We now turn to the individual performances of 2016 that drew our ire and scorn. These were the actors who found themselves in roles they couldn't crack, weren't right for, or just simply exposed their lack of talent. There's a bit of theme to this year's top 10 – let's see if you can spot it.
2017 Calvin Awards: Worst Performance
By Reagen Sulewski
February 22, 2017
Jesse Eisenberg drew raised eyebrows right off the bat for his casting as Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman, but hey, playing him as a deranged version of his Mark Zuckerberg role in The Social Network had promise, right? Right? Wrong. Jumping around on screen like a crack monkey billionaire with a theatrical flair that Cesar Romero would have told him to tone down, Eisenberg would have single-handedly made BvS one of the year's worst acted films except for all the help he had (wait for it...).
Second place goes to his compatriot in the film, Henry Cavill, a terribly wooden actor who thankfully didn't have a crucial role in BvS, playing the minor character of Superman... oh, crap, he was supposed to be a lead? Did no one tell him? Doubling down on his dour, basically expressionless performance from Man of Steel except for moments of “GRRR Face,” Cavill was basically lost in a role much bigger than his capabilities and unfortunately left a big gaping hole at the film's center.
Switching gears slightly for a second, we move to DC's other big summer film, with Jared Leto and his role as The Joker in Suicide Squad. Now, much has been made of the fact that Leto had a much more substantial role that was cut during the film's numerous retoolings, but if anything, this was a gift to Leto, as more of his Hot Topic Joker being seen would only have done further damage to his career. A one-note, meth-addled performance, it had all the bite of a toothless raccoon instead of the menace or malevolence that we've gotten out of previous iterations of this character. Thanks for ruining everything, 2016!
He's paired up with another Suicide Squad actor, Joel Kinnaman, who finished fourth in our voting. As the military minder for the squad and the indirect reason everything in the movie started in the first place, he's given a bit of a thankless task as the “straight man” of the movie. Faced with that job though, he didn't even really try, struggling with an accent and emoting and presenting the illusion that he was a real human being with feelings and desires and such.
We return to Batman v Superman v Audience for fifth place, with Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne/Batman. A bit handicapped as an actor in this case from the costume, Affleck doesn't help his case by delivering all his lines as Batman in a weird growly bark, while his Wayne, supposedly wracked with guilt and sorrow, seems like he's just nursing a bad cold. I think at this point, the question needs to be asked... DC Films – is there something you need to tell us? Talk about? We're here to help.
Sixth spot goes to Johnny Depp in Alice Through The Looking Glass, as his simpering, fey shtick begins to wear impossibly thin for us. At some level, he's held hostage to the demands of the role already created, but the “everything has to be more! Crazier!” ramp up in these sequels hasn't helped him one bit.
Will Smith lands in seventh spot, but surprisingly, not for his Suicide Squad role (where he was passable). Instead, it's for Collateral Beauty: or It's OK To Gaslight People If They're Already Crazy. Playing a grieving father in full on Oscar-bait mode but ends up playing only morose and lost.
Eighth spot helps justify all of the Golden Globe jokes in history, as Aaron Taylor-Johnson actually won the Best Supporting Actor Globe for his role in Nocturnal Animals. Playing a southern hick gang leader, he inspired more guffaws than anything, playing a lot more like Jim Varney's Ernest than a dangerous James Dean type.
Another acclaimed actor winds up in ninth, as Robert De Niro continues to shed the remaining scraps of dignity left in his career with Dirty Grandpa, with all the subtlety that title implies.
For tenth spot we return to Suicide Squad and Cara Delevigne, who as The Enchantress was supposed to be the scary antagonist of the film, an eternal being of horror, but really just came off as “go-go dancer with bad makeup.”
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music