Nathan: Angelina Jolie
I don’t care if she’s ruined Jennifer Aniston’s emotional life. What she does in her personal life is of no concern to me. In fact, I heartily approve of her romantic choice of Brad Pitt. But Jolie has two huge strikes against her that I can’t get past.
Strike one: her acting is, at best, serviceable. I know she won an Oscar for Girl, Interrupted, but beyond that performance I can’t think of many instances in which Jolie did much more than show up and put her figure on screen. You might argue for her turn in Salt, but that’s about as far as I’d let you go. She’s a screen presence, and not a very compelling one. And, subjective opinion here, I have a hard time finding myself attracted to someone with so many sharp angles.
The second strike: it’s hard to swallow the self-righteous vibe I get from her. I mean, In the Land of Blood and Honey? C’mon.
I don’t hate Jolie. I just don’t think I’ll ever really understand her stardom. Then again, I’ve never seen Tomb Raider.
Tyler: Helen Hunt
Mad About You served as a less-than-palatable on-deck circle for my beloved Friends throughout youth, but the distraction of Paul Reiser curtailed my notice of Helen Hunt’s screen-vacuum presence until her performance in James L. Brooks’s As Good As It Gets. I possess extreme sensitivity, as a medicated diagnosee, to cinematic portrayals of obsessive-compulsive disorder; that said, Jack Nicholson’s lead–for all his hackneyed, half-cocked avoidances of sidewalk cracks and the like, barking orders for Maryland crab legs or whatever the fuck–is the essence of amiability in contrast to Hunt’s sleepwalking, half-dead performance, culminating in what is possibly the worstly-crafted line of dialogue I’ve ever known, so much that it’s an inside joke between myself and friend of FR James. Hunt herself does not deliver it, but it somehow epitomizes everything bland and unoriginal about what her onscreen presence inspires.
“We’re goin’ out. Like people do.”
(P.S. – Lest we forget: “WHY CAN’T I JUST HAVE A NORMAL BOYFRIEND??”)
Travis: Michael Cera
If you would like to guarantee I will not watch a movie, cast Michael Cera, and that’ll just about do it.
Nathan: Ellen Page
She was good in Hard Candy. Then she played Juno in Juno. She’s been playing Juno ever since. Page has become to me what Michael Cera is to Travis. Fitting, isn’t it?
Tyler: Andie McDowell
I mean, yeah, at the end of the day, it’s only Four Weddings And A Funeral, but McDowell remains the single blight on the brilliant celestial surface of Groundhog Day, and this line reading is just about the worst delivery I have ever, ever seen. (More than once, mind you. I’m a big fan of Four Weddings.)
Lord. Watching that clip for the first time in years, it only gets worse. “No. I might drown…but otherwise no.” Andie McDongParty, everybody.
Travis: Anna Gunn
Perhaps it’s just the thankless nature of the roles she winds up playing, but Anna Gunn is the worst part of two of the greatest shows in television history, Deadwood and Breaking Bad. Being pissed about Skyler White being on screen doesn’t make me a misogynist; it makes me human.
Nathan: Keanu Reeves
It is not a good thing when the high point of your career is playing Ted Theodore Logan.
Maybe if he got more roles in drug-related films that covered him in rotoscope animation. That might help.
Tyler: Kathy Bates
Hand to God, I have immense respect for Kathy Bates. As a woman of figure not generally worthy of Hollywood consumption, she’s carved out a career for herself that’s led to untoward critical admiration. But I cannot help it–I always see the strings. Even in Misery, her actorial magnum opus, each line falls on my ears as if I’m seated at a table reading; her “bravura” performance as Molly Brown in Titanic–a film that I greatly admire–feels as authentic to me as some kind of CGI human interpretation. Good on Kathy for a grand career, but the lady can’t manage more than a monotone for me. See: Primary Colors and The Late Shift; see: no veritable difference at all.
Travis: John Krasinski
The UK version of The Office is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, and the love story at its center was a large part of why. That same love story, translated into ‘Merican, is ruined by the “one indie dude in the frat” vibe given off by John Krasinski as Jim. It makes the show nearly unwatchable as a result.
Nathan: Adam Sandler
When he wants to – and he doesn’t seem to want to often – Sandler can be a charming, if semi-retarded, screen presence. In Punch-Drunk Love, 50 First Dates, and even in Mr. Deeds, that awful remake of Frank Capra’s great film, Sandler has shown that he could take his man-child routine beyond the rote litany of gross-out jokes and ethnic stereotypes. Heck, in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan Sandler brought the crazy to one of the zanier political comedies in recent years. It is a grand shame, then, that he insists on involving himself in crap like Jack and Jill and Click. I don’t want to get anywhere near That’s My Boy.
I know the kids like him, but I’m not a kid anymore.
Tyler: Kate Hudson
This is a tough one. Kate Hudson’s performance in Almost Famous, one of my absolute favorite life-affirming films of all time, is impeccable. The pain of Penny Lane, deceived by those she adores, adoring those who reject her, that immaculate sequence wherein she skates on rosepetals across an abandoned ballroom floor–it is an impeccable performance, for which she absolutely deserved the Oscar she was given in its regard.
Sigh. Don’t ask. Just…don’t.
Travis: Zach Braff
Braff takes everything I don’t like about Krasinski and multiplies it by a factor of ten. Other people have made fun of him to a far greater extent than I ever could; let’s just say he has the most punchable face in the world of film and television and leave it at that. Oh, and he’s a director too! Death.
Nathan: Katherine Hepburn
The high-toned East Coast accent (and all the proper breeding behind it), the face made of forty-five degree angles, the kind of political correctness that makes me want to puke.
I know my boy John Ford had a thing for her, but Katherine Hepburn is the one “great” screen actress I can’t abide.
Tyler: Robert Wuhl
Robert Wuhl features with relative prominence in one of my most beloved pictures, Bull Durham. It has nothing to do with his hilariously-hated HBO vehicle Arli$$ (see what they did there, with the dollar signs??), but rather something regarding his onscreen persona. It makes my bicuspids grate on end. It drives me to fits, even as he’s assaying to perfection the myriad issues of his team’s ballplayers at the mound (“Candlesticks always make a nice gift.”). Just…something about the guy…I just…AAUGH. Sorry, Robert Wuhl. At least Will Ferrell, as Elton John, rewrote “Rocket Man” to commemorate your existence. No, it’s not available online. I tried.
Travis: Meryl Streep
Maybe I’m completely missing something, but the renowned greatest actress in the history of ever doesn’t do a single thing for me. She probably wouldn’t even make this list but for the amount she’s overpraised, but the overpraise is enough to vault her to number one. From her “brilliance with accents” that all sound the same to me to her tampon-in-the-wrong-hole way of showing anguished emotion, Meryl Streep does nothing but rub me the wrong way. Even she didn’t think she deserved the Oscar for The Iron Lady.