You’ve checked out the slideshow of our 2010 Worst Movie poll, but that only scratched the surface of the year’s awfulness. This year, 50 critics named 107 films; in our compendium of ballots and commentary, they own their choices, big time.
Who sneered that Winter’s Bone is “a pointless hillbilly vignette about illiterate backwoods cretins”? Who declared Sex and the City 2 “camp’s Gotterdammerung”? Which Times critic straight-up called Little Fockers a “piece of shit”? Read on!
The system: Each mention of a film earned that film one point, with a bonus point awarded each time a critic specifically named the film the absolute worst of the year. A link associated with a critic’s name indicates that we pulled their picks from a previously published list.
Sam Adams, Philadelphia City Paper
One of my proudest moments of 2010 was when some discerning soul found their way to my piddling personal blog by Googling “tim burton alice in wonderland a disgrace.” I saw more incompetent movies last year, but none as soulless or as cynically calculated, or so thoroughly confirming the artistic bankruptcy of a once-promising talent. Disney scribe Linda Woolverton turns Lewis Carroll’s morbid, multilayered phantasmagoria into a generic Mulan rewrite — one imagines her toiling with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on one side of her keyboard, Joseph Campbell for Dummies on the other — and Burton’s theme-park visuals are more Imagineered than imaginative. Even with her head digitally swollen, Helena Bonham Carter miraculously manages to underplay the Red Queen’s catchphrase, but Johnny Depp’s mincing, frizzy-haired Hatter is the star at his indulgent worst; better Pirates 4 than this. It’s gotten to the point where I’m afraid to rewatch Ed Wood or Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure lest I find the seeds of Burton’s decline scattered among the pearls. With the exception of Robert Zemeckis, I can’t think of another director so thoroughly ruined by access to a bottomless technological toolbox. Burton’s gone down the rabbit hole, and he’s not coming back.
David Ansen, Newsweek
Life During Wartime
Richard Brody, The New Yorker
There’s pleasure in recalling a terrific film that has fallen into oblivion but a peculiar masochism to dredging up a dire cinematic experience happily forgotten, which is why, instead of mentally trekking back to last January’s dumping grounds, I’m drawing this short list of the year’s two worst movies from among those I’ve seen recently and still unfortunately have in the foreground of memory.
Secret Sunshine, directed by Lee Chang-dong, tells the story of a young widow who moves from Seoul to a small town with her young son. Not long thereafter, the boy is kidnapped and killed, and guess what: The woman is inconsolable; she derives no solace from religion, love, or sex, and she fails to do so in scenes of pallid psychological overtness. When, soon after arriving in town, she offers advice to a shopkeeper, it’s clear that, near the film’s end, this advice will be taken to happy effect; and, though the woman may have peeled a bushel of apples in all the meals she’s eaten throughout the story’s duration, the one time she’s shown doing so, the presence of a knife leaves no doubt about its tragic use. The film has one terrific (albeit brief) scene, when she goes to prison to visit her son’s killer; it’s a sharp comic contrivance, but Lee uses it as a melodramatic trigger of earnest doings. The simplistic storytelling, thin characterization, and mechanistic filmmaking steep banalities in self-importance.
Blue Valentine is a blend of a TV commercial and an acting class; it’s a portentous and monotonous slog through deterministically scripted plot points, overcalculated performances, and artificial poignancy — an utter non-experience.
Lane Brown, Vulture
1. Tron: Legacy
3. The Last Airbender
4. Robin Hood
5. Clash of the Titans
Ty Burr, Boston Globe
The Last Airbender
The Nutcracker in 3D
Sex and the City
The Virginity Hit
Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times/NPR
From stinkers to head-scratchers, in no particular order:
Black Swan. If only women would loosen up, put out, and orgasm already, they’d be SO much happier.
Love and Other Drugs. Sadly, they’ll still die.
Dancing Across Borders. White entitlement patting itself on the back.
The Cartel. Ignorant rant masquerading as reportage.
Killers. Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl masquerading as actors.
Picture Me. Immaturity and self-pity masquerading as exposé.
Shutter Island. REALLY, Marty??
To Die for Tano. Words fail me.
Predators. Thank god Splice made us forget that Adrien Brody was ever in this generic, racist mess.
