Such a monumentally bad year for movies just passed. Will Hollywood studios finally take the hint and look beyond the comic-book rack to find source material? The good news is that for the first time in franchise history, even Star Wars is underperforming.
How awful must a film have been to have earned a spot in this year’s bottom ten? I’d rather watch a moth’s trail of dust after being smashed against a windshield than any of the films on this list. The only reason Wonder Woman didn’t make the cut is my strict rule not to include walk-outs. Happy New Year, folks. Here’s hoping 2018 gives us something to look at.
10) James Foley’s Fifty Shades Darker. Writer E.L. James had better hope that her yente readers never discover internet porn. As for it being darker, given the sparsity of people of color in the cast, they just might as well have called it Fifty Shades Ofay. On a high note, after the film’s release, the sale of ben wa balls went through the roof.
9) David F. Sandberg’s Annabelle: Creation. Those yearning for more from this generation’s answer to Rod Serling’s “Talking Tina” were no doubt disappointed when all the sequel had to show for itself was a nun and a group of orphans trapped in a haunted house. You know you’re in trouble when the titular killer plaything isn’t in the picture for more than ten minutes.
8) João Pedro Rodrigues’s The Ornithologist. The press kit cries, “This enigmatic and surrealist survival story reimagines the legend of Saint Anthony of Padua through a queer lens.” It’s more like an exercise in staring at a screen for two hours that couldn’t have ended soon enough.
7) Jeffrey Blitz’s Table 19. A group of wedding crashers wind up seated at the same table. With barely enough structural nutriment to sustain an SNL skit, screenwriters (and mumblecore initiators) Jay and Mark Duplass pad a rail-thin premise and call it a feature. One more choice of scripts like this and it’ll be time to start seriously questioning Anna Kendrick’s sanity.
6) Seth Gordon’s Baywatch. All that’s required of Zac Effron is remedial memorization technique and a willingness to work topless. Frankie and Annette vehicles were tsunamis of veracity and personal artistry compared to this two-hour showcase of boobs, six packs, and wink-wink homoeroticism geared for low-grade morons.
5) Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick. Further proof of the blurred lines between film and television is this pathos-laden big-screen sitcom from producer and master of the form, Judd Apatow. It always amazes me how people will gladly leave their house and purchase a ticket for something that’s beamed into their living rooms on a nightly basis.
4) Jason Hall’s Thank You For Your Service. One week a firefighter (Only the Brave) followed quickly by a chance to cash in on playing a returning vet. It appears Miles Teller’s choice of projects has taken a heroic turn for the worse. And in case you didn’t know going in, war is bad and it screws people up.
3) Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky. A band of country set play actors affect bad haircuts and even worse Huckleberry Hound accents in this sneering, shit-kicker caper comedy. Soderbergh does for Smokey and the Bandit what he did for Ocean’s 11. Absolutely nothing.
2) Andy Muschietti’s It. It’s best to add an “Sh” to the title. The most genuine shock of the year came when I glanced at my watch and realized that there was still two hours left to go in this horror snooze. Fright-free to the point it makes Blair Witch look like Repulsion.
1) Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel’s Caniba. A cannibal acquitted by reasons of insanity is allowed to move back to Japan where he currently lives with his outstandingly dysfunctional brother. Credit a group of experimental filmmakers operating under the designation the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab for this celebration of a slaughterer. It’s seldom that a film screened at a local film festival — in this case the San Diego Asian Film Festival — makes, let alone tops, my ten worst list. As a work of documentary storytelling, it’s slightly more visually compelling than a colonoscopy.