Monday, February 04, 2008


Worst of the Best Actor winners

122 ballots for the worst best actors were submitted. In contrast, 126 were submitted for the best. Many only picked the best. A couple only picked the worst. Without further ado...


"He put the reins in his teeth because there wasn't any scenery available."
Robert Schlueter


"Denzel plays a stereotypical caricature of an inner city black man... as if Hollywood needed anymore help creating those."
Fox at Tractor Facts?


"He was a stiff. It might have worked for the role, but he never deserved to win over either Peter O'Toole or Richard Burton that year. Maybe if they'd stuck with Shaw's original ending, where Eliza leaves Higgins. Instead, you're left wondering why she'd ever fall in love with him, and Rex Harrison does nothing to make that believable."


"Didn’t buy this performance when I saw it in my 8th grade English class (we had just finished reading Flowers for Algernon, the book this film is based on) and when I saw it a few years later I still couldn’t believe it had won the Oscar. What is it with the Academy and retards? Any idiot could have done what Robertson did here and would have been just as convincing."
James Henry


"Jack, return this one now, and we'll give you another lead for anything you did from 1970-1974."
Dan Callahan


"I've not seen footage of the '59 Oscars, but I suspect Charlton's statuette gave a performance similar to the one he gave in Ben-Hur."
John Henry Roberts


"The Oscar success of this film was weird and I don't remember walking out of the theater thinking anything positive about it, even Crowe's acting, which normally is high caliber."
Svanur Pétursson

(105 POINTS)

"A preposterous award for a collection of ticks and actorly tricks with no depth or soul. Tom Cruise actually gave the much deeper and more intuitive performance in this film, which shows just where the Academy's brain is most of the time."
Jeffrey M. Anderson

(133 POINTS)

"Admittedly a memorable performance, but, Hanks stole an Oscar from Morgan Freeman, whose work in Shawshank not only should've been #1 in 1994, but would've contended for my top-5 BEST list, had Freeman won what was rightly his."

(186 POINTS)

"He's blind and he yells.
Look! He dances the tango!
I wish I were deaf."
Isaac Bickerstaff

(232 POINTS)

