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Even though I use mplayer most of the time, VLC just keeps coming through for me on certain occasions. And the fact that it's multi-platform allows me to recommend it to all of my friends/co-workers who haven't made the switch to Linux yet.
Mplayer/gmplayer is my favourite by a narrow margin, then Xine, closely followed by VLC. I can do things and play files in mplayer that cause xine and VLC to barf. Xine is tops for playing DVD's ,though.