Looking back at 2012 in film performances, the highlights are innumerable. Inspired casting from superheroes (there’s a reason everyone is so obsessed with The Avengers) to historical figures (Daniel Day-Lewis may be more Lincoln than Lincoln himself) has made for a memorable year.

But what happens when the performance doesn’t live up to the role’s potential? And does a decent performance necessarily mean good casting? While plenty of performances in bad movies this year were subpar (Rihanna should probably stay off of battleships), what frustrates me the most is an actor who takes away from the experience of an otherwise good movie. The following are the top ten casting decisions from the past year that really left me scratching my head.


10. Sally Field, Lincoln

sally field lincolm

I should preface this by saying that I actually enjoyed Ms. Field’s performance: her natural talent for sympathetic performances keeps Mary Todd consistently human, even through her craziest tirades. However, Field seems to be the last relic of what Lincoln used to be. Before Daniel Day Lewis stepped in, Liam Neeson was originally set to portray everyone’s favorite president. This is a coupling that’s much easier to imagine. Instead, something about Sally Field against Daniel Day Lewis feels false, and creates a dissonance in their duets that I wasn’t able to shake.

It’s a fine performance on its own, but in the context of the film, one wonders whether a subtler portrayal would have gelled more naturally.

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This article was first posted on January 1, 2013