The 10 Cringe-Worthiest Performances By This Year's Oscar Nominated Actors
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The 10 Cringe-Worthiest Performances By This Year's Oscar Nominated Actors

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | February 4, 2013 | Comments ()


Every actor who's been around long enough has a few skeletal performances in their closet. Heck, our Agent Bedhead has built a whole series around that fact. Just the same, it always makes the record stop when you're watching an old film or TV show and you stumble across a face that has since become markedly more famous/classy. Or you tumble to a performance that falls well below the mark of what you know this actor is capable of. Anyway, here's just a bit of harmless, snarky fun at the expense of some performers who have spent the last few months having their actorly hindquarters kissed. Not every nominee made the list as some are too young (Quvenzhané Wallis), too discerning (Jessica Chastain) or too french (Emmanuelle Riva) to qualify. So here are ten, which is a nice round number anyway.

Helen Hunt-Pay It Forward Remember how, shortly after winning an Oscar for As Good As It Gets Helen Hunt was everywhere all at once and you wouldn't be surprised if she showed up to substitute teach your history class? Of all the options from that over-exposed era, I think this mawkishly sentimental wince-fest has to be the worst. Sporting a fake tan and a faker accent, Helen Hunt tried to recapture some of her Oscar-winning tough-as-nails single mom glory, but fell way short of the mark.

Philip Seymour Hoffman-Along Came Polly: PSH occasionally likes to try his hand at comedy. And while he's not comedically ungifted (see the scruffy charm of Pirate Radio or the Jack Black-before-there-was-a-Jack-Black of Twister), it's hard for even the most talented performer to come out the other side of this embarrassment clean.

Amy Adams-Julie and Julia Now listen, there are a whole lot of people out there who like Julie and Julia. Myself included. But while I don't want to speak for all of us, I know I speak for many when I say I wish the movie had just been called Julia. Or that, at least, there were a special director's cut with all the Julie parts excised. Because, holy hell, is that woman irritating. Just an unpleasant, selfish, self-centered brat. Now, to be fair to Adams, this might just be the best possible spin she could put on the off-putting-in-real-life Julie Powell, but somehow I don't think that's what they were going for here.
julie and julia.jpg

Tommy Lee Jones-Batman Forever I was nearly put Hope Springs on here because good golly was that a terrible movie. Man Of The House was also a tempting option. But when a man as talented as Tommy Lee Jones let's himself get so thoroughly Schumachered, I consider it my bloggerly duty to make sure you never forget.

Anne Hathaway-Bride Wars What a wretched, wretched depiction of women and female friendships. This particular flick fell smack in the middle of the weird "homance" trend that was sweeping Hollywood for a bit. This kind of sh*t is beneath Hathaway. Heck, it's beneath Hudson. And that's saying a lot.

Denzel Washington-Heart Condition It is not at all fair to bring up a movie from so early in someone's career, is it? I'm just going to leave the IMDB plot description here, and let you decide: "A racist cop receives a heart transplant from a black lawyer he hates, who returns as a ghost to ask the cop to help take down the men who murdered him."

Naomi Watts-Movie 43 This could easily be the entry for many, many award winners in years to come. I personally haven't seen this atrocity yet, but I *did* read Dustin's review. And I think that's enough. It's enough.

Hugh Jackman-Van Helsing Though Jackman's entry could have easily been Movie 43 as well, I have to pick this bloated, CGI'd vamptrocity instead. Listen, I'm no snob when it comes to Kate Beckinsale is tight clothing. The first twenty or so Underworld movies were mindless fun. But this? This was a nightmare.
van helsing.jpg

Jennifer Lawrence-X-Men: First Class I was wrong wrong wrong to compare Jennifer Lawrence with Kate Hudson. I'll gladly eat my words, foot, crow, whatever. And as much as I didn't really care for Silver Linings Playbook, I didn't find any fault in Lawrence's performance. I think she's a charismatic and delightful young lady. All that being said, I really, really disliked her Mystique. I thought she was wooden and boring and, worst of all, completely unsexy in that blue body paint. For that, I suppose, we have the make-up department to blame.

