These actors were given major opportunities to breakout this year, headlining their own films, TV series, or potential franchises, but they failed miserably. Check out their foibles and the prospects that might redeem them.
Ever since a dorky Jew by the name of Shia Labeouf stumbled through an action movie called Transformers, this fiery vixen has been living in his metallic shadow. Last year, she attempted to break free with a supporting role in the horrifically adapted novel How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, but that tanked. Her breakout role, however, was supposed to be full-proof. Diablo Cody plus nudity plus the horror comedy genre had to equal major hit, right? Negative. Not only were critics thoroughly unimpressed with Cody’s second writing credit, but even teenagers didn’t flock to theaters to see the Fox in all her glory.
Second Shot: She just finished filming a second fiddle role to Josh Brolin in the mystical Western Jonah Hex. She’s currently filming Passion Play with Mickey Rourke, playing a gangster-controlled angel. Soon she’ll shoot the crime thriller The Crossing, about a couple that get mixed up in drug trafficking during their Mexican vacation.
After graduating with honors from “Gilmore Girls,” the only surefire role she had was in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants saga. She branched out this year with starring roles in The Good Guy and Post Grad, both of which were released as indies and practically ignored by everyone.
Second Shot: She’ll co-star with Robin Wright Penn, James McAvoy, Evan Rachel Wood, and Justin Long in The Conspiracy, a drama about the trial for Abraham Lincoln’s assassination conspirators. If she can manage to shine here and catch the eye of a director in search of a muse, then maybe she won’t have to return to TV…not that that would be such a bad idea.
After co-starring as a major douche in the surreal indie The Chumscrubber and playing Tom Cruise’s stubborn, battle-bound son in War of the Worlds, he had his first starring role in 2007's mystery thriller The Invisible. Despite its box office failure, he managed to secure a leading role in the adaptation of Dragonball: Evolution, disregarding the fact that the lead character in the famous Japanese animation is Asian. Failure was imminent after the first wave of online disapproval rolled in. It was pretty much official once everyone saw the trailer, complete with a ridiculous excuse for a villain.
Second Shot: He’s about to start shooting the indie drama Riding the Pine with Matt Long (“Jack & Bobby”) and Jaime King. I doubt it’ll lead to anything major, but maybe he’ll finally display some acting chops.
Finally ending her arc on “Smallville” (and freeing us from ever having to hear her scream for Clark again), she became free to start her film career. Unfortunately, it ended almost as quickly as it started. The trailer for Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li looked relatively good. Her combat skills were impressive for someone who had been playing a damsel in distress for almost a decade. However, all of the other actors were really bad. In fact, each of them deserves their own Razzie. I guess playing a stereotypical Asian isn’t always full-proof.
Second Shot: She just wrapped the religious ABC miniseries “Ben Hur.” She’ll play the leprosy afflicted sister of the title character, who gets cured by Jesus. Hopefully, it’ll cleanse her of her previous sins against celluloid.
He's a really funny guy, which you can tell by the content of his hit Comedy Central TV show “Important Things with Demetri Martin.” Unfortunately, he wasn’t funny enough to attract viewers to watch Ang Lee’s recreation of a seminal music experience in the adaptation of Elliot Tiber’s novel Taking Woodstock. Despite Lee’s track record, fans were uninterested and critics were unimpressed.
Second Shot: He'll costar in a comedy he wrote called Will, about a guy who must live an unscripted life after the scribe who used to write his every move quits. Then he'll star in another comedy he wrote called Moon People, where a team that colonized the moon return to Earth.
With the success of “Glee” and the popularity of dance films like Step Up, the film was expected to sweep the box office. The cast, by association, should’ve had their breakout moments, impressing the masses with their singing and dancing abilities. But anyone who heard the soundtrack knew that they could pass for everyday Popstars, but they’re no “Glee.”
Second Shot: • Naturi Naughton will appear in the dramedy Highland Park with Danny Glover, the ghetto comedy Lottery Ticket with Bow Wow, and the coming-of-age drama Four to the Floor.
