The worst movie I saw in 2023 was at a film festival; it was an indie production that has yet to be released and, perhaps sparing the filmmakers’ dignity, will remain in this liminal state indefinitely. This is a perfect encapsulation of why many people understandably dislike worst-of-the-year lists. To take a shot at some big hit or critical favorite or Oscar contender when countless genuinely incompetent or horrible productions circulate through the movie world seems disingenuous. And to compose a list of ten such productions seems cruel. Classic lose-lose situation.
At the same time: Sometimes enormous hits are absolutely terrible (particularly when, say, informed by YouTube fandom, rather than any sense of genre, style, or narrative). Sometimes awards contenders go into rigor mortis while you’re watching them. Sometimes other critics inexplicably give a pass to absolute garbage. And sometimes scrappy independent productions are genuinely loathsome. Ah, the dimensions of cinema! Also, watching and writing about movies is how I make (most of) my living – which most of the time constitutes a miraculous stroke of luck on my part. But it can nonetheless involve some measures of frustrations, insecurity, and uncertainty. Those things aren’t the fault of the worst ten movies I see in any given year – but the worst movies of the year can do their part to exacerbate those conditions, however briefly or superficially. These are the moments where this job starts to feel really stupid. That, this year, there are only 10 such occasions out of 200-plus movies is a great sign of life at the movies. So if you’ll indulge me a lot of paraphrasing myself, let’s review the worst of this particular year.
Continue reading The Worst Movies of 2023