The time has come for me to wrap up the year that was 2013 in film. The first thing you might notice is that I have expanded these lists from five to ten. I will write about that more tomorrow when I bring you my top ten, because that is what has driven the expansion.
Without giving too much away for tomorrow, I was really satisfied with the year that was in 2013. There were a huge number of films which were excellent, including what seemed like an abundance that came out of nowhere and wowed me. Having said that, I had no issues filling up this bottom ten either, so let’s get going. Please note that for films to be considered they had to be released in cinemas or straight to DVD in Australia in 2013 and full reviews are hyperlinked in the titles if I wrote one:
(dis)Honourable Mentions: Comedy seems to bring out the worst in contemporary filmmakers and both We’re the Millers and This is 40 were rubbish, just not quite rubbish enough to crack the top 10. Michael Bay tried to convince us all that Pain and Gain was not just another Michael Bay film. It was. Lastly G.I. Joe Revolution was possibly worse than the first one. Now that’s an achievement.
10. The Internship
Even worse than the fact that this was a deeply unfunny and unoriginal comedy, was the fact that this is literally a 90 minute advertisement for Google. The gratuitous use of Google in the central plot and essentially every scene takes product placement to absurd new lows. Rehashes every previous Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn effort, only this one never threatens to be anything but pathetically tired.
Who knew a Jet Li starring buddy cop film could not only not be all out fun, it could be eye gougingly terrible. Somehow barely showing Li, and when it does showing him sans charisma or athleticism, this was a miserable experience. No crime story, utterly devoid of humour, incompetent writing, acting that manages to be worse and unsatisfying action make for one terrible buddy cop flick.
In what was a decent year for new horror films, this was tepidly lacking in atmosphere. A huge budget was seemingly not matched with any filmmaking nous. A storyline that is simultaneously shamelessly unoriginal as well as nonsensical much of the time makes it impossible to lose yourself in the film. Totally annoying, the only claim to fame here is that it is a film that manages to make even Jessica Chastain, one of the best in the business, give a woefully bad performance.
7. Frances Ha
I have no doubt I will anger a few people out there with this choice. Baumbach definitely has his admirers and plenty of people loved this film. Personally, I cannot remember another film that consisted of an interesting central character arc that was so utterly covered and rendered ineffective by the layers of dirge that the viewer has to trudge through. So frustrating was this film, with its eye-rolling dialogue, that of all the films on this list, this one was probably the hardest for me to actually bother finishing. Sort of like an episode of Girls only less enjoyable, insightful or engaging.
6. Machete Kills
I’m a big fan of Robert Rodriguez as a filmmaker and generally like his films that even others can’t handle, such as the first Machete effort. It is perhaps unsurprising (though no less disappointing) that in an attempt to ramp up his grindhouse series Rodriguez resorts to really over the top sexism and stunt casting (Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga). What is surprising is just how little fun this movie turns out to be. Dispensing almost entirely with any semblance of plot or characters to invest in, along the way, Rodriguez lost all the charm that so endeared me to the first film.
5. Only God Forgives
You either love it or you hate it, and I definitely hated it. Like many, I was exasperated that this was the best that Winding Refn could come up with after the searing originality that was Drive. At times it felt like pastiche or parody but with no insight whatsoever and that the director was just trying way too hard. This is a nasty film, irredeemably so unfortunately. Film can illuminate and help us to understand the nastiness of the world around us. But this film absolutely does not do that.
4. The Man of Tai Chi
Keanu Reeves’ debut directorial effort is just cringingly bad. Fails on every single level and unfortunately Reeves (who I like more than most) seems to be at the heart of most of the problems. He gives one of the worst performances ever put on screen in this. It is absurdly bad. Add to that the fact that he has no feel for directing, totally unable to steer the narrative or action in the direction it needs to go, and this is a hodge podge of failed attempts at both social commentary and tournament style martial arts goodness.
3. Kick-Ass 2
A little Beermovie.net history here, with this becoming the first franchise to have films appear in both the best and worst of the year lists (Kick Ass was my film of the year in 2010). This was such an overwhelming disappointment. All of the vitality, charm and vibrant originality is gone. It is replaced by a story that abandons the central character for the most part and a sense of humour that is totally at odds with what these films are meant to be. I thought the first film had something to say about the nature of violence, both on the streets and on film. But this is just violent for the sake of being violent, which we as the audience are supposed to find hysterical.
2. After Earth
Some films make this list because they bungled their promise or offended me in some way. Other films make the grade because they are flat out, mind numbingly terrible. This film is the latter. Much has been written about how woeful Will Smith’s kid is in this film. Rightly so too. But what the hell has happened to the Fresh Prince? Smith Sr used to light up any film with his charm and charisma. His performance here is so wooden that he almost matches the awfulness of Keanu Reeves in my number four entry. Mind numbingly stupid, ugly and totally cliché, truly up there with the worst films of the year. Another shocker from everyone’s favourite ‘new Spielberg’ M. Night Shyamalan.
The Fourth Ever Scott Pilgrim vs the World Award for Least Favourite Film of the Year: The Impossible
Publishing such a scathing review of this film yesterday probably took away some of the anticipation of what would top my list. Simply put, the whitest film ever. Putting aside all of my issues with the racial aspects of the film, this was uninspired and really over-contrived. Examining the racial aspects, this is a triumphant tale of a single Western (Spanish in real life, English in the film) family surviving the Boxing Day tsunami. A film that wants you to be uplifted whilst shamefully not mentioning the astronomic number of people in various South East Asian countries who were killed in the tragedy. Horrific.