With a few days to reflect on all the movies I watched in the last calendar year, I feel very content with 2019’s slate. But I still watched a ton of crap. Too much, in fact. Just when I would get on a role, see a few good films in a row, something like The Hustle would come around and remove all the wind from my sails.
It’s part of the job, I suppose, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some merit in exploring where film in 2019 went wrong. Although I’ll do my best to provide a few snarky remarks in this very article, it is, at its core, constructive. Sayings such as “we learn more from our failures than our successes” are overused for a reason. While I could write thousands of words on why I love Uncut Gems so much, it is just as important to remark upon why The Last Summer is probably one of the worst things that a teenager could watch on Netflix. (That’s saying a lot considering more than a quarter of the films in this article are Netflix originals.) Also, blowing off a little steam in a productive way is healthy and, when discussing bad movies, really satisfying.
As with my rundown of the best movies of the year, there are certainly gaps. Frankly, I bowed out of watching a few films — I couldn’t bring myself to view something such as After, Tall Girl, or Little — because, well, I have standards. Surprisingly.
Let’s get to the rankings, starting with more than a few dishonorable mentions broken down into a few groups:
The “I Don’t Overwhelmingly Hate These Movies But They’re Clearly Not Effective” Group
The Sound of Silence
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
The “Man, this is REALLY Testing My Patience” Group
What Men Want
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary
The “I Hate These Movies and They Could Easily be in My Top 10 If Asked on Another Day” Group
Murder Mystery — Out of all the lazy, straight-to-Netflix movies from Adam Sandler over the years, Murder Mystery is one of the more frustrating ones, mostly because it had the potential for something fun.
Five Feet Apart — I think we’re all done with fateful romances about sick teenagers, right?
The Dirt — A band biopic done horribly wrong. The Dirt revels in glamorizing how awful the members of Mötley Crüe are without much substance to it.
6 Underground — From watching this movie, it appears that Michael Bay is okay with a small group of mercenaries raiding other countries and killing foreign leaders to self-appoint another one. Because that’s not evil or anything.
Falling Inn Love — I know I shouldn’t take a movie titled “Falling Inn Love” seriously, but shouldn’t I still have fun with it?
Fractured — This movie is one giant middle finger to internal logic.
Mary — Nothing happens, and then the movie is over. The end!
The Hustle — Someone please get Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson better material.
Secret Obsession — Re: my thoughts on Falling Inn Love and swap the titles.
The Lion King — Possibly the dullest Disney remake to date. Like the eyes of the uncanny animals, this movie is lifeless.
The insanity within Serenity is even more confounding because it is the brainchild of Steven Knight, the main creative force behind Peaky Blinders, Locke, and even Eastern Promises among other titles. The fact that the screen is filled with talents such as Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jason Clarke, Diane Lane, Djimon Hounsou, and Jeremy Strong makes Serenity even more of a wild trip.
The film starts fairly normal with our main character Baker Dill (that name should have been the first sign that something insane was afoot) struggling as a fisherman on a remote island. One instantly gets the sense that there’s something off about the proceedings. Naturally, a twist comes, and the nature of that twist may win the award for the Holy Shit Movie Moment of 2019. It is wrongheaded, silly, and baffling. Even worse, it points to many ugly ideas about abuse and mental health.
I won’t spoil exactly what happens for you here as that initial WTF sensation is absolutely wild. For any prospective screenwriters out there, Serenity is a great example of how not to craft a twisty, psychological thriller.
*To read the site’s full review of Serenity, please click here.
#9: The Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby
I get it: the point of these Christmas Prince movies is not to look for artistry in the purest sense or to parse through to uncover some deeper meaning. They’re Netflix’s bid at making schmaltzy, light Christmas movies in the vein of Hallmark, where each set is stuffed with holiday decorations and an overabundance of cheer. You should never approach these films with any bit of seriousness.
But even with that caveat, The Royal Baby is too stupid to handle. The plot revolves around a treaty that is signed between the royals’ Aldovia and the equally fake country Penglia every 100 years. Failing to do so will cause the treaty to lapse and for war to break out…over a symbolic gesture. Between two countries that don’t have standing armies. Why does this exist again?
Did I mention that there’s a curse on the firstborn child if the treaty isn’t signed? Because there is!
*To read the site’s full review of The Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby, please click here.
#8: The Last Summer
I have a feeling that the Netflix algorithm has become sentient and created movies like The Last Summer on its own for all the teenage girls that aimlessly scroll through Netflix. It has a bunch of hunky tween obsessions led by KJ Apa; interconnected stories of romance; and the romanticism of that summer before college. It’s also clearly created by a robot because The Last Summer is filled with horrible approximations of how humans interact.
The Last Summer is everything wrong with the romance genre, in which no one can survive outside of a relationship and each person acts on their worst impulses to either get the girl/guy or to have sex. No one is taught a lesson for their misdeeds, and all of these characters will probably end up alone because they are setting horrible foundations for their romantic lives. It’s oversentimental, fake, and even gross.
*To read the site’s full review of The Last Summer, please click here.
Marlon Wayans is singlehandedly attempting to take comedy back to the 90s when people would dress up in fat suits and use prosthetics to play multiple characters in the same film. The problem is that Eddie Murphy is an icon, and Marlon Wayans is probably best known for White Chicks.
No matter how you slice it, Sextuplets, a movie about a man who learns his family is much larger than he realized, isn’t funny. It panders to the lowest common denominator every chance it gets, and the less we talk about it the better.
