I first noticed him in the Jack Lemon / Jan Fonda thriller, The China Syndrome, where his character finally caves into guilt and spills the beans on an unsafe nuclear power plant. He did equally impressive work a few years later in John Carpenter's incredibly scary remake of The Thing and Ron Howard's heartwarming film about the fountain of youth, Cocoon.
I think what makes Wilford Brimley's work stand out is the fact that you never feel like you're watching an actor. He looks and sounds just like a neighbor or relative. And while you watch him on the screen, you not only believe him, but feel that you know him as well.
Thanks to television shows like Family Guy, which pokes fun at Wilford Brimley's diabetes commercials, younger audiences are not aware of the talent that this man has contributed to the entertainment world. If you're one of those that think he's just the butt of jokes on that animated show, then I urge you to discover his films.