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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 Supporting Actress

Amy Adams - "Leap Year"
Pretty much anyone in their right mind is a fan of Amy Adams, and after Oscar nominations for "Junebug" and "Doubt," and the success of "Enchanted," she was finally given the opportunity to lead her own romantic comedy, something you'd think would be a natural fit for the actress. Unfortunately, even her charms couldn't save "Leap Year," a toxically laugh-free romantic comedy that proved an unhappy vehicle for the actress. Adams plays Anna, who, fed up with her boyfriend's (Adam Scott) reticence to propose, heads to meet him in Dublin to propose to him on February 29th. Even putting aside the awful, sexist overtones of the premise (it's the 21st century, women can propose whenever they want, hell, they might not even want to get married), the film, directed by Anand Tucker, is a train wreck, lurching between slapstick comedy and hand-wringing, tonally discordant drama, all set in a picture-postcard version of Ireland that seems determined to hit every outdated stereotype that you can imagine. Adams is fine, but the movie around her does no favors.

Sally Field - "Legally Blonde 2: Red White & Blonde"
Given that Sally Field essentially broke into movies thanks to "Smokey & The Bandit," it feels a little unfair to pick on those films, and much more fair to pick on "Legally Blonde 2: Red White & Blonde," a more recent, and much worse, crime. The quickie sequel to the 2001 comedy that made Reese Witherspoon's name, the film sees her girly lawyer Elle Woods fired from her job and heading to Washington to try to pass an anti-animal-testing law, initially aided, and later abetted, by Field's Congresswoman Victoria Rudd. Whatever charms the original had are greatly diminished the second time around, Witherspoon's performance more grating than sweet, and the plot virtually nonsensical (it's kicked into gear because Elle wants the mother of her gay dog to attend her wedding). Field doesn't help much either, basically sleepwalking through the film and proving to be a pretty unmemorable adversary. In fairness to Field, the film came at a point where it seems like she wasn't being offered many big-screen roles (it's the only one of much note between 2001's equally poor "Say It Isn't So" and last summer's "The Amazing Spider-Man") -- hopefully "Lincoln" will change that going forward.

Anne Hathaway - "Bride Wars"
Just as Anne Hathaway started to get real credit from those who'd previously doubted her, thanks to her Oscar-nominated performance in "Rachel Getting Married," she was hit by the worst film she's ever made (and yes, that includes "Alice In Wonderland" and "The Princess Diaries 2"). "Bride Wars" (which 20th Century Fox somehow managed to avoid calling "Bitches Be Crazy," to their credit) sees Hathaway and Kate Hudson as life-long best friends Emma and Liv, who've been pretty much obsessed with weddings since childhood. They finally get engaged, and are able to book their dream venues a few weeks apart, but due to a clerical error, discover that they've actually been booked on the same day, with neither willing to give in, kicking off an escalating war of attrition. The incredibly mean-spirited and unfunny film manages to bring out the most unlikable aspects of its otherwise charming stars, the very concept of weddings turning two otherwise normal women into furious enemies. A couple of years later, "Bridesmaids" showed that you could tackle this kind of subject matter without being incredibly sexist; as it is, "Bride Wars" may have served as Hathaway's "Norbit" during her first Oscar run, with Kate Winslet ultimately taking the prize (for "The Reader," a film that's arguably actually worse than "Bride Wars"). Good thing a sequel wasn't coming out this January...

Helen Hunt - "Trancers"
Every actor and actress has an early skeleton in the closet -- a cheap action or horror movie that can be dragged up and made fun of once they've moved up to bigger and better things. In Helen Hunt's case, that's "Trancers," a super low-budget film borrowing heavily from "Blade Runner," "The Terminator" and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Starring the clearly-too-old-for-the-part Tim Thomerson as Jack Deth, a police detective in the year 2247 who travels back to 1985, taking over the body of his ancestor, to track down an evil genius who can turn other people into "trancers" -- zombies, it's a very silly (but just self-aware enough) B-movie with a ridiculously complex plot, and more imagination than money. Hunt plays Leena, an unconvincing punk rocker whose boyfriend Phil is Jack's ancestor, and she gets to kick some ass, and generally do none of the things we associate with the actress. Five sequels of diminishing returns followed, but Hunt only made it to the second one, which was probably for the best.

Ineligible: Three of the acting nominees have, so far, managed to escape the curse of the paycheck role. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" marks nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis's first film, so she's not had the opportunity to do much else yet, though there's the worrying prospect of her starring role in the "Annie" remake on the horizon. Australian actress Jacki Weaver has been a theater actress for the bulk of her career, and while her American roles to date haven't always top-of-the-tree, she's mostly chosen wisely (though upcoming horror "Haunt" is more concerning). And from what we're aware of Emmanuelle Riva's career, the actress doesn't seem to have taken anything particularly awful, though our Gallic readers may put us straight on that one.

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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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