Daniel Day-Lewis-The Nine Let's be clear about one thing: Daniel Day-Lewis is a god among men. I consider him the Platonic Ideal of Acting. It doesn't hurt that the man is very discerning when it comes to his projects and would rather learn how to cobble than take the wrong film. But he did falter when he agreed to star in The Nine. The magic that Rob Marshall somehow distilled in Chicago evaporated completely in this over-bloated misstep of a movie musical. At least Day-Lewis was in good company. Cotillard, Dench and Cruz's milkshakes would be hard to turn down. Even as a fan of musicals and of Day-Lewis himself, I have to say this was a big mistake. Huge.

Joanna Robinson is afraid that when it comes to DeNiro, there are just too many to focking mention.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    I actually liked Pay It Forward and Have A Heart.

  • It's just NINE. No "the" involved:

  • E Robb

    You're talking about bad movies, not bad performances.

  • Samantha Klein

    I kind of liked Nine, although I think it was originally supposed to be Javier Bardem instead of DDL, if that makes a difference in any miscasting thoughts. Also, thank god someone else thought J. Law was terrible in X-Men. Half that movie was brilliant (The McAvoy/Fassbender show), and the other half was a wreck.

  • Guest

    I"m sorry but Daniel Day-Lewis in Dolce Vida Italian style costume is NEVER a mistake.

  • KC

    I read that Penny Lane article again. I cannot DEAL with where Kate Hudson is at right now. Penny Lane was AMAZING and Almost Famous makes me nostalgic for a time when I wasn't even born yet!! I still feel affection for all the actors from that movie.

  • protoformX

    I've never understood why Mystique looks like that in the movies... like somehow having blue skin wasn't enough... she had to have awful redhead barbie doll hair, blue skin and a horrific rash all over her body, just so I guess Rebecca Romijn could be walk around naked and it would be okay? Like somehow her natural state having blue skin wouldn't be enough to say "look that person is abnormal! Let's hate the Mutie!" Because in the comics it wasn't until after the movie version of Mystique existed that they ever showed her like that. It seems to me avoiding that appearance would have lent more credit to Magneto's quote about how she didn't need to disguise herself to "pretty herself up" in front of him... however it went... you know... if she didn't look like she just snuck out of the Smurfvillage Burn Ward. Or maybe he meant it that way...

    I have several issues with the acclaim Xmen First Class garnered when it came out, but Mystique has troubled me since the Singer days. I had hoped First Class would improve on that detail, and it totally let me down.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    It took a lot of dubiously 'raspberry' Kool-Aid Transfusions and Tang-plants to get Mystique's condition brought down from 'International Klein Pox' to 'Picasso's Abandoned Period Pox' so why don't you approach this situation with a little equanimity, respect and Yellow #5?

  • Hmmm, I thought the Blue Thing was from the comics (which I've never read). But I remember the Mystique in the 90s cartoon had it too, so maybe they based it on that?

  • Mystique was certainly always blue in the comics, but she didn't have the skin bumps. She also wore clothes.

  • If I ever get married, I'm going to do it in a suit like the bad half of Tommy Lee Jones wears in Batman.

  • e jerry powell

    Considering everything, they could have just put Rebecca Romijn back in the body paint if it's just gonna be about wooden, boring performances. It's not like you can judge her age once all the blue goes on.

  • dizzylucy

    I'm pretty sure that anytime we see Tommy Lee Jones looking grumpy, he's thinking of that movie. Perhaps even that particular photo.

  • Sirilicious

    I for one welcome a child, teen and adolescent to be unsexy. Even if we are used to that blue paint being (on someone) hot. I really hope they did that on purpose.

    I guess noone intended for her to be boring, though. :o)

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Have you even HEARD of Degrassi, possum? Although, they used to be a lot more pimply-- and I'm not even talking about The Zit Remedy, though that also existed.

  • Sirilicious

    As a matter of fact no, i haven't HEARD of Degrassi, tree rat. But i think you think you found an exception. Congrats!

    So you pose that there are pimply youngsters somewhere in entertainment. That was not my point. I am just happy they decided to not sexify this youngster. The fact she is sex on legs as an adult, shouldn't mean she's that in this stage of her life.

  • Nine is one of the few movies I've stopped watching early. I can usually power through. But Nine, ugh, so bad. I think the music itself is awful and boring and the "it's only a musical in his brain" crap doesn't make sense. Songs in musicals should push the plot forward, not feel like boring tangents on the way to the rest of the movie.
    Also, remember how Fergie is in that movie?

  • Tinkerville

    As much as I loved X-Men: First Class in theaters, when I re-watched it I found myself cringing more than a few times. It.. did not hold up well.

