2012 Calvin Awards: Worst Performance

By Reagen Sulewski

February 15, 2012

The many faces of January Jones.

This year's list of worst performances has a little different character than past year's. While we tend to double up with our list of worst films, pulling the performance from the truly terrible films that made them so bad in the first place, this year, we've spread the wealth. A number of otherwise solid films had great black holes in their center, or just slightly off to the side, that could have sunk them had they not been as good as they were. Of course, there's a few of our usual suspects and actors from our least favored films, but we weren't afraid to look outside that group.

A case in point – January Jones in X-Men: First Class, who wins our crown for this year. Playing Emma Frost, Jones apparently took the character's name a little too literally, playing her with a cold indifference to anything around her that bordered on sleepwalking, and without any of those things that people put on words when they want to express meaning, whatamcallems... inflections! That's it. It's difficult to imagine director Matthew Vaughn looking at these line readings and deciding that yup, this was the take that was worth printing, unless all the other ones were worse, which is kind of a frightening think to consider. I mean, she made watching her standing around in lingerie tedious!

It's rare that a role makes you reconsider all of an actor's previous roles for the worse, but it's pretty clear now that Mad Men's Betty is simply a perfectly contained box of Jones' range, which is to say, standing there and looking pretty with a confused look on her face. I think we all owe Ashton Kutcher an apology.

In what might be considered piling on, we've given Jones second place for her role in Unknown. The role here tasked her to about the same degree, which is to say, stand there, look pretty and say the words in your lines all in the correct order. That's about as far as she got into the character and made you wonder why Liam Neeson would bother trying to get her back. It's almost as if a Stepford Wife escaped from the movie into the real world.


From the under-emotive to the over-emotive we swing around to Lucy Punch in Bad Teacher for third place, who in a charitable read of her performance could be described as a chipmunk on crack. I mean, sure, it's important to have an antagonist for your film who people are rooting against, but in Punch's case, it's the actress herself that we're wanting horrible things to happen to.

Picking up the banner from Megan Fox, Rosie Whiteley-Huntington becomes the latest vapid cover model to sleepwalk her way through a Transformers movie. In fairness, Fox, and now W-H were never asked to do much more than plausibly be attracted to Shia LeBeouf and not be hit by falling debris on set. But in a film that's about robots, it's never been more of a surprise for an actor to turn out to be human after all.

In a role that was ill-conceived from the word go, Adam Sandler seemingly set out to destroy all remaining good will for him with Jack and Jill, for which his twin performances in that film land him in fifth place here (curiously enough, the film itself escaped our wrath, but you know, priorities). Playing, essentially, Adam Sandler and an exaggerated female stereotype of himself in the same film, he managed to both over and under act in the same film. It's a sad state of affairs for someone who was once the funniest guy in movies.

In sixth place we have our first respectable actor, with Peter Sarsgaard for Green Lantern. As the villain Hector Hammond, Sarsgaard played this with scene-chewing haminess, although even that couldn't drown out his horrible wig and mustache (not strictly his fault, but you know). Some day we'll get another portrayal of the brainy villain that doesn't devolve into screaming.

The “Justin Timberlake can do no wrong” theory came to a screeching end with Bad Teacher, for which he places seventh in our poll. Admittedly he was given a poor character to work with, but it was a bizarre and off-putting performance nonetheless.

Eighth spot goes to one of Adam Sandler's buddies, Nick Swardson in Just Go With It, largely for his bizarre choice to play his character as a Hogan's Heroes-esque German named Dolph Lundgren (no, really). Good thing accents are funny all by themselves, right? Well, not funny ha-ha.

Blake Lively is not the first actress to find herself adrift in a comic book movie as the vestigial love interest and she won't be the last. That doesn't mean she wasn't still terrible in Green Lantern, for which she placed ninth. Look, acting against CGI isn't easy, I'll grant. But we're not in the business of grading on a curve, and at least looking like you're reacting to something would help.

Finally, tenth spot goes to Sucker Punch's Scott Glenn, playing the role of a wizened old sensei that usually goes to a Carradine. Glenn was positively somnabulent in the role, leading us to believe that Zach Snyder had actually created a Scott Glenn hologram - in which case, this performance would have actually been pretty good. Checking the credits, it was actually the real guy. Pity.

Just missing the target of our ire were Jennifer Aniston in Just Go With It, Henry Cavill in the 300-knockoff The Immortals and a scenery-chewing Stephen Lang in the Conan the Barbarian remake.

The Calvins: An Introduction
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Best Cast
Best Character
Best Director
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 Performance
Worst Picture
Top 10
Position Person Film Total Points
1 January Jones X-Men: First Class 124
2 January Jones Unknown 102
3 Lucy Punch Bad Teacher 80
4 Rosie Whiteley-Huntington Transformers: Dark of the Moon 62
5 Adam Sandler Jack and Jill 60
6 Peter Sarsgaard Green Lantern 52
7 Justin Timberlake Bad Teacher 44
8 Nick Swardson Just Go With It 43
9 Blake Lively Green Lantern 42
10 Scott Glenn Sucker Punch 38



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