Earlier today, Vox published an analysis of what it deemed “the actors and actresses who most consistently appear in terrible movies,” a ranking it determined by mining through data from Metacritic. Basically, every major movie gets a score based on how well it was reviewed; the lower the star’s average score, the worse they rank on the list.
The “winners” of this study, it should not surprise you, include a lot of familiar suspects—the stars of lazy comedies, the heroes of tedious and disposable action movies, and the lovers in unfunny and unromantic romantic comedies.
The worst-reviewed actor is Rob Schneider, none of whose 16 movies received a Metacritic score higher than 54. That means his best movie only barely qualifies as getting mixed reviews, as per Vox’s rankings.
“Schneider’s critical failure largely falls on the shoulders of Adam Sandler, who is ranked second here,” author Zachary Crockett writes. “The majority of the poorly reviewed films Schneider appears in are Sandler flicks, in which he plays a recurring character who yells, ‘You can do it!’”
After Schneider and Sandler is Ashton Kutcher and Kevin James—another frequent Sandler collaborator. Cuba Gooding Jr. is the worst-rated Oscar winner by this metric (at sixth), though Nicolas Cage isn’t too far behind him (at 15th). Again, this ranking looks at the entirety of an actor’s career; Cage has delivered brilliant performances in masterpieces, but those were more than offset by the lazy cash-grabs that have dominated his later career. (Discussion question: What should be valued more highly, an artist’s batting average, or the height of his or her peaks?)
On the positive side, it will also not surprise you that Daniel Day-Lewis ranks as the actor with the best-reviewed films, followed by Michael Fassbender and John C. Reilly. Day-Lewis has a mere 11 films under his belt, and while that selectivity has produced few embarrassments, Reilly’s ranking may be more impressive as his higher output means more films that could bring down his average (especially since he’s a frequently a supporting actor, meaning the quality of the overall film is less determined by his performance).
For actresses, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jessica Alba, and Katherine Heigl rank as the three worst-reviewed, while Carey Mulligan, Tilda Swinton, and Marion Cotillard are the three whose films got the best reviews.
The Vox piece also looks at how genres of film fair on average with reviewers. Documentaries are easily the best-reviewed genre, with horror and comedy ranking as the worst.
“This disparity between genres may partly explain why rom-com-heavy stars like Katherine Heigl and Vince Vaughn rank so unfavorably: thespians who stick mainly to comedy forever relegate themselves to critics’ least favorite genre,” the article suggests.