The 10 Worst Movies of 2015
I somehow managed to avoid seeing a lot of bad films in 2015. Despite my twisted desire to hate-watch, say, Entourage: The Movie or the Not-So-Fantastic Four, I found better things to do… or, more likely, to watch—namely, TV. Still, I did endure at least a dozen certified cinematic stinkers, and from that list, I’ve pared it down to 10…
10. By the Sea Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt. That’s right — they’re the Pitts! At least they are in this jaw-droppingly narcissistic snoozer about an unhappily married couple (she’s clinically depressed, he’s a drunk with writer’s block) holed up in a hotel room in Malta. Ms. Pitt allegedly wrote and directed this movie as an homage to her late mother, Marcheline Bertrand, and after watching it, I can only conclude she hated her mother.
9. Southpaw It wasn’t the cast’s fault: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, and Co. left it all on the mat. The trouble was, while Ryan Coogler was giving the boxing-movie genre a much-needed punch-up with Creed, screenwriter Kurt Sutter and director Antoine Fuqua were trotting out every hoary trope with this painfully predictable pugilism melodrama. No wonder its pre-release Oscar buzz went so quickly South.
8. Irrational Man Here’s the definition of an irrational man: a guy who keeps telling the same story (older man falls for much younger woman; chaos ensues) over and over again and expects people to keep paying for it. In this case, that man’s name is Woody Allen. Or maybe it’s Bruce Fretts, since I keep paying to see his movies.
7. A Walk in the Woods Not the year’s worst movie about two old guys—see Youth, below—but pretty damn close. Robert Redford originally intended to reunite with Paul Newman for this creaky tale of two over-the-hill hikers, but after Butch Cassidy felt the merciful Sting of death, he recruited a homeless-looking Nick Nolte to gargle his lines. The result played like a three-quel nobody wanted to see: Grumpiest Old Men.
6. Focus That’s what Will Smith needs to do with his film career. Let’s see, he turns down Independence Day 2 (not to mention Django Unchained) and chooses to do Concussion—who wants to see that story during football season?—and this toothless con-artist would-be caper that also wastes the charms of Margot Robbie and the talent of Gerald McRaney. When it’s over, you feel like you’re the one who got conned.
5. Everest Seriously, I don’t mean to pick on Jake Gyllenhaal, but he found himself stranded with a bunch of other good actors, including Jason Clarke and John Hawkes, in this thrill-free account of the disastrous climbing expedition documented by Jon Krakauer in Into Thin Air. The 1997 TV-movie adaptation of the same title somehow seemed grander than this pile of crap, which made a molehill out of a mountain.
4. No Escape First of all, who casts an action movie and thinks, “I know—Owen Wilson!”? The lackadaisical actor sleepwalks his way through the story of an American businessman and his family who get trapped in a Southeast Asian country during a bloody coup. The movie is so blatantly xenophobic that I’m surprised Donald Trump isn’t showing it at his campaign rallies. No Escape is right.
3. 50 Shades of Grey In my list of the year’s 10 Best Movies, I lamented the lack of good 2015 comedies — but I forgot this unintentionally hilarious adaptation of E. L. James’ best-selling S&M-fest. Dakota Johnson was genuinely funny in TV’s Ben and Kate, and Jamie Dornan was genuinely scary in TV’s (well, British TV and Netflix’s) The Fall, but together they make one of the unsexiest couples in movie history as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. If they get married, will it be the Steele-Grey wedding? Sounds like something out of Zoolander, only this movie is sillier.
2. Youth and Trumbo For my thoughts on these wildly overrated would-be Oscar contenders, click here.
1. True Story True Story: James Franco and Jonah Hill co-starred in a fact-based film about a convicted murderer and a journalist who became sympathetic to his pleas of innocence. True Story: Nobody saw it, despite our nation’s obsession with real-life crime tales like Serial and Making a Murderer. That’s because… True Story: It sucked.