Slumming it with Halle Berry

2013-08-15T21:00:00Z 2013-08-16T12:41:30Z Slumming it with Halle Berry Herald-Review.com
August 15, 2013 9:00 pm  • 

In 2002, Halle Berry won the Academy Award for Best Actress for the film “Monster’s Ball,” becoming the first and only black actress to date to win the award for a leading role. During her famous, tearful acceptance speech, she said “This moment is for every nameless, faceless woman of color who now has a chance because tonight this door has been opened.” Her pronouncement hasn't quite proven true as of yet for other actors and actresses in leading roles, but even more notably, it hasn't proven true for herself. For an actress who was once on top of the world and among the most highly paid female performers anywhere, the last decade can’t be considered anything but a cinematic mess.

Case in point: 10 years after “Monsters Ball,” Halle Berry was reduced to doing killer shark movies. The film, last year’s “Dark Tide,” didn’t even receive a wide theatrical release, despite costing $25 million to make. It recouped roughly 4 percent of that budget in theaters and holds a perfect 0 percent “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes. This movie stars a former Oscar winner for Best Actress. We must ask: How did it come to this for Halle Berry?

The answer is “gradually.” These things don’t just happen overnight. For a decade, Berry has worked sporadically, with starring roles in films that can usually be sorted into three categories: “Bad,” “Schlocky” and “Ignored.” It started right away, immediately after “Monster’s Ball.” Her first major role following it was Giancita “Jinx” Johnson in “Die Another Day,” the last James Bond film of the Pierce Brosnan era. After being eye candy in what is generally considered the worst of the Brosnan series, she proceeded to star in the psychological horror-thriller “Gothika,” which was savaged by critics to the tune of a 15 percent “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes today.

Clearly, at this point, Berry needed something to turn things around. “I know,” she presumably thought. “Superheroes. People love superheroes.”

The result, of course, was “Catwoman,” a flop so notorious that it set back the entire superhero film genre until the arrival of Christopher Nolan and “Batman Begins.” Displaying that she was at least a good sport about the whole mess, Berry personally appeared at the Razzie Awards to accept her award for “Worst Actress.” In her speech, she called the award “rock bottom,” but this may have been wishful thinking on her part. Since that role in 2004, she has appeared in leading roles in the following films:

  • “Perfect Stranger”
  • “Things We Lost in the Fire”
  • “Frankie and Alice”
  • “Dark Tide”
  • “Cloud Atlas”
  • “Movie 43”
  • “The Call”

To begin with, how many of those actually ring a bell to you? I’m guessing one or two, if only because they came out recently. But how good or bad were these films? Well, the average Rotten Tomatoes score of all seven averaged together is 28 percent. Which is to say, not a heartening number. And this is doing her a favor by not including the numbers from “Catwoman” and “Gothika.” In fact, among everything she’s had a leading role in since “Catwoman,” only “Cloud Atlas” and “Things We Lost in the Fire” have ratings higher than 40 percent, and neither of those films made a profit in the U.S. These are just brutal numbers, any way you look at them.

So what are the reasons? Poor selection of roles and opportunities has got to be one of them. Nobody who looked closely at that “Catwoman” script could possibly have thought it was going to be a good idea. And Berry certainly has shown herself not to be above appearances in purely cheesecake roles, as she did in “Die Another Day.” You certainly can’t fault her for being a gorgeous woman, but there may have been better ways to follow up a history-making Best Actress win than getting into a bikini to frolic in the surf with James Bond. Or you know, getting in a bikini once again for “Dark Tide.”

One has to imagine that micro-budget dramas, terrible thrillers and freaking SHARK MOVIES were not the fare that Berry expected she would spend her next decade working on while standing there, clutching that Oscar. In all actuality, she probably had every right to be thinking “This is my first Academy Award, and the sky is the limit,” but clearly, things haven’t worked out that way.

Of course, it’s not too late for Halle Berry. At 47, she’s still a beautiful actress, although beginning to make that difficult transition to older female roles in Hollywood, which isn’t easy for anyone. Still, there’s nothing to stop her from getting cast in a few well-regarded dramas and working her way up the ladder of prestige again, unless a director doesn’t want “Catwoman” stigma all over him. But it’s certainly not going to happen with shark movies, or anything coming out of WWE Studios. “Sharknado 2: The Next One” shouldn’t be the bar an Oscar winner is shooting for.

All in all, it’s a fascinating reminder of just how fast and how far a performer can fall.

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(17) Comments

  1. inaflannel
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    inaflannel - February 13, 2014 4:45 pm
    She still looks great in that one piece bikini !
  2. lakawak
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    lakawak - August 16, 2013 11:50 pm
    OK, not only was her career before Monster's Ball filled with terrible stuff too, but why is there NO mention of the X-Men movies? Not so much because of their huge box office success but because super big budget movies are very time demanding. Those are not 10-12 weeks and you're done shooting schedules.So filming Parts 2 and 3 took up a lot of her time after Monster's Ball. Plus the time off for having a baby.

