Actors are the most important people on the planet, said a jovial Ricky Gervais upon a Golden Globe stage once. This list attempts to focus on the important people transgressing to the realm of unimportance, donning a deeply distressing hat, that of a director and remarkably missing the point. The hits, are a lovelier list, the misses, not so much. Here are the 10 worst movies by actor turned directors.
10. The Bling Ring (2013), Sofia Coppola
Remember Sofia Coppola in the least liked Godfather movie? I do, and it is that remnant of a memory along with several insignificant others that qualifies the director of ‘Lost in Translation’ for this list. ‘The Bling Ring’ is bad, amateurish and attempts to make a watchable film about confused teenagers going glorified shoplifting. Coppola would certainly want to be remembered for better.
9. Leatherheads (2008), George Clooney
George Clooney’s superstardom and charm often dissuades the movie goer from witnessing the man bloom upon the spring of moviedom. The hallmark of an actor, so ungenerously remembered despite several strong turns, and some particularly unforgettable ones, was to adopt his several other passions, with equal, if not greater aplomb. The crisply edited Good Night and Good Luck, documenting the tussles between journalism’s Babe Ruth Ed Murrow and the Communist Cleanser Senator McCarthy was critically acclaimed, received well by audiences and a firm reinstatement of the believe that Clooney might indeed be showtime’s Midas. ‘Leatherheads’, about John Krasinki’s charm as Carter Rutherford and Clooney’s dogged determinism as Dodge Connelly attempting to vitalize America’s pro-football league in 1925, was far from a touchdown.
8. Rules Don’t Apply (2016), Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty is timeless. The man has talents too many and a filmography worth preserving every reel of. Up until 2016 that was, which seems like the annus horribilis for actors turned directors.. There is but love for almost every time Beatty donned the directors hat, and a not so subtle bow in admiration to the masterful Reds, but his attempt at telling Howard Hughes’ story in ‘Rules Don’t Apply’ is neither memorable, nor mildly engaging. Cinema needs Beatty, but this particular creeper in an admirable garden of storytelling definitely deserves its weeding out by the sands of time.
7. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014), Kenneth Brannagh
If you’re a fan of Shakespeare and the way in which the bard finds himself manifested with painstaking detail on the silver screen, you shall have heard of Kenneth Brannagh the director, and Kenneth Brannagh, the actor, in equally respectable terms. His 2014 foray into the “Spooks and Nukes” genre of filmmaking with Jack Ryan remains firmly a one-time watch, even in its finest moments. The evil men do lives on, the good is oft interred with their bones. And we hope Brannagh isn’t remembered for ‘Jack Ryan’.
6. In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011), Angelina Jolie
Jolie’s donned the directorial hat a few times with the recently released ‘Unbroken’ being neither unmissable nor unpardonable. However, the Academy Award winning actress turned up a remarkably disappointing turn at the director’s chair with 2011’s In the Land of Blood and Honey. Set during the Bosnian War, the film attempts to do what all war films attempt to do, highlight the sensitivities of a conflict zone and how humanity comes to a crossroads when surrounded by weapons. The film fails in the same way that the other war movies do, stretch a narrative in a unidimensional manner, exploiting the biases one side of the coin brings unto itself. ‘In the Land of Blood and Honey’ got caught, and Jolie must have contemplated a script overhaul once her cinematic vision was brought to the fore.
5. Inferno (2016), Ron Howard
In 2001, Ron Howard made ‘A Beautiful Life’. John Forbes Nash Jr, the Nobel Prize winning economist lived a life extraordinarily beautiful and Howard sketched on the cinematic canvas, a moving portrait of the man, played to poignant perfection by Russell Crowe, then at the peak of his powers. In 2016, he decided to do Inferno, an adaptation of a literary work so thoroughly unremarkable, the pages would have had little hope of being translated to meaningful moving pictures. Howard’s characters’ huff, puff, quote Dante whilst snuggling; taking a pickaxe to the hopes of moviegoers and to the charm of Italy. ‘Inferno’ deserves purgatory and is perhaps best enjoyed by eyeballs deep in muddy water, unbeknownst to the events on the screen.
4. Staying Alive (1983), Sylvester Stallone
Okay. The BeeGees are great. Saturday Night Fever was great. Sylvester Stallone wrote Rocky. And sometimes laurels are only worth the memories that they may remind you of. The greatest disappointment in this film was John Travolta, reprising his role as Tony Manero, finding a chisel to take to his physique and a blunt knife to his acting. ‘Staying Alive’, has no reasons to be brought up in a conversation about good cinema, and forgetting it was perhaps one of the nicer things movie watchers may accredit to themselves.
3. Filth and Wisdom (2008), Madonna
Madonna Louise Ciccone, for those who always wanted to know, has a Golden Globe for Best Actress sitting pretty in her trophy cabinet for the 1997 musical Evita. The woman has a fair talent for almost everything, well almost everything. Kind words are befitting to her musical prowess, which won her second Golden Globe for W.E., yet the lady never sat comfortably in the director’s chair, with three uninspiring credits. Between the devil and the deep blue sea, lies the caustic ‘Filth and Wisdom’, centered around the lives of three Londoners who were flat mates. There is little to save the film needs some divine intervention to be tolerated by a cinema loving soul. Like a prayer, perhaps.
2. Zoolander 2 (2016), Ben Stiller
Thoroughly enjoyable and an almost transgression belonging to the Adam Sandler school of filmmaking remain the polar extremes of the talent that is Ben Stiller. ‘Zoolander 2’, a sequel that history shall regard as an unnecessary one, was Stiller’s directorial disasterpiece. Poorly directed, poorly acted in, the film would be memorialized for vaulting Owen Wilson and Stiller comedy talents to be never be brought out during the course of the film. Some films are written as comedies only to be remembered as tragedies, and this joins that dreaded list.
1. The Last Face (2016), Sean Penn
Sean Penn’s biographer shall have the time of his life whenever he would have to script a superlative about the man. A two-time Academy Award winner (his shout-out to the maverick Mickey Rourke after his win in ‘Milk’ echoes around the Dolby Theatre as a charm riddled memory), Penn’s is no stranger to directorial mastery with the Indian Runner, The Pledge and 2007s ‘Into The Wild’ all seamed into a silken strand of fine cinema.
‘The Last Face’, however, merits little praise. Set in the humanitarian crisis of Africa, a cause the director’s activism would have him be no stranger to, The Last Face is an amateurish turn by Penn compounded by chalky performances from Charlize Theron and Javier Barden. A project that would have rattled the paper it was first conceived on, the reel was to sadly remained disaffected due to lackluster writing, acting and most important, an uninspiring turn by their star boy director.