Inception. Some directors should never have access to a budget greater than $200.
Heartbreaker. The romantic comedy that wasn’t, thanks to a stiff named Vanessa Paradis.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Anal rape suddenly lost its appeal.
Justin Chang, Variety
For Colored Girls
Richard Corliss, Time
Made in Dagenham
Manohla Dargis, New York Times
Little Fockers earns my vote for the worst of the year not simply because it’s lousy, but also because it was made by people (Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Paul Weitz, Jane Rosenthal) who should know better. Were they contractually forced to put this piece of shit into theaters — or are they as contemptuous of the audience as the movie suggests? Valentine’s Day, directed by Garry Marshall and featuring a frantic cast of embarrassed stars, near-stars, and whozat faces was a close second. But Fockers wins this dishonorable race because its combination of cynicism and talent is a greater insult than the haplessness of a filmmaker like Mr. Marshall.
David Denby, The New Yorker
Alice in Wonderland
Bilge Ebiri, New York
Alice in Wonderland
Love and Other Drugs
David Edelstein, New York
Little Fockers. The worst movie of the year is in a class by itself. It’s both strenuous and dirgelike — a comedy made by once-talented people who took the big sequel money and are visibly depressed at having to make the picture. They should be.
For Colored Girls. So shamelessly terrible it would make a great midnight hoot-fest if you had the stomach to laugh at Ntozake Shange or some of the best (and most underused) actresses of their generation.
Sex and the City 2. Camp’s “Gotterdammerung.”
Tron: Legacy. All that computing power and it still looks like Disco Night at the jai-alai fronton.
How Do You Know? You just do.
Hereafter. Hailed by NY Film Festival programmers as a masterly summing-up of Clint Eastwood’s long career, this impersonal film — shot from a Peter Morgan first draft the writer has virtually disowned — is too lame to make a decent ghost story, too contrived to enlighten us about how to live in the shadow of death.
Robin Hood. War is hell — on the eyes and ears — in Ridley Scott’s pompous, interminable hash, which is rich in bogus historical context.
Machete. The grindhouse deserves better.
The Expendables. Best watched as a rare case study in egregious male plastic surgery.
Black Swan. Goofy horror-movie tropes + goofier Method acting clichés + ballet done as Grand Guignol = Roman Polanski’s Showgirls.
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
5. Welcome to the Rileys
4. Charlie St. Cloud
3. Robin Hood
2. A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop
1. The Book of Eli
Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine
1. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: V.C. Andrews on crank.
2. The Wolfman: Worst gay bear porn ever.
3. Daniel & Ana: Can’t wait to show this to my sister.
4. Hatchet II: More oblivious than Black Swan.
5. Legion: That’s me as the pained, mouth-agape baddie.
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street: Sells itself like a lascivious used car salesman.
7. Sex and the City 2: Shrill, racist skankitude reeks of an STD.
8. In My Sleep: Mulholland Drive as made by the Melrose Place fan club.
9. Robin Hood: Another dreary, eye-searing hack job by the never-great Diddley Squat.
10. The Company Men: The ghoulies at FOX News probably love this one.
Tim Grierson, Yahoo’s the Projector
5. The Last Airbender. Amazingly, I still think I hate this movie less than most of my colleagues do. I just felt bad for it — and particularly for Aasif Mandvi, who provided my only moments of enjoyment amidst some of the ugliest 3-D I had to sit through all year.
4. The Last Song. “The Miley Cyrus Show” skit on Saturday Night Live may not seem funny, but if you’ve endured The Last Song, it’s painfully, painfully accurate about her particular brand of anti-charm. She can’t do romantic chemistry. She can’t do petulant youthful rebellion. She can’t cry. I’m not entirely convinced she’s even human.
3. Little Fockers. The only time I laughed during the movie was when I imagined how much Ben Stiller’s Greenberg character would detest these people.
2. Frankie & Alice. Or, Everything That’s Wrong With Self-Serious Indie Films, Ego-Tripping Star Vehicles, Disease-of-the-Week Oscar Bait, and Movies in Which Characters Are Haunted by Their Stupid Mysterious Past That We’ll Have to Revisit Through a Series of Tediously Oblique Flashbacks Until We Finally Say, “Okay, It Was a Car Crash! We Get It Already!”
