Well, the best is behind us. Which means there is only one more thing to look at in terms of 2019 cinema, and that’s the worst of the worst. So, without further ado, let’s get into the good snark, and dunk on our worst films of the year one last time, shall we?
Once…Upon a Time in Hollywood
You know, in some ways, I feel vindicated being able to put this on this list. Because I have been saying for a long time that Quentin Tarantino is essentially a rip-off merchant who happens to write good dialogue – that his films are style over substance to the very nth degree.
But God, I wish I could have been vindicated in any other way than by having to sit through his
magnum opus mangy glop-fest Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. To call it indulgent, to call it pointless, to call it boring and stupid and a spectacular missing of every point it claimed to make – all of those would be a politeness. This was a violent mugging of three hours of my life, except that, unlike most violent muggings, I had to listen to people wank themselves silly over its sheer mastery for literal months after it came out. Fuck this stupid, boring film and the sixties cowboy horse it rode in on, and may future generations see it for the dreck that it truly is.
Ah, did you know that we’re living in a prestige horror world? Where Get Out gets Oscar nominations, where Hereditary is hailed as the film of the year? As a long-time fan of the much-maligned genre, it seemed like, at last, all my prayers to Tobin Bell about horror being taken seriously had been answered.
But be careful what you wish for – you might just end up with fucking Midsommar. After the undeniable success of Hereditary, I was so looking forward to seeing what director Ari Aster did next. So colour me fucking shocked when he turned out a boring, pointless, and really quite offensive follow-up that wasted the prodigious talent of its excellent cast. Midsommar is a wildly overrated movie, because everyone seemed too nervous to admit that they were the ones who didn’t get it and so hailed it as a masterpiece just in case. Let me be the one to tell you: it’s not a masterpiece, it’s not that deep, and Florence Pugh deserves better.
Glass was supposed to be great. Instead it disappointed in every single split-personality way that it possibly could.
The culmination of a very loose and probably poorly planned trilogy (following the excellent Unbreakable, and the very good Split), Glass presented itself as an antidote to the Marvel tentpole movies. Instead of Captain America and Iron Man saving the world you had a triple threat match of the smallest scale between Mr Glass, The Horde, and David Dunn. Throw in the awesome Sarah Paulson and you’ve got yourself a hit.
Except Glass sucks. The direction and cinematography volley back and forth from excellent to student film, Bruce Willis decided the one role he had this year that he would give a shit about was Frank from Motherless Brooklyn, Samuel L Jackson does his best with some of the worst dialogue, and James McAvoy is brilliant but is relegated to just showing how many personalities he can do in one scene. It’s a mess, with a second act that stupidly tries to disprove what we have all seen up until now, and a third that reaffirms what we already know then kills our three leads in the least creative or dramatic way possible. M Night Shyamalan is most definitely not back, and we all need to settle down about that once and for all.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Have you ever had to give notice at a job? Whether you enjoyed this job or not, it’s hard to concentrate or even care about the work when you know you’re leaving. It can make you sloppy, unmotivated, it can make you think that your terrible work is actually good enough. This is what Dark Phoenix feels like. Disney has bought Fox, but they still had to roll this one out because maybe breaking everyone’s contracts would have been more expensive than churning out this mess.
Dark Phoenix is more than just lazy, it’s downright awful. Considering this is the directorial debut of Simon Kinberg, the man who has either wrote or co-wrote the majority of X-Men movies, Dark Phoenix makes you wonder whether he has actually watched any of them. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I could have made a better movie, had better ideas how to shoot the action, and definitely had the confidence to shout at the actors to give actual performances in roles they are supposed to know backwards.
Also, the X-Women line is hilarious. Not in a sexist sense – in the sense that, in the rescue that Mystique is talking about, both Nightcrawler and Quicksilver were a major part of that mission. If you are going to give Mystique that line, at least make it make sense. Jean saving everyone at the end of X2, that should be what you’re going for. Not whatever this was trying to convey.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile
Look, the worst part about this is that it could have been a good film. In fact, I wouldn’t even specifically tell you to avoid it at all costs – there are upsides to Joe Berlinger’s take on the Ted Bundy story. Lily Collinns puts in a very solid performance, and Zac Efron is an inspired bit of casting as Bundy, with flashes of real brilliance. Also, Haley Joel Osment is here! What’s not to like?
Well, the fact that this entire movie feels so…grotty. What promised to be and was billed as a look into the life and times of the woman closest to Ted Bundy turned into yet another nigh-on-deifying wankfest about his place in pop culture – a topic which Berlinger had already gruellingly covered earlier this same year in a documentary. To say this wasn’t neccessary was an understatement – anyone could have told you that. But dishonest marketing and the promise of something new made it even more of a let-down in comparison to the interesting film of what it could have been.
By Kevin Boyle and Louise MacGregor
(header image via Vox)