Saturday, March 15, 2014

What Great Actor Makes the Most Bad Movies?

They can't all be that obvious.

Matthew McConaughey just won a Best Actor Oscar for having a great two years, but that comes after over a decade of squandering his talent in garbage movies about not wanting to admit he loves Kate Hudson. Plenty of good actors choose terrible projects either to pay the bills or because perhaps they don't know any better.

Obviously, words like "great" and "bad" are subjective, so let's not attack one another's choices too much.

Let's hear it!

29 comments:

  1. I feel almost terrible saying this, but Robin Williams is capable of making great movies, but he's mostly just terrible and does his whole Robin Williams thing where he doesn't talk like a normal human. I thought he was pretty good in Awakenings, Good Will Hunting, and Moscow on the Hudson, but otherwise I just want to punch him in the nuts.

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    1. I agree. I think Robin Williams is at his best when he's playing the teacher/mentor role, a la Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society. Outside of that, or when he's playing an animated genie, his movies aren't frequently that great, which is especially sad considering the amount of talent I feel like he actually does possess.

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    2. And regarding comedy legends, I would probably add Steve Martin to the list. At least as of late, he hasn't been in that many quality movies, but I know he is capable of greatness. The Pink Panther, anyone?

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  2. Idris Elba

    He might not be in the most bad movies, but he sure has been in some of the most forgettable. I know he's played second fiddle in most of his mainstream movies, I feel he's being wasted. He's been in some arguably GOOD movies(Pacific Rim, Mandela, possibly Prometheus depending on who you ask), but he's been in a lot of stinkers, too(The Reaping, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Obsessed, Takers, and Prom Night to name a few.

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  3. Michael Caine.
    He admits it himself, saying he rarely checks out the script and that if there is a pay check, he's in. (He has appeared in over 140 films)

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    1. Yeah, I've heard that about him before.

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  4. Jackie Chan
    It's not even a product of his getting older, or coming to America. He has made some truly dreadful movies all throughout his career. Movies where even the fighting just wasn't up to snuff. Part of that is the sheer number of films he's made, but part of it is just what do you try to get out of any given movie.

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  5. I don't know that I feel he's made that many dreadful movies, but Hugh Jackman seems to be in a lot of stuff that's really mediocre. I'm actually a big fan of his, and a lot of movies he stars in would probably be tons worse were it not for his charm and good humor. But for every Les Miserables and The Prestige, there's a Van Helsing or an X:Men Origins (neither of which are really his vault) to knock me down a peg or two.

    I also used to really get excited when Will Smith showed up in a movie, but the freaking projects he's picked lately. Geez.

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  6. Deniro must be getting up there these days.

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    1. Oh man, good call on Deniro Brad. How did the guy who starred as Travis Bickle act in Meet the Fockers?

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  7. John Travolta hasn't done anything lately that's been too great.

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  8. Since this didn't specify lead roles only....William Fichtner.

    His practically being a Kurt Wimmer stock player would probably be enough for most people. But he gets stuck in things like The Lone Ranger and gives a great performance while the movie degenerates around him.

    One movie I think he does "elevate" is Drive Angry - but I have a soft spot for that movie.

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    1. He's the best thing about Drive Angry, which, in my dumb opinion, has a lot of great things.

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  9. I nominate John Travolta, now I am not going to proclaim him to be one of the better actors out there, but he is capable of delivering great performances (Pulp Fiction, Saturday Night Fever, Get Shorty). He even was very well received dressing in drag for Hairspray. But for every Face/Off or Blow Out he puts out 5 terrible movies, and that's even more evident during the last 10 years or so.

    A Civil Action, The General's Daughter, Battlefield Earth, Lucky Numbers, Swordfish, Domestic Disturbance, Basic, The Punisher, Be Cool, Lonely Hearts, Wild Hogs, The Taking of Pelham 123, Old Dogs, From Paris With Love, and Killing Season. All terrible movies, and many of which he fails tremendously in playing the villain. It's no wonder he's desperate to star in Gummy Bear the Movie.

    Maybe the tragedy with his son propelled him into taking some of these garbage roles, but I can't think of another mainstream actor that has been in so many wretched movies over the last decade.

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    1. Just my opinion but I don't think A Civil Action, Taking of Pelham 123 or The Punisher are bad movies.

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    2. Not to get too sidetracked in discussions of "good" or "bad," but I'm with you on two of those movies. I still don't know what to think about Pelham 123.

      I don't think The Punisher is bad, but I do think Travolta is bad in it.

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    3. Yeah, I would agree that it counts more as of a Travolta is bad in it entry. My biggest problem with Punisher is that I found it to be a tad bland in that it didn't know what it wanted to be. For me it wasn't violent enough, and it was forgettable if anything.

      It's not that I wanted Punisher: War Zone either, but maybe a movie along the lines of the first two Blade movies.I feel they came really close to what tone Punisher needs to be at. That and I didn't quite take to any of the supporting characters, including Travolta's nonthreatening villain.