1. For Colored Girls. Rape! Secretly gay husbands! Children dropped out of windows! Men who aren’t no good! AIDS! Janet Jackson’s immobile face! Victimization porn! Tyler Perry’s graceless, didactic direction! Wow, being an African-American woman isn’t just hard — it’s downright exhausting.
J. Hoberman, Village Voice
Stephen Holden, New York Times
Glenn Kenny, Some Came Running
In considering a worst-films-of-2010, I think of the perhaps-too-often-quoted dictum put forward by Robert Warshow: “A man watches a movie, and the critic must acknowledge that he is that man.” So I limit my not-quite-ten worst list to films that made this particular man squirm in his seat, look at his watch, and ask God as he understood Him to bring the damn thing to an end. Movies so ostentatious in their pain-dispensing that not even the generally diverting play of that man’s mind could distract him from his discomfort. I will not pay my fellow grandstanding critics in kind by, say, citing Trash Humpers as one of the year’s worst, even though it could hardly be said to be among any year’s best, merely because I was, in fact, able to sit through it without ever losing the will to live. Not so with the pictures listed below.
Death at a Funeral. I understand that Neil LaBute movies are supposed to make you uncomfortable. But not this way.
Due Date. All of The Hangover’s piss-poor attitude, none of its funny jokes. Bonus demerits from the cringing cowardice of its feel-good finale.
How Do You Know. I’ve seen some, em, “revisionist” perspectives on this James L. Brooks slog recently, but they fail to convince. The kind of romantic comedy where you ask, “Why haven’t I laughed EVEN ONCE?” about twenty minutes in. And then it gets REALLY bad. Yes, in spite of its arguably appealing and undeniably talented cast.
The Last Exorcism. Proving that few things in life are as boring as an exorcism movie with no scares. And no, I don’t really care that the picture “says something” about religion, or something.
Life As We Know It. The increasingly shrill Katherine Heigl, the genial black-hole nothingness of hunky Josh Duhamel, a baby, and pot brownie jokes. Kill me now.
The Bounty Hunter. Sensing a trend here? God help me, but maybe Maureen Dowd had a point with all that “whatever happened to the romantic comedy” bitching and moaning.
Skyline. A particularly irritating entry in that alien-invasion subgenre in which you actively root for all the human characters to be killed.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire
Biutiful. Cohesion takes a backseat to gravitas.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story. The title is a lie.
Tron: Legacy. A franchise built around the fetishistic obsession with cyberculture now preaches its evils. Also, the movie’s a bore.
Get Low. Tell me about it.
Hemingway’s Garden of Eden. He wouldn’t say so.
The Extra Man. There’s a reason he’s not the main man. Memo to John C. Reilly: Please speak in your normal voice from now on.
Howl. More like a squeak.
Love and Other Drugs. If this was a vaudeville show where you paid money simply watch A-listers strip … it would still let you down.
Centurion. At times so bad it’s good, but mostly just bad.
After.Life. Christina Ricci is a ghost! Or maybe not. Well, she could be but she could also not be. Do you care?
Dan Kois, Village Voice/Washington Post
In order of I-can’t-believe-this-shitness:
2. The Bounty Hunter
3. Yogi Bear
4. Clash of the Titans
5. Alice in Wonderland
6. Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
7. Dinner for Schmucks
8. Knight and Day
9. Wild Target
10. Despicable Me
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
10. Wild Grass: The latest from the 88-year-old French director Alain Resnais was a muddled, zany and thoroughly tiresome experience, with two septuagenarians cast as 50-year-olds (for no reason but that they’re part of Resnais’s informal stock company) in the worst sort of experimental film, one that tried to cloak its vague commitment to narrative as a sort of avant-garde gesture.
9. The Tourist: There was no excuse for this. They took a terrific French thriller, Anthony Zimmer, 80 minutes shot out of a cannon, and they turned it into a lugubrious star turn for Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, in which they never seemed to be in love with anyone but themselves. Just a mess — and what a shame. (See the French version: It’s in an entire other universe of quality.)
