January 9, 2020
was on social media the other day and saw a number of people post that
WORST FILMS of the year articles are horrible click-bait and serve no
purpose beyond dumping on films that should be best left forgotten.
In their minds, why celebrate mediocrity when one could champion greatness in the
world of cinema?
things stand out to me in response to this ideology: Firstly, I don't see
how a WORST films blog is any more or less a piece of click bait than a BEST
Secondly, critics absolutely celebrate the finest in cinema in the
year that was, but to downplay and all but ignore movie wretchedness seems
kind of counterintuitive.
I think that filmgoers - especially ones that don't have the same
luxury of time and/or money to see as many films as critics do - deserve to
know whether their time and hard earned savings are being either wasted or
put to good use.
Going to the movies ain't cheap.
People should be warned if films exist that they should avoid like
the proverbial plague.
Not that all cinema patrons pay attention to or trust critics, mind
you, but...well...you get my point.
and as I've always justified year after year, writing these WORST
FILMS lists are a form of self-healing therapy for me.
I see a lot of films, adding to a lot of time in
darkened rooms, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone and with complete
And when a film is a qualitative dud and - in the worst extremes -
is so artistically negligible that it borders on being
And I hold a higher standard to what I see, because I've been frankly
over exposed to the same tired, overused, stale, and hackneyed genre
formulas and troupes that I frequently feel like I'm stuck on some sort of
revolving door of offered up mediocrity.
These types of films shouldn't be swept under the rug...and they
should be lambasted for just how wasteful they are...of the talent on
board, of the huge financial resources being thrown their way, and, yes,
of your time and energy.
yeah, I think that bad films deserve their spotlight on a wall of shame
And here's my compilation for the ten worst reasons you could have
gone to the movies in 2019...followed up by a list of other dishonorable
and misguided viewing options:
laughed all the way through THE FANATIC.
fact that it's not a comedy is noteworthy.
a deeply perverse and nightmarish cross breed of MISERY, THE FAN, and I AM
SAM - except infinitely more creatively bankrupt - and you'll have a rough
approximation of this inept piece of sensationalistic trash.
I don't have any problems with sensationalistic trash, per se, but
while watching this serial stalker thriller I found that it took itself so
seriously that it inadvertently became one of the funniest films of 2019.
Very few films that I screen ever warrant a dreaded zero star
rating from yours truly, but THE FANATIC, at least to me, was a film of
embarrassing and unpardonable awfulness, which was made all the more
inexcusably disposable because it contained one of the most wrongheaded
performances by a former Oscar nominated actor that I can frankly recall.
As an exploration of online fan/celebrity culture, THE FANATIC was
a total failure.
As a compelling psychodrama, it was an even more insipid minded
dud. And as for star John Travolta, he was really, really far
away from his PULP FICTION glory days with this one.
INTRUDER is the second worst mad stalker from hell thriller on this list,
and if it were not for THE FANATIC it would have been number one on this
wall of shame compilation as a corrupt and wholeheartedly
film stars Dennis Quaid as a baby boomer widow that's initially revealed to be
a good-natured and honorably intentioned man, only then to be exposed as a
shockingly deplorable sexual predator/murderer that makes one couple's
lives very uncomfortable after he sells them his lavish country house.
Does this premise sound remotely familiar at all?
It's like just about every other mad stalker thriller that has come
out over, say, the last three decades.
THE INTRUDER felt like a pathetic Xerox copy of a copy...of a
copy...of the basic and obligatory genre blueprint, and it was so
ultimately low stakes for me that it essentially put me to sleep while
And Quaid was never once credible at all as a salivating at the
mouth madman hell bent on rape and murder.
HUSTLE was announced in 2016, shot in 2017, and then very unceremoniously
dumped in cinemas this past year, which is never a good sign for a film's
This grifter "comedy" was also a remake of the splendid
1988 Steve Martin and Michael Caine classic DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, which
has remained as one of my favorite comedies of the 1980s.
Creative desperation tainted this remake like the plague, which
required not one, not two, not three, but four credited screenwriters that
pooled their collective talents together to simply and lazily copy and
paste the original Frank Oz effort wholesale, and without offering very
little, if anything, in the way of freshness.
The plagiaristic aura of THE HUSTLE was as unmistakable as it was
unbearable to watch, which leaves the critic in me in the precarious
predicament of being labeled as a misogynist for hating it (after all,
it's another on a long list of gender swapping remakes), This movie was
not terrible because it switched out Caine/Martin for Anne Hathaway and
Rebel Wilson. Far
from it. It
was awful because the multitude of writers here couldn't do anything with
the film's juicy premise of ruthless con women stealing the fortunes away
from inordinately gullible men.
