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The Most Embarrassing Roles Of The 2013 Oscar-Nominated Actors & Actresses

by Oliver Lyttelton
February 22, 2013 2:38 PM
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Best Actress

Jessica Chastain - “Madagascar 3” & "Mama"
Having only broken out in the last couple of years, Jessica Chastain hasn't had much of a chance to take a giant paycheck (she flirted with, but didn't take "Iron Man 3"). And while she has done a couple of big studio movies, she's been lucky in that both have turned out better than they had much right to be. Last summer saw Chastain lend her voice to "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," the latest in the DreamWorks Animation franchise, playing Gia, the Italian jaguar (?!) who serves as the love interest to Ben Stiller's lion Alex. Thanks to trippy visuals and an absurd script from Noah Baumbach, it's easily the best of the series, and Chastain's good as Gia, demonstrating light rom-com chops she hasn't had displayed much on screen to date. Then, in January came "Mama," the Guillermo del Toro-produced film which, while still a January horror, wasn't a particularly bad example of the sub-genre, and saw Chastain acquit herself well, adding extra texture as the bass-playing girlfriend forced into a maternal role. Hopefully she'll see this list and abstain from truly cashing out as her career continues.

Jennifer Lawrence - “House at the End of the Street”
Given that Jennifer Lawrence is only 22, and given that her big-budget studio pictures, "The Hunger Games" and "X-Men First Class," have been relatively palatable, one might assume that the young star hasn't yet had time to make a real stinker. But one would assume wrong, as anyone who saw last fall's "House at the End of the Street" would attest. Shot in September 2010 before Lawrence's first Oscar nomination but delayed by almost eighteen months, the teen-friendly horror stars Lawrence as Elissa, who moves with her mother Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) to a new town, only to discover that terrible murders took place in the house next door, with the only survivor Ryan (Max Thierot) still living there, haunted by the killings his sister perpetrated. OR DID SHE??? The answer would only surprise a person who's accidentally traveled forward in time from the 18th century and has never seen a movie before, but perhaps more surprising is just how boring the whole affair is. Lawrence is winning enough that she just about makes it watchable, but she'll have try (or maybe not try) to find a film as terrible as this one down the road.

Naomi Watts - “Dream House”
Like Chastain, Naomi Watts has had reasonable luck when it comes to selling out; even "The Ring" turned out to be a genuinely creepy horror film (contractually-obligated sequel "The Ring Two" less so), and even a film that didn't work, like Marc Forster's "Stay," is interesting enough not to warrant inclusion here. But 2011's long-delayed "Dream House" marks the moment when Watts' luck ran out. The horror/thriller, directed by Jim Sheridan, stars Daniel Craig as a novelist who finds out that his new family home was the site of a terrible murder. A murder which, he soon discovers, in part thanks to neighbor Ann (Watts), he may have been involved with, and he's committed to an asylum as a suspect of the killings. There are more ludicrous twists to come that will ultimately vindicate him, and while the film flirts with darkness, it isn't prepared to go the whole way, eventually turning into a sort of terrible, spooky riff on "Sleeping With The Enemy." The movie (which was heavily reshot) was disowned by pretty much everyone involved, but the premise is so silly that you wonder what they thought they were getting into in the first place, especially Watts, whose part is so thin and generally beneath her talents that it's genuinely puzzling that she'd sign on.

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  • Jack Thursby | February 25, 2013 4:43 AMReply

    Actually Helen Hunt showed up in both Trancers 2 and Trancers 3. Try having a look at imdb once in a while!

  • linz | February 24, 2013 9:02 PMReply

    I don't thing any role of Anne's could be more embarrasing than 'Havoc'.

  • Rebecca | February 24, 2013 1:58 PMReply

    Latter 49 is a good movie.

  • PETE | February 23, 2013 12:26 PMReply

    I think it is ridiculous to consider "The Reader" worse than "Bride Wars". WTF?

  • GLENN | February 23, 2013 5:09 PM

    i know WTF !!!!

  • Ash | February 23, 2013 4:42 AMReply

    I dont think M3 and Mama are terrible, the most terrible film Jessica's ever done is Texas Killing Field.