8. The Losers: This was an action movie about a group of idiot male mercenaries who team up for a job with a dangerous woman of mystery and intrigue. She was played by Zoe Saldana, who seemed as mysterious and dangerous as a night retainer. This movie only made sense if you thought of the characters as prepubescent, stuck in what Freud called the latency period, hence the perplexed and scornful attitude to the one girl in their midst. Just a pathetic exercise.
7. Faster: Dwayne Johnson’s career is going to be under a Rock if he keeps making meaningless, worthless, thrill-less action movies like this one, which demand nothing of him but to stand there and act menacing. This movie’s arc of action was so distorted that the only way you knew the climax had taken place was by the after-the-climax music that played on the soundtrack.
6. Cop Out: It seems to be Bruce Willis’s destiny to be paired with a series of partners in buddy action films, and this time it was Tracy Morgan, who was not funny, even though he tried, a lot. The curious thing about this movie is that the heroes were detestable and incompetent, but the filmmakers didn’t seem to notice. Nor did they bother to give the action any sense of threat or consequence. It was a formula movie with crucial parts of the formula missing and nothing in their place.
5. I Spit On Your Grave: A young novelist from the east coast, looking for peace and quiet, goes to small town America to stay in a cabin and write. Everyone she meets has a Southern accent, and when she gets raped and tormented, the temptation for many Northerners is to feel disdain and disgust for these red-state rednecks torturing a nice Obama supporter … Except, hold on there: This nasty wallow in brutal revenge (oh, yeah, she makes them pay) was made entirely by Northerners and Canadians. So don’t hate the red states — hate the movie.
4. Sex and the City 2: The first Sex and the City movie was like a whole season packed into a feature film. This second one was like one (lousy) show stretched to two and a half hours. And the agony of it was, it was bad from the first five minutes, as soon as Liza Minnelli showed up dancing and trying to sing. And oh, the destruction of Samantha, who seemed like a pitiful aging trollop. They need to make one more of these movies to get it back on track. Don’t leave us with this memory. Don’t go out on a banana peel.
3. Love Ranch: This story about two legal brothel owners — played by Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci, quite a pair — wasn’t a very long movie, but it felt long enough for Proust to remember every single thing that ever happened to him and then write it down in longhand. Taylor Hackford directed, so there were a lot of good people here going down on the Titanic, including Gina Gershon, who is never responsible for these terrible movies but keeps turning up in them.
2. The Last Song: With the look and aura of a character actress, minus the acting and the character, Miley Cyrus was ghastly in this Nicholas Sparks–scripted film, about an angry young woman who, in Cyrus’s performance, was angry all the time. Unable to think on-camera, Cyrus could only play an attitude, and so it was nonstop rage, and yet somehow the filmmakers and Cyrus seem to have expected her to come across as sympathetic. It’s as if they had no idea that this behavior wasn’t appealing. Wonder what that means … In addition to the Cyrus problem, which would have tanked even the best movie, the film had script problems — it was a succession of false crises, false arguments and fake reactions, and you could always guess when someone was going to collapse or die. If Cyrus, in fact, has any cinematic charm, she did a flawless job of suppressing it.
1. The Last Airbender: M. Night Shyamalan broke his streak of bad movies with this very bad movie, a listless, poorly acted, sluggishly written and thoroughly dislikable fantasy epic featuring dull characters locked in a struggle of no importance. The 3-D special effects looked phony, and the movie was in trouble from the first five minutes: A long expository conversation, shot against some blue-screen snow, was followed by a scene of peril, in which two characters the audience couldn’t care less had to run for their lives. This was supposed to be a trilogy, but don’t bet on it.
Will Leitch, Yahoo’s the Projector
The ten worst films I saw in 2010 that were not pornography, in iambic pentameter.
10. Get Low.
The man, so old, is dull, has beard, then dies.
A stalk is not where stalk would like to be.
8. All Good Things.
One would rather watch The Craigslist Killer.
If you are not near death yourself, do skip.
6. Dinner for Schmucks.
To note: One tends to want to like Paul Rudd.
5. Love and Other Drugs.
If just they kept jaws shut and stayed quite nude.
4. Casino Jack.
Poor George. I wish last film was not so LOUD.
3. Little Fockers.
De Niro, Keitel, Hoffman, cause brain to bleed.
