Oscars 2019: 10 worst movies by Oscar-winning actors

Sam Ashurst
Contributor
Jared Leto in Suicide Squad, Natalie Portman in Your Highness, Halle Berry in Movie 43

Look, not every film can be a masterpiece, and no actor has perfect taste, but you’d think that joining the hallowed ranks of former Oscar winners would be enough to make the lucky recipients really focus on their legacies.

Not according to the following examples, which frequently prove that winning an Oscar can actually be the worst possible thing for your career. Watch out Rami Malek!

Jared Leto’s Joker did not win him an Oscar (credit: Warner Brothers)

This one’s actually pretty impressive. Not only did Jared Leto win his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for just 21 minutes of screen time in Dallas Buyers Club, he immediately followed it by appearing as the worst live action Joker in any medium, in Suicide Squad. We’d applaud if we weren’t so upset.

Inspired by Instagram gangsters, his tattooed Joker was obnoxious from the very first tattoo-encrusted reveal. Sure, there’s competition for Leto’s worst role (that weird Netflix movie The Outsider is just one example), but, come on, this is arguably the most disappointing performance of the past 20 years.

2. Halle Berry – Movie 43

Halle Berry did not win an Oscar for Movie 43 (credit: Relativity Media)

Three years after winning her first Best Actress Oscar for Monster’s Ball, Halle Berry turned up at the Razzies to collect her Worst Actress trophy for Catwoman. But Catwoman is Batman compared to Movie 43, a film that isn’t just Berry’s worst film, it might actually be the worst film.

Oh, and it also features Kate Winslet, so we’re also counting her, thanks to her 2009 Best Actress win for The Reader. But, to be honest, everyone involved in this thing should be ashamed of themselves.

3. Nic Cage – Arsenal

Nic Cage wore a disguise to appear in Arsenal (credit: Lionsgate Premiere)

There’s lots to choose from in Cage’s eccentric career. We could have gone for The Wicker Man, Left Behind, or any number of the direct-to-VOD movies Cage has made since he won his Best Actor Oscar for his astonishing turn in Leaving Las Vegas. But we’ve chosen Arsenal as his absolute nadir.

That’s partly because it feels like a fake movie on Entourage (it stars Vincent Chase himself, Adrian Grenier), partly because it features a slumming it John Cusack (which makes us subconsciously compare it to the faultless Con Air), and partly because Cage is clearly so embarrassed to be in it, he’s wearing a fake moustache underneath a fake nose.

Look, this thing is awful. It’s so far from Leaving Las Vegas we’re starting to wonder if Nic Cage has a twin brother who’s got the real Nic Cage locked in a basement. One thing’s for sure, he’s not going to be nominated for another Academy Award any time soon.

4. Helen Mirren – Winchester

SAN JOSE, CA – MAY 05: Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke, stars of the new CBS Films’ ‘Winchester’, are seen at ‘Winchester’ Mystery House on May 5, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/WireImage)

Speaking of Cage, did he convince Helen Mirren that, after winning an Oscar for an acclaimed drama, the very best thing you can do is make a crap action film?

It’s one possible explanation for Mirren’s decision to immediately follow her win for The Queen with a National Treasure sequel. Still, it’s not her worst film, that honour falls to Winchester, one of the most boring and baffling horror films ever made.

Actually, looking at her IMDb page, there’s a really good argument to be made for Mirren being the lady version of Nic Cage. There’s a lot of films we could have chosen, whether it’s Collateral Beauty (which sounds like a Nic Cage film title if ever we heard one), the RED movies (featuring an even-more-unengaged-than-usual Bruce Willis) or The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (a film no-one has seen).

With many of her worst films coming in the past five years, let’s hope she keeps her solitary Oscar in a safe place.

