Not every terrible performance is an actor's fault. Sometimes, they're just horribly miscast, got terrible direction or are made to say things no one should say. For instance, some people thought for years that Natalie Portman couldn't act based on her Star Wars roles, which is just insane if you stop and think about it for more than a second. So no, not all of our list of Worst Performances are people who don't belong in the craft. They may just be stranded. Then again, a few of these people really ought to think about taking up a trade.
2015 Calvin Awards: Worst Performance
By Reagen Sulewski
February 11, 2015
Leading the way is Kellan Lutz in The Legend of Hercules. Remember a few years back when we thought Channing Tatum was kind of dim, but pretty? Compared to Kellan Lutz, Channing Tatum looks like a Rhodes Scholar. Playing the least Greek-looking person in history, Lutz wasn't tasked to do much more than be muscular and be in the correct part of the shot, and still that seems to be a little out of his range. Given his line readings and their stilted nature, one gets the impression that everything in the script was spelled out fo-an-et-ic-al-ly for him. In his defense, it definitely seems like he's pretty amazed that people are allowing him to do this. Hey, we are too.
Our second place Worst Performance has no one to blame for himself, since he was also the director and the screenwriter. Seth MacFarlane grabs this spot for A Million Ways to Die in the West, for basically showing that he had no range at all in his live-action persona. Mugging for the camera at every turn, he basically just dropped Brian from Family Guy into a Western comedy and expected us not to notice.
Not that we expect a lot from him, but Adam Sandler made our list in third for his performance in Blended. Sandler's been sleepwalking through his movies for years now, but it's never been so blatant as in this movie, which he pretty obviously did just so he could get a studio-paid trip to Africa. It feels like there's just no there there any more for Sandler, and in a comedic role, that's deadly.
Literally phoning in his role, Johnny Depp hits fourth place for Transcendence. I have to wonder if he really read the script before agreeing to this, as he seems entirely uninterested in anything but the most basic readings of lines, and we're left to wonder if “computerized Johnny Depp” would be different from “actual Johnny Depp”.
Cameron Diaz does double duty with her roles in The Other Woman and Sex Tape, both of which feature her frantically and manically flailing about on the screen. In the first, Diaz is largely left stranded by a script that doesn't know what to do with her, and she's unable to pull laughs out of the lifeless scenarios in the film. In some ways: not her fault. But then, a good lead actress actually leads, you know?
In Sex Tape, she repeated the trick, desperately mugging for the camera to zero effect, leading to the strange scenario of us just wishing she'd put more clothes back on and stop trying to please us. There's an eagerness combined with insecurity in these performances that is just death to comedy, and not fun to watch.
Seventh place goes to Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the giant gaping hole at the center of the otherwise quite enjoyable Godzilla. The film's bait and switch of advertising the engaging Bryan Cranston only to give us the blank-slate acting of Taylor-Johnson is one of the cruelest things cinema did this year. When a 40-story tall CGI lizard has more personality than your lead, you've gone wrong somewhere.
Eighth spot sees Kit Harington arrive for his role in Pompeii, again betrayed by a horrible casting decision. In place of being an actual badass, Harrington just gives us his best “grrr” face and hopes that'll do. It's clear now that his strengths on Game of Thrones lie in being reacted to, as opposed to any actual presence of his own.
We have a bit of a landmark in ninth spot – an actor nominated for playing himself. Kirk Cameron fails to be convincingly captivating in his own self-produced film Saving Christmas – about how Christmas should be commercialized, just like Jesus wanted – and his rant-filled performance just reminded us of that relative you want to avoid during the holidays.
Lastly, we have Adam Levine in Begin Again, which might not be entirely fair, since he's a trained musician and not an actor, but then again, he's the one who took a major role in this. Seeming utterly unfamiliar with the concept of tone and effect in line delivery, it's really just best that he stick to his day job of never singing an un-tuned note ever again.
2015 Calvin Awards
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music