2. The Killer Inside Me.
Mister Winterbottom does love dumb shocks.
1. I’m Still Here.
These two are just morons: Go to your rooms!
Shawn Levy, The Oregonian
The River Why
Dennis Lim, Moving Image Source
For Colored Girls. Barely a movie, and offensive on multiple levels.
Karina Longworth, L.A. Weekly
Lou Lumenick, New York Post
The Nutcracker in 3D is by far the worst thing I’ve seen so far this century.
Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times
From worst to, I guess, not-quite-so-worst.
Sex and the City 2
The Bounty Hunter
Nell Minow, Movie Mom
I did not see or review the worst movie of the year. I was out of town and missed the screening of Furry Vengeance, and my angelic husband, David Apatoff, went for me. The plan was that he would just give me the parental advisory bullet points I needed for a newspaper thing I do. But he was so horrified, he decided he would write a full review for me, and of everything on my site this year, I think that got the best response. Mostly, it’s because he is smart and funny and a good writer, but partly it’s because he just hasn’t been worn down by a trillion awful movies and is able to work up a level of ire that I can no longer reach.
Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
1. Remember Me
3. You Again
4. Alice in Wonderland
5. The Next Three Days
6. Dinner for Schmucks
7. Grown Ups
8. The Last Airbender
9. Love Ranch
10. Leap Year
11. Clash of the Titans
12. Cop Out
13. The Nutcracker in 3D
14. Lovers of Hate
15. Picasso & Braque Go to the Movies
Michelle Orange, Movieline
It was a bad year for …
Deft young comediennes: There’s a line between physical comedy and stone masochism, and both Amy Adams in Leap Year and Kristen Bell in You Again crossed it.
Talking animals: Obvious, perhaps, but Yogi Bear, Marmaduke, and Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (what, you missed it?) took my breath away with badness. I actually tried to suffocate myself.
Pals-y vanity docs that only the subjects could find to be anything but vapid and disingenuous: South of the Border and Hugh Hefner: The Man, The Myth, The Weeping Penis. I’m going to stick I’m Still Here in here too. OR AM I?
Obscure French gangsters: Mesrine parts un et deux was one of the year’s most overrated films. A biopic that feels more like a greatest hits compilation commissioned, in the spirit of the docs above, by the man himself. Boring as merde.
Chris Orr, The Atlantic
I lacked the fortitude to endure many of this year’s more egregious examples of the Death of Cinematic Comedy (Grown Ups, Cop Out, Little Fockers, The Bounty Hunter, etc.), and I wouldn’t have attended a screening of Sex and the City 2 if it had been part of an all-expense-paid week in Abu Dhabi. So my vote for worst film of the year has to go to The Last Airbender. As I wrote: “A slow-motion car wreck? A chronic illness that worsens and worsens without ever quite proving terminal? A night out on the town with Lindsay Lohan? It’s hard work coming up with a metaphor equal to the task of describing the precipitous cinematic decline of M. Night Shyamalan.”
Keith Phipps, the AV Club
The Last Airbender. M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of a popular, well-regarded animated series didn’t have a lot to recommend it, unless you were nostalgic for that moment in the eighties when so many filmmakers tried, and failed, to emulate the Spielberg touch without figuring out how to emulate Spielberg’s animating spirit. In 2-D it would be just another step down for a once distinctive director. But the version released in theaters, with blurry, tacked-on 3D processing changed it from unlikable to unbearable.
Jonah Hex. I think if I watched this enough I might convince myself that this unfinished-looking supernatural Western adapted from a DC Comics character was actually a brilliant avant-garde stunt. On one viewing, however, it just looked like a disaster.
Marmaduke. Not as good as Beverly Hills Chihuahua or Hotel for Dogs.
Hot Tub Time Machine. AV Club readers gave me no end of grief for calling this weirdly mean-spirited comedy one of the worst films of the year. Give it another look. Have you seen any movie with such a gulf between the comedic talent on the screen and the success of the execution? It’s one thing to nod to third-rate eighties comedies like Hot Dog: The Movie. It’s another to fail to live up to them.