THE HUSTLE was a totally uninspired comic dead zone.
me if you've heard of this type of young adult storytelling before:
young "nice girl" trying to acclimate to her freshman year of
college gets hopelessly taken in with the resident "bad boy"
that's simply no good for her...but she grows to love him anyway, despite
all of his toxic indiscretions.
was one of the most hopelessly stale and numbingly predictable romance
dramas of 2019, one that was all the more troubling because it wallowed in
feeble acting, thin writing, and nonstop moments of dramatic shallowness. It's
also the kind of film that was seemingly populated by bright minded,
college bound teenagers, all of whom acted idiotically in ways that strain
modest credulity. I
don't ask for much out of the romance or young adult drama genres: All I
desire is for strongly developed characters that I give a damn about and
want to root on for a lifetime of happiness together. AFTER
offers none of that, especially considering that it's main mission, it
seemed, was to make the main heroine as dislikeable as possible. This
movie was so categorically terrible that one has to even ponder how the
novel of the same name ever saw the light of day in the first place.
science fiction drama REPLICAS is absolutely proof positive that stars
like Keanu Reeves are capable of being in some of the best films of the
year (like JOHN
WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM) while also being a part of some of
the worst in the same twelve month period.
Reeves' presence in this indefensibly rotten sci-fi flick kept me invested
until the end, which suffered from so many imbecilic lapses in basic
scripting logic that I wanted to just repeatedly slap my head in
frustration throughout its running time.
The film had a decent premise involving one of the oldest of genre
conceits (that of ambitious minded, but dangerous scientists playing God
with the rules of Mother Nature), but REPLICAS was so obnoxiously dumb and
ineptly executed that you kind of have to wonder why an A-lister of
Reeves' stature in action/sci-fi films would have agreed to appear here
(outside of a handsome payday).
This was one of the most unintentionally silly films of 2019 that
also took itself seriously, but it's also a work that never once embraced its
schlockiness like a badge of honor. It
did contain Reeves deadpan lines like "I have to watch the
pods!" with the solemnity of a heart attack...so there's that.
not to be confused at all with Joss Whedon's 2005 science fiction film of
the same name, SERENITY was a neo-noir thriller that was written and
directed by Steven Knight, who previously floored me with the masterful
one-man Tom Hardy infused drama LOCKE.
My initial excitement, though, in going to see Knight's latest film
back in February gave way to quick befuddlement, seeing as SERENITY was
easily one of the most ludicrously plotted films featuring a strong
director and multiple proven Oscar winning actors that I have ever seen.
I engage in now hyperbole whatsoever with that latter sentiment.
started modestly enough as a sleazy, backwoods crime noir thriller with
sensationalistic appeal, and star Matthew McConaughey in particular looked
like he was having a grand time in his camera mugging performance as a rum
chugging former war veteran turned tuna hunting fisherman.
If it weren't for his committed performance here, then SERENITY would
have been completely unendurable, mostly because Knight's script utterly
derails in its final act with some of the most head scratching, movie
breaking plot twists in many a moon. SERENITY could have attained the modest moniker of good,
retrograde trash, but instead opted to go the ultra "high
concept" route with its overall narrative, making it simply too
unforgivably nutty for its own good. This
was one of the most stunningly bad movies in
the year that was, and one that left me staring at the screen in deer-in-the-headlights disbelief as the end credits rolled by.
GOLDFINCH had so much literally going for it that it's staggering to
consider just how much of a soul crushing and watch checking bore it was
to sit through. At nearly two
and a half hours, this drama felt like four and half.
so shameful here is that the film is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning
novel of the same name by Donna Tarrt, was directed by John Crawley (whom
previous to that made the wonderful BROOKLYN),
and was adapted to the screen by TINKER
TAILOR SOLDIER SPY screenwriter Peter Straughan.
Hell, the core themes of the novel are juicy enough as well, which
chronicled how one hellish day of personal tragedy sends one young boy on
a slow downward spiral into a deeply troubled adulthood. Despite
its potentially compelling premise, THE GOLDFINCH emerged as an absolute
failure on multiple levels: It was a failure as a coming of age drama; a
failure as a crime thriller; a failure as an expose of the modern art
world; and undoubtedly a failure as far as literary adaptations go. Considering
the talent on board in front of and behind the camera and that it was based
on a critically adored and award winning novel, THE GOLDFINCH really had no
business being so dramatically lifeless and soulless.
you want the ultimate cure for insomnia, then give the pathetic piece of
Oscar bait a try. It's
guaranteed to work.
IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL
on earth thought that the more inclusive minded titled MEN IN BLACK:
INTERNATIONAL was a good idea to begin with?
It was a crummy and relentlessly forgettable fourth entry in the sci-fi
comedy franchise, which was born with the terrific 1997 original that
spawned, in turn, two sequels of inconsistent levels of worth.
