Michael Shannon, shown below and on poster, top, who will knock the socks off viewers unfamiliar with this actor's consistently fine work. Shannon is a relatively tall and rangy actor with a big, square face and huge eyes that, when they go dead, scare the shit out of you. He can be sad and funny and benevolent, too (see The Missing Person, Return or the just-out Mud for a good sampling of his other sides), but for sheer scariness, he's the go-to guy for this decade. He's also versatile enough to make each new bad guy he essays decidedly different from the last one.
Richard Kuklinski, the notorious New Jersey killer, Shannon -- aided by Vroman's direction and co-screenwriting (along with Morgan Land, with the help of Anthony Bruno's book and James Thebaut's earlier documentary) -- turns this guy into a genuinely interesting, if very frightening, fellow. We get just a dash of the abused kids that he and his prison-inmate brother (Stephen Dorff, also nearly unrecognizable here) were at the hands of their nasty dad, along with a sense of useless religion hammered in from a very early age.
Winona Ryder (above), soon to be his wife. From here, it's but an easy step into the world of organized crime and the more lucrative life of a hit man.
James Franco, above, probably repaying Shannon for that actor's appear-ance in Franco's own poetic misfire, The Broken Tower) takes longest of all and is quirky and effective on a number of levels. It also leads to the joining of forces (the character known as Mr. Freezy, below) that takes everything into even darker territory.