Nathan Rabin, the AV Club
1. Grown Ups. Self-indulgence, thy name is Happy Madison.
2. Flipped. And to think, “A Rob Reiner Film” was once a cause for anticipation rather than dread.
3. Sex and the City 2. The Ugliest of Americans in the least necessary of sequels. This is why the terrorists hate us.
4. Yogi Bear 3-D. Why? No, seriously, why?
5. Jonah Hex. Does this even qualify as a movie?
Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
Grown Ups. Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, and company in a reunion movie that’s so lazy, nobody bothered to write a script.
Gulliver’s Travels. This just-opened Jack Black (ahem) comedy is a joke-free retelling of Jonathan Swift’s yarn. It’s bad enough that the School of Rock star lands on Lilliput, but how did that Transformer-like ‘bot get there?
Jonah Hex. Josh Brolin and Megan Fox strike bad-boy (and bad-girl) poses in this green-screen shoot-’em-up adapted from the DC Comic. Hex’s face is a holy mess, and so is the movie.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Jake Gyllenhaal muscles up, Gemma Artherton applies the Coppertone, and Ben Kingsley goes wild with villainy in this sword-and-sandals washout.
The Wolfman. Benicio Del Toro turns lycanthropic with the help of makeup, prosthetics, and CG in this all-atmosphere and no-brains retelling of the classic horror tale. Anthony Hopkins is Wolfy’s dad, Sir John. Here’s the big, revelatory exchange between the two:
Lawrence Talbot: You killed my mother.
Sir John Talbot: Yes, I suppose I did.
Rex Reed, New York Observer
In a year that stinks on ice, it was hard to cobble together a ten best list, but the only difficulty in listing the worst of 2010 is deciding how to prune away the clutter from the truly vomitous clutter. As much as I hated the sorry, lumbering, and dementedly overrated remake of True Grit, and especially Jeff Bridges’s incoherent Gravel Gertie mumbling, it was saved from the dumpster by Roger Deakins’s great cinematography. Likewise, the amazing mixed reviews for Black Swan prove it was pretty to look at and once again the best music awards will go to Tchaikovsky, but I have yet to discover anything original in the work of Darren Aronofsky. This one was a horror film in toe shoes, and if you ask anyone in the ballet what they think, they just laugh. Somewhere, the latest calcified bore by the pathetic Sofia Coppola, is another of the most overpraised movies of the year, but I respect the fact that she is fearless when it comes to shamelessly lulling her audience to sleep without apology.
Here, then, is my true Ten Worst list of 2010.
1. Inception. Nobody understood this wonky pile of pretentious incomprehensibility, including the people who defended it.
2. Burlesque. Beneath serious discussion, but not inadvertently bad enough for camp.
3. Cop Out. Illiterate trash as only a Bruce Willis–Tracy Morgan movie can aim to be about two imbeciles with badges searching for a missing baseball card. You can’t make this stuff up.
4. I’m Still Here. Rancid, phony flim-flam about the loopy decline of Joaquin Phoenix was about as interesting as the contents of a toilet bowl.
5. Shutter Island. Fatally flawed Martin Scorsese surrealism in a fogbound asylum with Nazi medical experiments, a violent ward financed by Commies trying to frame Lillian Hellman, a psychiatrist hiding in a cave, an escaped psychopath wearing no shoes, and … Leo DiCaprio in a Humphrey Bogart trench coat? The theme is insanity, and by the time this ordeal ends, you get the feeling it’s catching.
6. Sex and the City 2. No longer waiting for orgasms, the four bimbos from the original are now waiting for menopause. A deadly, brainless exercise in screeching self-delusion marketed for the chick-flick audience that still believes no crisis in life is so tragic it can’t be cured by a new pair of Manolo Blahniks. This embalmed franchise is to movies what fried dough is to nutrition.
7. Stone. Robert De Niro, temporarily retired from acting, and a disgraced Edward Norton, who needs a new agent, in the worst performances of their careers.
8. Tron: Legacy. Living proof that computers are no longer enough to make movies on their own, this technological nightmare is so bad you can’t even watch the trailer.
9. The Tempest. Preposterous Julie Taymor gibberish that drives another cinematic nail into the coffin of Billy Shakespeare.
