On Sunday, Hollywood will shell out Oscars to recognize the actors, actresses and movies who do the best job at promoting their Oscar-worthiness. Oh, all right. The Oscars probably identify some of the best performances and some of the best film-making over the course of the night, too.
There are names that are synonymous with film acclaim. Relatively contemporary ones include Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Kate Winslet, Daniel Day-Lewis, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, even Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Beyond racking up nominations and sometimes wins, these names and others like them are usually reliable indicators that the movie they are in is decent. They can't all be Sophie's Choice or Forrest Gump, but you can also trust that you won't catch Kate Winslet running around screaming in Scream 5.
Then there is another set of actors and actresses. The set I'm referring to boasts the distinct dishonor of tending to be associated with movies that are, well, bad to awful. In fact, these actors and actresses have been in so many bad-to-awful movies that their name on the marquee has become a shorthand for a bad review, a rotten tomato, or a blinking light saying "don't waste your money on this one."
Below are the actors I'd put in this less distinguished category. I've taken the reality television stars, musicians, and supermodels out of the mix, because that's just too obvious and too easy. On Friday, I will identify the five lucky actresses fit to be pegged here.
Luke Wilson: If he's part of an ensemble cast, hopefully one including his brother Owen, you can be somewhat assured that the movie will be somewhat entertaining. I'm thinking here, of course, of The Royal Tenenbaums and Old School. Even Legally Blonde, where he was a background-type. But if Luke has to carry the picture? Oh, boy. That's when you get movies like My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Super no.
Shia LaBeouf: This kid took a popular series and a cultural classic, respectively, and managed to tarnish each of their reputations. He played the young version of the titular character in Indiana Jones And The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull, which went on to be ranked by some as the most disappointing movie ever released. He also had the lead in the equally-disappointing sequel to Wall Street. Basically, he makes you feel like you've wasted your time when you try to spell his name correctly.
Nicolas Cage: Poor Nicolas Cage. He won an Oscar back in 1996 for his performance as a suicidal alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas. Now he can't get anyone in Hollywood to buy him a drink. At least, not the right people. Dogged by money problems thanks to his lavish spending habits, he is now seemingly compelled to take whatever bad role is offered to him. I mean, I think most people believe that Gone in Sixty Seconds is the description of his 21st century movie career, and that National Treasure is some kind of desperate subliminal message.
Gerard Butler: Now we're really getting to the cream of this crop. Mr. Butler got some acclaim thanks to 300, but I think that was mostly because people love to watch large batches of other people die in technicolor. He managed to follow that success up with the likes of P.S. I Love You, which single-handedly knocked Hilary Swank's career off the Oscar track, and The Bounty Hunter, which managed to make us all wonder if we'd actually been giving Jennifer Aniston too much credit.
Josh Duhamel: But lovely Josh Duhamel really takes the cake. He's easy on the eyes and hard on the conscience, as we all know the authorities allow him to go home with Fergie every night. I'm not sure he's ever been in a remotely decent movie. His newest release, Safe Haven, kind of epitomizes his entire career. He plays a stereotypical heartthrob-in-lumberjack's clothing in a stereotypical coastal village who sweeps a stereotypical damsel in distress off her stereotypical uneven footing. The movie comes complete with a save-the-damsel-from-a-raging-fire-scene. And lines like "I've had things happen to me in the past, things that still scare me," and "there's no safer place for you than here with me."
Who would you add or subtract? And who would you award with the title of Best Indication The Movie Will Be Bad?