October 12, 2006
Bad Actors' Citizen Kane performances
So, Cheesehead Craig and I were discussing the merits of Arnold Schwarzenegger a few weeks ago, when I remarked that one of his movies under discussion was his Citizen Kane. In other words, it was his crowning achievement as an actor. This probably isn't saying much, since Arnold has never been an Oscar caliber actor, but there are a ton of bad actors that have actually put in a decent performance at least once. Maybe more than once. So, without further ado, I present to you a list of bad actors' "Citizen Kane" performances. You may choose to argue, but really, this is the definitive list so don't bother.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
Nominations: True Lies, Junior, Total Recall
Arnold's Citizen Kane: Junior in a landslide
I am of the opinion that Arnold should have received at least an Oscar nomination for his role in Junior as a pregnant man. Fantastic job. Note that the Terminator movies are not even nominated. Not too tough for Arnold to play a robot. I mean, he could have spiced it up a bit by shedding a tear or something.
- Steven Seagal
Nominations: Under Siege, Hard to Kill, Executive Decision
Steven's Citizen Kane: Executive Decision
Never has the phrase "less is more" had such meaning. Seagal is in Executive Decision for about 15 minutes, but in those 15 minutes ... POWER. When you first see him you say, "Cool! Steven Seagal." But then he is dead before you know it. And he sacrifices himself! Hand that man an Oscar! Under Siege is a close second but only because of Erika Eleniak.
- Jean-Claude Van Damme
Nominations: Bloodsport, Timecop, Double Impact
Jean-Claude's Citizen Kane: Bloodsport
Oh yes. You remember being a little kid when this movie came out and saying, "This is what I want to do with my life. I shall train and become champion of the Kumite, the ultimate martial arts tournament." Why can't you admit it? There was little doubt after I saw this movie that I would grow up to kick some ass. It is too bad my dreams did not come true. At least I still have Jean-Claude's stellar performance in Bloodsport.
- Patrick Swayze
Nominations: Ghost, Dirty Dancing, Red Dawn, Point Break
Patrick's Citizen Kane: this is tough, but it has to be Red Dawn
Here is another movie that shaped much of my childhood. I can freely admit it. Seriously, if Russians ever attacked America this would be the blueprint for their ultimate defeat! If I had a dollar for every time I stood on top of a hill with a fake gun shouting "Wolverines!" ... well I would have at least $20! Point Break is a close second only because of the awesomeness of having Keanu Reeves in the same movie as Patrick Swayze. Remember? Keanu played a cop that tried to infiltrate surfer culture to catch a bunch of bank robbers dressed as ex-presidents. Keanu, who seems to be a total nimrod, played a cop pretending to be a surfer! How can that be topped? Note that Keanu is not a part of this list. He gets an automatic "Get Out of Jail Free" card for The Matrix. This is not up for debate.
- Wesley Snipes
Nominations: Demolition Man, White Men Can't Jump, Passenger 57, the video for "Bad"
Wesley's Citizen Kane: Demolition Man
This movie was awesome and Snipes played a homicidal lunatic almost too well. Plus, again, it combined his acting with Sylvester Stallone proving the mathematical equation a negative multiplied by a negative equals a positive! The video for "Bad" was a close second, but come on, Wesley was just perfecting his craft there. He didn't reach the pinnacle until Demolition Man. (Although his line in Passenger 57, "Always bet on black!" is worthy of at least a tip o' the cap.)
- Sylvester Stallone
Nominations: Rocky, Rambo, Tango and Cash, Judge Dredd
Sylvester's Citizen Kane: Duh. Rocky
I almost didn't include this one because it is really too obvious. I mean, I could have said Judge Dredd, but then no one would take this list seriously at all, and I've really put a lot of thought into it. Check out this fact about Rocky and Stallone:
Sylvester Stallone becomes the third person to be nominated [for an Oscar] for both acting and writing in the same year, following Charles Chaplin for The Great Dictator (1940) and Orson Welles for Citizen Kane (1941).
In other words, if you have some sort of tie to Citizen Kane, the movie in question is your "Citizen Kane." I think this is a fair rule.
So, there you have it. A bunch of bad actors and their very own "Citizen Kane" performances. You can try to argue with me, but it would be pointless. Have a good one!
Posted by snackeru at October 12, 2006 6:00 AM
WOLVERINES!!! As soon as I hear the words "red" and "dawn" mentioned anywhere together, this is exactly what goes through my mind. It really is a powerful movie. The scene with the Russians lining up the townsfolk and executing them was tough to watch when I first saw it. A true classic in every sense of the word.
I would have to argue that Arnold was better in True Lies than in Junior. Perhaps the magnificient performance of Tom Arnold brought out the best in Schwarzenegger, but he was great in that movie. And of course we all know that Stallone's best, and also un-appreciated. performance was in Judge Dredd. It really was too bad that we saw this epic motion picture after we had film appreciation together!
