Monday, February 04, 2008

 

Not hated enough

By Edward Copeland
Because of an unusually high number of ties in points, I've restricted the main worst of the best actors to those who ranked No. 10 or higher instead of the usual 20 or 25. So, we begin the also-rans at No. 12.


12. ART CARNEY (HARRY AND TONTO)
(33 points) (tie)

"'EXTRA! EXTRA! Ed Norton whacks Michael Corleone!'Quite possibly the greatest true crime in cinematic history."
David Puterbaugh


12. RICHARD DREYFUSS (THE GOODBYE GIRL)
(33 points) (tie)

"The most grating and sexless romantic comedy hero in movie history."
Erselover


12. JAMIE FOXX (RAY)
(33 points) (tie)

"A fine impersonation and nothing more. The problems of the movie as a whole aside, there is nothing in Jamie Foxx's impersonation of Ray Charles that elevates it above run-of-the-mill mimicry."
Joshua Flower


12. SEAN PENN (MYSTIC RIVER)
(33 points) (tie)

"The least nuanced actor on the planet (yes, Rob Schneider exhibits greater subtlety). Never met a moment he couldn't overplay. And still his characterizations are hollow or opaque."
Jim Emerson


12. KEVIN SPACEY (AMERICAN BEAUTY)
(33 points) (tie)

"A case of miscasting, really; Lester Burnham only makes sense as a regular guy who just lost it one day, but Spacey brings a general misanthropy to everything he plays so, as a result, it never makes sense that Lester Burnham would've stayed for years in a loveless marriage and in a dead-end job."
Daniel Smith


17. YUL BRYNNER (THE KING & I)
(31 points)

Mr. Brynner was rewarded with an Oscar for a role he had perfected on the New York stage. Unlike Mr. Heston, who was capable of at least three expressions, Mr. Brenner had one, a malevolent sneer. It stood him in good stead throughout his career, from The Magnificent Seven through Westworld and beyond.
Richard Christenson


18. BING CROSBY (GOING MY WAY)
(29 points)

"The story goes that Noel Coward, at the peak of his popularity, one day found himself surrounded by a large group of reporters shouting questions. 'Mr. Coward! Mr. Coward!' bellowed one. 'Have you anything to say to the Star?' 'Certainly,' replied Coward. 'Twinkle.' Bing Crosby here takes that admonishment, and turns it into an entire performance."
Campaspe


19. TOM HANKS (PHILADELPHIA)
(26 points)

"Not even best male performance in this film."
John Warthen


20. HENRY FONDA (ON GOLDEN POND)
(25 points) (tie)

"Were it not for the fact that Fonda gave a grand performance as Tom Joad in the 1940 film adaptation of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (and is also first-rate in John Ford’s Fort Apache), I would have been tempted to rank him at #1. His 1981 Best Actor win for this insipid, diabetes-inducing drek is the worst example of a “sympathy Oscar” I can think of; a pitying cranky-old-man-with-a-heart-of-gold performance from an actor for whom I normally have immense respect for but who should have seriously considered retiring long ago instead of agreeing to appear in this 2-hour excruciating depression just so he could share the screen with daughter Jane. (So I’m mean. You want nice, get a puppy.)"
Ivan G. Shreve Jr.


20. JACK LEMMON (SAVE THE TIGER)
(25 points) (tie)

"This is the equivalent of Scorsese finally winning for The Departed."
Fox at Tractor Facts?


20. SPENCER TRACY (CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS)
(25 points) (tie)

"Sometimes, it's good to be out of character. But it's better to be good at it."
Veronica Kleist


23. NICOLAS CAGE (LEAVING LAS VEGAS)
(24 points)

"Chewed more scenery than Godzilla on a Hollywood backlot."
Michael Maccarone


24. GEOFFREY RUSH (SHINE)
(23 points)

"I can enjoy Rush chewing scenery in frothy entertainments in which tongue is firmly planted in cheek, like Shakespeare in Love and the first Pirates of the Caribbean film. But I can't abide him doing it in a pseudo-serious biopic like this."
Brian