      With that being said there are things I do like about the movie, specially Thomas Jane's performance. I know it's been said before but Dirty Laundry short is the best adaptation of Punisher yet, and if they had gone in that direction I think the series would have been a success.

      It's a shame Nic Cage was brought back for Ghost Rider even though the first one wasn't well received. Meanwhile Thomas Jane was replaced, even though he still wants to do the role and most fans seem to want him back.

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  10. Al Pacino. Let me roll down the list for you: Bobby Deerfield, Author Author, Revolution, Gigli, Two for the Money, 88 Minutes, Righteous Kill, The Son of No One, and most especially Jack and Jill.

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    1. Ouch, good call on Pacino! His career has taken a huge nosedive from where it once was.

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  11. This is sort of an unfair answer but I never understood why Michael Moriarty never became a Robert Duvall-level breakout character actor. Apparently he's had some mental health issues that have kept him from acting, but no matter how bad the Larry Cohen dreck he appeared in was (I genuinely love Q: THE WINGED SERPENT but lots of their movies together are lousy) he gave a fully committed performance that could flesh out the weakest of characters. I find him endlessly fascinating to watch, and I wish he had become a star worthy of his talent.

    To answer the actual question, I don't think there's anyone who has pooped on their legacy quite as thoroughly as Robert De Niro. I didn't like AMERICAN HUSTLE much, but I have to admit it was a joy to see him engaged with the material he was playing again. It was also a bit heartbreaking to realize he probably went directly from that set to the set of a DTV "thriller" co-starring 50 Cent.

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    1. He was also good in Silver Linings Playbook, I would say, so hopefully with David O. Russell De Niro is bouncing back a little bit. But he did suffer a pretty rough fall from grace.

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    2. Good call, yes he was. I forgot about that one.

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    3. JP, as a stone cold Michael Moriarty fan (mostly from his work as ADA Ben Stone on the first four seasons of "Law & Order," but also by how that controlled and intense performance stands as such a clear contrast to the offbeat and often weird movie roles he took) I agree that the man's talents were never rewarded with fame. He's just a great character actor though, and for folks like these just working (and us appreciating the work) is reward enough. :-)

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  12. It's gotta be Bruce Willis. When he genuinely cares about the movie/character he's in the man delivers the goods. And when he clearly tries as in "Die Hard," "Pulp Fiction," "Twelve Monkeys," "Unbreakable," "Moonrise Kingdom" (you can tell Bruce really wanted to join the Wes Anderson troop of regulars by how much he threw himself into his role) or "Looper," to name a few, Willis is money. Shit, even bombs like "Hudson Hawk" are interesting because Bruce is invested into them 100% and the passion shows. But for each of these there's so much forgettable dreck ("Striking Distance," "Mercury Rising," "Color of Night," "Hostage," "Hart's War," "A Good Day To Die Hard") that is made even more maddening by Willis' disposition to let his performance show how uninterested/bored he is with these projects that he picked! He's the polar opposite of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Pete Postlethwaite, who gave it their all regardless of how shitty they knew the movie they were in was turning out.

    Another great thespian that sabotaged his career at every turn by the choices he made was Klaus Kinski. From his work with Werner Herzog ("Aguirre: The Wrath of God," "Fitzcarraldo," etc.) to underrated classics like Andrzej Zulawski's "That Most Important Thing: Love," when he was well used Kinski's on-screen intensity and commitment to his characters were mesmerizing and unmatched by any other actor. But there are literally dozens (no joke) of bad to forgettable movies for every good one he made, all of which have Kinski prostituting his craft for his cash-only rule (he wouldn't sign contracts or accept checks, which kept Hollywood and major roles at a distance) to keep feeding whatever personal demons consumed him 'till his death in 1991. So sad.

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  13. Walken. Great actor when he wants to be, but at this point he does absolutely anything that comes his way. I cannot blame him though. If I were an actor and was able to maintain a working career for so many years, I'd say fuck it, and try to work as much as possible. Not an easy feat.

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  14. I hate to say this but Whoopi Goldberg has a pretty bad track record as far as films are concerned. I say 'I hate to say' as the affection I have for Whoopi as one of the coolest people out there is very large, I saw this first hand, long cool story involving the stage door of the first night of her West End stint in Sister Act. I say she is a great actor because she is, she has simply had some bad luck or maybe made some bad judgements where films are concerned. I wish she would have got more opportunities to expand on that huge raw talent we all saw in The Color Purple. The likes of Eddie, Rat Race, The Lion King 1 1/2, Racing Stripes, Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 and Doogal all point to a pretty sketchy filmography. However, if you want cool Whoopi you only have to look for her being herself by doing stuff like her stand up or standing up for LGBT rights continuously or be interviewed and tell some of the best stories (points to Dawn French's Girls who do comedy, which has a huge amount of fascinating women telling amazing stories).

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    1. Did anyone know -- or care -- she was in Toy Story 3? To go from above-the-title to a purple octopus...

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    2. Of course! Josh and I just reviewed Toy Story 3, her voice is so distinctive.

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