Saturday, January 1, 2011

Best and Worst Films of 2010 - The Worst

Of the 155 films I watched in 2010, there were about 11 that I considered to be undeniably bad. After reflecting on one of them, I couldn't in good conscience include Jack Goes Boating on the list, because while I really didn't like it, it wasn't inherently terrible. Plus it looked a little out of place with the rest of them.

As with all of my "worst" lists in the past, I'm sure there are going to be big question marks to go along with the obvious picks, but hey, that's what good intellectual discourse is all about, right? The following films are the worst of 2010, and though they are in no particular order, they're all just plain bad.



Boy, am I sick of defending my position on Harry Potter. I don't read the books, but I commend J.K. Rowling for getting kids (and adults) to read. And while I didn't really like the first two films, I actually really liked the third film and thought the fourth film was pretty good as well. So, I gave Half-Blood Prince a shot earlier this year and was so bored I could barely make it through the entire film. In fact, I wouldn't have, if it hadn't been nominated for special effects Oscars (which also amazed me because those weren't so great either). Harry Potter fans can look at me in shock and call me a hater (and worse) but sorry, this movie was just plain boring, hard to sit through, and simply bad.


No surprise here. This movie was universally panned and fans of the book were appalled by Peter Jackson's adaptation of what was really a good novel. I saw this film in a near-empty theater (there was one other guy sitting somewhere behind me which made the experience that much more unsettling) and I couldn't help but laugh during many parts that clearly were not intended to evoke that reaction. Nonsensical and offensively bad, The Lovely Bones shows that Jackson should probably stick to playing with wizards and little people.

AVATAR (2009)

I know, it was the biggest movie of the year and people went back and saw it multiple times. But for every person who is shocked by my hatred for this movie I am just as shocked by its success. Overblown, underacted and with plot points that are so stupid they are laughable (unobtainium? REALLY?), Avatar was a 3 hour snooze fest that couldn't have ended soon enough. I have no love for James Cameron, quite the contrary, but if I was going to invest the cash and time to see this movie, I was still hoping to enjoy at least some of it. Unfortunately my enjoyment was limited to the 2 second time span when I realized it was the end of the film and I could get the hell out of there and do anything else - bang my head against the wall repeatedly, walk in circles on the bathroom rug for 3 hours, clean the litter box with a tweezers... you get the point. It was bad.


For the most part, my journey into Martin Scorsese's filmography in 2010 was an enlightening experience, seeing some really great early films I hadn't yet seen. Unfortunately, there were a couple of stumbling blocks as well, and the worst was his foray into musicals, New York, New York, which, on paper, should have worked. Starring Liza Minnelli and Robert DeNiro, the film is an epic study of a dysfunctional relationship that spans decades. What it actually is, however, is a really boring, overacted waste of film that, when I thought it couldn't get any worse, contains a 20 minute musical number that makes the film-halting "Broadway Melody" scene in Singing in the Rain look cohesive and relevant. Someone with Scorsese's long and illustrious filmography deserves a dud, but it was surprising that this was it.

SALT (2010)

I knew this film wasn't going to be rocket science, but when a friend and I went to see this one I thought we could at least experience some decent action, I could drool over Liev Schreiber and he could drool over Angelina Jolie. Hell, as a heterosexual woman I drool over Angelina Jolie sometimes. Instead, we were too distracted by the ridiculous Cold War espionage "plot", obscenely bad action scenes and worse acting to appreciate anything aesthetically. There were several times when we were just outright laughing in the theater because we couldn't believe what we were seeing, or supposed to be believing. Salt isn't even worth watching for its bad factor - give me one of those SyFy original movies over this one any day.


I got snookered into this one via Netflix. Apparently my recent rentals of Kurosawa films and my Netflix Instant queue full of independent films and foreign films of the 1950's and 1960's caused Netflix to decide that a fake documentary about a porn addict who loses his job and relationship to his girlfriend, only to find out that she's become a porn star herself and about to star in an epic orgy film unless he "rescues her" was right up my alley. Beware of "Suggestions for You", Netflix subscribers: for every unknown hidden gem there's a mind-numbingly bad suggestion waiting to jump out at you!


I know, duh. I think the only surprise about this film being on the list is that I watched it in the first place. To be honest with you, I have no idea why I watched it; even a glance back at my film journal doesn't give me any answers - I hadn't recently been on a diet of heavy foreign films and wanted to watch something stupid, I just watched the damn movie. Sharon Stone, who is supposed to be "the ultimate cougar" is about as sexy as a sloth and delivers her lines with the same vivacity. Normally I would just say "Shame on me" and leave it off the list as too obvious a choice, but the fact that I went into the movie realizing it was going to be a terrible and then still being surprised at how much worse it actually was than I expected is a pretty impressive feat for even a bad film.


If there's anything I can't stand in a film, it's pretentiousness, and Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, directed by John Krasinski has that in spades. Based on the writings of the late David Foster Wallace (who apparently is ivy league Generation Y's Kerouac) is a misogynistic look into the hearts and minds of men that throws in a collapsed relationship for good measure. Disjointed, terribly acted and so smug I wanted the film to grow a face so I could smack it, Hideous Men tells me that Krasinski maybe needs to stick to being the affable acting guy (or at least reexamine his choice of material).

W. (2008)

This film was just unfortunate from the beginning. Despite the fact I couldn't stand the subject, I thought I might find it interesting, particularly because director Oliver Stone is such a reactionary. The problem with W. doesn't lie in its actors, or even the story, really. It's just incredibly boring. Its biggest fault is the pacing, but it is also really disjointed and flops all over the place. But mostly, it's just plain boring. I could barely make it through this one, and truthfully only did so that I could give it an honest assessment. Stone is a polarizing director, and I do think he's a little crazy, but I think he makes some pretty good films, which makes W. such a major disappointment. (No comment about the commonality between my assessment of the film and its subject of course...)


Boy, before I saw The American this fall I sure didn't think I was going to be putting it on my "worst list". I'm a sucker for films where actors play against type, really enjoy George Clooney as an actor, and admire the work of director Anton Corbijn. Unfortunately, the film peaked after the first five minutes and then steadily went downhill from there. Ridiculous in concept, (why would you ever hire someone who looks like George Clooney to be a hit man who is supposed to "blend in"?) and paced with glacier-like speed, my friend and I were eventually unable to contain our snickering at the dozens of lingering shots of Clooney looking solemn, which finally turned to outright laughter during the film's ridiculous climax. I think the ending was supposed to be profound, but we both just went, "WHAT?!" and then proceeded to boo the credits. What a terrible, terrible movie. I saw it for free and still wanted my money back.

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