Q & A: Which actor or director has tarnished their reputation based on recent film choices?

With Michael Corleone himself, Al Pacino, appearing the dismal Adam Sandler film Jack & Jill this weekend, we at Film Misery got to thinking about famous film actors and directors whose once great reputations are no longer held in high esteem. This weekend’s question offers our opinions on that worthwhile discussion.

QUESTION: Which actor or director has tarnished their reputation based on recent film choices?

Davin Lacksonen

I don’t think anyone can compete with director Francis Ford Coppola in this category. He made four unflinching masterpieces in The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, and Apocalypse Now. What has happened since? I’m not sure exactly. He made One From the Heart, which was a sad effort. But it only continued to go downhill from there. The Outsiders is reprehensible. And then he made Jack, which is basically The Curious Case of Benjamin Button starring Robin Williams in the 1990s. He quit making films for a while. And then he got reinvigorated by his daughters work (which I almost entirely dismiss as well). His reinvigoration has not inspired hope. Youth Without Youth and Tetro are not good. And so far no good has come of Twixt other than some mild praise for the concept before anyone actually saw the film. That is a downhill path if I’ve ever seen one.

Justin Jagoe

Of course, Oscars aren’t exactly the most reliable tools to use when measuring an actor’s greatness. That said, it’s rather telling and more than a little frustrating that Harrison Ford has only received a single nomination in his wildly successful career. As is the case with many, Ford will always be Han Solo and Indiana Jones in my mind. Perhaps that is the big problem with Ford. Whether it’s due to studios typecasting the action movie superstar or because the 66-year-old actor has simply grown too comfortable to move beyond what he knows, he seems to have hardly made an effort to acclimate himself to roles better-suited – forgive me for saying – to a man his age. As a result, this past decade has reduced the supremely talented actor to phoning in performances in one box office disappointment after another (Firewall, Hollywood Homicide, Cowboys & Aliens), revisiting previous successes (Indy 4) or being stunt-cast in ill-received duds (Crossing Over). We all know from his early days just how talented Ford can be when given the right project. Nothing would make me happier than to see one of my favorite actors of yesteryear begin to challenge himself in his career’s twilight.

Vincenzo Tagle

My pick would be another Godfather alum – Robert de Niro. After establishing himself as one of the best actors of his generation, he goes on to appear in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle as the Fearless Leader, one of the most uninspired movie villains ever. He also decided to stick with the Meet the Parents franchise, appearing in Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers. Partially thanks to him, we now know that any movie with the word Fockers in the title is bound to be as funny as watching Adam Sandler in drag, which is to say not at all. In case you haven’t seen either of those three movies, spare yourself and grab a copy of Taxi Driver or Raging Bull instead.

Alex Carlson

Justin stole mine, so I will just emphasize that I completely agree that Harrison Ford has gone from a huge string of massive hits to obscurity and mediocrity. The actor who I have been most disappointed with over the last decade has been Kevin Spacey. His hits of the 90s included excellent performances in Glengarry Glen Ross, The Usual Suspects, Se7en, L.A. Confidential, and American Beauty. Since 2000 he has done films like K-Pax, Fred Claus, 21, Horrible Bosses, and Superman Returns. He is reportedly quite good in this year’s Margin Call, so maybe the 10s are starting with better opportunities.

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  • Calvin

    Spacey was pretty fantastic in Richard III this year as well, so maybe he’s turning it around.

  • Anne Barber

    For me it’s got to be Nicolas Cage. He used to be such an interesting and unpredictable presence in so many great films like, Raising Arizona, Moonstruck, Vampire’s Kiss, Wild at Heart. And then, he was in sappy fare like It Could Happen to You and stupid schlock like The Rock and Con Air and it’s just gotten worse from there. Such a disappointment.

  • My choice would be Jodie Foster. I don’t know where the subtle, layered actress of THE ACCUSED and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS went, but she’s nowhere to be found today. She’s a mediocre director at best and sticking by her buddy Mel Gibson with the absurd BEAVER certainly didn’t help her career any. And her awful, shrill, false performance in CARNAGE might have just sealed the coffin on even her acting career, at least with me. I can’t say I ever want to see her onscreen, or behind the camera, again. And that makes me sad.

  • Oliver Stone would be my choice. From 1986 to 1995 he consistently released good movies, (most notably Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, Natural Born Killers, and Nixon) but recently he’s spent his time making a Wall Street sequel and a documentary that no one is going to watch. Maybe W. will be good.

  • among the actors who i consider Movie Icons like Al Pacino and Robert De Niro to someone who use to impress me with every single movie of his back then like Kevin Spacey ……. the list goes one ….. but these 3 are the one that really disappointed me as well as everyone with their movie choices recently.

    • oh and wait ….. i will also name Anthony Hopkins so that makes it 4.

  • Calvin

    I agree with all of this except for the clause where Davin dismisses Sofia Coppola’s work. However, I do feel as though Francis is definitely on quite the downward spiral. Jack was a disaster and I haven’t bothered to see any of his post-masterpiece films.

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