Sometimes, an actor (or character)’s every move has the ability to rise up endless levels of bile – either making or ruining the film-watching experience. For me, it’s a toss-up between Owen Wilson and Miranda July in the Bile-Inducing Irritation Stakes, but of course, one (wo)man’s annoying is another’s dreamboat, and I observe some notable omissions: floppy-haired fops Keanu Reaves and early Leonardo DiCraprio, for example, will always hold a space in my heart, no matter how irritating. I also generally avoided the Annoying Comedian (the Adam Sandlers, Ben Stillers, Jim Careys and Robin Williamses), because, well, duh. And is Hugh Grant a comedian? That question alone threw me into an existential crisis, from which I only emerged with the thought that he’s still pretty annoying in straight roles, and therefore game.
1. Gil in Midnight in Paris (2011)
Owen Wilson’s acting has always made me want to claw my eyeballs out with an egg whisk. But his interpretation of a Woody Allen-inflected struggling writer in Paris was beyond awful. Maybe it’s the All-American glowing smugness, or that terrible collection of chinos....
2. Legolas in The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Most people – arguably with good reason – find Sam (Sean Astin) or Frodo (Elijah Wood) the most incessantly annoying of the Middle Earth massive. For me, it’s always been Orlando Bloom’s flaxen-haired Legolas. Watching him smugly shoot an arrow, his long, hippy-rave blonde locks slowly fluttering in the wind, is kind of like how I imagine a medieval L’Oreal advert to look like, if that were a thing.
3. Edie in Pink Flamingos (1972)
John Waters’ indisputable camp classic is a celebration of bad taste, so I’m not exactly going to call him up on this one. But Edith Massey’s beehived, egg-loving, mentally retarded, old-lady baby does start to grate after a while. In a good way, of course.
4. Juno MacGuff in Juno (2007)
An enjoyable film when it first came out, an attempt to re-watch this reminded me how utterly insufferable Juno’s snarky, high-level ironic, tic tac-eating, Hamburger phone of a persona is. No one at sixteen is that good at one-liners, ever.
5. Keira Knightley in A Dangerous Method (2011)
Mark Kermode once called her “Ikea Knightley” because her acting was so wooden. I don’t mind her too much, but the incessant over-acting and wildly jutting jaw of her turn as hysteric, analyst, lover of Jung and fan of a good spanking Sabina Spielrein – was terrible. A rather embarrassing attempt at a British indie girl who makes out with Steve Carell in apocalyptic arse-wipe Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012), didn’t fare much better.
6. Most of the cast of Harry Potter in All Of the Films
A lot of them. All the time. In all the films.
7. Carrie in Sex and the City (2008)
If I had to pinpoint a peak in the Everest-like Pissing Me Off stakes of the Sex and the City empire, it would be Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker)’s inflections at the end of mostly every scene: “So I got to thinking...” WHAT, CARRIE, WHAT’S YOUR WILD OVERGENERALISED STATEMENT ABOUT HETERONORMATIVE RELATIONSHIPS THIS TIME?
8. The Beales in Grey Gardens (1975)
Without denying the utter fabulousness of the fur-laden, scarf-wearing East Hampton socialites mother-and-daughter duo, about a third of the way through this Maysles brothers-directed film, you sort of want to scream at them, or have your way with the drinks cabinet.
9. Miranda July in Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
This film is worsties. The title alone should give you an inkling of what’s in store, but by all means dip your toe in the puddle of emotional depth that is this examination of modern intimacy. You may, like myself and a character in the film, want to stick some socks on your ears.
10. “Paw Paw” in Miranda July’s The Future (2011)
Of course, I couldn’t have TWO Miranda July references in this, but the squeaking, squawking cat voice narrative of “Paw Paw” may well be the single most annoying narrative technique in film history, sort of like having chalk scraped on a blackboard, millimetres from your ears, by Miranda July delivering ironic New Age life mantras.
11. Hugh Grant
Film blog Ultra Culture has made a pretty good case for why we’ve taken Hugh for Granted, and I’m now willing to accept that not all of his films represent the existential crisis of the middle class British male. But his character in Bridget Jones is totes ridic.
12. Candy (1968)
The naive sexploits of brain-the-size-of-a-pea Candy (former Miss Teen Sweden Ewa Aulin) are bad, even by 1960’s standards. Less a character, more a blonde mane in a shift dress, Candy “encounters” a series of strange characters, including a lugubrious Richard Burton, and a blacked up Ringo Starr playing a Mexican gardener – I’m not kidding.
13. Tommy Wiseau in The Room (2003)
Even though Mr. Wiseau is on a higher plane of annoying, this does not take away from the fact that The Room is obviously excellent. “O HI MARK!!”
14. Everybody in Sample People (2000)
Thankfully condemned to the relics of a dusty £3 bargain bin in the now sadly defunct HMV, this Australian ‘nu-rave drama’ proclaims its novelty for about three minutes, until it descends, like a come-down, into a cess-pit of terrible acting, and the worst rave outfits you have ever seen. Features Kylie Minogue in various wigs and ‘90s tribal tattoos.
15. Shelley Duvall in The Shining (1980)
Jack (Nicholson) is obviously an axe-wielding psychopath, but who can blame him when he’s been married to the hysterical Wendy for that long?
16. Katherine Heigl films
They are all the same, and I’ve watched a worrying amount of them hungover on LoveFilm. Blonde, girl-next-door with sass realises ovaries are ticking. Falls for the unlikely, smarmy male who doesn’t believe in monogamy. He is converted by the sheer quirk of her sass.
17. Jonathan Rhys Meyer in Match Point (2005)
Similar parallels to Mr. Wilson re. smugness and chino-wearing.
18. Max Fischer in Rushmore (1988)
Jason Schwartzman gets an A star and a gold sticker for Prize Annoying in this school comedy drama. Not for me, thanks.
19. Tom Hanks in Cloud Atlas (2012)
Ahahaha. For a well-respected actor, Tom Hanks’ various mutations in Cloud Atlas really are next-level annoying. My favourite is the thuggish Irishman with the worst accent imaginable and a really weird circular goatee, still bearing the fresh marks of having been painted on, throwing a critic over a balcony to his death.
20. Tom Cruise films
Yes, he is brilliant, but round about the time he started jumping around on Oprah Winfrey’s sofa, like a toddler on too many Petit Filous, was when his on-screen persona became a little too much. My favourite Cruise moment has to be his turn as The Most American of all German resistance heroes ever seen on screen, in Nazi drama Valkyrie (2008).
Follow Sophia on Twitter: @SophiaSB1