1. Kristen Bell
Despite being the internet’s sloth-loving sweetheart, Kristen Bell has had a rough go of it in Hollywood. Her critically beloved Veronica Mars was mangled in its third season on its road to a painful cancellation (for a short-lived reality show about the Pussycat Dolls mind you). Outside of Veronica Mars, Bell has fared even worse. Pulse, Fanboys, Serious Moonlight, When in Rome, Safety Not Guaranteed, Big Miracle, Scream 4, Burlesque and You Again all were promising projects that never broke out and Movie 43 is one of the worst films ever made. She was in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Couples Retreat but didn’t have to do much as the uptight shrew those movies love to beat on. On TV, she joined the Party Down and Heroes wagons, which were stricken with smallpox (RIP Party Down), and her Gossip Girl character was a voiceover.
Bell will get another chance with the Veronica Mars movie, when a network can’t taketh away what it giveth. For all she’s been through, Kristen Bell deserves it.
2. Olivia Wilde
Whenever I’m having a bad day, I just think about Olivia Wilde, the funny, intelligent actress who must have upset a gypsy for all the bad luck she’s had. You’d think her life were Drag Me to Hell. The always working girl has been in Turistas, Alpha Dog, TRON: Legacy, The Next Three Days, Cowboys and Aliens, The Change-Up, The Words, Conversations with Other Women, People Like Us, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Deadfall, In Time, Butter, Year One, The Girl Next Door and the much-hyped, little seen The Black Donnellys. She has seven projects lined up right now and I’m nervous for every one of them. Remember what a big deal Cowboys and Aliens was supposed to be? I would say she must have done something terrible in a previous life, but she is engaged to Jason Sudeikis. It’s quite the consolation prize.
3. Halle Berry
I haven’t the foggiest idea who picks Halle Berry’s projects for her — or what her weaveologist can ever be thinking. A great rule of thumb for Berry is that the wackier the wig, the worse the film. In the past few years, Halle Berry has had terrible hair in Movie 43, The Call, Perfect Stranger, Catwoman, Dark Tide, and New Years’ Eve. Presumed Oscar bait like Frankie and Alice and Suzanne Bier’s Things We Lost in the Fire never took off, and Cloud Atlas was a mega flop. Her last hit was X-Men: The Last Stand, the threequel that everyone hated in which she plays a role everyone hates. Whereas the fates haven’t been kind to Olivia Wilde (because a lot of those projects sounded good on paper), Halle Berry isn’t kind to herself. Did she even read the script for Catwoman?
4. Taylor Kitsch
Until Michael B. Jordan lifts it this year by nabbing an Oscar nod for Fruitvale Station, there’s a Friday Night Lights curse — at least for the younger cast. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton have done well for themselves, but Zach Gilford, Aimee Teegarden, Jesse Plemons, Minka Kelly, Jurnee Smollett (who starred in the new Tyler Perry movie) and Derek Phillips have had limited success outside of FNL, which makes this super fan very sad. A legitimate contender for her own entry, Adrianne Palicki got saddled with that Wonder Woman pilot and Taylor Kitsch is box office poison. In his short career, Kitsch has starred in The Bang Bang Club, John Carter, Battleship, Gospel Hill, The Covenant, John Tucker Must Die, Snakes on a Plane and Savages, one of his few entries not to outright shed money. His best-faring outing was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which no one liked. For all that talk of a Deadpool spinoff, no one mentioned one for Gambit. Poor Tim Riggins.
5. Anna Faris
Anna Faris could be the biggest comedienne in Hollywood, if she could ever find a project that suited her. Instead, poor Faris has suffered through Movie 43 (like many folks on this list), The Dictator, What’s Your Number?, Take Me Home Tonight, Yogi Bear, Mama’s Boy, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Waiting…, Just Friends, The Hot Chick, Yogi Bear and Alvin and the Chipmunks — where she plays a cartoon rodent. Faris has tried to break out with riskier parts in indie fare like May, Gregg Araki’s Smiley Face, Brokeback Mountain and Lost in Translation (where she murders her ten minutes of screen time) but few took notice. She’ll always be Cindy Campell. Faris will soon be starring in a CBS show, which she looks visibly bored to be in, and it’s our fault, America. We did this to her.
6. Justin Bartha
On principle, I have pity for everyone involved with The New Normal (especially Andrew Rannells, who quit Girls for that piece of poop pie), but no one more than Justin Bartha, who everyone seems to forget exists. He’s in each of The Hangover films without anyone seeming to care, and unceremoniously suffered through two National Treasure movies. He was elsewhere in The Rebound with Catherine Zeta-Jones (which went straight to DVD), Failure to Launch, Dark House, Trust the Man, Holy Rollers and New York, I Love You, the poorly reviewed American take on Paris, Je T’Aime. Even on The New Normal he was forgotten about, as Bebe Wood and her Grey Gardens impression were the best thing on that show. I think that Bartha is atoning for the sins of Gigli, where he played one of the most offensively terrible differently abled characters ever. He rapped “Baby Got Back.” Yes, that happened. I can never forget it.
7. Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig can’t cry too hard. He’s got James Bond. However, he’s like The Rock and Vin Diesel in that outside of his franchise work, the man cannot open a film to save his career. Labelled “box office poison,” Craig has starred in underperformers from here to Timbuktu — like The Golden Compass, Defiance, Infamous, Munich, I Dreamed of Africa The Jacket, The Invasion, Sylvia, Dream House and The Adventures of Tintin, the latter of which I flipped for. Well-reviewed indies like Layer Cake and Enduring Love never got the cults they deserved and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo failed to meet studio expectations. They announced a sequel, but aren’t eager to rush a cold hard-R film into production anytime soon. In the meantime, Craig can just fan himself with that Skyfall money.