The makers behind this entry thought, in their heart of hearts,
that replacing the splendid fire and gasoline combustible comedic
chemistry of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones with...well...the
two stars of THOR: RAGNAROK
would somehow work and generate the same levels of fan interest.
have nothing against Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. They
were an agreeable pair of misfits in the aforementioned MCU effort, but
they certainly didn't come remotely close to matching Smith's and Jones'
levels of spirited on screen camaraderie. That,
and MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL was a mostly unfunny and unoriginal
retread of the origin story of the franchise introductory chapter, just
with new characters and new settings. Perhaps
this film's biggest and most unforgivable sin was that it was, for the
most part, a petty and cynical cash grabbing sequel that really had no
business of existing, and MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL's poor box office
returns worldwide proved that audiences were neuralized into not wanting the
continuation of this once solid series.
you ever spent, say, 90-plus minutes with someone so aggressively and
annoyingly dislikeable that simply won't leave you alone despite all
efforts on your part to get away from them? Watching
BEACH BUM felt like this through and through.
film was the brainchild of writer/director Harmony Korine and it concerned a
hedonistic and perpetually inebriated beach bum that incessantly rambles
on and on about nothingness...and drinks...and smokes pot...and has lots
of sex...over and over again...and on an endless repeating loop. That's
all that was really on the page of THE BEACH BUM, which was so
meanderingly messy, ill advised, weakly assembled, and and borderline
torturous to sit through; it was akin to viewing a series of
incomprehensible improvisational skits in search of meaning (or a punch
line) that never went anywhere. I
will say this, though: Star Matthew McConaughey (his second film on this
dubious list) was perfectly cast in Korine's film and was more than credible
in the titular role, but the entire film built around him was one of the
most insufferably self-indulgent pieces of hot trash to be projected on
the silver screen in the past year.
there ever been a more confusing film series than SHAFT?
course, there was the 1971 franchise spawning original, featuring an urban
detective that helped usher in the "blaxploitation" genre into
the mainstream during that period. That film spawned multiple sequels, as well as the sort of
sequel, sort of reboot in 2000's SHAFT. The
series laid dormant for two more decades after that, which built towards
2019's strangely titled...SHAFT...which like the last effort before it,
was both a direct follow-up to what has come before as well as a soft
re-branding and re-imagining of the tone and vide of every other SHAFT
film that we've seen before. This
might be the only action franchise in movie history to have three of its
five entries feature the exact same title.
yeah...and this new iteration was pure junk. It
was a crummy sequel, a misguided reboot, and an awful
piece of fan servicing. There
was simply not much to dig here.
felt good. My TEN WORST
list is complete...but I'm not done yet! Here's a few more films that were not
terrible enough to make the TEN WORST, but were easily forgettable all the same.
NEGLIGIBLE FILMS OF 2019
DOG'S WAY HOME: Another
in an awfully long lineup of talking dog movies that I found
incredibly difficult to sit through.
Excluding the performance good will of David Harbour in the titular role, this
was one of the most creatively lazy and unnecessary reboots
of recent memory.
MEN WANT: A
paint-by-numbers and troupe laden remake of the WHAT WOMEN WANT,
and one that was criminally unfunny and did nothing unique with is
MISTRESS OF EVIL: More
of a mass marketed product hoping to nab quick cash in at the box
office than a truly worthy or needed sequel.
somewhat involving and effective, but cheaply forgettable thriller
that had an ingenious premise that was never successfully
The third film in M.
Night Shyamalan's comic book themed trilogy (comprised of UNBREAKABLE and
SPLIT) emerged as deeply unsatisfying and sometimes laughably
stalker from hell thriller that boasted the superb Isabelle
Huppert in the villainous role, but nothing else of worthy or
Director Rupert Wyatt's
ambitious minded, yet woefully underdeveloped alien invasion
sci-fi drama would have made for a better mini-series than what we
The regrettable and
creatively uninspired Disney factory line of live action adaptations of
their animated classics showed up again in 2019, and even with the
idiosyncratic weirdness of Tim Burton at the helm this DUMBO
remake never took off.
action thriller featured a strong and committed lead performance
by Gina Rodriguez, but ultimately paled in direct comparison to
the 2011 Oscar winning foreign language film of the same name.
WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL, AND VILE:
This made for Netflix
portrait of serial killer Ted Bundy was extremely
uneven, shockingly misguided, and dull.
DETECTIVE PIKACHU: Pokemon
diehards ravenously ate this film up upon its release, but as for
the rest of us this adaptation of the famous brand felt like one
big toy commercial masquerading as a movie.