5. Natalie Portman – Your Highness

Natalie Portman in Your Highness (credit: Universal Pictures)

The Oscar curse hit Portman pretty hard, she followed her Best Actress win with No Strings Attached, The Other Woman and, our own pick for her worst movie, Your Highness. As bad as those other films are, neither of them had her jumping into a stream in a thong. A critical and commercial flop, Your Highness made $28 million from a $50 million budget.

6. Ben Kingsley – BloodRayne

Sir Ben Kingsley in BloodRayne (credit: Romar Entertainment)

Marvel trolls will tell you that Ben Kingsley’s worst role is Trevor Slattery in Iron Man 3, but they clearly haven’t seen BloodRayne, a film that has 2.9 on IMDb and 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, and they’re actually overrating it.

Kingsley’s collaboration with Richard Attenborough on their Oscar-winning Gandhi must have felt like a long time ago, the very moment Sir Ben first showed up on Uwe Boll’s set.

This is a film which used real prostitutes to play prostitutes, because, according to the director, prostitutes are cheaper than actresses. Kingsley’s co-star Michael Madsen called BloodRayne, “an abomination; a horrifying and preposterous movie.” Again, we think he’s over-rating it.

7. Hilary Swank – The Reaping

Hilary Swank in The Reaping (credit: Warner Brothers)

Swank won two Best Actress Oscars, one for Boys Don’t Cry and one for Million Dollar Baby. She won none for The Reaping, a movie that wants to be The Omen or Rosemary’s Baby, but ends up feeling more like one of the signs of an impending apocalypse. Don’t blame Swank, though – she did her best. It’s her agent we’re angry at.

8. Jamie Foxx – Stealth

Jamie Foxx in Stealth (credit: Columbia Pictures)

This was such a difficult decision – picking a worst film between Stealth and Amazing Spider-Man 2 is like having to choose between horrible children, but as Foxx immediately followed his Best Actor win for Ray with an awful action-thriller about an evil fighter jet, that’s going to tip the scales.

Stealth would be a stinker on anyone’s CV, but seeing as it’s sandwiched in the middle of Collateral, Ray, Jarhead and Miami Vice, it ruins what would have been a pretty good run for the actor.

Yes, Foxx has made many more embarrassing movies – including a cringeworthy cameo as Django in A Million Ways To Die In The West – but immediately following an Oscar win with a Jessica Biel movie in which Jessica Biel isn’t the worst thing in it, has to be commemorated.

9. Jennifer Lawrence – Serena

Actors Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence attend a special screening of “Serena”, hosted by The Cinema Society and Dior Beauty, at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on Saturday, March, 21, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

To be honest, we’re not even sure how this one’s possible. Jennifer Lawrence has been nominated for an astonishing four Oscars, winning once for Silver Linings Playbook in 2011. Her worst movie, 2014’s Serena, reunited her with her Silver Linings co-lead, Bradley Cooper, and somehow managed to completely obliterate their onscreen chemistry from that Oscar-winning film.

Serena is possibly the dullest drama ever made, and we’re fairly sure it’s been scientifically proven that you can’t get through the opening twenty minutes without glancing at a smartphone at least five times.

It makes Red Sparrow, X-Men: Apocalypse and Passengers look like Winter’s Bone. Still, Lawrence’s most recent Oscar (inexplicably for Joy) came after Serena, so Hollywood’s forgiven her for it.

10. Robert De Niro – Dirty Grandpa

Zac Efron and Robert De Niro in ‘Dirty Grandpa’ (credit: Lionsgate)

Let’s face it, Robert De Niro is the king of this phenomenon. A seven-time nominee, De Niro won two Oscars, one for playing Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974) and one for playing Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull (1980). Since then, he’s lost his damn mind.

As for his worst film, did we pick Righteous Kill? Godsend? Little Fockers? The Big Wedding? New Year’s Eve? No, we’ve gone for Dirty Grandpa, the final nail in De Niro’s credibility coffin.

As Peter Bradshaw put it in The Guardian: “This gross-out comedy takes De Niro fans into a new emotional phase that I can only call ‘post-despair’. We are past being astonished and horrified.”


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