• Former CW star Kay Panabaker (“Summerland”) will appear in the indie drama The Lake Effect and the horror thriller The Disembodied.
• Collins Pennie is rumored to be cast in the crime thriller Criminal Empire for Dummies, which also stars Chris Evans, Rachel Bilson, and Harvey Keitel.
• Walter Perez is rumored to be appearing in the Catherine Hardwicke-directed adaptation of Hamlet, starring Emile Hirsch.
• Anna Maria Perez de Tagle has a part in the Disney musical Camp Rock: The Final Jam, the adaptation of Reno Ursal’s dramatic novel A Forgotten Innocence, and the sports dramedy Bleachers.
The charismatic charmer debuted his dimples on “Gilmore Girls,” and even tried to sweet talk his way into Lyla’s heart using God on “Friday Night Lights.” Attempting to segue into feature films, he starred in the misogynistic comedy I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, which should've been straight-to-DVD.
Second Shot: Luckily, he’s secured a role on the hit CBS drama “The Good Wife,” playing an obnoxious, opportunistic junior attorney.
She had a real shot at headlining her own series. She’s blonde, beautiful, and a fresh face. Unfortunately, no one was interested in the hard life of a model, so “The Beautiful Life” wad doomed from the start.
Second Shot: She’s rumored to be starring in the horror romance Emma of Lulworth Cove.
I was so bummed when his NBC series “Kings” was cancelled and his mischievous character on “Gossip Girl” just turned to crap. His film record isn’t too impressive either, having starred as the power-hungry villain in The Covenant, the little-watched indie drama The Education of Charlie Banks, and the practically ignored Ashton Kutcher indie Spread.
Second Shot: He just wrapped the John Cusack comedy Hot Tub Time Machine. He’s currently filming the Natalie Portman-driven dramatic thriller Black Swan. And soon he’ll start filming the horror thriller The Apparition.
DIMINISHING STAR POWER
These actors have already had their shot in the limelight, but they've been having a little trouble maintaining the glow. Was their latest film the last nail in their professional coffin, or can they win us over again?
The rugged Brit had a lucky streak ever since he played the title character in King Arthur. He followed it up with the critically approved Closer and Sin City, wavered a bit with Derailed, and then rebounded with his official breakout roles in Inside Man and Children of the Men. You could say he peaked too soon in 2006, since what followed were a number of box office duds that continue even now in 2009: Shoot ‘Em Up, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The International, and Duplicity. But given the critical praise for his most recent film, the Australian dramatic indie The Boys Are Back, maybe his cold streak is on its way to heating up.
Up next: He’s currently filming the David Schwimmer-directed (Run Fat Boy Run) pedophile drama Trust with Catherine Keener (Where the Wild Things Are) and Viola Davis (Doubt); he’s rumored to have a role in the upcoming Sinatra biopic; and plans for an Inside Man sequel are underway.
Ever since his breakout role in Knocked Up, there was no escaping this Frat Pack alum, whether he was taking bit roles in Superbad, Step Brothers, and Fanboys, or voice roles in The Spiderwick Chronicles, Horton Hears a Who!, and Kung Fu Panda. But just when we thought he hit his stride with Pineapple Express, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and Funny People, the only box office coup he had this year was Monsters vs. Aliens.
Up Next: He’ll voice the only animated character in the alien comedy Paul, and continue voicing a character in the Kung Fu Panda sequel, subtitled The Kaboom of Doom. But he hasn’t given up on live action just yet. Not only will he star alongside James McAvoy in the comedy I’m with Cancer, which sounds like a lighter version of Funny People, he’ll fearlessly star and co-write the comic book adaptation of The Green Hornet, potentially revamping everyone’s perception of him as a leading man.
The last time I laughed at something Will Ferrell did was in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and that was barely. His best film is actually Stranger Than Fiction, but even that was three years ago. He’s been spiraling down ever since, running the sports-related comedy genre into the ground with Blades of Glory and Semi-Pro. And then he officially murdered any chemistry he had with John C. Reilly in Step Brothers, resulting in his reinitiation into the genre that officially launched his career when Elf hit theaters: family comedies. Unfortunately, that mutated into Land of the Lost, which is rated lower on RT then both Bewitched and Hot Rod. That’s low. I personally think the worst movie he did all year was The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, which was the most excruciatingly corny and unfunny pile of crap I've seen all year…and I saw All About Steve.
