Has there ever been an Oscar Award winning actor whose single great performance was so out of place in a career of otherwise bad movies? Here’s Ms Berry’s last ten movies: BAPS* (1997), Bulworth (1998), Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998), X-Men (2000), Swordfish (2001), Monster’s Ball (2001), Die Another Day (2002), X2 (2003), Gothika (2003), and Catwoman (2004). And upcoming works like X-Men 3, Foxy Brown, Nappily Ever After, and Robots aren’t likely to be getting her any new nominations either. Ten movies in seven years (plus TV projects) is a solid career, but what does it say about Berry’s career management when playing the lead in a forgettable horror thriller is her second best role? And if this is the kind of work she’s getting now, when she’s at her peak, what will she be getting offered in ten years?
I beg to differ!
Bulworth was a very good movie IMO, and the James Bond movie + the X-men flicks were at least highly enjoyable, if not quality cinema.
Well, I could argue with you about whether the Bond films and the X-Men franchise are good movies. But the point is that they’re doing nothing for Halle Berry in terms of developing her career. An actress can afford to play comic book heroines when she’s young and starting out. But by the time she’s forty she had better be basing her career on some genuine acting skills.
Compare Berry’s career with some of her contemporaries, say Jennifer Connelly, Nicole Kidman, and Naomi Watts. They’ve all made some bad movies, either due to a lack of better choices, poor development, or to collect a big paycheck. But all of them have made at least three or four good movies; enough to show their talent isn’t a fluke. Berry on the other hand seems content to coast along.
Or, it could be because of the dearth of leading roles for African-American women (even if they are Halle Berry).
Little Nemo , I’ll have to agree about Ms. Berry’s career managment. We rented X2 this past weekend, I suppose she did a credible job, but she probably didn’t have a dozen lines in the entire movie. Hardly a showcase for an Oscar winner (other than Ian McKellen). Of course that is a problem with ensemble movies.
From all accounts too, Catwoman is a disaster, although I don’t know how much of that is attributable to Halle Berry.
Although there’s no excuse for B.A.P.S, there aren’t too many roles for Berry to chose from. Hollywood simply does not put black women in leading roles. Halle Berry could have the talent of Meryl Streep, but as long as she’s pegged as a “black actress”, she will have to scramble for roles, let alone high quality roles.
Just survey the movies that came out in 2003. Which movies do you think Halle would have had a shot at an Oscar calibre performance? Mystic River? At least she wasn’t as embarrassing as Queen Latifah in Bringing Down the House.
It’s not Halle’s fault.
Halle’s two most critically-acclaimed performances were as victims: the classic tragic mulatto in the Emmy winning Introducing Dororthy Dandrige and as a stressed out poor single mom Leticia Musgrove who loses her son to a roadside accident and lover to death row in Monster’s Ball.
She has a very narrow appeal as a leading actress. Personality-wise, she’s rather guarded and serious and often cmes across as bland. She doesn’t play quirky characters well. She’s not all that physically commanding, yet she pops up in action thrillers like Executive Decision and Die Another Day. She’s not all that funny, even when she’s cracking jokes in interviews, but she accepts roles up in screwball comedies like B.A.P.S.
Her best niche, in terms of acting, are pretty traditional: Hapless Victim, and Straight Woman In A Comedy Putting Up With An Exasperating Man (Boomerang, Why Do Fools Fall In Love, Bulworth).
She’s miscast, undirected and underutilized as Storm in the X-Men movies. Period.
I was underwhelmed by her plight in Gothika and very indifferent to her character. Never made it past the first 45 minutes. I blame her acting, which wasn’t very nuanced, and the more-in-it for the thrills director for not doing more with her character when she interacts with Robert Downey, Jr. , Penelope Cruz and esp. Charles Dutton.
Overall, though, she’s made better role choices than Whoopi Goldberg, who was pretty indiscriminate for awhile there, but has a lot of catching up to do before she gets in Denzel territory.
Her next three movies, Catwoman, Their Eyes Were Watching God and Robots will test her box office appeal as a leading lady. Personally I’m wondering whether she has the chops to pull off a Southern period piece like Their Eyes, and I’m curious whether she can do a good job as Janie, who finds comfort in the arms of Tea cake, a younger man, after her loveless marriage.
“Hollywood” as a collective entity doesn’t put anyone in a leading role. The competition’s too fierce. But Halle Berry, for the moment, is in a position to get leading roles for herself. She should be using the opportunity better. She could be developing projects for herself that offer something more than a Foxy Brown remake.
Halle Berry isn’t a very good actress. She’s mediocre, at best.
Agreed – especially with even the idea of Halle Berry doing a blaxploitation remake, a role which any hungry hip-hop actress can do more creditably than she can. I could see it if Halle was content to be a producer and cast someone else in the role, tho.
But ‘Hollywood as a collective entity’ is pretty consistent in how it denies opportunities for minorities in leading and romantic roles and has a damned long track record of doing so. There’s a subculture known as ‘black Hollywood’ within the glam of Tinseltown and it’s a pretty small world, the degrees of separation between any two black actors being maybe three at the most.
The X-Men movies feature two Oscar laureates and, ironically, Ian McKellen isn’t one of them. Neither is the criminally underrated Brian Cox. Frankly, I’m a little unclear on what the statuette actually rewards.
My expectations of film actresses are pretty modest, and Halle Berry more than meets them.
Why, just because she’s won an Oscar, is she prohibited from accepting non-Oscar calibre parts? Shouldn’t any actor be allowed to accept whatever role they find interesting (and I include “financially rewarding” in the “interesting” category) even if the part isn’t Oscar calibre (whatever that means)?
Have to agree with Real Tronic about Bulworth, which i thought was a great movie. Although i don’t think that Halle Berry’s performance was the key to the film’s appeal, she did a creditable job.
X2 was a great film, although you’re right that it’s not really much of a vehicle for serious acting.
I agree with those who place at least part of the blame on Hollywood’s dearth of good strong roles for black women. Feminist magazine Bitch, which provides analysis and critiques of pop culture, actually had a good article about this in a recent issue.
And i also agree with Otto that we shouldn’t expect an Oscar winner to accept only Oscar-worthy roles.
And she’s the most beautiful woman in this world. imho.
That’ll be Halle Berry out of a job when she turns forty, then.
I’m not sure I follow this. If she’s managed her money well, the movies she’s already done should already be easily enough to support her for life (note that I have no idea as to how well she actually has managed her money). And she’s still getting plenty of work, whether based on her skills or just on her appearance. If she has enough money, and she’s still getting work, that sounds to me like a pretty solid career.
To answer this bit of the OP, Cuba Gooding Jr springs to mind
I know I’m not up on movies…who’s the other one?
Anna Paquin, who plays Rogue, won Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Piano.
Since he won the Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage has appeared in: Con Air, City of Angels, Snake Eyes, 8MM, Gone in Sixty Seconds, The Family Man, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Windtalkers. All singularly Craptastic.
A couple of films (Bringing Out the Dead, Matchstick Men) I’d characterize as Not Bad, but not particularly good, either. Only Face/Off and Adaptation could be considered genuinely interesting work (and more similar to Cage’s pre-Oscar résumé). I can’t think of a recent lead Actor winner whose career is as shoddy.