25. RAY MILLAND (THE LOST WEEKEND)
(20 points) (tie)

"I'm sure Billy Wilder's groundbreaking film about alcoholism was shocking then, but now it seems horrifically overdone, and, sad to say, it's Milland who's responsible for much of that: he's so churlish and overdramatic that even Jane Wyman's more low-key (and much better) work as his devoted 'girl' struggles to make you understand why she sticks with his unsympathetic alcoholic."
Dave


25. DAVID NIVEN (SEPARATE TABLES)
(20 points) (tie)

"For much of his career, David Niven was considered a lightweight - because he wasn't assigned roles that made any real demands on him as actor, it was assumed that he couldn't act. It wasn't until 1958, with his Oscar-winning performance in Separate Tables, that Niven was finally given the chance to prove that he couldn't act. With his fake-sounding gruff voice and ridiculous old-age makeup, this is the kind of performance you'd expect to see in a high-school play — and a 15-year-old with a cracking voice and pimply skin would make a more convincing dirty old man than this shambling phony."
Josh R


27. RONALD COLMAN (A DOUBLE LIFE)
(18 points)

"Didn’t believe him as a Shakespearian Method actor and I didn’t believe him as Othello."
James Henry


28. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN (CAPOTE)
(17 points) (tie)

"Not only did he beat the eminently superior Heath Ledger and David Strathairn, but Toby Jones was a much more convincing Truman Capote a year later in Infamous."
DBONA


28. LEE MARVIN (CAT BALLOU)
(17 points) (tie)

"Liberty Valance would eat both of his characters for breakfast. To win an Oscar you just need to play a two bit caricature of your best role."
David Cassan


30. MARLON BRANDO (THE GODFATHER)
(14 points) (tie)

"I will probably be ostracized from the online film community for saying this, and ridden out of town on a rail, but Brando's ridiculous godfather, complete with the tissue in the cheeks and the atrocious cartoon voice is too much caricature, and not enough character, to really sustain an Oscar win."
Tripp Burton


30. GARY COOPER (SERGEANT YORK)
(14 points) (tie)

"Speaking of affectations, Gary Cooper employs nothing but in this overripe performance in this jingoistic, god-fearing piece of garbage. Howard Hawks (Howard Hawks!!!) should have had his name removed from this flag-waving embarrassment. Cooper gave a lot of good performances but this one he shouldn't even have been nominated for. And if you've seen The Devil and Daniel Webster, then you know that Walter Huston had every right to file criminal charges against the Academy had he so chosen."
Jonathan Lapper


30. WILLIAM HURT (KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN)
(14 points) (tie)

"Oh dear lord could there be a more affected performance in the history of the Oscars? I've seen Hurt do some great work but this performance has "Pretension" stamped all over it. The way he over-gesticulates with his entire body and over annunciates each syllable so we can see he is ACTING! Behold, I am William Hurt and I am a gay prisoner! Raul Julia got robbed. Robbed!"
Jonathan Lapper


33. DUSTIN HOFFMAN (KRAMER VS. KRAMER)
(13 points)


34. LIONEL BARRYMORE (A FREE SOUL)
(12 points) (tie)

"Young Mr. Potter has a drunk scene, a courtroom scene, a tearful family scene and a death scene. When he’s finished, there is no scenery left to chew or sit on."
David Cassan


34. PAUL NEWMAN (THE COLOR OF MONEY)
(12 points) (tie)

"So many great performances, and they give it to him for this, one of his worst."
Odienator


36. ANTHONY HOPKINS (THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS)
(11 points) (tie)

"Hopkins stands behind a piece of plastic, makes a weird noise with his tongue, says something about Chianti in a weird voice and people give him a shed-full of awards for it? The world's gone mad."
Dave


36. PAUL MUNI (THE STORY OF LOUIS PASTEUR)
(11 points) (tie)

"In one of our collections of New Yorker cartoons, a woman on a radio quiz show says,'I don’t know what he did, but Paul Muni played him in the movie.'”
Sally Box


