Friday, March 02, 2018

The Worst Movies Of 2017

My "this looks pretty bad, I think I'll skip it" spider-sense for movies just keeps honing itself, and as a result, I actually had a minor bit of difficulty creating this year's bottom 10.  Most of these movies are merely bad, as opposed to outright offensive and terrible.

10. The Foreigner
9. Baywatch
8. Rough Night
7. War On Everyone
6. Brad’s Status
5. Suburbicon
4. The Discovery
3. A Quiet Passion
2. CHiPS
1. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

Worst Supporting Actor: Pierce Brosnan/The Foreigner
Worst Supporting Actress: Jillian Bell/Rough Night
Worst Actress: Scarlett Johansson/Rough Night
Worst Actor: Dax Shepard/CHiPS

*Best Performance In A Bad Movie: three-way tie between Gil Birmingham in Wind River, and Jennifer Lawrence and Michelle Pfeiffer in Mother!
Birmingham's raw performance kept the otherwise dour and predictable Wind River out of the bottom 10 films list.  As for Mother!, wow, this was a new level for Aronofsky in the "interestingly bad" department, as I feel like I could talk about this movie for two hours despite it being a paper-thin allegory and an overall misfire.  J-Law may deserve a bonus award for not just working her hardest to try and save this movie, but also for actually dating Aronofsky and suffering through an endless number of conversations about the film (which, hilariously, was partially why they broke up).  If nothing else comes from Mother!, it may have been worth it only if it kickstarts a late-career Pfeiffer renaissance.

*Worst Performance In A Good Movie: Michael Shannon/The Shape Of Water
In theory, a heightened-reality kind of movie can excuse this type of hammy, cartoonishly evil caricature of a performance.  In practice, Shannon stands out like a sore thumb, especially since the rest of the cast is going the subtle route --- Shannon's overplaying looks silly given that he's so often paired with Michael Stuhlbarg, who is underplaying his role and quietly acting Shannon off the screen.  Ironically, Shannon is usually very good at the kind of increasingly-malevolent menace that would've benefited the role.  If you could magically slot the "Take Shelter" version of Shannon into this movie, TSOW is ten percent better.

*Worst Casting: Bryan Cranston/Last Flag Flying
This is very specific kind of criticism, and one that takes some explanation.  For one, you can easily come up with a dozen better examples of outright bad casting, in the Denise Richards-as-a-nuclear scientist kind of vein.  I also wouldn't even say that Cranston's performance was bad, which is why I didn't hand him any of the "worst acting" awards.
My issue was just that Cranston just seemed really out of place playing a ne'er-do-well, living-in-the-pat smart-aleck who was a real wild man in his youth but now seems sad continuing this behaviour into his 50's.  (If I could think of an ideal actor for this part, maybe Sam Rockwell in another 10-15 years.)  I can't really even blame the filmmakers and casting people for the choice since....well, it's Bryan Cranston.  He just may have a couple fewer pitches in his arsenal than everyone thought, and since he couldn't quite pull off the role, it stood out more glaringly than your average casting misfire.  To use another example of co-star context, it didn't help Cranston that Laurence Fishburne and Steve Carell are a) both great in this movie and b) perfectly cast.

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