The Academy Awards are supposed to be a beacon for the masses of what the elite works in film are in any given year. Most know that the Oscars are usually pretty ridiculous and the best choices aren’t the ones picked. But for the most part, the choices aren’t so wildly off base that absolute clowns get awards.
Yet, throughout its almost 100-year existence, there have been some wild choices. Especially when it comes to the acting fields. Sometimes people get awarded for works that deserve it in stark contrast to a career filed with embarrassingly bad works.
Sometimes a really bad performance from a really bad actor wins just because it checks off all the favored elements for the Academy. Let’s take a look at the 10 worst actors to win Oscars in recent memory.
10. Jennifer Lawrence
Jenn here broke out in a big way with “Winter’s Bone.” She showed some real talent and took the world by storm afterwards with her work in “The Hunger Games.” We had seemingly had a new talent in our midst that could take up the mantle for prior femme superstars like Julia Roberts and the like.
After a string of Oscar-baity roles in David O. Russell movies, where each successive movie revealed the lack of variety in her repertoire. She has been giving such misguided and uninspired work for awhile now, so much so that she has seemingly burnt up all goodwill she immediately earned so early in her career. In hindsight, she is a pretty boring and empty performer.
Occasionally, someone will utilize that robotic presence of hers to good effect (see “Red Sparrow”). But for the most part, she always seems like she is out of her element in any role she is asked to play. It’s such a shame that her early potential hasn’t been met, as she was pretty good in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Maybe the fire that existed in that performance in “Winter’s Bone” flickered out with superstardom.
9. Jared Leto
This freaking guy. He was never a particularly well-respected actor. He was decent enough in early roles in works like “Fight Club” and “My So-Called Life.” But he seemed more interested in being a clown ass hipster rock wannabe in a bad band with the occasional forays into failed method acting roles.
His ridiculous descent into obesity for a pretty much direct-to-video biopic about the nut that shot John Lennon really just showed how deluded he was into thinking he was more artistically elite than he actually is.
But then he freaking knocks it out of the park with “Dallas Buyers Club,” and the entire world had to rethink this Leto guy. Maybe there was something there, something elite. But then he immediately squandered that goodwill with an atrocious performance as the Joker in the iconically bad “Suicide Squad.” Then there was the shelved and dumped on Netflix white savior yakuza movie where his pasty behind enters the Asian underworld for some damn reason.
Only a brief and interesting appearance in “Blade Runner 2049” was the closest to justifying his continued foray into acting. He is way too up his own pooper to consistently give real and honest performances. He will always be way too mannered and phony. But, we will always have his truly fantastic performance in “Dallas Buyers Club,” a role that keeps being revealed as a once-in-a-lifetime fluke.
8. Halle Berry
Here’s a tough question. Has Halle Berry ever been in a good movie, and if so, was she good in it? There’s the first two X-Men movies where she isn’t particularly good. There’s a lot of next level bad work in her oeuvre, like “Catwoman” and “Swordfish.”
Then there’s the movie for which she won an Oscar that almost immediately didn’t age well. It wasn’t like Crash where everyone was just baffled that it even came close. Mainly just that it was kind of a bland and personality-free Oscar movie that really didn’t do much. Almost felt like they were giving her an award for having to do such a lengthy and graphic sex scene with Billy Bob Thornton.
The only time she was good in a movie that’s actually good is “Cloud Atlas,” and that movie is such a wild swing for the fences that there’s segments where she’s good and segments where she isn’t. Her continued existence as a star is wild because she just isn’t good. It’s so weird. She’s never convincing.
Mo’Nique really deserved this award. There is absolutely no question about it. The real question is, where the hell did this come from and why hasn’t it shown up again? Her work in “Precious” is a tour de force. But for a woman who pretty much makes a career out of cashing paychecks in comedies, it was almost shocking to see her shift into such dramatic work. Lee Daniels made the movie, so it’s surprising it was good at all, let alone filled with a performance this good. So her presence on this list is that she doesn’t do these things.
There is no other example you can point to where this makes sense. An anomaly in every sense. She hasn’t been in a movie in almost two years, and it was a Christmas comedy. And even in comedies, she’s fine. She was never one to make a big name for herself or really stand out. The more time passes, the more this just becomes an insane one-off that will probably never be repeated.
6. Cuba Gooding Jr
Oh, Cuba. A man who has a very narrow lane to work in and even then, he sometimes feels misplaced in roles that should suit him. He won an Oscar for playing a very shrill football player in a movie that was really Tom Cruise’s and kinda grinds to a halt when he shows up. He’s fine, basically. But it’s so odd to watch that movie and think that he was even in the top 10 of male supporting performances that year, let alone the best. His career afterwards should be a cautionary tale for actors trying to reach such a height that eludes their grasp. Because it is just nonstop embarrassment after embarrassment.
Even the recent upswing for him in “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” wasn’t a complete win for him as, without question, everyone said he was the weakest link in the cast. He felt more like a whiny little baby playing at doing an OJ impression. There’s some truly next-level bad in his work, such as “Boat Trip,” “Chill Factor” and “Shadowboxer.”
Most of the time, he is barely on the radar, as his movies are so uninteresting and boring. He would be in the bracket of a John Travolta or Nic Cage, but they are actually great actors that do a lot of crap but can also sneak out some good stuff due to their talent and eye for it. Cuba has bad judgment and also may not be good enough to justify his continued presence in cinema.