36. MAXIMILIAN SCHELL (JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG)
(11 points) (tie)

"Have always liked Schell, but this part disappears in the mind."
John Warthen


39. MICHAEL DOUGLAS (WALL STREET)
(10 points)

"Soulless...it defined who we wanted to be in the '80s. Look at us now. Greed is NOT good."
Robert Schlueter


40. ERNEST BORGNINE (MARTY)
(9 points)

"A drivel of a performance in a mediocre melodrama."
C.H. Hankins


41. F. MURRAY ABRAHAM (AMADEUS)
(8 points) (tie)

"Perhaps it’s because Abraham did nothing noteworthy after Amadeus that I dislike him so, but I’ve always felt Tom Hulce deserved the Amadeus Oscar. It also would have been a good year to finally give Albert Finney an Oscar (for Under the Volcano). Will Albert Finney never get any Oscar love?"
Mark White


41. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS (MY LEFT FOOT)
(8 points) (tie)

"The viewer is constantly aware that 'great acting' is going on. That, of course, is easy to do and as such does not deserve the Oscar."
Jonathan Ara


41. ROBERT DONAT (GOODBYE MR. CHIPS)
(8 points) (tie)

"I think there's a rule of thumb that if an actor portrays several stages of life, like in Forrest Gump, than he gets bonus points, but I felt that was all Donat's performance was. Look at it side by side to inspirational teacher figures like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman or even Peter O'Toole in the remake, and Donat doesn't inspire that, unfortunately."
OKONHEIM


44. ROBERT DE NIRO (RAGING BULL)
(7 points) (tie)

"Ditto Mean Streets and Taxi Driver. The same, one-note crazy boy performance in each, culminating with the worst in Raging Bull. Marty didn't do Bobby justice until Goodfellas. My favorite De Niro performances: Mad Dog and Glory, Midnight Run and of course, Godfather Part II."
Susan Merrill


44. PETER FINCH (NETWORK)
(7 points) (tie)

"He's not really the lead actor. William Holden is."
meier vermes


44. PAUL LUKAS (WATCH ON THE RHINE)
(7 points) (tie)

"An earnest, monochromatic performance neither good nor bad enough to qualify as memorable — this win only really begins to piss you off when you recall that the competition included Bogart in Casablanca (Oscar wasn't quite ready for the anti-hero yet). It's difficult to make impassioned sermons on the tyranny of fascism work without something in the way of dramatic fire — Lukas drones on like a high school history teacher reading from a textbook. We're supposed to believe that this dude is dynamic and inspiring enough to single-handedly liberate Europe — something that would only make sense if he were planning to pull it off by boring the Nazis to sleep."
Josh R


47. GARY COOPER (HIGH NOON)
(6 points) (tie)

"Upstandingly noble to the point of rigor mortis."
Charles Canzoneri


47. LAURENCE OLIVIER (HAMLET)
(6 points) (tie)

"'The story... of a man... who could not... make up... his mind.' Shallow interpretation of the play and the character. They say he was great onstage. This film is only one notch above his hilarious rabbi in Neil Diamond's The Jazz Singer.
Jim Emerson


47. JAMES STEWART (THE PHILADELPHIA STORY)
(6 points) (tie)

"Yes. I know. This won't be a popular vote. I love Jimmy Stewart. I love The Philadelphia Story. Heck, I love Jimmy Stewart in The Philadelphia Story. I just don't get the prism through which this likeable and charming performance is Oscar-worthy. ... I should also add that Stewart's win here probably came at the expense of the best performance of Henry Fonda's career in Grapes of Wrath which led to Fonda taking the 1981 best actor win away from both Burt Lancaster and Warren Beatty. With Oscar, it's a vicious circle. Or a slippery slope."
Daniel Fienberg


50. GEORGE ARLISS (DISRAELI)
(5 points) (tie)

"If you want to see what 19th century barnstorming acting looked like; as David Shipman pointed out, his acting consists of watery eyes and moving his mouth like a ventriloquist's dummy."
Erselover


