Oscar Nominees Who Gave Terrible Performances During Their “Best” Year
The instant cache of being an Oscar nominee—or, fingers crossed, an actual Oscar winner—changes things for actors and actresses in an instant. Even if you don't end up winning that nifty gold guy, you'll be known for the rest of your career as "Oscar nominee" or "Oscar nominated so-and-so." Picture the trailers! The posters! The extra stuff on your IMDb awards page! The offers to star in other films that contain further Oscar eligibility! But just because an actor or actress has snagged some award season glory, well, that doesn't mean that their entire resume is studded with winners.
Even lauded talents star in terrible films, but sometimes—as is the case with these ten thespians—they happen to star in the worst of the bunch during the exact same calendar year that they turned in those Oscar-worthy works. Oops.
Occasionally, the lines between Oscar-worthy performance and truly terrible turn bleed together into one mess of cinematic confusion. Sometimes, it's so hard to tell the difference between a great performance and a horrible one that they end up being, well, both. Comedian James Coco was nominated for an Oscar (his only one) and a Razzie for his role in the feature film 'Only When I Laugh' about a Broadway actress trying to figure her way out of alcoholism. 1981 was a great year for Coco. It was also a very bad one.
Actress Amy Irving followed Coco's path just two years later, when the 'Yentl' co-star earned both an Oscar nomination (her first and only) and a Razzie nod (her second, she'd already won one in 1981) for her role as the dreamy, silly, exceedingly well turned out Hadass. Based on this clip, it's not hard to see why her work in the musical would enthrall both Oscar voters and the Razzie voting body. It's somehow both wonderful and terrible, all at the same time, deserving of both adoration and scorn. That alone deserves some kind of special award.
Perhaps you'd forgotten that Geena Davis won an Oscar? Three years before she was nominated for her turn in 'Thelma & Louise,' Davis picked up her first—and, so far, only—Oscar for Lawrence Kasdan's 'The Accidental Tourist.' Great, right? Too bad Davis had already done the dizzy, fizzy thing a few months earlier with Julien Temple's 'Earth Girls Are Easy,' which was significantly less, ahem, accomplished. Weird year.
In 1991, Kevin Costner was nominated for a slew of Oscars for his directorial debut, 'Dances With Wolves,' including Best Picture and Best Director, both of which he won. He was also nominated for Best Actor, though he ultimately lost out to Jeremy Irons (for 'Reversal of Fortune'). Although the 1991 Oscars helped establish Costner as a filmmaking force, that same year, he also happened to be nominated for his very first Razzie, for his turn in 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.' He won that one.
Gwyneth Paltrow was just starting to really make a name for herself when she snagged her Best Actress Oscar for 'Shakespeare in Love,' the loosey-goosey historical romance that saw her fearlessly donning a wig and looking confused a lot. 1998 was a busy year for Paltrow, who somehow managed to squeeze in a pair of by-the-numbers thrillers before the premiere of her award-winning role. Both 'A Perfect Murder' and 'Hush' are a far cry from Oscar contenders, but Jonathan Darby's 'Hush' edges out its competition thanks to pure schmaltz and bad line readings. Paltrow-branded confusion might look good in historical garb, but it's laughably bad when it faces off against a deranged Jessica Lange.
Angelina Jolie's fierce, wild performance in 'Girl, Interrupted' unquestionably deserved its Best Supporting Actress Oscar, Jolie's first nomination and win, but it came mere months after one of her most boring and gutless roles ever. Phillip Noyce's 'The Bone Collector' is a fine enough thriller, but up against 'Girl, Interrupted'? Not even in the same league. It's still one of Jolie's lowest rated films ever on Rotten Tomatoes.
Halle Berry's Best Actress win for her defining turn in 'Monster's Ball' was a tremendous achievement for the actress and a big step forward for the Academy, so let's just be thankful that no one in the voting body saw 'Swordfish' that same year (or, at least, didn't let their take on the throwaway actioner impact their views on her superior performance).
Perhaps the movie world's most hilarious example of a tremendous actress doing bad work seemingly simultaneously with some of her best. Bullock won her first Oscar for 'The Blind Side' ...exactly one night after she won her first Razzie (she'd been nominated twice before) for her turn in 'All About Steve.' Bullock accepted both awards in person, winning the most important accolade of all: total public adoration.
At some point, Jennifer Lawrence agreed to star to horror thriller 'House at the End of the Street.' In and of itself, that's not exactly a shocking fact, but when you consider where Lawrence's career was by the time the film finally hit theaters, it's suddenly flummoxing. Lawrence had already become Katniss Everdeen for the YA masses, and she'd embarked on her constant collaboration with David O. Russell before the film even opened. The same year she starred in the forgettable 'House,' she won her very first Oscar for Russell's 'Silver Linings Playbook.'
Steve Carell is not an Oscar nominee—well, not yet—but the buzz around his turn in Bennett Miller's upcoming 'Foxcatcher' is strong enough to make it sound like a bit of lock by the time this season's Oscar nominees are announced. How unfortunate that the same year Carell finally makes his big dramatic turn, he also stars in a film that sees him get beaten up by a kangaroo. 'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,' why couldn't you have arrived in 2013?