Yes, it seems that once again the Academy Awards have come and gone, with Hollywood coming out in full force to participate in the annual spectacle of red carpet glamour and industry self-fellatio. In the champagne aftermath, both critics and movie-goers alike are now busy dissecting the winners, losers and wannabes. Of course, if Mickey Rourke’s puckered mug and Phoenix-like career recitation has taught us anything it’s that in Hollywood you can be on top of the world one day and scrubbing toilets in an Arby’s bathroom the next. Yes, it’s a slippery slope between critical acclaim and public disdain and even Oscar-winning actors and actresses can take the occasional misstep or two. Don’t believe me? Below is a veritable who’s-who of Academy Award winners who gave performances more deserving of a Razzie than the coveted Golden Naked Guy Statue. So without further adoâ€¦ The envelopes pleaseâ€¦
THE TOP 10 WORST PERFORMANCES FROM OSCAR WINING ACTORS
10. Jon Voight in SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2
Once upon a time, Jon Voight was one of the most respected actors of his generation. From his ground breaking performance in Midnight Cowboy to his Academy Award-winning turn in 1978’s Coming Home. Then one day Voight woke up and apparently decided to star in the kind of soul-sucking monstrosities normally reserved for the likes of Uwe Boll and Dane Cook. Enter SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2, arguably the worst performance of Voight’s entire sorted career (and bear in mind this is a guy who also starred in Anaconda and The Karate Dog). You have to wonder what kind of demented logic could convince Voight to star in a film featuring talking babies shitting themselves and exchanging witty one-liners. Regardless, Baby Genuises 2, remains a cautionary tale of a once respectable career gone wrong, in addition to being the ultimate form of cinematic birth control.
9. Sean Connery in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
To his millions of fans, Sean Connery has become almost synonymous with James Bond – not to mention his countless other memorable roles, including an Academy Award-winning performance in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables. Yes, despite the occasional misstep or two, it seemed Sir Sean could do no wrong. Then Connery decided to appear in 2003’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a film which makes his performance in Zardoz look like Citizen fucking Kane. With perhaps the exception of barking out pseudo-Russian dialogue in The Hunt for Red October, it’s one of Connery’s worst performances, reeking up the big screen like a steaming plate of refried haggis. But hey, at least Connery didn’t nuke the fridge when it comes to his career and had the good sense to stay the hell away from the face-melting travesty known as Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
8. Christopher Walken in The Country Bears
Okay, so Christopher Walken looks like the kind of actor who secretly owns a Buffalo Bill-style skin suit and enjoys soaking in a tub filled with expired mayonnaise. Yet beyond his seeming mental instability, there’s little doubt that Walken is also a brilliant actor. Just look at his Academy Award-winning performance in 1978’s The Deer Hunter, in addition to the countless other groundbreaking roles he’s undertaken. Which is why it does seem slightly odd that Walken would agree to appear in The Country Bears; a film based on the animatronic Disney attraction of the same name. His performance is bizarre, twisted and unabashedly terrible. Then again, given Walken’s bug-eyed-schizophrenic nature, starring in a film about a bunch of giant anthropomorphic bears is probably the least crazy thing he’s ever done.
7. Robert De Niro in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
He’s been called a living legend and one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. Yes, with one subtle look from his leathery face Big Bobby De Niro virtually owns the screen. He’s also no stranger to critical acclaim with Academy Award-winning performances for both Raging Bull and The Godfather: Part II. Yet for all his talent it seems that even De Niro knows how to occasionally stink up theatres. Enter the live action kiddy-flick flop known as The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, with De Niro starring as the villainous and heavily accented Fearless Leader. Sure De Niro has taken on some unusual roles in his time (his performance in Meet the Parents and Stardust to name a few), but his role in Rocky and Bullwinkle is so terrible, short of starring in a sequel and threatening to â€œfuck up silly moose and squirrel with ice pick to skull!â€, it remains a mole-like blemish on the face of De Niro’s otherwise respectable career.
6. Michael Caine in Bewitched
When it comes to having an almost tangible onscreen presence, Michael Caine is the ultimate actor’s actor, earning Academy Awards for his performance in 1986’s Hannah and Her Sister’s and again in 2000 for The Cider House Rules. Of course, despite his professionalism and brilliant on screen gravitas, Caine is also no stranger to the occasional big screen bust. What else can you expect from a guy who starred in Miss Congeniality, A Muppet Christmas Carol and Jaws 4: The Revenge? Taking on beauty pageants, lippy puppets and an unusually angry rubber shark, however, pails in comparison to Caine’s performance in Bewitched; the rehashed remake of the classic TV series. Caine spends most of his fortunately brief time on screen spouting out a few humourless lines and struggling to avoid looking overly narcoleptic. The result is a performance that ranges somewhere between late night infomercial host and doing the voice over for a Lexus ad.
