNL for one highly forgettable season (1985-86). However, her career has been a triumph of mostly supporting roles since. She earned Oscar nods for both Working Girl and In & Out, but my personal favorite is the uptight principal trying to reign in Jack Black’s substitute teacher here.

18. Bill Murray, Ghostbusters (1984)

Murray’s first appearance on the list is from this quintessential 80s landmark feature that shows him at his smarmy and often charming best. Ghostbusters solidified his leading man status and was a preview of more amazing work to come.

17. Will Ferrell, Elf (2003)

Ferrell has perfected portraying both the lovable doofus and the arrogant doofus. His performance as Buddy the Elf is the former and probably the best example in this already beloved Christmas classic.

16. Eddie Murphy, Trading Places (1983)

It it hard to name a more amazing one-two-three start to a movie career than Murphy’s with 48 Hrs., Trading Places, and Beverly Hills Cop. I could have chosen any of them , but Places has always been my slight favorite in the trio. Spoiler alert: Eddie is not done on this list.

And there you have it! I’ll be back with numbers 15-11 in short order…

This Day in Movie History: January 17

17 years ago Today in Movie History – January 17 – marked the release of Beverly Hills Ninja with Chris Farley, which topped the box office charts over MLK weekend with a decent $12 million. The critically reviled comedy would gross approximately the same as Farley’s previous vehicles Tommy Boy and Black Sheep. However, those pictures would go onto being considered much better uses for the star’s talent. Less than a year after Ninja‘s debut, Farley would die of a drug overdose. His final movie, Almost Heroes with Matthew Perry, would premiere in May 1998 to lackluster results. Ninja‘s director Dennis Dugan, who had directed Adam Sandler the year prior in Happy Gilmore, would team up with him many more times. His features include Big Daddy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, the two Grown Ups pics, Just Go With It, and Jack and Jill.

As for birthdays, Jim Carrey is 52 today. He broke out in the early 90s on “In Living Color” and in 1994 would make a hugely successful transition to the silver screen. That year alone, he starred in megahits Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber. He would play the Riddler in Batman Forever and have other massive comedic blockbusters like Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty. His occasional transitions into drama have worked out well (The Truman Show, Man on the Moon) and not so well (The Majestic, The Letter 23). Lately, box office hits have been hard to find for Carrey but this November’s Dumb and Dumber To could change that.

Zooey Deschanel is 34 today. She’s costarred with Will Ferrell in the now holiday classic Elf and had the unfortunate privilege of appearing in M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 bomb The Happening alongside Mark Wahlberg. Her most acclaimed role was with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 2009’s 500 Days of Summer. Lately, Deschanel has set movies aside and stars in her own hit FOX sitcom “New Girl”. She sings too!

As for Six Degrees of Separation between the two… quite simple:

Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel costarred together in Yes Man

And that’s today – January 17 – in Movie History!