50. MARLON BRANDO (ON THE WATERFRONT)
(5 points) (tie)

"Boorish, mumbling oaf."
Mizze


50. GENE HACKMAN (THE FRENCH CONNECTION)
(5 points) (tie)

"I love Gene Hackman, but I just don't see what the big deal is here. He's made much better movies with more memorable performances. The only really memorable scene here is the car chase - which is more of a showcase for stunts than great acting. Maybe if the script had been better."
John Cochrane


50. CHARLES LAUGHTON (THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY VIII)
(5 points) (tie)

"Laughton was a terrific actor, but he was very young in this film and if memory serves he had not yet shaken off some bad habits of way overdoing things from the stage. Probably more the director's fault than his, but I had to put SOMEBODY who actually has won an Oscar first in the 'worst actor' category."
B. Lee


50. GREGORY PECK (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD)
(5 points) (tie)

"I feel almost un-American criticizing To Kill a Mockingbird, but I feel that Gregory Peck is merely adequate here."
Nomi Lubin


50. ROD STEIGER (IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT)
(5 points) (tie)

"I find Steiger to be kind of hammy."
Patrick Wahl


56. ADRIEN BRODY (THE PIANIST)
(4 points) (tie)

"A thoroughly closed-off, reactive performance with his buss of Halle on Oscar night the only bit of inspired acting that came from it."
Susan Merrill


56. CLARK GABLE (IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT)
(4 points) (tie)

"You know, I don't understand this choice either. The film and its two main characters just never worked for me. I didn't like them and I didn't care what happened to them. That may not be Gable's fault, but obviously he didn't do enough to make me care."
Bob Turnbull


56. SIDNEY POITIER (LILIES OF THE FIELD)
(4 points) (tie)


59. HUMPHREY BOGART (THE AFRICAN QUEEN)
(3 points (tie)

"In what is perhaps the most overrated film of all time, Bogart bored me
with his drunken sailor. A makeup in for Casablanca that cost Marlon Brando what should have been his first Oscar."
William


59. BURT LANCASTER (ELMER GANTRY)
(3 points) (tie)

"Know anyone who watches this instead of Jack Lemmon in The Apartment? I didn’t think so. (Plus, and I know this is not his fault but I‘m still mad, they wrecked Lewis’s book.) Heresy alert!"
Sally Box


59. FOREST WHITAKER (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND)
(3 points) (tie)

"He's like an over-the-top college theater actor, promising and even passionate, but terrible nonetheless."
shack2000


62. JOSE FERRER (CYRANO DE BERGERAC)
(1 point) (tie)

"Like Burgess Meredith or Hume Cronyn, Ferrer is one of those actory actors who never spoke a believable word in his life."
Erselover


62. FREDRIC MARCH (THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES)
(1 point) (tie)

"Let me be perfectly clear — I ADORE this movie, it has been one of my very favorites for years and truly deserves it's place on the previous contest of best best picture winners. It's all part of my affinity for 'America on the Homefront of WWII.' But March's character and performance had a lot less to contribute to the greatness of the film than did Harold Russell (nominated and won in supporting), Teresa Wright (not nominated), Virginia Mayo (not nominated) or Dana Andrews (not nominated but should have been instead of March). Also consider the fact that March beat out Jimmy Stewart for It's a Wonderful Life. And I don't even like that movie!"
Alexa Cochrane


62. JACK NICHOLSON (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST)
(1 point) (tie)


62. PAUL SCOFIELD (A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS)
(1 point) (tie)

"Not a bad performance at all, but it gets very minimized when it's compared to Richard Burton's in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Benjamin Braddock


62. SPENCER TRACY (BOYS TOWN)
(1 point) (tie)

"Maybe his worst performance; I want to reach into the screen and wipe the expression of smug holiness off his face."
Erselover


62. JON VOIGHT (COMING HOME)
(1 point)(tie)


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Comments:
I feel obliged to note that I would put Daniel Day Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" at the TOP of my worst best oscar list if he goes on to actually win one (god forbid).
 
Totally agree on who should have gotten the Oscar in "Kiss of the Spider Woman."
 
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