The second soulless and
cash grabbing live action remake of an animated classic by Disney,
and one that lacked tangible magic in most respects.
This James Gunn produced
thriller had an extremely novel what if comic book premise (what
if Superman - during his early teen years growing up on a farm -
became a psychopathic mass murderer instead of a super hero?), but
the overall execution of it was fundamentally lacking.
worst entry of the entire near 20 year X-MEN franchise was a
lifelessly anticlimactic and supremely monotonous swan song for
this Fox controlled property before Disney (its new owner) takes a
stab at it in the foreseeable future.
DEAD DON'T DIE: This
indie film had seemingly everything going for it (writer/director
Jim Jarmusch at the helm, Bill Murray in the lead role, and it
concerned a zombie apocalypse), but it mostly failed as a funny
comedy and a scary horror flick.
The presence of legendary
director Brain De Palma at the helm of this thriller elevated it
to event status for me; it's all too bad that the final product
was too scattershot and weakly assembled overall.
FAR FROM HOME: The
second Disney led Spider-man solo entry barely felt like a
solo adventure for the famous wall crawler as its jumbled and
substandard scripting made this all the more disposable after the
freshness and greatness of SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE.
LION KING: (SIGH)
action. Remake. Actually, not
really live action. Whatever. Moving
A fact based bank robbery
thriller that felt too depressingly short and underdeveloped to make a
had no shortage of psychopaths from hell thrillers, and this
Blumhouse produced one offered us a convincingly unhinged lead
performance by Octavia Spencer, but a script that was on pure
WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER:
final episode in the entire nine film Skywalker family saga was
high in visual dynamism, but was ill conceived, messily
written, and aggressively fan service-y to the point of
||And finally, here's a dishonorable
mention list of films that I felt were more disappointing than
OPPORTUNITIES of 2019
Netflix original re-teamed NIGHTCRAWLER's tandem of
writer/director Dan Gilroy and star Jake Gyllenhaal, but this time
with decidedly mixed results.
DEATH DAY 2U:
The first entry in this horror-comedy series was a guilty pleasure
as a GROUNDHOG DAY clone morphed with a slasher film, and this
sequel continued the zany fun, minus some of the refinement.
The MCU's first solo female super hero entry was a spoiled affair
for sticking too rigidly to the Marvel house aesthetic that held it back from being truly special and unique.
This intriguing romcom about people suffering from
life-threatening illnesses had stellar lead performances, but
scripting that was about as shamefully manipulative as it gets.
A techno thriller from earlier this year that barely rose above
the qualitative moniker of direct-to-video/VOD fare.
Compared to the recent and far better Stephen King adaptation in
IT: CHAPTER ONE, this new iteration of PET SEMATARY felt like a
qualitative step down.
KING OF THE MONSTERS:
This mostly brainless sequel to the more cerebral Gareth Edwards
GODZILLA outing from 2013 absolutely delivered on monster mayhem
action, but very little else beyond its wondrous spectacle.
An inspirational music drama that delved into the world of reality
TV stardom showcased a great Elle Fanning, but the film never
pushed the material into ay truly compelling territory.
AND THE FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW:
A dumber than a bag of hammers FAST AND FURIOUS spinoff film, but
sometimes it was too idiotically out of control for its own good.
This biopic of the life of J.R.R. Tolkien (yes, that one that
created the literary LORD OF THE RINGS universe) lacked a
thoroughly intriguing dissection of this man's conceptual genius.
The highly improbable third film in the HAS FALLEN franchise
was superior to the second installment, but nevertheless never
quite earned the theatrical ticket price value as a must-see.
Way, way too long, overstuffed, and relying too much on heavy CGI
and annoying jump scares, this long awaited follow-up to the very
good CHAPTER: ONE rarely felt as effectively spooky.
If you wanna see a grandfatherly John Rambo violently mass murder
people in a deliriously effective, retrograde grindhouse third
act, then this fifth RAMBO film will be your cup of tea. All others with weak stomachs, stay away from it.
Director Ang Lee made an unqualified technological stunner with
this assassin thriller, but the storytelling on display didn't
have as much intrepid innovation.
An incredibly chilling and sensationally acted horror thriller
from Ari Aster that also suffered from being monumentally
self-indulgent and bloated.
Arguably the most polarizing entry in the entire series, this
TERMINATOR sequel/soft reboot never fully succeeded at justifying
This Roland Emmerich directed WWII drama was high on incredibly
spiffy and utterly convincing visual effects, but very low on
Waititi's new self described "anti-hate satire" was a
critical darling in the year that was, but I found it too tonally
confused to fully appreciate it.
Zellweger truly shined as Judy Garland in this biopic of the
latter part of the icon's life, but the scripting built around her
performance was lackluster and uninspired.
H O M E