  • Ryan Schuster

    I felt like it was 2 movies. Their was the great adult X-Men movie with Prof. X and Magneto and their was this kids movie with Beast and the others.

  • Pretty much all of the young people's dialogue is horrible and cringe-worthy.

  • E Robb

    You two just made me so happy. When I saw First Class I thought "This movie is terrible..." but it got nothing but accolades, and I felt all alone, unable to properly articulate my criticisms.

  • PizpotGargravarr

    I thought it was decent, personally, but I wasn't as into it as a lot of people. My main problem was that it felt like it was unfinished, particularly in the editing, which was weirdly choppy at times and felt like it didn't flow very well.

  • Oh, I liked most of it, but after the third viewing I was a little tired of it.

    And I think the problem with the dialogue is that whoever wrote it didn't know how to write for young people, and definitely didn't know how to write young people in the 60s. So it's all kind of awkward and modern while trying to be 'groovy'. It's like they didn't quite gel the time period with the rest of the movie.

  • toblerone

    + Christoph Waltz - Chudnofsky - Green Hornet

  • cmatthews11

    Philip Seymour Hoffman is perfect in Along Came Polly, I quote his lines to death and can give two shits about the rest of the film.

    So, in closing, I think you're wrong.

  • Jennifer Schmennifer

    I haven't seen Ms. Watts in "Movie 43," but I did see her in "Down" (or "The Shaft"). And I submit that movie for consideration as being more cringe-worthy. It was shot with a lot of Australians (thought it was in Oz, but I guess not), but pretending to be in New York. Her American accent is embarrassing. But also? It's about killer elevators.

  • Zen

    "The Nine" - colourful, vampy musical starring those doomed, yet merry, mortal men who fell victim to that danged Ring of Power! Come and see the boniest kick-line in recent memory! They'll screech their way right into your heart and have you screeching all the way home! *Spoiler* Turns out all that glitters isn't a gold ring.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Yeah, Watt's sternum is quite the sight.

  • prince_of_montagu

    Nine is an odd movie.

    The music sequences are all outstanding, a great cast (Cotillard, Dench, Loren, Cruz, Kidman and Fergie who KILLS her song) but the story is severely lacking and Daniel Day Lewis was completely miscast in his part. His musical numbers are both the worst parts of the movie and the women who surround him are way more interesting and sympathetic.

    Some of the songs overuse the word "Guido" but that's more of a fault of the musical itself rather than the movie.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I think both of the faults you mention are kind of the point. He's a narcissist. So his name gets sung over and over and over...

  • Jesse Cormier

    >Didn't like Silver Linings Playbook

    Yup, we're done here.

  • Kala

    “A racist cop receives a heart transplant from a black lawyer he hates, who returns as a ghost to ask the cop to help take down the men who murdered him.”

    Am now trying desperately to not burst out laughing at my work desk.

  • NoPantsMcLane

    That movie sounds amazing. I'm gonna have to find it. I'm not even joking.

  • BWeaves

    Sounds an awful lot like "The Thing With Two Heads" with Rosey Grier. With the emphasis on awful.

  • Tinkerville

    Can we please get a Pajiba real time review of this? It's begging for it.

  • Kala

    HOLY CRAP, YES. All we need is a brave Pajiba Overlord and some booze. WHO WILL BE TRIBUTE?

  • DarthCorleone

    I'd still like to see Nine, and I gotta admit that you have just given me some morbid curiosity about exactly how awful Heart Condition could be.

  • You have to see it. It's likely the worst movie either of them has ever done. Ever.

  • Samantha Klein

    Wait. Worse than Super Mario Bros? Why, Hoskins, why??

  • Yes, worse than Super Mario Bros, guaranteed. At least SMB has dinosaurs.

  • jthomas666

    1. It's "Nine" not "The Nine."

    2. There's really nothing wring with Lewis' performance--the problem is that Marshall's direction is WAAAAY too heavy-handed for that particular story.

  • BWeaves

    Not only was it "Nine," but it came out at the same time as "9" and "District "9." Convincing my husband that he was going to like "District 9" after he confused it with the other two was quite a sell job on my part.

  • Or that, at least, there were a special director’s cut with all the Julie parts excised. Because, holy hell, is that woman irritating.

    It's not even that the Julie parts are bad, though they are. It's that Streep's Julia Child was comedy GOLD, and much more interesting.

