A producer on Twitter recently entreated critics not to craft Worst-of lists this year, and I couldn’t disagree more: Observers of film should absolutely be praising the best of cinema, but it’s only by remembering the shortcomings of the art form by which, ideally, artists can learn from their mistakes. And mistakes were definitely made this year:
10. (tie) “Peppermint”/“Proud Mary” /“Red Sparrow”
Can we have some strong screenplays to go with our strong female leads, please? This trashy trio of action sagas put guns in the hands of some of our most talented actresses but then forgot to supply them with things like character, motivation, or logic.
9. “Christopher Robin”
After dumping the last great “Winnie the Pooh” animated feature on a Harry Potter opening weekend, Disney added insult to injury by crafting this glum and tedious look at a grown-up Christopher (Ewan McGregor) in the throes of a midlife crisis. We didn’t need a three-dimensional CG Pooh, and we certainly didn’t need the twist that Christopher abandoned living, sentient beings, and not just stuffed animals, in the woods when he went off to school.
8. “Fifty Shades Freed”
Audiences deserve glossy fantasies about super-rich luxury and earth-shattering sex, but this prim, reactionary franchise always chickened out of dealing with the latter. And if we want wealth porn in our romantic fantasies, “Crazy Rich Asians” is more than filling that void.
I’m not mad, Luca Guadagnino, but I’m very disappointed that you followed up three great movies with this misguided, unfocused, ugly and dull remake of a classic horror freakout.
6. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”
Just being the second-worst “Nutcracker” movie of all time (after 2010’s “The Nutcracker in 3D”) doesn’t save this overstuffed mess from ranking among 2018’s very worst. It took two entire credited directors to craft a film that flails about from set piece to set piece without ever landing on a point; all they had to do was let us watch Misty Copeland dance for two hours, but no.
5. “Ready Player One”
If I want to wallow in pop culture nostalgia that has no underlying point or idea to it, I’d rather marathon those VH1 “I Love the '80s/'90s/'00s” specials. I may have gotten the references to “Buckaroo Banzai,” but I shouldn’t have been left feeling like I would rather be watching that movie than this one.
4. “Life Itself”
The year’s squickiest release was so full of fake profundity and wide-eyed codswallop about the interconnectedness of life and the resilience of the human spirit that I wanted to arrange for every copy of the film to be run over by the same bus that takes out the heroine early on.
This wrongheaded John Travolta biopic about the legendary gangster was so haphazardly thrown together that it became an easy whipping boy for the few people (mostly film critics) who bothered to watch it. It’s not a legendary disaster, but it makes so many wrong turns that it forms a perfect circle.
2. “The Happytime Murders”
With “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and this misbegotten, unfunny puppets-talk-dirty-and-have-bodily-functions “comedy” both being released this calendar year, Melissa McCarthy has a decent shot at winning a simultaneous Oscar and Razzie.
1. “The Hurricane Heist”
It’s about bad guys who use the weather to rob a bunch of money, and a good guy who uses the weather to fight the bad guys, and it makes even less sense than that synopsis would suggest. There were less competent movies this year, perhaps, but none as jaw-droppingly stupid.