This time of year we’re usually busy piling praise on the best movies of the year. And for good reason. There’s a ton to celebrate. If push came to shove, I could crank out a list of 100 movies that I loved this year including everything from critical darling The Florida Project down to cinematic popcorn Kong: Skull Island and be entirely happy recommending each and every movie on that list. But the time for praise is over. I’ve published a Top Ten. The time for reckoning is upon us, the day for red penning this bitch is nigh. Let’s discuss the worst 10 movies of 2017.
By and large, I try to insulate myself from wasting my time watching movies I know I’m going to hate. I don’t queue up the latest Adam Sandler and friends comedic abortion (no Sandy Wexler for me). I mostly skip the early year studio horror releases (sorry Rings and Bye Bye Man). I didn’t subject myself to a second round of Anatasia and Mr. Grey (no needed to get any shades Darker up in here). I won’t be caught dead at animated movies geared towards the five and under crowd (which helped me miss The Emoji Movie, thank God.) And when the studio doesn’t screen things for us critics, I’m usually not willing to shell out for curios such as purportedly disastrous Geostorm or the apparently inept Flatliners remake.
Before we get to the main event, it’s worth shouting out five rather disappointing efforts the likes of The Bad Batch, Suburbicon, Ghost in the Shell, Bright and Life, all of which had mid-to-great promise and squandered it in on efforts that very easily could have made mention on the Worst Of list to come. They weren’t quite the worst of the year but damn if they weren’t bitterly disappointing.
But none of them were quite as bad as…
10. THE GREAT WALL
Matt Damon’s career has been in death spiral free fall since earning an Oscar nomination for his work in The Martian and it’s worth noting that his other major film contribution this year (Suburbicon) just barely missed a mention on this top ten. The Great Wall though is just a miserable cinematic experience through and through filled with terrible CGI, hacky dialogue, nonsensical mythos and a cloying and outdated White Savior narrative. A prime example of the implosion that occurs when movies and globalization collide, this is a movie made for American and Chinese audiences alike and yet has no appeal for either. [Full Review]
9. DEATH NOTE
A few years ago, I would have consider Adam Wingard one of the fastest rising horror directors the globe over. Then came the mediocre Blair Witch, which tempered my praise and then the notoriously awful Death Note. The movie just patently doesn’t work. Attempting to cram a celebrated Japanese manga into a 101 minute supernatural thriller, Wingard’s film is hurried and barebones, spilling over with laugh-out-loud bad dialogue and characters we don’t give a damn about. A severe misfire and painful watch.
8. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES
Johnny Depp has rarely been worse as the caricature of a character that Jack Sparrow has become than in this wretched fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The CGI-loaded swashbuckler is simply no fun at all, a final sendoff to a franchise that hasn’t had wind in its sails for over a decade. There’s gaping plot holes, unintentionally hilarious melodrama and enough bad special effects work to make even the spectacle look hollow and cheap. If we never see another one of these, it’ll be too soon. [Full Review]
7. THE CIRCLE
Another fall from grace comes in the form of The Circle, a film I had included as one of my most anticipated of the year. EuropaCorp’s unceremonious dumping of it in limited theaters and the refusal to screen the film for critics should have tipped me off but, as a James Ponsoldt stan, I had tickets for opening night. Nothing could have prepared me for the utter train wreck that is the “cautionary tale” about technology. The stuff that works makes the stuff that does not all the more confounding with a final 20 minutes that feels like it was written in an alternative universe. In terms of the performances, Emma Watson has never seemed so out of her element and Boyhood’s Ellar Coltraine gives an embarrassing turn that probably proves he isn’t cut out to be a career actor. Just a whole bucket of yikes.
6. THE SPACE BETWEEN US
Charisma-vacuum Asa Butterfield was supposed to do a press tour The Space Between Us before someone wised up and decided that the less said about the kid and the movie, the better. The Space Between Us mixes potboiler melodrama with sappy teenage romance, stirs in an awful take from Butterfield and tars and feathers the whole thing with one of the most eye-rolling and juvenile scripts from the year. The Space Between Us is a Lifetime movie given a bigger budget, championing the same dramatic pedigree as daytime soap opera and peddling one of the most shoulder-shrugging love stories you’ll see on the big screen. Best to forget this thing ever existed in the first place. [Full Review]
My disdain for Scott Cooper’s Hostiles is well documented at this point. Though some saw a hard-wrought meditation on cycles of violence and redemption, I saw a putrid white conqueror pity party salvo that used its Native American cast as tokens to trade in exchange for empathy for Christian Bale’s character. Largely well acted, Hostiles is characterized by a dulling start-and-stop narrative that refuses to build momentum and a damn good shake of psuedo-intellectual philosophizing that equates battlefield bravado with systemic genocide. A striking appearing picture baring a butt-ugly soul. [Full Review]
4. THE MUMMY
The Mummy was so bad it got an entire franchise cancelled before it even started, ruining the hopes and dreams of Universal’s Dark Universe. An example of star-powered hubris run amok behind the scenes, The Mummy is a hodgepodge of bad decisions, hammy performances and stupid squandering of opportunity. Wanting so badly to be a launching point for a kind of Avengers for monsters, The Mummy never takes the time to define what it is – does it want to be action? adventure? comedy? horror? – and instead just throwing the genre kitchen sink at the screen and hoping that something will stick. Nothing does. If The Mummy does anything right, it proves perfect proof for studios putting the cart before the horse when it comes to franchising that they should instead focus on making one damn good movie before envisioning the ten to follow.
3. BELOW HER MOUTH
You probably didn’t hear a ton about Below Her Mouth, a “sexy” homoerotic drama/thriller but it certainly warrants inclusion in the discussion on worst of the year. Reminiscent of The Room, Below Her Mouth throws liberal splashes of sex at the screen, has an almost alien understanding of human interaction and features one of the worst performances (Erika Linder failing to pass off an accent) and scripts of the year. Save yourself the feature length runtime and just visit PornHub for an equally satisfying dramatic endeavor. [Full Review]
2. THE SNOWMAN
From The Snowman’s totally incorrect tagline “I gave you all the clues” (the killer leaves no clues) to the film’s main character’s name (Harry Hole) to the fact that the IMDB description reads “Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman” (there’s no scarf) and through Val Kilmer’s tragic and strange as all hell overdubbing (because of cancer), absolutely nothing in The Snowman adds up. It’s about as close as you can get to so bad it’s good but with so much talent involved, there’s no excuses for it being this epically terrible. [Full Review]
1. TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT
It might seem an uninspired and cheap move pilling on a five-quel to the Transformers franchise but that just goes to prove how utterly awful this monstrosity truly was. There simply was no worse movie in 2017 than Transformers: The Last Knight. Endlessly obnoxious and obnoxiously endless, this fifth Michael Bay smashing robots together movie is cinema’s lowest common denominator complete with epically awful dialogue, headache-inducing spectacle and all the sexism, racism and jingoism that comes standard with any given Michael Bay movie. The result is a rancid assault to good taste and good action movie sensibilities and because there is no god another one is in the works. [Full Review]