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Great Acting in Bad Films

Friday 27 January 2012, 12:34

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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I asked for your nominations for the best acting in the worst film you've seen. Here I pick out some of the most startling choices and, prompted by some of you, pose a new question...

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    Comment number 41.

    I've always thought Joseph Cotton is pretty terrible in The Third Man - doesn't stop it from being one of my favourite films ever though.

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    Comment number 42.

    Maybe not the entire performance but the worst piece of acting in a great movie has to be Brad Pitt at the end of Se7en! His laughable delivery of the lines 'OH GOD!!!!' 'OH GOD!!!!!' 'WHAT'S IN THE BOX!!!' are for me the only scar on the face of a magnificent thriller.

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    Comment number 43.

    Of course that should be Cotten.

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    Comment number 44.

    Madonna in Dick Tracy, every one else gets the fact that this is an over the top comic bookesque film with no real substance. You would think a film with no substance would suit the Madge however she seems to be treating it like Shakespeare and thinking 'everyone will love me for this'. The reality I'd rather watch her performance in Body of evidence on loop for a week than one more minute of Breathless Mahoney.....

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    Comment number 45.

    Well I know Mark doesn't care for it's ramshackle nature but I LOVE Blues Brothers... I even love Matt "Guitar" Murphy's woefully clunky performance in it. His scenes with Aretha Franklin (who is surprisingly good, as a matter of fact) possibly display the worst acting ever committed to film.

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    Comment number 46.

    This is a difficult question to answer, I think, since consistently great performances go a long way towards making a film great.

    I knew Sofia Coppola, in The Godfather Part III, was going to come up. I've heard this many times and don't quite get it. She wasn't brilliant, but I thought her character wasn't supposed to be a polished, confident adult; more of a gawky teenager - which Sofia was at the time. Then again, had her acting been better, we might have lost a very good director.

    One performance that has always annoyed me, and done so six (6) times, is Anthony Daniels as C-3PO in the Star Wars films. As an Android he's supposed to be human-like, but there's more genuine humanity in the bleeping tin can he's always following around. (I sometimes wonder whether that's supposed to be part of the joke.)

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    Comment number 47.

    - Those lanky ginger twins in the Harry Potter franchise.
    - Nicolas Cage in all his good films.
    - Agree with Andi McDowell and Quentin Tarantino.

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    Comment number 48.

    Chris Tucker in The Fifth Element. OTT (in an already OTT Sci-fi comedy film) for no reason other than "hey it's Chris Tucker in a stupid wig and stupid clothes acting all OTT. It's funny isn't it?" No Luc Besson, no it's not. His character is not likeable and completely pointless to the plot.

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    Comment number 49.

    One of the worst performances ive seen on the big screen has to be that of the leading man in David Cronenberg's 'Scanners'. What could have been a great film, becomes a merely decent one thanks to most of the good work on show being undone by the truly stunning lump-of-balsa-wood cast in the central role. A more shockingly stilted turn I cannot bring to mind. The 'actor's name? - Mr Stephen LACK! Quite.

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    Comment number 50.

    Katie Holmes in Batman Begins

    She was bland and offered us nothing we her portrayal as Rachel Dawes

    Also, he may have improved since then, but Andrew Garfield was whiny, unlikeable and annoying in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

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    Comment number 51.

    One of my favorite films (that I've yet to find another fan of, or a UK DVD release) is The Passion of Darkly Noon. This is easily Brandon Fraser's best performance. The film is a master piece... but, Ashley Judd (one of my least favorite actresses) distracts and hinders my enjoyment of this gem every time I watch it.

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    Comment number 52.

    The answer is simple matthew broddrick in glory, or orlando blome in... Any good film he's ever been in. Good as always mark, keep up the good work.

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    Comment number 53.

    kevin Costner in Robin Hood, Prince of Theives. You could say it is a guilty pleasure, but I always enjoy watching Prince of Thieves. However, when Costner tells Morgan Freeman that they will dine at his fathers in "Nottinghaaaaaammmmmm" in his bold american accent, I can't help but cringe. An enjoyable romp of a film, but a terrible lead performance by Costner

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    Comment number 54.

    The worst-ever performance in a great movie has to be Paul McCartney in A Hard Day's Night. In fact, any performance where a pop-star is acting themselves is usually a stinker - except for Jagger in Performance, I suppose...

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    Comment number 55.

    I wish people would stop comparing The Godfather Part 3 to Parts 1 and 2. Of course it's going to fail by comparison but in it's own right as a movie it's very good.

    It's always worth remembering when watching Godfather Part 3 is that it wasn't supposed to be called Godfather Part 3. A crucial point!

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    Comment number 56.

    Una O'conner in the original Invisible Man (which is magnificent) is absolutely horrendous as all she does is scream, very loud and very annoying. It may be because she is opposite Claude Rains who is magnificent all the way through.
    (Also there are two terrible policeman)

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    Comment number 57.

    There’s a fine line between bad acting and being utterly miscast.

    Where the two meet then it’s truly awful. e.g. Anthony – show me the money – Hopkins in “The Human Stain” for example.

    Hopkins played a light-skinned black man who attempts to pass as a Jewish white man. Hopkins didn’t even attempt to hide his Welsh accent in that one.

    Nicholas Cage must get a mention for his many terrible performances in some of the stinkers he’s appeared in.

    A honourable mention goes to Jack Nicholson for most of his movies of the past 20 years. DeNiro has done some stinkers since Casino, both careers in terminal decline.

    Bale & Worthington in Terminator Salvation.

    Otherwise – many actors have a limited range (Eastwood being one); when a part fits their persona then they are great, as soon as they are cast in a part outside that comfort zone then it becomes wince inducing. Gran Torino was all about turning Eastwood’s Dirty Harry persona on its head, so it had to be Eastwood cast in that one.

    Shelly Duvall in the Shining? I thought she was OK, but in a woefully underwritten part; just there to get chased around and scream. One problem facing many women actors is that they are often given little to do than be 'victims' ~ or romantic interest.

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    Comment number 58.

    Joaquin Phoenix in "Gladiator" - ruins what might have been a reasonably entertaining film. (The part was initially not supposed to be so prominent, but they had to rewrite everything when Oliver Reed died.)

    Don Cheadle in "Oceans 11" - worst British accent since Costner.

    Winona Ryder when she was in her "costume drama" period had quite a few doozies (though she's okay in "The Crucible"). I think the attempt to turn her into Lady Anne in "Looking for Richard" is one of the saddest things I've ever seen on film.

    Shelley Duvall in almost anything.


    ....and I know we're talking about film, but for me the epitome of this is Lorraine Bracco on "The Sopranos." For a show with such tremendous, consistent, and compelling performances from top to bottom, she was like watching Lindsay Lohan trying to pass herself off as a nun. (Come to think of it, Lindsay Lohan would have been a better choice).

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    Comment number 59.

    I'm so glad you asked this question because I've always felt I have a really good answer to this that I've thought about for years.
    Christopher Nolan has always been braved in his castings but always seems to get the best out of an actor or actress but the one that landed face down:

    Katie Holmes, Batman Begins.

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    Comment number 60.

    yup. Katie Holmes in Batman Begins was pretty poor.
    Megan Burns in 28 days later. She didn't offend me, but she was really wooden and jarring. She talked like she was constantly on valium and that was before she took the valium.
    Dan, Glasgow

 

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