This list comes with a qualification; when I have no obligation to review them, I tend to avoid most releases that seem suspect... (I find the words 'A Film By M. Night Shyamalan' enormously helpful in this regard). So, from the 90-odd films I saw this year, these were either the biggest let downs or the most overrated…
Ugh. Some may argue that this list could be populated solely with the year's lowlights in 'Rom-Com', the genre which dictates that actors such as Katherine Heigl, Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Hudson (and any of the other usual suspects) devolve into shrieking harpies prone to pratfalls when it comes to affairs of the heart. However, as I didn't watch all of the year's offerings (one of the perks of being managing editor is I can pick and choose which films I review…), and I walked out of Heigl's Life As We Know It, I can't speak with sufficient authority to write off the entire genre.
The worst of those I did catch was Garry Marshall's crass multi-star attempt to cash in on Hallmark Holiday; it was as hollow as the plastic flower tubes you see young lovers sporting on the big day.
Sex and the City 2
This was a film awful enough to warrant its own listing for its complete pointlessness (but also for much, much more besides). Costume changes and lavish hotel furnishings do not a compelling film make, and we could have done without the casual racism, too.
Eat Pray Love
An entirely self-indulgent star vehicle, dressed up as a story of personal enlightenment. I've said too much about this atrocious chick flick already but then, writing the review did offer a degree of catharsis. Nonetheless, the good people at Sony Pictures Entertainment owe me two-plus hours of my life back.
A really, really dumb local film about a killer truck and the randy teenagers who take it for a spin. The script lacked internal logic and director Dean Francis relied too heavily on the old adage “we'll fix it in post,” to create suspense out of cutaways to a three-headed devil dog.
Jean-Pierre Juenet's unrestrained celebration of wacky physical comedy from days of yore pulled a ligament, as far as I was concerned. The story of merry misfits who exact revenge on the French arms industry sagged in the middle, and the elaborate set-pieces felt like fragments of a much-funnier film.
Remember Me: If Robert Pattinson wants a lengthy career, he should avoid dross like this lameduck attempt at a weepie.
Kings of Mykonos: WogBoy 2: It's true that this sequel is a veritable Citizen Kane compared its namesake, but still, it's a sad indictment on our nation's cinema that this is what counted for multicultural storytelling on celluloid this year.
Shutter Island: Scorsese's genre homage was just one of many this year to traverse the thin line between reality and dreamstate, but its heavyhanded hamminess made it one of my biggest letdowns. Everyone involved can do much better (and in fact Leo did just a few months later, in Inception).
The worst films of 2010 weren't just bad, they had presumptions of quality or style – often trumpeted – and they were still bad:
The Bounty Hunter
The romantic comedy was already in trouble before this forced, facile pairing of Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler appeared.
Where Robert Rodriguez's throwback seventies aesthetic was confirmed as being a grab bag of cheap indulgence.
It's generally accepted that the Robin Hood tale is one of adventure. However, no-one told Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe.
Sex and the City 2
An odd, painful paean to luxury brands and the merits of Abu Dhabi that barely bothered.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Are there really two more of these still to go?
From Paris With Love
Mindless, ludicrously lacking in logic and boringly predictable, this formulaic actioner from French director Pierre Morel marked another bomb for John Travolta and a miscast Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Travolta's special agent Charlie Wax was a bald-headed, foul-mouthed, goatee-wearing, amoral caricature.
Oh boy, rarely have so many talented actors – Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, Shirley MacLaine and Julia Roberts – been so awful in this corny rom-com from director Garry Marshall. Truly painful.
Yet another Apocalyptic saga, this one ascribing death and destruction to the work of an Almighty who's displeased with mankind, this horror movie overlaid with religious symbolism from first-time director Scott Stewart succeeded only in being witless, silly and tedious.
Charlie St Cloud
Only a few diehard Zac Efron fans turned up for this schmaltzy mishmash about grief, second chances, miracles and the unbreakable bond between brothers. Zac spends a lot of the movie gazing at something in the middle distance; or was that a vacant stare?
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
In yet another lousy performance, Nicolas Cage plays a protégé of Merlin the magician in this noisy, overblown fantasy directed by Hollywood hack Jon Turtletaub. Nic's expressions traverse a limited range, from earnest to fearless to glazed, co-star Jay Baruchel delivers his leaden lines in a monotone, and Alice Krige and Monica Bellucci show up to little effect.
I swear a lot at movies; I swore the most at this one. Insulting, amateurish drivel.
Eat Pray Love
Never convincing as a woman's journey to spiritual enlightenment. This is a beautiful movie star's journey through a pretty film. Over-produced fantasy sold as karmic inspiration; a chick's Top Gun.
The Bounty Hunter
Shrill, witless, loud, crass. In a year full of awful rom-coms (Life As We Know It, Going the Distance, Valentine's Day, I Love You Too), takes something special to be the worst (and I like Jennifer Aniston!)
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Dissed Wes Craven's mythology; got the response from the fans it deserved.
Just pippedThe Tourist to the #5 spot (I want to see what you, the public, make of Depp and Jolie's travesty). Zach Galifianikis had nothing to lose, but Robert Downey Jr and Todd Phillips should have known better.
These pictures left me feeling queasy, angry or bored...
New York, I Love You
This so-so collection of short films seems more a twee producers' gimmick than an idea for a strong movie.
I Love You Too
An unfunny romantic comedy with a terrific cast who are lumbered with a boring, senseless screenplay.
The Men Who Stare at Goats
Writer Jon Ronson's trenchant, timely and terrifying book gets an anodyne treatment from the usually reliable Grant Heslov in this bleakly humourless satire that aims to take down militarism and war-mongers and instead dies on its feet from an airless premise and a poverty of good gags. The cast, including Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey look embarrassed.
The Blind Side
A truly awful 'feel-good' yarn that plays the 'race card' in cringe-worthy fashion. Its nagging style would have been right at home as a TV movie of the week forty years ago. But unfortunately it hasn't been 1971 for some time.
Going the Distance
A foul-mouthed rom-com with a charm by-pass, no real jokes and a backward looking social philosophy that neatly boxes away every man and woman alive as a 'type' to be ranked, labelled and shelved for later use.
Here's five I think had too much undeserving praise lavished upon them:
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (festival and ACMI screenings only).
I'm still waiting to read an enlightening and insightful explanation of why this head-scratcher from Thailand's Apichatpong “Call Me Joe” Weerasethakul deserved to win the Cannes' Palme d'Or. It had originality and some undeniably hypnotic moments on its side, but making head or tail of what it was about - beyond its being an often batty exploration of the Buddhist notion of reincarnation – seemed to defeat even its admirers. Boonmee's critical success seems to reflect an art film world moving closer to a more obtuse, art gallery aesthetic (the film is part of a multi-platform project that includes a seven-part video installation). That phenomenon deserves to be interrogated more closely.
You want hillbilly clichés? Miserabilism? A crime tale played as earnestly flat drama? Inaudible, mumbled dialogue and perpetually grey skies as an alibi for “authenticity”. You're welcome.
The White Ribbon
Didn't hate it. Didn't love it. And its sustaining thesis (here be the roots of Nazism) struck me as contrived and phony.
I'm Still Here
Kind of pointless – not to mention tiresome – once you knew the whole thing was set up. And possibly if you didn't.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
No, but I did.