8. Nicole Kidman
I do, however, feel for Nicole Kidman, Craig’s one-time Golden Compass co-star and a fellow “box office poison” honoree. Kidman is one of the finest actresses of her generation and unafraid to take risks, the kinds of roles other actresses would run for the hills to get away from. (See: The Paperboy.) However, that courageousness means she’s been in an astounding number of disasters. We’ve got Australia, Nine, Bewitched, The Stepford Wives, The Human Stain, Malice, Far and Away, Fur, Trespass, Stoker, The Invasion and Margot at the Wedding (which I liked, even if no one else did). Her two highest-grossing roles were as a cartoon penguin in Happy Feet and in the Adam-Sandler-starring Just Go With It, for which she earned a Razzie nom.
She’s got that Weinstein-backed Grace of Monaco movie coming out this year, for which the Oscars may engrave themselves. There may be redemption yet for our dear Ms. Kidman, who desperately needs a win. God knows all that Paperboy buzz went nowhere, but getting to pee on Zac Efron in a movie is an honor unto itself.
9. Jude Law
So, Jude Law is technically in the Sherlock Holmes movies — which no one remembers. What else does the man have? In the past decade, he’s been in non-starters like Anna Karenina, 360, Repo Men, Sleuth, the troubled Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Alfie, All the King’s Men, Rise of the Guardians The Holiday, Breaking and Entering, My Blueberry Nights and Side Effects, which flopped earlier this year despite the fact that it was awesome. Even when he’s in a good film, the fine actor is rarely the takeaway; he’s been upstaged in Closer (by Natalie Portman’s almost vagina), I Heart Huckabees (existential wackiness), Cold Mountain (Renee Zellweger’s accent), Hugo (cute kids), Contagion (Gwyneth Paltrow dying) and The Aviator (Leo DiCaprio’s pee). With that receding hairline stealing his looks away a little more every day, Jude Law proves things don’t always get better. They get surrounded by jars of piss.
10. Clive Owen
Jude Law’s Closer co-star hasn’t done much better. The one-time candidate for the new Bond (before it went to fellow lister Daniel Craig) hasn’t had many hits to his reputable name. Owen’s starred in such box office middlers as Shoot ‘Em Up, Children of Men, Duplicity, The International, Derailed, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, King Arthur, The Pink Panther, Beyond Borders, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Killer Elite, Trust and The Boys Are Back. A couple of these I love (particularly Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron’s dizzyingly accomplished masterpiece), but the man just can’t make a career work. He’ll have another shot at Bond in 2015 when Craig retires, when Owen will be in his early 50s. And why not? We already had “James Blonde.” We’ll just call Clive Owen “Old Bond.”
11. Ryan Reynolds
Ryan Reynolds has forever been poised to become the biggest actor in Hollywood or “the next big thing,” but he’s always been more of a tabloid seller than a draw. This is because Ryan Reynolds has had worse luck with projects than almost any actor I can think of, the male Olivia Wilde (who was his love interest in The Change-Up). With smarts and charisma pouring from his chiseled abs, Reynolds has everything, except for an agent. He should fire that dude, stat. In his career, Reynolds has been in (deep breath!) Blade Trinity, The Green Lantern, Just Friends, Buried, Chaos Theory, The Nines, The In-Laws, Smokin’ Aces, The Amityville Horror, Buying the Cow, Foolproof, Fireflies in the Garden, Adventureland (which was underrated) and Definitely, Maybe. Additionally, he’s soon to star in future flops R.I.P.D., Tarsem Singh’s Selfless and that forever gestating Highlander reboot — all of which sound like projects choosier actors would turn down. R.I.P.D. is in the middle of being buried, along with the rest of his potential.
12. Mandy Moore
When I think of Mandy Moore, I remember that life could be a lot worse. Even poor Olivia Wilde hasn’t had it all bad. TRON: Legacy made money overseas. Well, Mandy Moore didn’t even get to be in TRON: Legacy. She was in TRON: Uprising, the cartoon TV series. That’s because despite getting her start in Nicholas Sparks’ Jesus-friendly A Walk to Remember and the sharp religious satire Saved!, God hates Mandy Moore. She must have done something terrible in a past life.
Since Saved!, she’s been in Romance and Cigarettes, Southland Tales, License to Wed, American Dreamz, Dedication, Because I Said So, Swinging with the Finkels and Love, Wedding, Marriage. The latter two both have 0% scores on Rotten Tomatoes, Because I Said So ranked as one of the worst films of its decade and Southland Tales was an ambitious disaster that all but ended Richard Kelly’s then promising career. Moore’s only successful films have been doing voiceover for kids’ movies and acting in The Princess Diaries, her first-ever film role and a time in her career she now regrets. Her CBS pilot, The Advocates, recently got a pass from the CBS — meaning she couldn’t even slum it with the olds like Anna Faris.
But for all the bad that has befallen folk like Mandy Moore, Nicole Kidman and Kristen Bell, they seem genuinely positive about all of it. The lesson for the folks at home: If Nicole Kidman can survive The Paperboy and be a good sport about it, you can survive anything. What pees on you makes you stronger.