By Sophie Vickers
There are good actors, and there are bad actors. There are good actors who, given the right role, can give perfect, faultless performances. And there are also good actors who, when miscast, can be absolutely diabolical.
Here’s my list of eight actors who have given brilliant performances in one or more films, and terrible ones in another.
The Good: The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Wes Anderson is the king of creating quirky film characters, and Gustave H from his latest film The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of the best to date. The sexually ambiguous, old lady seducing concierge is a somewhat different kind of character to Fiennes’ usual, but he plays him with perfection. Camp, charming and most importantly very very fun, I don’t think an actor has slotted into the world of Wes with this much ease since Bill Murray.
The Bad: The Harry Potter Series.
Lord Voldermort is one of pop culture’s supreme baddies, so it’s a shame that in the film adaptation Fiennes puts in such a limp performance. It’s rare to feel indifferent to a character so evil, yet his portrayal is neither sinister nor particularly scary. It probably doesn’t help that they allowed his to maintain that bizarre whisper voice throughout. He’s completely outshone in the Hogwarts villain league by Imelda Staunton’s excellent Professor Umbridge.
I’m no longer a teenager, but I think even when I’m eighty years old and hobbling round on a zimmer frame I’ll still be quoting Mean Girls. In the teen film genre, Regina George is something of an icon, and Mcadams plays her faultlessly. We’re used to the beautiful, blonde bitch in this sort of high school film, but there’s a bit more edge and a bit more depth to this character, and she’s enjoyable to watch throughout.
The Bad: The Vow.
I don’t know if it’s because I hold Regina George in such high regard as one of my favourite film characters of all time, but for some reason I always think Mcadams seems a bit miscast if she’s put in the role of a ‘nice’ person. I can just about stand her in About Time, but I find watching her almost unbearable when she plays romantic roles. The worst is probably The Vow, where she does little more than simper at Channing Tatum (a career low from him also) in a stupid girlie voice for the duration…… Irritating.
The Good: Les Miserables
Anne Hathaway won a best supporting actress Oscar for her role as troubled prostitute Fantine in musical Les Miserables, and it was one of the most deserving wins of that year. She must have been on screen for less than twenty minutes in all, yet she managed to shatter the hearts of many viewers in that small time, especially with her powerful snot-covered performance of I Dreamed A Dream where you could almost see her break. It was exceptional.
The Bad: One Day.
However, in One Day, she is one of the greatest miscasts I have ever, ever seen. And I’ve watched a lot of poor adaptations. One Day is easily up there in my favourite ever books, and the character of Emma is a brilliant one. The Leeds lass is sparky, funny and lovely and it was absolute awful watching Hathaway butcher her with hardly any likability and a frankly appalling Yorkshire accent. The film would have been so much better if they just went a little smaller.
The Good: Fight Club.
We all enjoy Brad Pitt in Fight Club (and not just because of his penchant for taking his top off, though it does help) and this character perfectly brings to the front the sex appeal that helped make him the star he is today, as well as showing that he can actually act.
The Bad: Troy.
Whereas with Troy, he pretty much doesn’t act at all. Instead, we seem to spend hours watching him little more than stand on cliffs and stare moodily into the distance. Pouting. Actually pouting. I don’t know who Okayed this but it should not have been allowed to happen.
Natalie Portman is my favourite actress on earth and I love her almost as much as life itself. There are so many brilliant performances of here: Leon, Garden State, V For Vendetta and Closer to name a few, but I’ve chosen her Oscar winning turn as unhinged ballerina Nina in Black Swan as the film that shows of her skills best. She was a dead cert for the win that year, and it’s easy to see why; she’s completely enthralling in the role and you could watch her for hours, days, without getting bored.
The Bad: No Strings Attached.
Which is why it pains me to bring this up, but I can’t deny the, well, crap-ness that was No Strings Attached. I don’t like Romcom’s at the best of times, and I particularly don’t enjoy ones featuring Ashton Kutcher, but my love of Portman led to watching this film. An error. I do however think that it proves as a good example that comedy actors are a bit overrated; she sort of proves that no matter how good you are dramatically, comedy timing is something that’s seemingly as difficult to get right. I still love her though.
The Good: The Departed.
The Departed is a film brimming with brilliant performances (we can all just forget about Ray Winstone and that accent) and Mark Wahlberg’s supporting turn as a grouchy, sweary detective is one of the best. Some of his lines are gold, and he sinks his teeth into every single one, delivering them with venom.
The Bad: The Happening.
I don’t know why or how this film even happened, all I know is that it was a mistake for everyone involved. The twist is trees killing people. Murderous trees. For real. Not only does it manage to be completely ludicrous yet ridiculously boring at the same time, but it also manages to take perfectly capable actors and turn them into cardboard. Central couple Zooey Deschanel and Wahlberg are both brilliant in other roles, yet here every line seems stilted and forced, and there is absolutely no chemistry or connection between the pair.
A couple of years ago, if you’d told me Matthew McConaughey was going to win an Oscar I’d have probably (a little snobbishly, perhaps) laughed in your face. And if you told me I’d have been hoping to hard for him to win that Oscar, I’d never have believed you. But his performance in Dallas Buyers Club is absolutely brilliant, full of energy and character and I honestly don’t think any of us thought he had it in him. Hurray for the Mcconaissance.
The Bad: How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days.
How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days, or anything South of Dallas Buyers Club in his IMDB list, if we’re honest. After starring in one naff romcom after another for years, it was nice that he finally found a worthy screen partner in Jared Leto to show us that he’s capable of being more than an oily, tanned torso and a few slimy lines in a Southern accent. Much, much more.
The Good: Blue Valentine.
I am one of the many thousands of girls who is mentally in a long and happy relationship with Mr Gosling, however I do think that he’s much more than an extraordinarily pretty face. He’s been in some underrated but excellent films where he’s delivered some fine performances, whether he’s playing a lonely but loveable oddball in Lars and the Real Girl or a drug addicted teacher in Half Nelson (for which he received an Oscar nomination). My favourite though, is his role in Blue Valentine, where he and costar Michelle Williams must both play two roles: young, optimistic, dreamy lovers at the beginning of their relationship and a bitter, toxic couple who can barely stand to be around each other. This film is so good.
The Bad: Murder by Numbers.
Murder by Numbers should be so much more famous than it is. Starring a young Gos, Michael Pitt and Sandra Bullock, it’s a crime thriller that is unintentionally hilarious. And Gosling, as much as I love him, is just so bad in this. Everything about it screams cult film, from the horrible red leather and satin clothes he was to the scene where Sandra Bullock gets attacked by an actual monkey, and I don’t understand why it hasn’t been seen by more people. Though for Goslings sake, that’s probably a good thing.