Even great actresses make bad movies
The actresses celebrated in these pages share many grand, thespic traditions with classic screen queens of yore, including a tendency to turn in the occasional thwackingly bad performance. As Kate Hepburn had A Woman Rebels, Bette Davis had The Bride Came C.O.D., and Joan Crawford had everything after What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, so do our modern greats have their lapses. Prime candidates to strike from the resume:
Angela Bassett Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)
Two years after her breakthrough as Tina Turner, Bassett found herself in an Elvira fright wig as Eddie Murphy’s half-vampire quarry. ”That part of me must die!” she moans. She’s probably still moaning it.
Glenn Close Maxie (1985)
Quick: It’s 1985 and you’re casting for a timid secretary possessed by the spirit of a 1920s flapper. Goldie Hawn, maybe? Sorry, you’re stuck with Close, who is to screwball comedy what Arnold Schwarzenegger is to ballet.
Jodie Foster Svengali (1983)
Stranded between tough-youth roles and the finesse that came with 1988’s The Accused, an awkward, callow Foster mangles the part of a singer turned schlock-pop star by vocal guru Peter O’Toole.
Holly Hunter Crash (1997)
In a movie shocking in theory and numb in the telling, the actress zombotically plays a physician sexually turned on by car pileups. Wrong turn.
Jennifer Jason Leigh The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
The most mannered of modern actresses, Leigh usually catches fire, but sometimes she’s all wet. Her hard-boiled reporter in this Coen brothers oddity stands as the worst performance Katharine Hepburn never gave.
Julia Roberts Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
The conceit of this Woody Allen cringe-fest is that ordinary (rich) people can break into musical numbers. But Roberts is hardly ordinary — until she tunelessly warbles ”All My Life.”
Sigourney Weaver Half Moon Street (1986)
Harvard-educated Middle East expert? High-priced London call girl? Even Weaver can’t figure out who she’s playing here. Still, if you’ve ever wanted to see the actress riding topless on an exercise bike while answering film trivia, have we got a movie for you.