I blame Isaac Newton and his stupid third law. Just because 2018 has had more than its fair share of stunningly great movies, somehow physics dictates that it has to have had an equal but opposite counterbalance. And indeed so it has, more or less, come to pass. For every “Black Panther” there’s been a “Venom.” For every “Paddington 2” there’s been a “Peter Rabbit.” And for every newly minted future classic, such as “You Were Never Really Here” or “Burning” there has been a [REDACTED] or a [REDACTED] (our top 2 picks, you’re just gonna have to click) — movies so profoundly awful, from conception to execution that they will surely occupy plinths in the all-time Hall of Infamy.
Here is where we “celebrate” those ignominious titles — our Worst Films list, aka The Most Bad-Tempered Feature Of The Year. It’s shorter than our Best Of list, which is only right given our generally sunny disposition and the overall quality of the year, but let it also reflect the genuine toxicity of the films that did make it on. As always, there was a plethora of titles that we all agreed were very, very bad, but that no one could muster up the hate-energy to write about — films like “Sherlock Gnomes,” “Mute,” “The Outsider,” “Gringo,” “Mile 22” and “Proud Mary” and a bunch more that we will give a Hard Stare to in the honorable mentions. But right now, here are our Worst Films of 2018, let’s never speak of any of them again. Except maybe number 2, which is kind of hilarious.
Sure, one supposes there are arguably some mild delights to be found in Sony‘s financially successful, undeniably terrible symbiote superhero film “Venom.” But it is a confused, disjointed mess and it’s debatable whether it’s the movie that anyone set out to make — outside of Tom Hardy — with the hapless director having to chase after him and to reshape what was intended to be a bad-ass anti-hero film into a slapstick, unintentional comedy ($1,000 says Ruben Fleischer does not come back for the sequel). Sony, knowing they had tonally unintelligible, incoherent madness on their hands, braced themselves for a huge kick to the groin, but audiences unexpectedly embraced the outsized ridiculousness of the movie, much to their huge relief. And sure there are some dumb joys: Tom Hardy’s ridiculous, hopped-up reporter trying to speaking Brooklynese; the razor-sharp writing as in, “I’m Eddie Brock. I’m a reporter and I always seem to find myself questioning something the government may not be looking at. But I found something really bad”; the goofball scenes that somehow made it into the movie, like Hardy eating and bathing with lobsters; all the snacks (tater tots, eyes, lungs, pancreas, crustaceans); the hilarious miscasting (Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed); and the CGI-slop third-act mess of sticky goo-creatures splattering all over each other. But it’s nonsensicalness gets f*cking tired fast. “Venom” might have made mega-money, will spawn a sequel and was ironically amusing on some levels, but it’s garbled, incomprehensible junk that rolls down the street like a turd in the wind. – Rodrigo Perez
— The Playlist ???? (@ThePlaylist) July 21, 2018
15. “Welcome To Marwen”
The embargo has not lifted so technically I cannot say much here, but Robert Zemeckis’ latest film is “Welcome to Marwen.” Like “The Walk,” inspired by the documentary “Man On Wire,” ‘Marwen’ is a live-action drama inspired by Jeff Malmberg’s 2010 documentary “Marwencol” and it essentially tells the very same story and hews very, very closely to that movie. It is about a man, Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell), who suffers a brutal assault that leaves him in a coma and suffering memory loss and brain damage. After he is released from months of physical therapy and is sent home, he creates an outlet of art therapy—playing with and photographing G.I. Joe-like action and Barbie dolls and creating an imaginary world wherein all these characters live— to help him through his recovery process. It is essentially about a man who creates a fantasy world to escape and cope with trauma and it is on our Worst Films of 2018 list, thanks. – RP
— The Playlist ???? (@ThePlaylist) November 29, 2018
14. “Fifty Shades Freed”
Kind of the way the Oscars held back until “The Return of the King,” we’d assumed the final installment in the so-soft-it’s-basically-blancmange-core BDSM franchise would at least score a top 5 slot here. So count it as a stunning achievement that “Fifty Shades Freed” is not even top 10-worthy: in some ways it’s the least bad of the ‘Shades’ in that by its end it has jettisoned any pretense at sexual transgression and expressly become the elongated, overstyled, dumb-as-a-dildo episode of “Days of Our Lives” that it has always been at heart. Director James Foley gets Ana and Christian’s bland wedding and Romantic™ honeymoon, the itinerary for which looks like a TripAdvisor template, out of the way before the opening titles are done. After that, it’s an exercise in diminishing stakes, as it becomes clear that after three movies touting his insane wealth, even the possibly-mildly-brain-injured Ana is finding it hard to be continually surprised at the material evidence of Christian’s devotion — private planes, new houses, hunky private security guards and jet skis — let alone by their infrequent trips to the Red Room. So a pregnancy subplot is rustled up as well as a laughable kidnapping, as Ana agonizes over which surname to use and Christian is finally, and forever, housebroken. By far the most erotic element here is the glint in Dakota Johnson‘s eye as this talented and interesting actress glimpses the onrushing end of her indentured servitude to this star-making pile of reactionary bollocks: ‘Freed’ at last.
