I’ve finally gotten through the last few films I needed to see for the year, and am now able to definitively declare that of the 208 new theatrical releases I saw during the award year (which doesn’t really end till the Oscars are handed out next month), these 10 are the very worst of the lot:
10: I Am Love: A beautiful movie about an ugly notion: that women deserve to be punished when they transgress cultural expectations. If a woman wants the approval of Western society, she’d better be prepared to sacrifice her own happiness.
9. Tron: Legacy: When we talk about soulless corporate filmmaking, this is what we’re talking about. The emotionally empty loud clashing of bright shiny objects may sell lots of toys at Disney World, but it leaves the moviegoer with a headache, and an aching sense of despair.
8. I’m Still Here: Look! Look at Joaquin Phoenix having a public breakdown! Or maybe he’s faking it! Just ignore him, and he’ll go away.
7. The Human Centipede (First Sequence): A repulsive film about a monstrous doctor who performs cruel experiments on live human subjects. One of the rare instances when calling a film an atrocity is not hyperbole.
6. Hereafter: Anyone but Clint Eastwood, and these incohesive ramblings on the afterlife — it really exists! — never make it to the screen.
5. The Killer Inside Me: A fever dream of a psychopath, featuring violent sex, vicious murder, and women who tell him they love him while he’s beating them to a bloody pulp. Worse? It’s from a director — Michael Winterbottom — who does everything with deliberate intent, so we know he means it all to be taken as art.
4. Sex and the City 2: What was intended, we’re told, to be a celebration of older women as vital and sexy and independent and smart instead makes its heroines look like desperate, clingy, money-grubbing, egotistical crones. Ugh.
3. The Last Airbender: An incoherent story adapted from a childish epic adventure is not made more palatable by the application of nausea-inducing 3D. The promise of a sequel feels more like a threat.
2. The Nutcracker in 3D: A nightmare of a fantasy in which Nazi rats menace small children and Albert Einstein sings lullabies about quantum physics. And not good lullabies about quantum physics, either.
1. Skyline: The ultimate triumph of FX over story and character. Access to fast computers and rendering software should not be the only prerequisite for a filmmaker, as this film demonstrates: it’s nothing more than a design showcase for cool-looking spaceships and awesome aliens and stuff blowing up real good.