*To read the site’s full review of Sextuplets, please click here.
I’m as shocked as you are that I went out of my way to see this movie.
UglyDolls is less than 90 minutes long, but the actual experience of seeing the movie felt approximately 19 hours longer than watching The Irishman thanks to all the shameless appeals made to profit off of the toyline. The worst part of it is that UglyDolls attempts to hide the fact that it is a soulless corporate product with bland, fake celebrations of diversity. In reality, it was all window dressing for shallow, annoying pop songs by Kelly Clarkson, Pitbull, and Blake Shelton, among other celebrities that were free for an afternoon to do some voice recording.
No matter how you slice it, UglyDolls is the worst of what animation can offer.
*To read the site’s full review of UglyDolls, please click here.
#5: The Fanatic
Whether or not The Fanatic goes on to become an ironic classic remains to be seen, but it is really funny in all the wrong ways thanks to a delirious John Travolta performance. It’s a perfect storm of badness, with the combination of a hammy actor with bad, possibly distasteful material and a director who doesn’t have the capabilities to rein him in.
Travolta plays up all the cartoonish ticks of a person who is on the spectrum, constantly swaying back and forth, staring at the floor, and having childlike tendencies. With a script that starts with his character Moose saying ” I can’t talk long, I gotta poop,” and a story that wants to talk about the nature of fandom but is ironically regressive about said subject, The Fanatic is undeniably misguided.
*To read the site’s full review of The Fanatic, please click here.
#4: Berlin, I Love You
There’s a reason you probably haven’t heard of Berlin, I Love You; its interconnected stories that are intended to function as one big love letter to Berlin are either mismanaged, poorly thought out, unnecessary, or some combination of them all.
The first story begins with a depressed loner wanting to end it all after a break-up and drive himself off a bridge before his smart car — which is basically K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider — automatically turns on the breaks and rehabilitates the man before the car is passed on to another person. Another story involves a man (played by Mickey Rourke) creepily hitting on a much younger woman at a bar, who then turns out to be his estranged daughter. Do you feel the love for Berlin yet?
What’s even more shocking is that the movie is filled with notable actors such as Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Mickey Rourke, Luke Wilson, Jim Sturgess, Jenna Dewan, and Diego Luna. If Cats didn’t exist, Berlin, I Love You would be the cinematic oddity of the year.
Speaking of Cats, allow me to pile on the film which has been getting dunked on since even before the first trailer dropped online. Indeed, it is very bizarre, and not even for the bad CGI or Rebel Wilson eating humanoid cockroaches, but for the entirety of its internal logic, which is only a few small steps above utter nonsense. (Related: can someone tell me what a Jellicle Cat is?)
Everything about this movie seems wrong. The cats grow and shrink in size in every scene as they sing fairly horrible music in disgusting, dingy alleyways. Every frame is an eyesore and a great example of why Tom Hooper isn’t a good director and whose career has greatly benefitted from the fluffy The King Speech winning Best Picture.
Cats will be studied for the years to come, both by film scholars in classrooms and drunk people at midnight showings. It is easily one of the biggest miscalculations by a major studio this decade.
*To read the site’s full review of Cats, please click here.
Unplanned is a dangerous film, and not because it is fighting against abortion rights head-on, but by how it presents itself and its arguments. The movie, which follows abortion clinic director Abby Jacobson’s decision to become an anti-abortion activist, plays like a horror movie as it fetishizes blood and utilizes scare tactics to get its point across. Even worse, each pro-choice person is vilified, and nothing but greater profits from their clinics will soothe their cartoonishly hardened souls.
The amateurish production value is also a serious problem in Unplanned, which further undercuts the film’s earnest attempts to appeal to reason. It is riddled with bad acting and direction while stitched together by voice-over work that sounds like it was recorded in an echoing apartment with a $30 microphone.
Regardless of your stance on abortion, Unplanned is a horrible, disgusting way to pose an argument, and it will ultimately do more harm than good as it further polarizes people and keeps them from having an honest, reasonable conversation.
#1: The Haunting of Sharon Tate
Many real tragedies have been portrayed in films over the years, but very few of them have less subtlety or grace than The Haunting of Sharon Tate. The lurid title alone offers everything you need to know about how distasteful the film is.
The Haunting of Sharon is hardly even a movie, as Sharon Tate (played by Hillary Duff) and her group of friends merely relax at their place on Cielo Drive for 70 minutes while Tate has visions of her demise before the Manson family eventually breaks in. Each actor talks in a bad Transatlantic accent, as if their research of the film consisted of watching seven minutes of a Katharine Hepburn movie. And, as you may expect, the climax is staged like an exploitation film. The Haunting of Sharon Tate even has the nerve to try to hide how tasteless it is by framing the movie as an ode to Tate’s legacy through fake interview footage with Duff talking to someone off-camera — as if that allows the movie to then turn someone’s death into cheap horror thrills.
There’s nothing here for anyone, and we should all hope it disappears from the public consciousness completely.
*To read the site’s full review of The Haunting of Sharon Tate, please click here.
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Good thing I haven’t seen any of those movies in the top 10. I think I’ll stick with my typical obscure and international fare.
That sounds like a MUCH better way to spend your time 😂😂😂😂
I guess so. Hahaha! Thank you.
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I’ve managed to avoid all of your top 10 apart from Serenity, and that’s on me because I actively sought it out after hearing how terrible it was! I can confirm…it really was terrible.
Hahahahaha that’s funny! It truly is very very bad, so much so that I kind of appreciate it in weird way
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