Owen Gleiberman
August 09, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

TImoth Dalton in The Rocketeer
No wonder Dalton’s James Bond always seemed like such a Gloomy Gus: Inside the impeccable British agent, a flamingly decadent villain was dying to get out. As the evil Neville Sinclair, Dalton easily upstages G-rated leads Bill Campbell and Jennifer Connelly — especially when he declares his love for the Fatherland (a thought that seems to turn him on a lot more than Connelly does).

Samuel L. Jackson in Jungle Fever
As Gator, the crack-addled brother of Wesley Snipes’ buppie hero, Jackson (who has had small roles in three previous Spike Lee films) proves far more arresting than the interracial romance at Jungle Fever‘s core. Burning through our liberal expectations, he accents the coarse, criminal selfishness of the drug-enslaved: When Gator dances to scrounge cash, you’re seeing the thin line between desperation and psychosis.

William Sadler in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
Sporting a head as white and shiny as a light bulb, Sadler’s Grim Reaper becomes the heartiest partier in the cosmos. As the terrorist villain in Die Hard 2, Sadler pursed his lips and glowered. Here, there’s more joy in his mischievous double takes than in any of Bill and Ted’s Valley Boy patter.

Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Okay, so it’s hard to ”steal” scenes when you’re already the costar. Nevertheless, Arnold Schwarzenegger has a way of terminating any competing charisma, and that makes Hamilton’s riveting presence in T2 something of a feat. With her rippling pecs and gun- crazy ferocity, she manages to elbow herself into viewers’ imaginations — right alongside Arnold, a mountain of hardware, and the most eye-boggling special effects the movies have seen in years.

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