Up next: Starting the new decade off right, he’ll voice the villain in the animated anti-superhero comedy Megamind, alongside Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, and Jonah Hill (Superbad). Then he’ll play a detective in Talladega director Adam McKay’s comedy The Other Guys with Mark Wahlberg as his partner. It’s a truly start-studded cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Anne Heche, Steve Coogan, and Damon Wayans Jr (Dance Flick). Plus, there’s a chance an Anchorman sequel is on the horizon.
Normally comedians can control how funny they are by writing their own scripts. Nia scored big with her 2002 breakout hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It was genuine, it was from the heart, and it was a goldmine. But ever since then, she hasn’t been able to garner the same box office cache. Releasing two romantic comedy duds this year, My Life in Ruins and I Hate Valentine’s Day, she’s starting to seem like a one-trick pony.
Up Next: She’ll take a break from writing her own films and adapt Laura Zigman’s novel A Wilderness of Monkeys, which is about a former big-time publicist who has to return to work after her husband loses his job. There’s also a chance she could be remaking the 40s rom-com The Talk of the Town, where she’ll be at the center of a tumultuous love triangle concerning an escaped political prisoner and a stuffy law professor. Casting is everything, so hopefully she’ll get at least B-list actors to play her Romeos.
We could attribute Travolta’s current slump to the tragic and unfortunate passing of his son, but the truth is the veteran actor’s last hit was back in ’07 when he was barely recognizable in Hairspray. I think he needs to keep doing more transformational roles, like Johnny Depp and Daniel Day-Lewis. Unfortunately, instead we’ve gotten the worst villain he’s every played in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and the worst comedy he’s ever done, Old Dogs.
Up Next: Since the sequel to Wild Hogs was cancelled (thank god!), the only thing he has slated for next year is the action film From Paris with Love, where he plays an American spy trying to stop a terrorist act with the help of a diplomat (Jonathan Rhys Meyers from “The Tudors”).
It’s been a while since Eddie Murphy has grossed any major box office proceeds without the help of a giant green ogre. In fact, in the last decade, the only live action film he’s received any sort of accolades for was Dreamgirls, and he wasn’t even the star. I’m all for him returning to the grittier and more adult comedy/action career that we all loved watching him in.
Up Next: He’ll take a mini-break from the limelight and voice the doggie bff in Marmaduke. Then he’ll take a swing at drama with the legal indie Waska, playing a hard-hitting prosecutor after the negligent homicide of a young boy.
He had a bit of a hot-streak last year with Tropic Thunder, Kung Fu Panda, and Be Kind Rewind. Unfortunately, it ended abruptly when he did Year One. Apparently, prehistoric humor was deemed really, really unfunny this year.
Up Next: Things might pick-up with his upcoming adaptation Gulliver’s Travels, which also stars Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, and Amanda Peet. Plus, there’s the totally reliable sequel to Kung Fu Panda of which he is the star.
Oh this poor child has had quite the downfall after ditching “The O.C.” Someone should tell newbies, “Never jump ship before you’re due. It’s a curse!” I would love to say that she’s just a victim, but sometimes she picks really crappy movies. Virgin Territory, which for some bizarro reason also stars Hayden Christensen and Christopher Egan (“Kings”), and Homecoming were just shameful. But sometimes she picks winners. I’ll give her kudo points for St. Trinian’s and Assassination of a High School President, even though she wasn’t really the star of either. I’ll even pat her on the back for attempting a TV comeback with “The Beautiful Life.” Alas, no one else is eager to do the same.
Up Next: She’ll star in The Science of Cool, which seems like a lame version of Weird Science, and the indie Upstate with her fellow CWer Chace Crawford. Maybe the proximity will score her some brownie points with the teenagers of today.