Curt in Grand Forks
Posted by: Curt Hanson at October 11, 2006 5:51 PM
Tango & Cash - oh how I detest that movie.
Posted by: bjhess at October 11, 2006 6:53 PM
Red Dawn rules all.
Sorry but I have to throw my Arnie vote to Total Recall.
Agree with every thing else
Posted by: freealonzo at October 11, 2006 10:08 PM
During our discussion, I forgot to bring up Kindergarten Cop for Ahnold. The scene where he knocks out the abusive father is awesome! Plus, any movie where a 5 yr old keeps saying "Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina" is a winner!
Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at October 12, 2006 9:30 AM
how about John Cusak??
His Citizen Kane: High Fidelity... Love most of Cusaks movies, but this one truly rocked. Honorable mentions (Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer, Ice Harvest)
The two he should have never made: Con-Air (Nic Cage and Cusack sold out!!) and Being John Malkovich (creepy... awful!!)
Posted by: zooomx at October 13, 2006 10:58 AM
There are several problems with this list. First of all, "Citizen Caine" is a terrific movie. NONE of the movies on this list can hold a candle to it.
Take for example "Junior". The movie is HORRIBLE!!! It may be Arnold's best acting, but it doesn't make the movie any more tolerable.
Most of the movies on this list are the same. "Red Dawn"? Why don't you tell Swayzee to kill himself if that is the best he can offer? Wesley Snipes can just hang his head in shame knowing the "Demolition Man" was his best effort. (He doesn't even get props for "Blade"...)
I'll give you "Rocky" as Stallone's Citizen Cane because it has parallels. Early in his career and he wrote it, plus it is a decent movie. It was all down hill fast from there.
No comment on "Bloodsport", although Jean-Claude did go down hill fast from there too. It just wasn't too big a hill.
Posted by: DouglasG at October 13, 2006 12:56 PM
I like this idea, and am happy to add a few more nominations to the list:
Bad Performances - Little Nicky, Happy Gilmore, Anger Management
"Citizen Kane" Moment - Spanglish
I am by no means an Adam Sandler fan, nor am I a DVD collector - you can count the number of DVDs I 'own' using single digits. But I have a copy of Spanglish. He plays a truly decent guy stuck with the challenge of 'doing the right thing' in about four or five different ways. And he gets additional props for letting himself 'chub out' enough so that he actually looks like a guy who'd make a sandwich with an entire egg and half a container of bacon for himself in the middle of the night.
Bad Performances: Top Gun, The Doors, Heat, Red Planet, Batman Forever, The Ten Commandments: The Musical (really! he plays Moses)
"Citizen Kane" Moment: Real Genius
It launched his career, and made science geeks sexy. His turn in "Willow" is also notable as the answer to the question, "What would happen if you took Han Solo out of 'Star Wars' and put him into 'Lord of the Rings'?"
Bad Performances: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy
"Citizen Kane" moment: "The Game" episode from 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'
Pushing it, but as with Kilmer's moment, I figured I'd go with one that gave hope to science geeks everywhere. If you need further evidence that Judd belongs on this list, note that all of her scenes in 'Natural Born Killers', itself a pretty sucky film, were deleted before release.
Besides, it beats going with Erika Eleniak and trying to justify the "Playboy Video Playmate Calendar 1991" as a "Citizen Kane" moment...
Posted by: David Wintheiser at October 13, 2006 4:09 PM
Sandra Bullock -------------------------------
Horrible movie. Stallone was bad, but Bullock? She was a show stopper. First time I saw her in a movie. It had me talking. It had me saying, "who is that talentless hack?"
Posted by: SBG at October 14, 2006 9:02 AM
That should be Demolition Man. I got so worked up about Bullock that I misspelled the title of the movie.
Posted by: SBG at October 14, 2006 9:03 AM
I have to admit I'm not completely familiar with Patrick Swayze's oeuvre, but I have to give him the nod in Donnie Darko, as a creepy motivational speaker.
Posted by: Tim at October 16, 2006 10:01 AM
If you'r including Val Kilmer than you can't overlook his role as Gay Perry in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He really was good in that role. Really.
Posted by: freealonzo at October 16, 2006 10:24 AM
Speaking of Being John Malkovich, I love that move.
Oh, and everyone go see "The Departed."
Posted by: bjhess at October 16, 2006 11:33 AM
I agree with zoom: Being John Malkovich was a pretty awful movie. Just plain too weird.
But I don't know if I'd put Cusak in the same category as these other actors. I was really going for overblown, tough guy types of which I think Arnold is the epitome.
Posted by: Shane at October 16, 2006 4:52 PM