    Bride Wars : But look at those creamy shoulders!

    And it's just Nine, not The Nine.


  • Return of Santitas

    I also felt like Amy Adams was betrayed by the wig department. Even her haircut was irritating.

  • BWeaves

    Agreed on the Julia Child bits.

  • Lindsey Gregory

    Just change this entire list to the entire cast of Movie 43.

  • memikeyounot

    I didn't think DDLewis was any worse than any of the other major players in that movie, but I think all will agree that it's a Broadway Play that shouldn't have been made into a movie. I love Judi Dench is almost everything she does, but not that one. BTW, it's plain ol' Nine, not The Nine.

  • SnowMan

    This is going to piss people off:
    I thought Jennifer Lawrence did a terrible job in "The Hunger Games." All she really did was walk around with a scowl on her face looking ornery and angry at everyone and everything.
    Who knows, maybe she did the best she could with what that character had to offer (I didn't enjoy the books either).
    Or maybe, if "The Hunger Games" and "X-Men" are any indication, she should stay away from genre fare and stick to movies like "Winter's Bone" and "Silver Linings Playbook" that give her a challenge to rise to. Do that, and I think the sky's the limit for her.

  • ghisent

    What, exactly, did the character have to be happy about? I mean, that's the crux of the character, isn't it? She's a hard-bitten child raised in a harsh environment used by a tyrannical government in a game where she has to kill other children. Is she supposed to be singing and dancing her way through it?

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I don't think it's Lawrence, I think the movie is to blame. It is boring as hell, and even such a fine actress as her could not save it.

  • Watch the scene again when Katniss enters the capsule to go to the game. Also when Rue is killed. She did a phenomenal job. Lawrence is great at conveying complex emotions and there is a lot going on with Katniss that she had to play subtly. It's a tricky character and Lawrence was outstanding. I was pissed she didn't get nominated for Best Actress for Katniss to be honest.

  • DominaNefret

    I still think Saoirse Ronan would have been a much better Katniss, and JLAW's performance felt more imperfect with every viewing. I thought she was serviceable, but I think Saoirse and several other young actors would have been much better.

  • pfeiffer87

    ugh. Am I the only one who hated Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Lining's Playbook?

  • Blake

    No pfeiffer, you are not alone.

  • While I'd suggest terrible is a tad harsh, I find I'm still immune from any charm from "The Hunger Games" as a film. Just didn't find it that great, and the acting didn't enhance anything. I think it's fair to JLaw to suggest she's miscast as Mystique. I don't think she's the best choice for the character - her quirky-weird humor isn't what a shape-shifting agitator wiht a chip on her shoulder needs, and she does seem to rise above in non-genre work.

  • DeistBrawler

    I can totally agree with you.

  • Kballs

    That's kind of what Katniss does in the book. She's just pissed constantly.

  • Jennifer Schmennifer

    Yeah, and I actually thought movie Katniss came off as a bit more likeable than book Katniss.

  • Puddin

    Philip Seymour Hoffman is a damned treasure in ACP. He sang Jesus Christ Superstar in a LEOTARD, he danced like a god, and he taught us all the word "shart".

    I just... I can't with you, girl. I can't.

  • Boothy K

    Thank you! I knew I couldn't be alone in my guilty pleasure of this movie and how PSH eats every scene he's in in a good way. He is a welcome relief to what would have been a complete miss of a movie without him...PS: Just saw him in The Master last night and my love for him still grows.

  • Frankly

    I want to give him an Oscar for this: I kri ever tim.

  • Bedewcrock

    I cannot agree with you more.

  • Lovezoid

    That scene where he slips over after entering the party makes me lose it every time. That's commitment.

  • par1964

    Ahhhh ..... no. PSH showed commitment in Boogie Nights ..... that was a fucking awesome role, he shoulda had the Oscar for best supporting actor ......

  • roodle

    you douchebags bring your A-game? just messin with you Sasquatch.
    JOANNA how dare you

  • Puddin

    When he clears his throat before his presentation? Hysterical. You hear that Joanna? The people have spoken!

  • roodle

    He is a sexy guy.. he is sexually active in the community..

  • anon

    PSH playing basketball in that movie still makes me laugh. I don't remember any other scene from it.

  • L.O.V.E.

    My introduction to the word "shart".

  • Laura

    Rain dance!

  • roodle

    White chocolate!

  • Bedewcrock


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