My Ten Least Favourite Films of the Year 2019

There are quite a lot of celebrated movies hovering just outside of my bottom ten this year; Rocketman, The Lion King, Midsommar and of course Joker. My list is not ranked by what is ‘best’ though but by what I enjoyed the most and I just didn’t like some of these films. Rocketman was the most joyless musical I have ever seen, The Lion King was totally pointless (for reasons I’ll get into in a second) and Midsommar, like the director Ari Aster’s previous film Hereditary, was very clever but totally ridiculous. Don’t get me started again on Joker.

There were worse films though and I’ll tell you now that Cats is not among them. Here follows a list of movies then that are devoid of any real artistic judgement, misguided or just too lazy and while all of them diverted me for at least some of the running time, none of them have anything in them that I would ever want to have to watch again.

Tenth from the bottom is Dumbo. Disney clearly have a huge back catalogue of near perfect animated films which they are periodically remaking into something closely approximating live action. This is the thing though, they were near perfect as animated films so of course they are disappointing in any other format. You wouldn’t remake Casablanca as a cartoon so why produce a realistic version of Dumbo? When the stories centre on people, as with Cinderella and Aladdin, they’ve got away with it but when it’s all been about elephants or lions or beasts of any kind then the limited expressiveness of the animal faces just makes you wish upon a star that you were watching the original instead.

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The way The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences embraced Barry Jenkins and his film Moonlight was a wonderful surprise but the way they almost entirely ignored its staggering follow up If Beale Street Could Talk is a bigger and more confounding shock. You’d hope it’s not because it is a movie that challenges institutionalised racism but it doesn’t help when Oscar also bypassed BlacKkKlansman and Black Panther and gave its biggest prize this year to Green Book, a film that takes the story of a remarkable and inspiring real life African American pianist and tells it as a racist white guy’s redemption tale.

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Iron Sky was one of those deliberately so bad it’s good movies that followed on the success of Sharknado and with its silly Nazis on the moon plot it kind of worked. The sequel Iron Sky: The Coming Race stretched the joke too thin though and tried to paper over the cracks with crumbling cheese and old corn. It didn’t work.

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6 Underground isn’t one of those so deliberately bad it’s good movies but if feels like it is. This time they tried to paper over the cracks with gore and scantily dressed women. This didn’t work either.

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I feel mean listing Teen Spirit as my sixth least favourite film of the year because I think Elle Fanning is an excellent actor and she gives everything to this story of a young girl entering a televised singing competition. The film is so incredibly cliched though that I found it almost unbearably annoying. I couldn’t work out of screenwriter/director Max Minghella had never seen a rags to riches performer story before or if he’d seen all of them.

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There is an ad running at the moment showcasing all of the high profile and star studded films that Netflix have produced this year. It shows clips from The Irishman, The King, The Two Popes and Dolemite is My Name. What it doesn’t include is Between Two Ferns: The Movie even though it features Matthew McConaughey, Brie Larson, Keanu Reeves, Paul Rudd, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Legend, Jason Schwartzman, Awkwafina, Hailee Steinfeld, Tiffany Haddish, Peter Dinklage, Tessa Thompson and Gal Gadot. The film has all the cameos of the MCU and all the laughs of an MRI.

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Polar is a classic example of a trailer giving completely the wrong impression of a film. The promo made this look like a cool and stylish hit man thriller with Mads Mikkelsen, capitalising on his work on Bond and Star Wars but it is actually a cruel and sexist hit man thriller with Mads Mikkelsen, cashing in on his work on Bond and Star Wars.

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I’ve got a degree in English Literature yet these days I very rarely read books (I think I finished three this year). Nonetheless I absolutely love it when I get the chance to really read a film (my degree actually include several modules in cinema studies). Jordan Peele’s Us is one you can really get into. Enjoy it just on the surface if you want but there is so so much hidden below. Making great movies that are open to interpretation like this is not easy either; the trippy Under the Silver Lake which attempted the same thing is my third worst film of the year.

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The Hustle, which only narrowly escaped being my least favourite film of the whole year, is the perfect illustration of how timing and delivery is everything in comedy. The film gender flips Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and replays most of the jokes but manages to mismanage every single one.

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The Wandering Earth is the third highest grossing film ever in China and due to that country’s huge cinema audience that also makes it the third highest grossing film of all time not in the English language. It is great to see other markets producing films with big special effects sequences and huge action scenes and it is wonderful to have heroes on screen who are not all white Americans. Unfortunately this film is just awful. It is adapted from a novel that went to great pains to explain how the complicated science of moving planet Earth away from a dangerously expanding Sun might work but the movie doesn’t bother with any of this so the pain is all left for those people watching it. It is without doubt the single worst film I have seen all year.

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