Dec 30, 2013

Listmania: The 10 Worst Films of 2013

Charlie Sheen in A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
While 2013 has been one of the rockier years for cinema, it has produced a lot of triumphant moments. However, it also produced some the most banal and awful things to counteract them. While I haven't seen all of the bad bad movies, these are the ones that came across my screen at some point and left me either disappointed or frustrated. These films are so bad that it shifts views on how you look at the directors and performers behind it. Here is the 10 that stood out as the worst of 2013.

Henry Cavill
1. Man of Steel

Last year saw Christopher Nolan bring an end to the Batman era with The Dark Knight Rises. This year, he signs on as producer for the launch of the Superman franchise with Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. Maybe he shouldn't have, as the content is just as dour and depressing, but without any of the pathos worthy of making it a worthy companion. Snyder's Superman is in no way a hero, as he spends majority of the third act destroying Metropolis beyond repair. It is a hypocritical tale that makes Superman appear more of a threat than the villain Zod (Michael Shannon). It moves too slow and there is no weight there. It is appalling to even listen to Superman spout his patriotism at the end of the film, as he has done more damage than real life man of steel Josef Stalin.

Left to right: Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, and Zach Galifianakis
2. The Hangover Part III

It is hard to remember the impact that The Hangover had a few years ago on the comedy world, but it became a phenomenon by mixing alcoholism with film noir techniques. It somehow justified creating a trilogy, including this final chapter that saw them return to Las Vegas and go to one of their most banal and pointless stories yet. It is downright offensive on the grounds that their chemistry has seemed to have faded, Ken Jeong continues to be a problematic effeminate stereotype, and everybody seems to be there for a paycheck. It is a mean-spirited end to one of the most successful comedies of this decade and will probably ruin its reputation in the decades to come, if just for that unnecessary death of a giraffe on the freeway in the opening act (yes, that really happened).

Tom Cruise
3. Oblivion

Who keeps giving Joseph Kosinski money? After the cold, empty, unnecessary TRON: Legacy, it feels like nobody should except for the Daft Punk soundtrack. While the M83 soundtrack is worth second consideration, Oblivion is just as bleak and pointless as his previous effort. One of many post-apocalyptic films about Earth, this one starred Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman as the leader of an underground cult. There's plenty of strange sci-fi elements here, but it doesn't feel like there is any passion or interest in the story, which is rather empty and goes on longer than it should have. Even Melissa Leo's bad southern accent cannot save this from being a total bore with nothing really substantial to offer.

Left to right: Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner
4. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

With the gimmicky premise, there was chance for a campy romp that may never achieve the levels of greatness, but could be delightful satire. Not even close. The recent fad of combining Brothers Grimm titles with dumb occupations in a Mad Libs-style frenzy isn't enough to save a story that doesn't have anything to offer. The tone is too somber and the story isn't self-aware enough to make the tongue-in-cheek elements work. Even in terms of "witch hunting," the kills aren't all that interesting or creative. It is a movie that feels like an epic in an 88 minute time frame, which is very, very bad. Terrible music and forgettable story that makes me believe that the straight-to-DVD Hansel and Gretel Get Baked (it is a real thing) would have been a better use of my time.

Melissa McCarthy
5. Identity Thief

The second Craig Mazin-penned comedy on this list (see #2) is a morosely mean comedy that raises the real question of cinema comedy in 2013: Why should we care about Melissa McCarthy? As the boisterous, greedy lead character, she throws insults and never once becomes redeeming in ways that are pleasant enough to make the comedy's attempt at being jabs work. It all feels lazy and doesn't deserve its attempt at the Planes, Trains, and Automobiles ending with someone who bankrupted Jason Bateman. The plot makes no sense and unlike Jonah Hill (who is solid in The Wolf of Wall Street), McCarthy has made the ultimate statement of why her Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination should be revoked as a sign of mistake by everyone involved.

Lindsay Lohan
6. The Canyons

Even if Bret Easton Ellis has started one of the best new podcasts of 2013, he also wrote one of the worst films as well. From the marketing and the inevitable perks that comes with hiring Lindsay Lohan, the film is a disaster. It's attempt to be a world in which it is post-cinema alone is irony, as this does feel like the end of cinema in all of the wrong ways. Considering that it was directed by Paul Schrader also makes the film somewhat of a disappointment and its efforts to be avant garde and edgy just doesn't work and feels too shallow and empty to have any clear or definitive action worth remembering.

Left to right: Sheen and Jason Schwartzman
7. A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III

It isn't the worst thing that Roman Coppola has directed this year (this commercial was), but it is the most disappointing thing he's done. This comedy could have been the ultimate meta commentary on the ladies man that is Charlie Sheen but instead feels like too much loathing and sexism. It is Sheen at his worst and it does little to make the whole effort feel anything but just self-serving. It is a shame, especially since the exterior of the film is very flashy and interesting looking with a lot of familiar Wes Anderson-troupe members, including strangely Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman. It is at very least the most disappointing film of 2013 and one that unfortunately has too much good going for it to be as terrible as it is.

James McAvoy
8. Trance

What happened, Danny Boyle? After the brilliant, gorgeous 127 Hours, his return to the world of sci-fi resulted in a film that is highly disjointed. It could be the leap of absence between filming and editing, which was done after directing the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. Still, it feels strange and had a lot of potential to be a neon, colorful Inception. Instead, the depths into the mind of a witness (James McAvoy) makes no sense and the cinematography is ugly, muted colors that give the film a repulsive quality. This doesn't feel like a Boyle film in any way and turns out to be a slog in every sense of the concept. Here's hoping that he doesn't have to direct another Olympics ceremony that sacrifices his talents.

Saoirse Ronan
9. The Host

As stated earlier in this Listmania series, I really want to see Saoirse Ronan succeed. With Stephanie Meyers following up the Twilight success, the Host looked to be that role. Sadly, it turned out to be a rather empty story. Emptier than one would expect for a story that involved car chases, romantic entanglement, and alien life forms. In a sense, it was laughably bad at points, with Ronan doing her best to not make the inner monologue of a host in her body sound as childish as it was. The writing isn't very clever and while it has all the distinct Meyers elements of Twilight, it doesn't seem to have carried the charm with boring performances and worse pacing issues. Sadly, it also is setting Ronan back from being as popular as she could be. Let's just make Hanna 2 already.

Ryan Gosling
10. Only God Forgives

Save your time, buy the Cliff Martinez soundtrack. It doesn't make sense how the follow-up to Drive could put Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling in such a terrible spot. While the cinematography takes the director's penchant bright colors to new heights by filming in seedy locations, the story is itself awful. Gosling is nearly mute for the entire film and Vithaya Pansringarm is violent in repulsive ways. This is Refn exercising his ultra-violence in the most unpleasant ways possible and makes the film a tough watch. There's too much repulsion here to even make the stylistic elements worth checking out. Just buy the soundtrack and hear the only thing that they did better than Drive.

Honorable Mentions: Don Jon, After Earth, Twixt, Crystal Fairy

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