— The Playlist ???? (@ThePlaylist) February 8, 2018
13. “The Cloverfield Paradox”
We’ll give it this much: the way that “The Cloverfield Paradox” arrived was pretty exciting. One minute, it was a studio leftover with a working title yanked from its release date, the next Netflix were releasing a trailer during the Superbowl announcing that the film was a ‘Cloverfield‘ movie, and that it would be available on their service the minute the game was over. But as it turns out, they pretty much had to release the film this way because there was very, very little else to recommend it otherwise. Following the international crew of a space station as they get yanked into a parallel universe accidentally, it very quickly descends into incredibly generic horror-tinged sci-fi nonsense — like the bad final third of “Sunshine” without the good bits, or all of “Supernova.” On paper the cast — Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Zhang Ziyi, Daniel Bruhl, Elizabeth Debicki — are fun, but all except Chris O’Dowd are visibly bored, and it rubs off on the audience. Director Julius Onah isn’t untalented — the film’s more technically accomplished than most of this list at least — but you’re just left a bit puzzled as to why this is an actual movie now, and not something that Dimension ended up releasing straight to video in 1997. The real mystery box here is WTF J.J. Abrams was thinking. [our review]
— The Playlist ???? (@ThePlaylist) March 27, 2018
A remake nobody asked for, of a film that has dated so badly it’s now less a beloved classic than a useful audio-visual aid for a symposium on consent? Except this time we’ll court the Latinx audience and ingeniously gender-swap it because everyone knows those issues don’t apply to men? “Yes please!” cried nobody. Except presumably the filmmakers behind “Overboard,” which manages to retain everything misbegotten about the original (rapiness, illogic, a sub-moronic view of the class divide) while chucking the one thing it had going for it — chemistry between its leads — into the sea. We’re reliably assured that male lead Eugenio Derbez is the biggest star in Mexico, which is good for him because on the evidence of an English-language filmography that reads more like a rap sheet (“Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” “Geostorm,” “Jack and Jill“), stateside stardom is not assured. Here, there’s such a stunning absence of spark between him and certified spark plug Anna Faris that it’s not clear if they were actually on set at the same time, or just spliced together in post. Use the oceanic stretches of emptiness where the laughs should be to contemplate that conundrum, as well as to wonder if Eva Longoria is so ill-suited to the dowdy-best-friend role because maybe her character is the victim of her own “Overboard”ing. Yes, that’s right, the most enjoyable parts of “Overboard” will be the bits you make up yourself.
— The Playlist ???? (@ThePlaylist) December 21, 2017
11. “The 15:17 To Paris”
There is a section of the cinephile community online (and also the National Board of Review) who are united by their willingness to give absolutely anything that Clint Eastwood makes a glowing pass. And you know, more power to them, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, etc etc. We mention it here if only because it feels like Clint made the “The 15:17 To Paris” specifically for them on a dare. “Oh, you even liked ‘Jersey Boys,’ didya, kid? Well, here’s a 90-minute movie based on a real-life incident that lasted approximately 30 seconds, starring the people who actually took part in the incident, and who are clearly very brave and seem nice and everything, are also approximately as good at acting as the baby in ‘American Sniper.’” It’s a movie that begins with an angry Judy Greer telling a schoolteacher “My god is bigger than your statistics!” and spirals from there. Mostly into boredom. It’s nearly a sort of fascinating avant-garde experiment — can you make a major studio release starring non-actors, that’s edited as awkwardly as a Tim & Eric sketch? But ultimately, it doesn’t even raise much interest as outsider art, partly because you know that Clint is capable of so much better. If he wants to while away his talent on making films with the aims, nuance, and aesthetics of a Facebook video for a campaign in a Congressional special election, that’s fine, but we’ll stick with the actually-halfway-decent “Sully,” thank you. [our review]
— The Playlist ???? (@ThePlaylist) December 13, 2017