5. Forest Whitaker in Battlefield Earth
There’s little doubt that Forest Whitaker has the kind of onscreen presence most actors can only dream of. And nowhere is this more evident than in his Academy Award-winning performance as Idi Amin in 2006’s The Last King of Scotland or his equally memorable role in the criminally underrated Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai. Which is why when Whitaker appeared alongside John Travolta in the cinematic miscarriage known as Battlefield Earth, it could only be a case of either leaping before he looked or Scientologist brain-washing. Dressed as an alien that looks suspiciously like a cross between a Klingon transvestite and Gene Simmons in full KISS regalia, describing Whitaker’s performance as awful would be a gross understatement. Fortunately, Whitaker was able to move beyond his absolutely appalling appearance in the film, although it remains a painful reminder of good casting gone bad, and how even from beyond the grave L. Ron Hubbard continues to mind-fuck Hollywood.
4. Judi Dench in The Chronicles of Riddick
As one of the most talented and refined British actresses working in Hollywood today, Judi Dench is literally a tour de force on the big screen. From her iconic reimaging of M in the rebooted James Bond franchise, to her Academy Award-winning role in 1998’s Shakespeare in Love, Dench’s performances are almost always layered, thought proving works of artâ€¦that is, until she starred in 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick. As an exercise in masturbatory filmmaking the Vin Diesel vehicle is boring at best and obnoxiously cheesy at worst. Sadly, Dench’s performance is no exception. She might be one of the most dignified and cultured actresses of our generation, but if The Chronicles of Riddick shows anything it’s that Dame Judy doesn’t know shit when it comes to good Science Fiction.
3. Morgan Freeman in Wanted
With a single line of dialogue from his now iconic voice, Morgan Freeman can move audiences to tears, make them laugh or have them on their feet cheering. Yes, his performances in films like The Shawshank Redemption, Se7en and his Academy Award-winning role in 2004’s Million Dollar Baby are, in a word: brilliant. Which makes it even sadder when Freeman appears in the occasional cinematic flop or two. Sure you could look at his roles in recent stinkers like The Bucket List and Evan Almighty, but for sheer bang for your buck you can’t do any worse than 2008’s Wanted. For an actor who is so undeniably talented, Freeman seems to spend most of the film looking painfully out of place and stumbling over his lines, all of which probably has a great deal to do with the horribly written script. It all culminates in Morgan’s now legendary quip: â€œSomebody kill this mother fucker!â€ – a line so painfully un-Freeman-like, not even the dimpled ass cheeks of Angelina Jolie can make it worth watching.
2. Cuba Gooding Jr. inâ€¦.Everything
Once Cuba Gooding Jr. was a talented A-list actor who wowed critics and movie-going audiences alike with his subtle and nuanced performances in films such as Boyz n the Hood. Yes, in the electric atmosphere of Hollywood during the 90s it seemed like Cuba could do no wrong, eventually even nabbing an Academy Award for best supporting actor in 1996’s Jerry McGuire. Since then thoughâ€¦.well, it’s pretty much been all downhill. In fact, it’s hard to pinpoint the absolute cream of the crap when it comes to Cuba Gooding Jr.’s string of terrible performances. Whether it’s his role as an imbecilic sled driver in Snow Dogs, his homophobically insulting portrayal of a dance instructor in Boat Trip or the more recent abomination known only as Daddy Day Camp (you know your career is seriously fucked when you appear in a sequel to an Eddie Murphy movie that even Eddie Murphy wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole). Yes, Cuba Gooding Jr. remains one of the greatest examples of how low an Academy Award-winning actor can truly sink, with a career that hasn’t so much tanked as it has committed ritualistic suicide all over the Hollywood walk of fame.
1. Orson Welles in Transformers: The Movie
He’s been called the founder of modern cinema, the greatest filmmaker of all time and an actor who defined an entire generation. While primarily known as a writer-director (with an Academy Award for his screenplay to 1941’s Citizen Kane – considered almost unanimously to be the greatest film of the 20th century), Welles also appeared as an actor in dozens of groundbreaking films. Sadly, towards the end of his life, the once-great Welles was reduced to taking on a string of demeaning roles, including playing second fiddle to Tom Selleck’s moustache when he provided uncredited voice work for several episodes of Magnum P.I. Far more depressing however, is the fact that Welles last film was none other than the 1986 animated feature Transformers: The Movie. Yes, that’s right, the final performance from one of the greatest actors and filmmakers in cinematic history was doing voice work for a film which features garbage-based Transformers from the planet Junkion and a soundtrack by Weird Al Yankovicâ€¦..Goddamn you Hollywood!!!!
Adam Volk is a freelance journalist, film geek and wannabe screenwriter who actually enjoys watching the Academy Awards â€“ despite the fact that the winners are all about as surprising as the outcome of a friggin’ Harlem Globetrotters’ game. Transformers fanboys can send him death threats to firstname.lastname@example.org.