Written in January 2019, this short list of the worst films of 2018 was swiftly buried under myriad drafts that have yet to see the light of day (and probably won’t). Still, there’s now time more relevant than to publish; 2019’s list is slim pickings and 2018’s landing page needed a counterbalance to the positivity the best of list.
Never one to be a punctual freelance journalist, here are my 5 worst films of 2018, where the “digital fur technology” of Cats was a mere glint in Tom Hooper’s demented eye.
Article written on 7th January 2019
In constructing this article it occurred to me that I had unintentionally bypassed those that were almost unanimously considered to be disasters. Per The AV Club, I saw none. On Variety‘s list, I’d only seen one (Avengers: Infinity War, which their critic rationally savaged). Even Gamespot had a mix of films that I’d subconsciously neglected.
These low-hanging fruits (Gotti, The Happytime Murders, er, Fifty Shades Freed) evaded picking when coming up with this bottom five because even if I am a masochist for watching dreadful films, I’m don’t think I’m that much of a reprobate. In fairness to the selections below, each of them did have at least one praiseworthy element: be it a satisfying score, dazzling cinematography, a dependably talented cast or individual, or a competently written script, yet each had a fatal flaw that made it a contender for this list.
5. A Quiet Place (dir. John Krasinski)
My least favourite horror of the year was a case of unanimous positive word-of-mouth being so curiously misplaced. Emily Blunt is the only shining beacon here, as director-cum-star John Krasinski undermines any crumb of tension or thrills both on- and off-camera, and Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as their moronic children are beyond irritating (repeatedly mismatching reactions to the incoherent script). It’s the mystifyingly nonsensical character decisions from Krasinski’s screenplay, however, that accentuates his shortcomings in preserving the boundaries of his own universe. A brilliant opening and some great work from Blunt just couldn’t make up for the illogical absurdity of it all.
4. The Predator (dir. Shane Black)
Shane Black can definitely do better, and for a short time, The Predator seemed like the sequel to the Arnie-starting franchise we deserved. Perhaps it’s not fair to include a film that was unilaterally cut to ribbons in post-production, but when the build-up is competent to a degree, Black’s caustic wit is occasionally displayed, and the cast are (mostly) watchable, the resulting wreckage of potential makes it difficult to enjoy such a crushing disappointment.
3. Ready Player One (dir. Steven Spielberg)
Who on Earth was this film made for? Squarely marketed to kids and mid-teens, yet clearly the references were targeted at those who lived through the era it so cynically prods at. So why did what is seemingly a YA film based on a YA novel (which I haven’t read and never fucking will) spend such a long time in a digital recreation of The Shining‘s Outlook Hotel, blood-soaked hallways and all (a sequence not in Clines novel at all)? There are more negatives here than solely the endless barrage of fan-service and indiscriminate nostalgia targeting. Take, for example, the horrible blitz of rubbery CGI; the painfully cringeworthy script; the incomprehensible a-to-b plot, and wasting the usually magnificent Ben Mendelsohn ( scenery-chewing dentures included). Mash these all together and you get a crude technicolour nightmare that also rejects the ideal opportunity to approach any meaningful conversation on the toxicity of gaming culture (of which it pitifully grazes past with as much nuance as a skyscraper-sized Gundam).
2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (dir. J. A. Bayona)
Why is it that a film as universally adored as Jurassic Park is continuously hamstrung by sequel after sequel of utter weightless shite? How fucking hard is it to make a film about dinosaurs good?! Extremely, it would turn out. I’ve a legitimate soft-spot for The Lost World, and even take gleeful joy in JP3, but they’re mostly overlooked for a reason. Fallen Kingdom, though only slightly better than it’s mean-spirited, dumb ancestor, is still full of feeble characters, paper-thin logic and, for a film concerning weaponised dinosaurs being traded on the black market, is exasperatingly lifeless. Throw in a faintly conceived side-plot of literal cloned children and this franchise has now totally jumped the prehistoric shark.
1. Wonderstruck (dir. Todd Haynes)
BFSR Award illustration header by cal.con.
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