"There are no words."
Joshua Flower
"He stole Ian McKellen's Oscar. Justification enough for mentioning as the 'worst' even if the wooden performance wasn't."
"The Greatest Arsehole to Win Any Award, Ever."
Ali Arikan
"I simply find him grating. In the right kind of movie he can make a positive mark Down by Law comes to mind), but in this script his schtick didn't work for me at all."
Scott Crichlow
"If anything proves Kate Winslet's dictum (voiced on the TV show Extras) that playing a Holocaust victim will nab you an Oscar, it's this performance. Most of the time, bad wins like this take a few years to really look like a mistake. This one looked it about three hours later."
David Gaffen
"I’m happy Hollywood’s love affair with Roberto Benigni ended after Life Is Beautiful. Too bad it had to start in the first place."
Mark White
"Once upon a time, there was a momentary lapse in the space/time continuum in which people briefly thought that Roberto Benigni was as charming and Chaplinesque as he thinks he is. Unfortunately, that time coincided with Oscar balloting. He ain’t Chaplin, he’s Charlie Callas."
Daniel L.
"Something very weird happened to award voters in the winter of 1998. It's one thing that they became entranced by a mediocre Italian comedian and his grossly superficial and sappy Holocaust comedy, but they also became really amused by what said Italian comedian would do if they kept giving him awards. It was like a psychotic babysitter thinking it was cool to give a 6-year-old coffee and Pixie Stix knowing that the kid would be the parents' responsibility later. And, best/worst of all, Benigni willingly played monkey to Hollywood's elite, finding new ways of humiliating himself with each new ceremony, much to the ongoing terror of Helen Hunt, who had to keep presenting him with trophies. Meanwhile, Edward Norton (American History X), Nick Nolte (Affliction) and Ian McKellen (Gods and Monsters) had to keep watching this pea-brained Pagliacci urinate all over what should have been a competitive race just because his mere presence doubtlessly made Jack Nicholson giggle. I'd bet dollars to donuts that none of the people who voted for Benigni bothered to watch his Pinocchio, but they all should have been strapped to a chair for the full experience — dubbed and undubbed."
Daniel Fienberg
“There are few performances that fill me with more hateful spewing bile than this one. I cannot stand to see something as horrific and cataclysmic as the Holocaust presented as a feel good story between father and son in which rather than give his son a true chance at survival by exposing him to reality (which worked out quite well for Eli Wiesel and his survival Roberto) he turns it all into a game to win a tank. And then before he dies he makes his kid laugh one more time. Awwww. It never occurs to Benigni that in reality his son would be in much greater danger thinking it was a game. Kids get bored with games and you have to keep them going (as he does in the movie) but I have kids and I can tell you this: They're not nearly as dumb as Benigni thinks they are. If you tell them to stop doing this or that annoying behavior or go play this or that game they may or may not. They are strong willed and intelligent, children. But in the few instances where there have been emergencies in my house or with our family, you give them the story straight and by God they come through without missing a step. That's why no one tried to tell Eli Wiesel it was a game. His best chance at survival was knowing exactly what was going on and knowing where he stood. As a parent this film is insulting. As a friend of a Holocaust survivor this film is revolting. I hate this film and I hate Benigni's smarmy repulsive performance. Should I ever meet him I shall punch him squarely in the face.”
Jonathan Lapper
“The guy is hilarious in his films with Jim Jarmusch, especially his turn in Night on Earth. I even liked his earlier Italian films, and would like to see what he did with Fellini. But a win over Sir Ian? Even Nick Nolte or Edward Norton would have been better.”
PS Nellhaus
"Not just because the movie itself is a despicable act of Holocaust denial. But that helps."
Jim Emerson
“This has to be the Academy's biggest embarrassment. I'm sure voters today are still scratching their heads, asking, 'What were we thinking?' What's more, Ian McKellen was nominated that year for the sublime Gods and Monsters.”
Jeffrey M. Anderson
"There can be no other choice for worst of the worst."
Dan Callahan
“Benigni's performance is enjoyable for the first two minutes of the film. After this, it starts giving nauseas. The chances of throwing up highly increases during the movie when he is on scene. By the way, if you see him in any of his other movies, he will be acting the same way.”
Benjamin Braddock
"The Siren left the movie with her lace hanky soaked to the hem with her tears, ready to snatch Roberto Benigni bald-headed for this nauseating exercise in audience manipulation. The man has an enormous talent for slapstick but no taste whatsoever. He's so busy being touching and humane and the endearing character whose comic eccentricity makes him the island of sanity in an ocean of madness that he can't be bothered to REact to anyone, including his beautiful, ghost-eyed son."
"Execrable. Enough said."
David Cassan
"A pig-ignorant movie, made as bearable as it is by Benigni's clowning — but in this sort of setting, trying to be poignant behind the antics, you notice just what an egotistical jackass he can be. Everything in the film is about validating what a wonderful performer he (and his character) is — the first half has his wife standing around oohing and ahing about how wonderful he is, the second half has that little kid oohing and ahhing. Bah. Then factor in who he beat — no."
Stephen Mullen
"Wait a minute…an actor impersonating Chaplin’s Tramp character in a slapstick take on the Holocaust won the Oscar over Edward Norton and Sir Ian McKellan? There is obviously no justice in the world."
James Henry
“I thought the nomination was a joke and was simply infuriated when he won.”
Svanur Pétursson
“Nice guy. But, that was a serious heavyweight of a year, all of the other top 4 were winner-worthy in any given year; Norton, McKellan, Hanks, Nolte all gave stellar performances. Benigni is a great performer in his own right, but, some on, not in that group, not with those performances.”
“Mugging his way through the Holocaust — Ugh!”
Robert Schlueter
“The classic choice. Mugging, overwrought and insensitive, it's easy — and justifiable — to blame Benigni for the horrific nature of the whole damn film.”
“Annoying as all get out.”
Bob Turnbull
"Hated, hated, hated this movie, and particularly this central performance."
“An embarrassment the Academy will never live down, And he won not for his performance on screen, but for his performing like a trained monkey at multitudinous Hollywood events during Oscar season that year.”
“William Goldman has become one of the people Oscar prognosticators love to hate in recent years, but he had it right on this movie, which is an utter piece of treacly horseshit from back in the day when Miramax could hornswaggle you into thinking you'd seen something profound through its marketing. My understanding is that Benigni is a beloved clown from his other work, but this movie just makes him seem like an insensitive jackass. It doesn't help that the four performances he beat were all miles better than his goofy schtick, even Edward Norton's totally committed work in American History X (not a very good film, but Norton is terrific). There's also a weird undercurrent of xenophobia to Benigni's wins, which made it seem like the Academy was glad to award foreigners so long as they knew their place and played their role as wacky stereotype.”
Todd VanDerWerff
"Hey, I love a Holocaust comedy as much as the next gal..."
Susan Merrill

"This one is so bad.
It actually made me
root for the Nazis."
Isaac Bickerstaff

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Bloody hell - we can be a bitchy bunch, can't we? Love the comments; love 'em.
Had I seen the film, I'm sure Benighni would have been my top pick, too. But my movie-fu warned me off, so I could not vote for him.
Right. I think my mom would have disowned me if I'd seen Life is Beautiful.
Yeah, "Life is Beautiful" was pretty bad. I have to admit that I like some of Benigni's earlier movies. "Johnny Stecchino" is kind of fun just because the situations are so contrived (though the schtick does get a bit old after a while). But it doesn't take itself at all seriously. The deepest it gets is when it deals with "the scourge of Sicily"- the traffic ;). It probably helps that I saw it before "Life is Beautiful" was released.
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