10. Winter’s Bone. Slow and torturous as a weevil climbing a cornstalk in slow motion, this pointless hillbilly vignette about illiterate backwoods cretins searching for a missing body is a waste of time nobody wants to see, featuring scores of amateurs nobody ever heard of, mumbling and whining through a dead language nobody can understand. With no respect for plot, character development, or narrative coherence, it’s positively befuddling why some critics have embraced this snooze as a real “find.” But considering some of the people who pass themselves off as film critics these days, you can always find somebody auditioning for a quote ad.
Richard Roeper, richardroeper.com
10. The Back-Up Plan
8. From Paris With Love
7. Death at a Funeral
6. When in Rome
5. Grown Ups
4. The Switch
3. Jonah Hex
2. Sex and the City 2
1. You Again
Nathaniel Rogers, The Film Experience
10. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
8. Love Ranch
7. The Romantics
6. Repo Men
5. The Wolfman
4. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
2. The Tempest
1. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland
Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
1. Sex and the City 2. Vulgar excess is not the same thing as campy fun. Those ladies need to walk in somebody else’s shoes for awhile.
2. Killers. In a year lousy with rom-com stinkers (Hello, Valentine’s Day), this one takes the stale cake. Starring an uptight/ditzy/girlish Katherine Heigl as a paragon of inane contemporary feminine clichéd rom-com behavior.
3. Furry Vengeance. The worst ecology teaching tool ever: Kick a man in the groin long enough (while woodland creatures pee on his face), and that man will eventually go green.
4. Remember Me. A shameless rom-tragedy concoction in which sad things befall attractive young people, and then the Twin Towers fall down.
5. Jonah Hex. A comic-book movie adaptation that pays cross-eyed attention to comic-book details while sucking the air out of the movie.
6. Knight and Day. Tom Cruise does not combine chemically with female co-stars, no matter how close the camera pushes in on his well-moisturized face.
7. Burlesque. Made by golems?
8. Eat Pray Love, i.e., White Lady Problems.
9. How Do You Know. You just do.
10. Little Fockers. Fock off.
A.O. Scott, New York Times
It seems pointless to slog through the annual trough of mediocrity trying to distinguish bad from worse, so I’ll name the one movie that made me maddest in 2010, and one that, the more I think about it, seems almost exemplary in its manipulative, superficial and dishonest piety. That would be Waiting for “Superman.”
Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
Worst of the worst: Little Fockers. $140 million didn’t buy a single shred of creativity in this dismal “comedy,” and that’s no laughing matter. Next to the worst: The Tourist. Anyone who can’t make a decent movie with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie shouldn’t eat lunch (or dinner) in this town again, though maybe bus fare to Peoria would be in order; apparently it’s playing well there
Choire Sicha, the Awl
This was a year that I consciously sought to not see bad movies. I often enjoy a bad movie, and yet this year I sat out all the obvious suspects. And yet there were six movies I saw and despised.
Legion. I actually fell asleep. (It made me feel like Rex Reed though! Napping happily during the ten minutes of filler between CGI dumbness.)
Edge of Darkness. If anything makes me fear for The Beaver, it is this steaming pile of creased moodiness. It was like Mel Gibson’s face was turning inside out, but then I realized he was just scowling!
When in Rome. Wow, that was bad! Horrifically bad! Still: Duhamel? I would Du that again.
Shutter Island. Sorry! There I said it. What you gonna do? I feel bad! But it was dumb. It was like The Simpsons do Planet of the Apes but not funny and with no songs.
Salt. Girrrrlll ….
The Tourist. Girrrrrrrrrrlllll … Well, it is clear that Angelina prefers only the thinnest ice upon which to skate.
Brent Simon, Screen International
If you see almost 300 films a year you’re going to step in some piles of crap, but I’m not sure there was anything worse than Brendan Fraser’s Furry Vengeance in 2010. (Full disclosure: I skipped The Last Airbender.) Even by radically downwardly adjusted expectations and more forgiving standards of movies in which anthropomorphic animals do clamorous battle with humans, Furry Vengeance is witless and wince-inducing. It makes you want to kick the shins of its makers, and perhaps key their cars.
