2019 Calvin Awards: Worst Performance
By David Mumpower
February 22, 2019
In the immortal words of Huey Lewis and the News, sometimes bad is bad. BOP’s all about positivity, but we’re also about honesty. And honestly, some actors are phoning it in while collecting a paycheck. Others are simply in over their heads, and it shows. Whatever the explanation, a few performances fall all basic standards of professionalism that they deserve to get called out. Here are the Worst Performances of the Year.
After literally decades of jokes about the shaky concept behind the character, the Aquaman movie turned out okay. By DC standards, it's an instant classic and their most successful film ever. By Marvel standards, it's right there with Thor: The Dark World for worst movie ever. Yes, DC aims for and is happy with mediocrity. Aquaman gets a huge Mission Accomplished banner in that regard.
One part of Aquaman is glaringly terrible, though. Amber Heard, the celebrity nobody can explain, once again fell upward in her career. Despite having no respectable performances in her entire career to date, her looks and tabloid headline-grabbing relationships kept her name out there enough to get her a job she didn’t deserve.
Heard didn't disappoint when she had the gig, failing entirely in every scene. She's neither believable as a badass or a hardass. For that matter, she’s not believable as an actress. We agree with the family of her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, who refused to let her attend her mother-in-law’s funeral. Amber Heard is the literal worst. Do you want to know the most amazing part? There’s talk of elevating her character’s presence in Aquaman 2. “THIS is the Bad Place!”
One of the historical quirks of the Worst Performance category is that it’s rarely close. The most recent year is a blueprint example. Amber Heard absolutely dominated the first (worst?) place votes, allowing her to distance herself from second place.
BOP fave Malin Akerman should still feel terrible about her work in Rampage, though. I’m someone who owns Trophy Wife on Vudu and has shamelessly praised Rock of Ages as a guilty pleasure. Even *I* couldn't get behind Akerman’s work as a ruthless businesswoman. The character was comically underwritten, but the failure still rests on Akerman’s shoulders. She's just not believable as a soulless bad guy. That's probably to her credit as a person, but she may want to take a few more Villain 101 classes before her next attempt.
Speaking of lousy villains, Rafe Spall isn’t the only reason why Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom broke our hearts. If anything, there’s a certain symmetry to the Jurassic World sequel failing just as completely as the Jurassic Park one in 1997. But Spall’s performance here is so terrible that many of his Google autofills now are along the lines of “Rafe Spall terrible,” “Rafe Spall Jurassic World death,” and “Rafe Spall ugly glasses.” Folks, when people even hate the glasses you wear in the movie, a lot’s gone wrong.
We’ve liked Scott Eastwood in some stuff. We thought he showed promise in Invictus, and he seemed like the perfect play-by-the-rules foil for Vin Diesel in The Fate of the Furious. The latter role may not have been acting, though. The son of Clint did the same thing in Pacific Rim Uprising…and it wasn’t good. We’re starting to suspect that he’s blander than vanilla.
Our fifth and sixth selections are from the two failed Disney projects of the year. The studio absolutely dominated at the box office in 2018, save for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and A Wrinkle in Time. Not coincidentally, characters from those films were among our least favorites for the year. Keira Knightley usually is on the happy side of voting at The Calvins, but she's a total bust as The Sugarplum Fairy. BOP actually voted for several performances from A Wrinkle in Time, an alarming sign, but we saved our strongest dislike for Reese Witherspoon's work as Mrs. Whatsit. Book lovers waited more than 50 years for a quality adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle’s masterwork. We’re still waiting.
2018 was a weird year for many of BOP's most lauded thespians. We're normally first in line to heap praise on Michelle Williams. In Venom, however, she does something entirely out of character. She takes a high-paying role for a poorly developed character in Venom. She's really just the girlfriend. It's a setback to her entire career that she would accept this gig. It also demonstrates that Sony's Marvel films have a long way to go in terms of strong female characters. Then again, Williams wasn't the only actor we hated in the movie. Tom Hardy finishes in 10th place in Worst Performance, too.
Our other hated performances this year are from The 15:17 to Paris and 50 Shades Freed. The Spencer Stone vote feels a bit vicious. He’s a real person (and hero) playing himself in a film. He acts like an amateur, which he is…but he’s not going to thank the Academy during his film career. Jamie Dornan’s work in the 50 Shades series has “earned” him second place in the category and one of the most dominant “victories” ever. In a way, his finishing in 10th place this year feels like a huge step up. In another way, it feels like our staff got tired of kicking him when he's down.
In the achievement categories, we list other performances of note. I’m going to save a few high-profile thespians a bit of savagery here by cutting this list at 10. But we reeeeeally didn’t like the cast of A Wrinkle in Time or Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
2019 Calvin Awards
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
|| Amber Heard
|| Malin Akerman
|| Rafe Spall
||Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
|| Scott Eastwood
||Pacific Rim: Uprising
|| Keira Knightley
||The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
|| Reese Witherspoon
||A Wrinkle in Time
|| Michelle Williams
|| Spencer Stone
||The 15:17 to Paris
|| Jamie Dornan
||50 Shades Freed
|| Tom Hardy