Friday, January 29, 2010

2009 Year in Review: The Worst Performances

So, with the Razzie nominations coming up, I figured I would give them some advice on performances to nominate in all four of their acting categories. But to keep this from being a completely depressing exercise, I did list some great performances in bad movies, to go along with the lists of bad performances in good movies and just all out terrible performances.

Worst Actor: Although I am risking the wrath of every teenage girl in the country, I have yet to see any evidence to prove that Robert Pattinson can do anything more than to glare off into space. In The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Pattinson looks like a heroin addict, and acts like a zombie, not a vampire. It is utterly painful to watch this kid try and act. The sooner they do a “What Ever Happened to?” segment on Pattinson, the happier I will be.
Runners-Up: Both Jack Black and Michael Cera are god awful and unfunny from beginning to end in Year One, Will Ferrell delivers his worst performance ever in Land of the Lost, Matthew McConaghey is always a hollow shell of an actor, but I’m not sure he has ever been worse than he is in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.

Worst Actor in a Good Movie: Steven Soderbergh’s wonderful The Girlfriend Experience features a great performance by real life porn star Sasha Grey as a prostitute, but as her boyfriend and personal trainer, Chris Santos just isn’t very good at all. This makes it harder for Soderbergh to draw parallels between Grey and Santos, making this film not quite the great film it should have been.
Runners-Up: The Last House on the Left is a wonderful horror movie that is almost impossible to take at certain points. Yet, Tony Goldwyn who plays the father doesn’t quite pull off the father who snaps and murders his daughter’s attackers. The direction makes up for this, but Goldwyn should have been able to elevate this movie.

Best Actor in a Bad Movie: Robert Downey Jr. is one of the best actors in the world, and he makes The Soloist an almost passable movie. He plays the type of asshole character who is never the hero in an inspirational drama like this. True, The Soloist still isn’t a good movie - but it is a joy to watch Downey in it.
Runners-Up: Michael Shannon makes his character in Werner Herzog’s My Son My Son What Have Ye Done? interesting and complex for much of the running time - until you realize that no one involved in the production understands his character or even much cares. Liam Neeson does some great, subtle work in The Other Man - too bad the film doesn’t play fair with the audience. Shot before The Wrestler and ending up sitting up a shelf for a few years, you understand why Killshot didn’t get a wide release, but Mickey Rourke as a half Native hit man is wonderful.

Worst Actress: Hilary Swank has two Oscars at home, and yet besides those two performances, she has not done very many other great roles. But her work in Amelia is a new nadir for her. She takes one of the most fascinating women in history and turns her into an absolute bore. Swank has never been worse.
Runners-Up: Milla Jovovich is not the most talented actress in the world, but even she usually does better than she does in The Fourth Kind. Uma Thurman should never make romantic comedies, and if you doubt check out her absolute worst performance in The Accidental Husband. Sandra Bullock had a career year with The Proposal and The Blind Side, but her work in All About Steve is best forgotten. Odette Yustman looks kind of like Megan Fox in The Unborn but she makes Fox look like Meryl Streep in comparison.

Worst Actress in a Good Movie: Perhaps its not fair to say this, but Arsinee Khanjian should never have been cast in Adoration. She is so ill suited for the role that her whole segment of the movie is a little hard to believe. This is the best directed and written film her husband Atom Egoyan has made in years, but he should have known better than to cast his very talented wife in this role.
Runners-Up: Like Goldwyn, Monica Potter never quite captures the right note as the mother in The Last House on the Left and this somewhat dulls the impact of the finale. Jessica Biel just doesn’t really seem to fit in with the rest of the cast in Easy Virtue, and not in the way I believe Oscar Wilde intended her character to stick out.

Best Actress in a Bad Movie: I have never been a fan of Megan Fox, but she is equal doses of sexy and funny in Jennifer’s Body, a film that doesn’t capture the same magic as Diablo Cody’s previous written film Juno. But Fox shows that if given the right role she can actually be a wonderful, sexy actress. Too bad the film isn’t very good.
Runners-Up: Megan Fox’s co-star Amanda Seyfried in Jennifer’s Body is almost as good as Fox was. With these two you almost want to overlook the fatal flaws in the films. Kristen Stewart is the only reason to watch The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Even if her character is single handedly setting feminism back 50 years, Stewart is always great. Isla Fisher is a delight in most films she is in, but Confessions of a Shopaholic is a god awful movie, that she makes at least bearable. Amy Adams is as good as ever in Sunshine Cleaning even if the film itself is yet another quirky indie dramedy that is ultimately pointless. Newcomer Emily Browning navigates a difficult role in The Uninvited, a film that never really comes together to work as a whole, but which Browning makes interesting.

