Before I’m trampled on by the fandom of Danny Boyle, Ridley Scott, or hung for treason by the hardcore loyal followers of Grace Jones or Edgar Wright, please do take note that the ten films far from represent the worst films cinema had to offer this year. When I consider just how few of the films below I actually truly despise I’m reminded of, firstly how well I seem to dodge the real stinkers, but also just how outstanding this year has been for good cinema at all ends of the spectrum. Some of the year’s most successful blockbusters included Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – albeit conventional superhero giants but all well written and worthy of my time. Below is a handful of films; some which angered, some which bored, some which baffled and some which irritated like a violent rash. Where some lacked in form others were let down by narrative choices and messaging. Some didn’t live up to expectation and others confirmed that my pre-screening concerns were valid. Again, I was lucky enough to not have to sit through critically acknowledged snore-fests such as Fifty Shades Darker or the latest exports from the corporate, soulless Transformer or Pirates of the Caribbean machines. The ten films presented below are the worst amongst what has ultimately been a pretty exceptional year of film viewing. They are found guilty of not only disappointing me as an audience member but really because they should have known better.
The light-hearted nostalgia comedy Mindhorn creeps into tenth place simply because it was lacking in real belly laughs, ultimately fizzling out into a few chuckles and a very confused narrative. Sophie Fiennes has a truly iconic subject in Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami but doesn’t do her justice with her lack of attention to form. It’s a confused and contrived documentary which seems to have gotten caught up in the sheer wonder of Grace Jones and failed to keep a sense of ownership over the project. Here, Jones feels simply to huge and eccentric contain. It breaks my heart to see Isabelle Huppert sitting in this hall of shame but besides from her enticing performance, Paul Verhoeven’s Elle left my uncomfortable with its dangerous mixed messaging around sexual violence and infatuation. Baby Driver has been appearing mainly on critics’ best of the year lists but I found it painfully insincere and trite. Kenneth Branagh’s take on a Poirot classic was overly camp and poorly paced whilst Danny Boyle’s return to Edinburgh and the heroine addicts who once darkened its doors left me bitterly underwhelmed. I found T2 Trainspotting bafflingly unnecessary as did I the violence and absurdity of The Killing of a Sacred Deer – a really disappointing return for Yorgos Lanthimos following the absurd brilliance of The Lobster, which made it into my 2015 top ten. The Snowman is a joyous, amateur mess which I revelled in. In all seriousness, with a killer director, star and editor on board, there was no excuse for this chilly noir to be as bad as it was. Personal Shopper was painful from start to finish and would have been amusing were it not so desperately, desperately dull. Nobody should have to spend this much time in the cinema watching characters simply texting back and forth – it’s torturous. Reigning supreme is of course Ridley Scott’s disastrous return to the Alien franchise: Alien: Covenant, the film that nobody asked for and that nobody wants to sit through again. Ridley Scott earns his place atop this noble list of flops simply because of just how painful it is to watch him destroy his own beautiful creation.
Thank you for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.