The thing that’s most notable about it is its surreal end credit sequence, which I’m not sure I can do justice. It’s a dance-along set to a pop cover version of Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Brain,” in which cast and crew try to erase audience antipathy through a sheer projection of manic energy, aping everything from old Britney Spears videos to co-star Brooke Shields’s Blue Lagoon. Yes, a Blue Lagoon reference! I’ve never dropped acid, but it felt like a bad psychedelic trip.
Dana Stevens, Slate
Top five worst movies of 2010, in chronological order by release date.
Valentine’s Day: Go ahead, Ashton Kutcher and Jennifer Garner. Mush your boring faces together already.
Alice in Wonderland: Could a literary classic be any more cloddishly misconstrued? Could postproduction 3-D look any dingier, or serve less narrative purpose?
Clash of the Titans: Yes, on all three counts. Release the Kraken!
Sex and the City 2: I know everyone will list this one, but Sex and the City 2 is that rare film that, like The Love Guru, actively sucks love and joy from the world. Watching it, you retroactively reassess whatever you might have liked about the whole franchise. This movie’s very existence lessens us all.
The Nutcracker in 3D: Perhaps the most bewildering atrocity of them all. Manages to simultaneously besmirch the beauty of Tchaikovsky, Elle Fanning, and Christmas with its queasy combo of Tim Rice lyrics and Nazi allegory. Colossally misbegotten.
Scott Tobias, the AV Club
1. The Last Airbender
2. Sex And The City 2
3. Trash Humpers
4. The Bounty Hunter
5. Finding Bliss
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Clash of the Titans, in 3-D yet, was epically lousy. “Release the Kraken,” said Liam Neeson as Zeus. Hollywood suits misheard it as “Release the crap.” So they did.
I always look to the Peoples’ Choice Awards to remind me of the year’s true swill. This year the PEOPLE selected The Twilight Saga: Eclipse as the Best Movie Drama and Grown Ups as Best Movie Comedy. Can’t argue with that logic; they both sucked hardest in those categories.
Who can forget the chick-flick torture inflicted by Eat Pray Love? It made me want to swear off all three. Runner-up: Sex and the City 2.
Still, my personal choice in cinematic stinkweed is The Tourist, garlanded with a Golden Globe nod as Best Movie (Comedy or Musical). No matter that no one sings and the laughs are all unintentional. Golden Dildo acting nominees Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie hit career lows, producing the chemistry of high-fashion zombies. The worst of the year, by a mile.
With Nic Cage’s Season of the Witch — his fourteenth-century Crusader wears a wig from the Country Strong Collection — already knocking at the door of immortal ineptitude, 2011 looks to be another banner year for bad!
Keith Uhlich, The House Next Door
Catfish. (The title is curse enough.) A ruined Tom Cruise and plasticine Cameron Diaz serial-killing their way through Knight and Day. Robert Pattinson dying for our collective sins in the hilariously offensive Remember Me. And the visually and ideologically ugly miasma that is Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan — a singularly hateful movie musical that left me depleted and despairing.
Seth Colter Walls, Newsweek
Black Swan. France’s lyric talent in the fields of provocation, doom and variegated anomies (Breillat, Dumont, Denis, Noe) so trumps America’s when Lynch is on vacay (Aronofsky, S. Coppola). At least we still tell better jokes and have that feel for the grotesque.
Lindy West, The Stranger
In no particular order (except #1):
1. Sex and the City 2
2. The Back-Up Plan
3. The Last Airbender
4. Eat Pray Love
5. Remember Me
6. Leap Year
8. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
9. Valentine’s Day
10. Twilight: Eclipse
Also, for what it’s worth, I’d like to cast a positive vote for The Tooth Fairy and Cop Out — both of which were TOTALLY GOOD. Also that one about the warrior owls.
Stephanie Zacharek, Movieline
There’s so little luxury and beauty in Hollywood movie costuming these days: No gowns by Adrian; no glamorous sheath dresses or silly-glam playsuits from Edith Head. Instead, we get horror shows like Sex and the City 2, where the camels have more élan than the women. Positing itself as a fun girls’ night out, an escapist fashion fantasy, this Manolo-hoofed monstrosity gave us only crass consumerism of the lowest order, a parade of brand names masquerading as style and failing miserably. It was almost enough to make me — a lifelong lover of fashion — join the church of Reverend “Stop Shopping” Billy. And that’s bad.