This category singles out the worst in individual acting performances in a year. Often these are entirely competent actors, miscast, misdirected or otherwise stranded in miserable material that no one could save (indeed, a full half of the category are former Oscar winners or nominees). And yet: they had the chance to say no. It's really only fair and proper that we call them out for this. As for the other half of this category, well, naturally bad actors need to be noticed too.
2014 Calvin Awards: Worst Performance
By Reagen Sulewski
February 12, 2014
Leading this category by a single point is Emma Thompson in Beautiful Creatures as Sarafine, the leader of the evil faction of “casters”. Or rather, the possessed version of Sarafine, because to take form... wait, you don't care. At any rate, in a year in which she received a lot of acclaim for playing the creator of Mary Poppins, here she plays the polar opposite of Mary Poppins, sneering and howling her way through the role, proving that broad villainy is probably not among her great talents as an actress. That, or perhaps after she read the script, she decided to at least make her scenes have some life to them, She's not alone in her badness in this cast (three actors from this film make our top 10), but in this case her very loud badness makes the difference.
Second place goes to Selena Gomez in Getaway. Stranded in a car chase for about 90 minutes, Gomez seems unable here to find a second emotion beyond “bored”. Perhaps she's simultaneously watching the movie while acting in it, but that seems somewhat farfetched. There's also the sense that she never really bothered to learn her lines, and is reading them off the car's GPS navigation, like a bad host on Saturday Night Live reading cue cards.
Accents often trip up actors, southern ones in particular. That's a large part of what lands Alden Ehrenreich in third place for his performance in Beautiful Creatures, though it's not just his butchering of natural speech patterns that we found terrible. Caught in the middle of a clash between good and evil and facing the prospect of being killed for love, he seems more bemused at the whole thing, as if supernatural battles happen to him all the time. It's quite a puzzling performance, and just because you know things turn out OK for your character, it's no reason to take the rest of the movie off.
There's a bit of a drop here to fourth place and Saorise Ronan in The Host. She's given an almost impossible task to play a rather emotionless alien, but with an inner voice of a spoiled teenager that vacillates between petulant and disgusted. It's not the most colorful palette one might choose to paint with, but even at that, it's a rather monotonous performance. Accents again play their role here, as she never really nails down her American accent and settles for “breathy”. The whole effect leads you wonder why she ran an 800m race before each scene.
Fifth spot goes to Johnny Depp for The Lone Ranger, playing Tonto. While we never quite felt comfortable with him playing this role (adoption by a tribe or not), we definitely weren't happy with him basically repurposing his Captain Jack Sparrow routine for this, just with broken English and a smidgen of mysticism. Depp might consider getting a new comedy shtick.
Sixth place goes to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Escape Plan. While he was never a great actor, he was serviceable at times, and the years off in politics sure don't seem to have sharpened his abilities. Here, he hammed his way through line readings that felt like someone only recently acquainted with normal human speech patterns.
Alice Eve wasn't given a whole lot to do in Star Trek: Into Darkness but scream and look annoyed at Chris Pine, but even at that, she didn't manage to do a whole lot with the role. We reward her with seventh for that. Her scenes had that feel of “and 3...2...1... Line!” Some cold comfort: she's by no means the worst actor in a Trek movie ever.
Eighth spot goes to the first of two roles in After Earth and Will Smith. While no one fares well in an M. Night Shyamalan movie these days, Smith offers a strangely flat performance in this film that made us root for the things trying to eat him.
Our final cast member of Beautiful Creatures to break the top 10 was Jeremy Irons, who put in overtime hamming up his performance as a bored old wizard. Meant to be the patriarch of good, he always seemed as if he was about to snap and turn evil, perhaps just at being forced to read his horrible dialogue.
Lastly, we have Jaden Smith, son of Will, for After Earth. One might say we're picking on a kid, but just natural line readings would have sufficed, or, you know, emotion would be good too.
2014 Calvin Awards
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music