Welcome to the Worst.
There’s a lot to celebrate in 2017 that was awful. One of them, however, wasn’t movies (or tv, or video games). So I hesitate to put out a list of the worst of 2017 without a little bit of context.
First, no easy slams. Sure, there were your Monster Trucks and Geostorms, but those films were always kind of destined to be cringy and terrible.
Second, I’m not going to fall for the trap of mistaking something that wasn’t made for me with something being objectively terrible. I actually kind of liked The My Little Pony movie (its strong anti-Trump themes were incredibly refreshing), and while by the end of 50 Shades Darker I really just wanted Christian Grey to have died in that helicopter crash, I recognize there are people who love this story and these characters. And I’m not going to crap all over them just because something isn’t to my taste. And in the year of The Disaster Artist, we can hopefully celebrate the weirdos who put out strange independent films because of their passion.
Third, besides, there are much worse things. And so I’ve tried to concentrate on them– collecting 10 “films” that should’ve “worked” for me. Several of these are big budget movies or done by experienced filmmakers who should know better. Others are by directors capable of much better. In fact, if there’s one common theme for these, it’s the “Spider-Man Rule” of movies– “with great filmmaking power comes great filmmaking responsibility.” So I’m going to hold these people to higher standards, especially if their efforts were backed by hundreds of millions of dollars of budget.
Let’s be clear that what gets produced in Hollywood is a zero-sum game: the money put behind any of these films is money that didn’t go to un-produced films. And while I’m glad the streaming outlets are putting resources behind great films, let’s also recognize that giving money to Woody Allen or David Ayer (#9 and 10 on this list) is money that didn’t go someplace else to someone more deserving. I can at least give props to someone like David Lowery who put the money he made from Pete’s Dragon into making his passion project (#8 on this list). I only wish it had turned out better for him.
So, then, here you are: the worst of 2017:
10. Bright – Yes, I’m including streaming movies on here (they’re in my best-of list, too, so it’s only fair), especially since this was a BFD that Netflix was making this blockbuster-type movie. I just don’t know what went wrong here, but this is almost incomprehensible. I like the idea of mixing high fantasy and gritty urban, but this was not the way to do it. The attempts at social commentary fall so flat they’re almost laughable. Will Smith, how do you keep ending up releasing movies in December that end up in my worst of lists? You’re on notice for 2018.
9. Wonder Wheel – It’s like Woody Allen is inviting us to say, “Hey, maybe it’s time we talked about how this filmmaker treats his female characters.” Not a good time for this conversation for you, Mr. Allen. And Jim Belushi and Justin Timberlake. I’m just left flabbergasted. And if this ended up on your best of list, I’m even more flabbergasted. Just go read this.
8. A Ghost Story – A piece of pretentious nonsense that decides to put its “message” in the mouth of its most abrasive character, a know-it-all drunk hipster, and beat you over the head with it in a ridiculous monologue. Also, that didn’t need to be Casey Affleck under that sheet. It could’ve been literally anyone. And while I didn’t know about the allegations about his treatment of women before I reviewed Manchester By the Sea, I did know about them here. And it’s baffling to me this ends up on anyone’s best of list. Oh, except that scene where Rooney Mara grief-eats a whole pie was legit.
7. The Book of Henry – What the hell was this?!?! This is apparently the movie that got Colin Trevorrow fired from making the next Star Wars, and after seeing it, I don’t blame anyone for making that call. And inexplicable turn takes this from tearjerker over death of savant child to. . . dead child walking his grieving mother through how to kill their abusive next door neighbor and get away with it. Wow. Just wow.
6. Transformers: The Last Knight – We don’t expect much from Michael Bay and his Transformers movies, and this reaffirmed that. We had Grimlock, King of the Dinobots, review the movie for us, and his summary was, “Grimlock small dinobot brain, but even Grimlock know that super dumb.”
5. The Snowman – Why, Mister Police? We Gave You All The Clues. When the audience laughs at what are supposed to be tense moments, you know you have a problem. This was supposed to be Zodiac meets Let the Right One In and instead is more Manos, the Hands of Fate.
4. The Emoji Movie – Still unclear why this movie got made, except that somehow it managed to beat the far superior Atomic Blonde (in my top 10) at the box office its first week in release. America, this is why we can’t have nice things. My daughter (the target demo for the movie) texted her friends she’s never cringed so much in a movie. Smart kid.
3. Downsizing – Small review: this movie was b.s. You can read the rest here.
2. Split – This set the bar for bad movies all year long. It was so bad, it actively ruined several other movies for me, specifically in its attempts to tie itself to Shyamalan’s Unbreakable. I don’t expect much from him, but I don’t expect it to be this bad.
1. mother! – throughout this list I’ve gone after a lot of hacks: Bay, Shyamalan, Trevorrow, Ayer. But Darren Aronofsky should know better. This was impeccably shot and put together by a filmmaker who knows what he’s doing. But what he’s doing here is 100% bad.
And there it is. A load of terrible movies.
Agree? Disagree? Did I miss something egregious? Let us know what you think, and may 2018 give us better than these ten sorry flicks.