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The 10 Worst Performances by Oscar Winning Actors

14 March 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by Rollyn Stafford

worst performances oscar actors

It’s usually after an actor wins an Oscar that they decide to cave in and give the worst performance of their otherwise strong career. Perhaps they wanted a role that wouldn’t be too hard, or one where they could just have fun. Regardless of the reason, their worst performance always stands out.

 

10. Louis Gossett, Jr. – Jaws 3D

Louis Gossett, Jr. - Jaws 3D

Louis Gossett, Jr. expressed fantastic range as his role as Sgt. Emil Foley in An Officer and Gentlemen. So much in fact, that he took home the Oscar. He has proven to be a solid actor in such films like Iron Eagle and Enemy Mine.

In Jaws 3D, a great white shark terrorizes the people in Seaworld. Louis Gossett, Jr. plays Calvin Bouchard, the overenthusiastic manager of the park, who’s always money hungry and sporting grinning white teeth. Unfortunately, the character of Calvin is so one sided and the script is so lazy, Gossett Jr. has no room to show his talent.

There are a few outbursts of anger, but not enough to demonstrate how good he was in An Officer and a Gentlemen. There is a moment where park patrons are trapped in the underwater part of the park, and Gossett, Jr. gets a look of trepidation on his face that’s wonderful, but the camera does not stick with him long enough to see what he can really do.

 

9. Jon Voight – Anaconda

Jon Voight - Anaconda

Jon Voight won is his Oscar in 1978 for the anti-Vietnam film Coming Home, where he played a disabled war veteran who falls in love with another man’s wife. With the role he brought passion and integrity. The same cannot be said about his role in Anaconda.

Anaconda focuses on a film crew who becomes terrorized by a giant snake and a crazy hunter, Paul Serone, played by Voight. As Serone, Voight is constantly snarling (like a snake) and speaking in a barely comprehensible accent. Doing his own version of Quint from Jaws, he is clearly a villain.

He describes anacondas as the perfect killing machines. “They hold you tighter than your true love. And you get the privilege of hearing your bones break.” It’s a role Voight clearly had fun doing, but in the end overacted. “There’s the devil inside everyone,” he says with widened eyes.

 

8. Angelina Jolie – Alexander

Angelina Jolie - Alexander

Angelina Jolie deservedly won her oscar in 1999 for Girl Interrupted. In that movie she was wicked, funny, mentally ill, and had a glare that could pierce your heart. Following her win she turned out a bunch of forgettable movies such as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Beyond Borders, and Taking Lives, but it wasn’t until Alexander that she hit rock bottom.

In Alexander, Jolie plays Olympias, Alexander the Great’s treacherous mother. She has an unhealthy obsession with her son, feeding him poisonous advice. For some reason Jolie plays her with the thickest Russian accent, which is almost laughable.

It isn’t completely her fault that she comes across as comically evil, the script set her up. Lines like “Your soul is mine Alexander,” just sound silly. If Jolie intended on playing Olympias like a stealthily cat who once in awhile scratches, then she succeeded.

 

7. Robert De Niro – The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Robert De Niro - The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Robert De Niro is one of the finest actors in cinema. He has starred in many classic films and earned two Oscars for The Godfather Part II and Raging Bull. Every great actor makes a fool themselves some time in their career and De Niro appears to be no exception. In 2000 he decided to star in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Rocky and Bullwinkle are dragged into the real world to stop Fearless Leader, Natasha and Boris from taking over the world. De Niro plays Fearless Leader. Yes, he’s essentially playing a cartoon character in human form, but that doesn’t make his performance any easier to watch.

He moves and sounds like the Batman villain, Penguin, occasionally screaming like a grandma. De Niro seems to understand he’s making fun of himself. There’s even a moment where he spoofs himself by saying lines from Taxi Driver.

 

6. Forest Whitaker – Battlefield Earth

Forest Whitaker - Battlefield Earth

Forest Whitaker won his Oscar in 2006 for his frightening portrayal of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. Before that he gained audience attention through strong supporting roles in films like Platoon, Good Morning Vietnam, and The Crying Game. But in 2000 he decided to take part in Battlefield Earth, which he would later claim to regret.

In the year 3000, aliens have taken over earth and exterminated most of the human race. Whitaker plays Ker, security’s second in command and not the brightest of the bunch.

This could have been a fun role, but instead Whitaker decides to overplay Ker as a goofy, and waste his talent. His two acting gifts throughout the movie consist of staring and laughing obnoxiously. Even though none of the other performances in the film are any better, it’s sad to see Whitaker sink so low.

 

 

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  • zaki85

    Where is Eddie Redmayne – Jupiter Ascending?

    • Exactly! And Al Pacino as himself in Jack & Jill?

    • Rudi

      Haha, I was just going to suggest Redmayne in The Danish Girl. Not the very best actor at this particular moment… 😉

  • Andre Troesch

    Why Does Nicolas Cage get two spots?

    • Guido Von M

      He should have got one top 10 on his own

    • sailor monsoon

      And why did they pick those 2??
      His performances in those films are the highlight of those films.
      Great nic cage is amazing
      Crazy nic cage is a film saver but bored nic cage is the worst. Which is why with left behind or bangkok dangerous should be on the list instead.

      • Ryan Caldwell

        Or pay the ghost,and left behind that’s the worst

    • Dave

      Good point. You could do ten spots on Cage alone

  • Can we count Susan Sarandon in TAMMY, Louise Fletcher in EXORCIST 2, Matt Damon in WE BOUGHT A ZOO, Barbra Streisand in MEET THE FOCKERS?

  • jkapsi

    1) Nicolas Cage, 2) Nicolas Cage, … 10) Nicolas Cage hehehe

  • Bobby Calloway

    Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest?

  • Pablo Iranzo Duque

    Interesting, althoug i have the opinion taht these are top actors doing the best they can in very badly writen and directed movies. Not even Daniel Day Lewis could bring something good if the material is garbage. Now a list of bad performances by Oscar winners in decent movies would be great,

  • RJB

    Jeremy Irons in Dungeons & Dragons

  • Those aren’t worst performances. Those are reasons to fire your agent.

  • docksidelee

    Adrian Brody and Cuba Gooding, Jr. in…well…nearly everything after earning their Oscars.