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Benedict Cumberbatch is a force to be reckoned with. Not just because his cheekbones can cut a diamond or because he has the most British name conceivable by humans, apparently, he acts as well. Cumberbatch is most famous for his role as Doctor Strange in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and Sherlock Holmes in… well, Sherlock. I’ve been following Cumberbatch’s work as well as his cheekbones since I became obsessed with Sherlock in my Freshman year of college. It was a long spiral down a rabbit hole from there as I began to catch up on all the Cumberbatch work I missed in my younger and more vulnerable years ‘Before Cumberbatch Engrossment’ (BCE for short).
As my obsession grew deeper, I realized some of Cumberbatch’s best work is lesser-known. So yes, binge watch all of Sherlock as I did in one glorious 24-hour sleepless session, and watch Doctor Strange and then watch all other MCU movies so you can keep up with the character in all his movies and not be totally lost.
Benedict Cumberbatch Roles:
But also check out these hidden gems of Cumberbatch’s work which were unfortunately buried in his later successes:
August Osage County is based on a play of the same name. It stars Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and basically every megastar of 2013 and now which is why it’s amazing that this movie flew under the general public’s radar. It’s about a family who comes together for their patriarch’s funeral. In a rare role for Cumberbatch in which he’s not a genius, evil, or an evil genius. He plays Little Charlie Aiken, a sweet-natured nephew of the deceased who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer but a better person than any other member of his family. Though he only appears in a few scenes, Cumberbatch shows us in this movie that he has a range that goes further than the roles we’re accustomed to seeing him in. He plays the sweet country boy just as well as he plays Sherlock Holmes or Stephen Strange.
#2- Imitation Game
Imitation Game tells the story of the team that cracked the German Enigma code leading to the victory of the allies in WWII. The team is led by a gay British man Alan Turing who never got credit for his work simply because of his sexuality. Cumberbatch shines as the unsung hero of WWII Alan Turing. His performance is not what you would expect of an actor playing a should-be-legendary man. Cumberbatch plays Turing as a timid and shaky man. The performance comes off as so honest and down to earth compared to Turing’s mammoth accomplishments. He plays the role with expert subtlety and nuance.
#3- The Current War
This movie, unfortunately, flew over everyone’s head because it was produced by Harvey Weinstein and set to be released around the time that he was accused of sexual assault. The release date was pushed back but its box office numbers suffered because of the moved release date. It’s about Thomas Edison’s battle with George Westinghouse to become the person who’s electrical system powers the modern world. The stand out scene in this movie is when Edison screams at his company because Westinghouse is catching up with them. The impassioned rage felt as Cumberbatch delivers his rant would convince you that he holds the same obsession with becoming the provider of power for the world that Edison did at the time. This performance before a trembling Tom Holland as Edison’s assistant left Cumberbatch deserving of an Oscar.
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Bet you didn’t expect to see a Hobbit movie on the list. Yes, even the most obsessed of Cumberphiles don’t know that our dear Benedict voiced Smaug in The Hobbit. The movie’s about a group of dwarves looking to reclaim their homeland. Honestly, you’re probably going to have to watch all three Lord of the Rings movies and the original The Hobbit movie to understand what’s going on in this one but for Sherlock fans, it’s worth it just to see a glorious mid-hiatus reunion of Martin Freeman and Cumberbatch. Granted, one’s a hobbit and the other’s a twenty-foot dragon but take what you can get right. Cumberbatch’s vocal performance is the stuff of legends as his grumbly voice chills an otherwise eerily silent cavern.
#5- Patrick Melrose
Patrick Melrose is a miniseries about a drug addict dealing with his estranged father’s death. Cumberbatch plays the neurotic title character. His performance brings the denial ridden character from Edward St. Aubyn’s novels to life. Cumberbatch’s interpretation of the character is both hilarious and tragic as he comes to terms with his childhood abuse. The series moves incredibly quickly along with Patrick Melrose’s cocaine and heroin riddled mind and Cumberbatch keeps up with the pace masterfully while still managing to work emotional depth into the character.
Well, are you done reading? Then get on with the binge-watching of all Cumberbatch movies.
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Carrie Fishbane is obsessed with all things comedy and loves to reflect on the impact of comedy on the world. Having spent thousands of hours studying literature, she also writes about the political impact of entertainment and the power movies and TV have to create social change. Hollywood Insider promotes ethics and substance in entertainment, which is exactly in line with Carrie’s perspective. Carrie’s favorite movies include Jojo Rabbit, Deadpool, and Inception and her favorite shows are Rick and Morty, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and The Office.