    And of course, Catwoman put her flame out. I don't know why t is so confusing that someone that had SUCH a huge flop would get less respected roles after.
  3. Chikee
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    Chikee - August 16, 2013 10:18 pm
    There are a few of factors that this author doesn't consider:

    Mega-attractive stars like Halle Berry are sometimes faced with two options; embrace your looks and be relegated to "hot chick" roles or lose yourself in a crazy costume / makeup job to nullify your pop-culture persona to be taken seriously (Johnny Depp). Halle has simply chosen the former. That said there aren't many "hot chick" roles worthy of a vet like her. Except maybe a Bond or superhero film.

    There's also the Oscar curse. Sadly, many actors peak once they've achieved that milestone, never getting another 'role of a lifetime' afterwards. Not even close, really. See: Adrian Brody and his Stella Artois commercials.

    Another tough thing to consider is Halle Berry's gender and race. It can be tough for women over 40 to find a great role. Everyone isn't Meryl Streep, and even she had her dry spells. Now, take that fact and factor in that she's also woman of color. Short of a Tyler Perry film, there aren't a lot of leading roles out there for black women. Some of her sub par film choices were likely made because the roles were generic enough so that a woman of any color could play them. Often those aren't the best performances. See: Jennifer Lopez in ANY film.

    Finally, Halle had a child 5 years ago. Anyone with their priorities straight is going to take some time away from work. For all we know she's chosen a lower-key life to spend time with her family. Not to mention she's going to have her 2nd child soon, so she obviously is not booking roles right now, and may not for some time. After all, she's had a career far better than most. What does she have to prove?
  4. tdtt
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    tdtt - August 16, 2013 8:30 pm
    Let's contrast her words from her acceptance speech with one of the closing arguments from this article:
    “This moment is for every nameless, faceless woman of color who now has a chance because tonight this door has been opened.”
    and
    "At 47, she’s still a beautiful actress"

    Hollywood hasn't changed much it would seem.
  5. Kendall
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    Kendall - August 16, 2013 7:22 pm
    I think the real problem is that she's just not that great an actor. I've never seen Monsters Ball, but I have seen many of those other movies and she is just kind of generic to me.

    It's most obvious in Swordfish when she briefly shows her breasts while sunbathing. She comes off as nervous and awkward, not confident and sexy... that's the only scene I really remember from Swordfish, but it's not because she was topless but because I still remember how disjointed it felt.

    Compare her to Jasika Nicole (Astrid in Fringe), I'd rather watch Jasika any day.
  6. miketee
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    miketee - August 16, 2013 5:49 pm
    Uhh, averaging averages isn't really valid.
  7. ool007
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    ool007 - August 16, 2013 5:10 pm
    Did you read the article? He was saying those movies were failures with the critics.
  8. OT78
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    OT78 - August 16, 2013 5:09 pm
    Wow. I can't wait to check back in ten years on you Jim Vorel and see where your life/career choices have left you. Maybe I'll set aside a journal entry just for you, so I can snigger to myself. RIGHT!?
  9. ool007
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    ool007 - August 16, 2013 5:09 pm
    He was basing his criticism on critical reception, not profits.
  10. OT78
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    OT78 - August 16, 2013 5:07 pm
    ^this
  11. Ozzy
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    Ozzy - August 16, 2013 4:23 pm
    Author of this article has little sense of what Success and failure mean. This Author is so biased in his view and is trying so hard to paint Halle Barry as becoming more and more of a flop actress. I like that fact that successful award wining actors take chances on low budget movies, and accepting lesser pay in order to lend their name and expertise to other wise dead movies. This is called helping the new comers who are still trying to make it. Author of this article wouldn't understand it, because he lives his life judging individuals through his own crooked filters.
    We all know who Halle Barry is and how successful she is. No one needs to listen to this hack of a critic.
  12. Moistened Man
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    Moistened Man - August 16, 2013 3:44 pm
    Cloud Atlas was rad as balls. Nice job letting the box office decide for you the quality of a movie, though.
  13. jb0nd38372
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    jb0nd38372 - August 16, 2013 2:45 pm
    The article is incomplete... Not once anywhere was there a mention of The Call that came out March 15th

    It scored a 6.6 on IMDB, and RT gave it 40%
    She also had the lead role...

    Writer needs to be sure he checks EVERY movie she has been in if writing about her, don't "forget" the ones that are below average.
  14. retsnwp
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    retsnwp - August 16, 2013 2:30 pm
    "Sharknado 2: The Second One"
    FTFY
  15. moltonlava
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    moltonlava - August 16, 2013 2:21 pm
    Let's be honest here, her choice of roles before Monster's Ball wasn't top notch either. Swordfish, BAPS, the Flintstones? These were all worse than anything she's done lately (except for maybe that shark movie).
  16. LavaHouse
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    LavaHouse - August 16, 2013 12:38 pm
    One of my favourite movies of all time. I stopped reading after it was mentioned. It's about more than just the profit of films.
  17. bobbyj
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    bobbyj - August 16, 2013 11:35 am
    Cloud Atlas was my favorite film from 2012, just sayin'...
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