Worst Supporting Actor: Richard Gere is usually such a bland actor that the worst thing you can say about him is that he is forgettable. If only I could forget his performance in Amelia, where I think he has literally no idea who is character is, or what he is supposed to be. This performance made be long for the days of The Jackal and Red Corner.
Runners-Up: Does Ewan McGregor even know that his character is American in Amelia, a performance that didn’t get the top spot from his co-star because he is in the movie far less often? Taylor Laughtner has great abs in The Twilight Saga: New Moon but no discernible acting talent. Bradley Cooper had a breakout year with The Hangover, so I would forgive him one bad performance, but considering his work in He’s Just Not That Night Into You and All About Steve, I cannot help but mention him here.

Worst Supporting Actor in a Good Movie: Would you believe that Shia LaBeaof’s worst work this year was not in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but rather in the omnibus movie New York, I Love You an overall entertaining little movie. But LaBeof’s performance as a Russian immigrant, hunch backed bellhop speaking with a terrible accent is awful. I hate this performance, and this segment, in this overall good movie.
Runners-Up: Notorious was full of great performances of real people - especially Jamal Woolard as the Notorious BIG and Naturi Naughton as Lil’ Kim, but Derek Luke simply cannot pull off his performance as Puff Daddy. It’s not Matthew Goode’s fault he is a decade or two too young for his role in the landmark comic book movie Watchmen, but it is his fault that he seems to have no idea who his character really is.

Best Supporting Actor in a Bad Movie: It really is too bad that The Other Man tries to pull a fast on over on the audience, because Antonio Banderas’ performance as the other man in question is his best cinematic acting of his career.
Runners-Up: Timothy Olyphant keeps the audience guessing all throughout the otherwise forgettable thriller A Perfect Getaway. Bill Murray is the representation of all that is evil in Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control a film that never comes together and is quite boring at points, but Murray is unforgettable. Armin Mueller-Stahll has an amazing scene in the otherwise forgettable thriller The International - he even seems to wake up Clive Owen who otherwise sleepwalks through the film. Frank Langella ranks among the creepiest movie villains of the year in The Box. Too bad director Richard Kelly decided to explain the entire plot, taking away all the mystery of the film.

Worst Supporting Actress: I know most people liked Taken a hell of a lot more than I did, but tell me there weren’t a few moments when you were hoping that the bad guys would put in a bullet in Maggie Grace’s head if for no other reason than to stop her constant whining.
Runners-Up: Amanda Peet has never really followed through on her early promise, but she has never been as bad as she was in 2012. While she remains the gorgeous girl she always has been Camilla Belle keeps delivering bad performances, this year in Push. Lacey Chabert has one note, and it got tired more than a decade ago, so her performance in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past annoyed me to no end.

Worst Supporting Actress in a Good Movie: I hate to say this, but gorgeous, talented Canadian Rachel McAdams seems completely and totally lost in Sherlock Holmes. She sure does look good in those costumes though.
Runners-Up: I have not heard a worse Irish accent than Rose McGowan’s in the otherwise engrossing thriller 50 Dead Men Walking. A woman with a gun is supposed to be sexy, but McGowan sounds so ridiculous that she isn’t. Malin Akerman was a firecracker in the otherwise horrible remake of The Heartbreak Kid a few years ago, but since then she has been bland and boring in nearly ever performance. This year, she was way too young for her role in the wonderful Watchmen, but she looked great in those costumes - and out of them as well.

Best Supporting Actress in a Bad Movie: I never quite got the appeal of Sunshine Cleaning, but Emily Blunt as the younger, moodier sister is as wonderful and sexy as always. The film goes nowhere, but when she is on screen, I didn’t care.
Runners-Up: The only reason to watch the otherwise awful movie Push is to see Dakota Fanning’s excellent performance. Amy Adams is spunky and unforgettable as Amelia Earhart (two things Hilary Swank was not) in Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian which isn’t even as good as its mediocre predecessor. Emma Roberts is excellent as a sexually curious flirt in the indie dramedy Lymelife which is otherwise forgettable. Elizabeth Banks proves that there is nothing she cannot do as the woman who keeps us guessing in The Uninvited, a poor thriller almost rescued by the performances.

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