2009 Calvin Awards: Worst Performance

February 11, 2009

That's right. The little girl offers easily the best performance of the three.

It's not always an actor's fault that they end up on our Worst Performance list. Sometimes they're simply wrong for the role – we've had our share of Oscar winners and nominees on it – and there's nothing they could do about it (then again, they agreed to the script). In many other cases, we're dealing with an actor who had no business taking up valuable screen time from competent performers, let alone the mannequins used to hold up clothes in between costume changes. This year sees a nice mix of both of those in this category.

This year's winner, Mark Wahlberg in The Happening, is kind of a mix of those two categories himself. A former Oscar nominee (we're still not quite used to that...), he was entirely lost in this film, delivering most of his dialogue in a constant state of bewilderment. Possibly this was just him reacting to the ludicrousness of the lines he was asked to say.

Highlights of his performance included an extended conversation with a plastic plant (which he loses), a strange scene where he seemed to be hitting on one of his (male) high school students and the infamous line "be scientific, douchebag." Wahlberg seems to have been confused about whether he was in a comedy or a serious horror film, and decided to play his lines as if it was both, at all times. In fact, I'm almost convinced it was a clever double bluff. If so, congratulations, douchebag.

Second place goes to his fellow cast member, Zooey Deschanel. Honestly, this hurts us more than it hurts her, as Zooey's long been one of our favorites. But her performance was something we simply couldn't ignore. Spending most of the film staring blankly, she backed up her moony expressions with wooden line readings that seemed to only be vaguely familiar with the natural cadence of English. If she doesn't return to her normal form right away, M. Night Shyamalan has a lot to answer for.

Third place went to Will Ferrell for Semi-Pro. In fairness, it's not like you can really call what Ferrell does "acting", so how we view him is largely going to be based on how many of his "maybe if I yell my lines it'll be funny" bits hit, and how many miss. In this case, he was nearly oh-for-the-movie, and thus was largely intolerable.


Everyone's favorite block of wood Hayden Christensen placed fourth for his role in Jumper. Currently doing battle with Paul Walker as to who can deliver the most lines with no emotion at all, Christensen managed the feat of having zero presence as the lead in this movie. You literally could have had the actors reacting to nothing in their scenes and gotten the same performances out of them.

Pierce Brosnan can't sing. Ordinarily this wouldn't be enough to land him fifth place on this list, but then he starred in a fricking musical. This is kind of a problem. As bad as Mamma Mia! was, Pierce managed to drag it down just that much further. I'm ready to go to the extra step of banning him from ever listening to music again, just to remove any possible temptation.

Newcomer Camilla Belle was voted sixth worst actor of the year for 10,000 B.C. In fairness, she was cast mostly for her looks (and subsequently managed to stay very clean through the entire film), but when you hire a model as your lead, you're bound to get a Miss Teen South Carolina level of performance.

John Leguizamo was the third actor from The Happening to make our list in seventh spot, and managed to stay this low only because of his relatively limited screen time. His irritating math teacher character was one of the first we were hoping to off themselves in the film.

Eighth spot was given to Shia LaBeouf in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Given a superfluous character, Shia proceeded to give him all the characteristics of the annoying sidekick, as well as somehow managing to commandeer the big action scenes of the second half of the movie. You, sir, are no Harrison Ford.

There's a big logjam at the bottom of our list, with five separate actors becoming worthy of our scorn: Ben Kingsley's laughable Russian drug agent in Transsiberian, James McAvoy's profoundly irritating whiner in Wanted, Steven Strait's charisma-free caveman in 10,000 B.C., Dan Aykroyd's Cheney-esque vice-president in War, Inc. and Gillian Anderson in The X-Files: I Want to Believe, in a role she should have been able to sleepwalk through, and unfortunately did. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)

Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Best Cast
Best Director
Best DVD
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Best Videogame
Breakthrough Performance
Worst Picture

Top 10
Position Person Film Total Points
1 Mark Wahlberg The Happening 83
2 Zooey Deschanel The Happening 55
3 Will Ferrell Semi-Pro 41
4 Hayden Christensen Jumper 40
5 Pierce Brosnan Mamma Mia! 34
6 Camilla Belle 10,000 BC 25
7 John Leguizamo The Happening 23
8 Shia LaBeouf Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 21
9(tie) Ben Kingsley Transsiberian 17
9(tie) James McAvoy Wanted 17
9(tie) Steven Strait 10,000 BC 17
9(tie) Dan Aykroyd War, Inc 17
9(tie) Gillian Anderson X-Files : I Want to Believe 17



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