  • jen b | February 22, 2013 10:56 PMReply

    Everything Anne Hathaway has done besides Rachel Getting Married and TDKR is a stinker. Just look at last year- One Day. Horrible! Year before- Love and Other Drugs- embarrassing! Good god, she has terrible taste.

  • tracy | February 23, 2013 4:38 AM


  • jimmiescoffee | February 22, 2013 9:30 PMReply

    i disagree with most of this piece. not every role is perfect. and "paying the bills" is noble enough. so fuck this entire concept. but that being said, 'nine' was a disaster.

  • Brandt | February 22, 2013 8:43 PMReply

    Such lackluster choices are very unbecoming of such a tremendous year for cinema. Where are the nominations for movies like The Grey, Jesus Henry Christ and Killing them Softly? Read about the Top 10 Movies of 2012 with reviews and other honorable mentions at

  • Andrew | February 22, 2013 7:47 PMReply

    You include Stardust in DeNiro's list of terrible recent films....really? It's actually pretty fun and was well-received for the most part.

    And calling The Green Hornet undeniably terrible? I know critics were pretty harsh with it, but I am a pretty staunch defender of it as a pretty fun movie that clearly shows in Gondry's direction. Nothing great, but undeniably terrible? If you didn't like it you didn't like it, but please.

  • Sven | February 23, 2013 3:01 AM

    The Green Hornet was undeniably terrible, really.

  • droopy | February 22, 2013 7:19 PMReply

    i dont know man, i mean patch adams is terrible, but twister and red dragon aren't... are they? twister i love, saw it when i was 8, thought it was fucking awesome and that feeling stays with me to this day. and red dragon only has a bad rep because of brett ratner, but its by far his best movie and its actually pretty good. great cast, i thought the cinematography was pretty damn good, nothing really special, but i think he got the look right. its been a while since i saw it though. im gonna watch it right now

  • Ray H | February 22, 2013 5:31 PMReply

    I looked up "My Boyfriend's Back" a little while back. A silly teen zombie movie I hadn't thought about or seen in 20 years. Turns out one of the high school bullies is played by none other than Philip Seymour Hoffman! He plays Matthew Fox's main buddy/henchman and ends up accidentally killing himself with an axe.

  • Alan B | February 22, 2013 7:00 PM This looks like the greatest thing ever.

  • QNorris9001 | February 22, 2013 5:27 PMReply

    The Playlist reeks of pretension.

  • Knative | February 22, 2013 4:19 PMReply

    How can you bring up Helen Hunt and not mention the tv movie where she jumped out the window because she tried drugs?

  • Zack | February 22, 2013 3:22 PMReply

    So the most embarrassing things on Jessica Chastain's resume are movies you spend most of the blurb complimenting? She's done pretty well for herself, I guess.

  • coke | February 22, 2013 4:07 PM


    I don't think you can possibly say anything bad about Chastain...

  • 64564 | February 22, 2013 3:20 PMReply

    I just saw Virtuosity a few days ago on HBO. Washington has been in much more generic, programmatic crap. It's deeply reflective of the 90s moment of virtual reality wonkiness, sure, but it's fucking fun, and pretty stylish -- in a corny way -- to boot. It's the most superficially embarrassing, and thus the easiest/most obvious pick for this list -- because of its datedness -- but, frankly, I think its more interesting as cinema (and cultural artifact) than the implausible, TV-drama-esque Flight. You'd rather watch The Preacher's Wife or John Q, I take it? Maybe Fallen

  • Sven | February 23, 2013 3:02 AM

    John Q.... Exactly!!

  • Zack | February 22, 2013 3:40 PM

    "Fallen" is redeemed for me by that scene with the demon body-jumping through the crowd and singing "Time is On My Side" line by line.

  • BEF | February 22, 2013 3:00 PMReply

    What? "Trancers" was a decent enough b movie and wasn't it her first role ever (which is an exclusion on others on this list). I actually think the story idea, time travel through blood ancestry would make for a decent update with a budget. "Pay it Forward" is way more embarrassing, because there's a budget and "prestige" that is entirely misspent and maybe has the silliest love story of anything that isn't "The Sapphires".

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