Least Favorites of 2023
Another year has come to a close, and as per tradition, it's time to share my annual list of the worst films I saw--according to me. Though it's become mighty unfashionable among the likes of film Twitter for worst lists to exist, the tradition must live on! Screw the haters of the haters! To be fair to 2023 though, most of the movies I saw that made this list weren't even THAT bad...(aside from my #1 & #2 pick) nevertheless here we go. We'll start with the lesser offensive entries and work our way to the top...or bottom, whichever way you want to look at it!
10. THE FLASH
There might be a decently okay superhero film underneath all of the garish visual effects and oddball humor stuffed into The Flash. Still, you'd never know it while watching the bloated cut they decided was worthy to release in theaters. The time-traveling story at its core is perfectly fine and even has a touching moment or two--but it's hard to appreciate that amid everything else that just doesn't work here. This is an ugly film, and for whatever reason that seems to be an active choice on the part of the filmmakers, and it's really baffling to try to understand why. While there was much ado being made about the cameos, again for me the number one problem was how hideous they looked. Plus it must be said, while I understand the need for one of the Barry's to have a character arc, I'm not sure he had to be quite as annoying as he was.
9. YOUR PLACE OR MINE
I actually find the premise of Your Place Or Mine very grounded and down to earth. It's not an absurd situation and honestly, I didn't mind the separate storyline either character was in. The problem came in bringing together two romantic leads whom we would never believe would be romantic with one another. Their complete lack of chemistry brings down an otherwise decent romantic comedy, but bless Reese Witherspoon's heart because she sure tried.
8. TIE: THE POPE'S EXORCIST & EXORCIST: UNBELIEVER
Two exorcism movies made my list for the price of one. The first was actively bad but with an off-the-wall performance from Russell Crowe (acting in a completely different movie than the rest of his co-stars,) and the other so dull it bored me to tears. Both reduced exorcism movies to their very worst tropes, but more importantly, neither one contained a single moment of suspense. But at least The Pope's Exorcist contained various imagery of Russell Crowe riding a moped as a priest, so I'll give it that.
7. PETER PAN & WENDY
If you ever wondered what a Peter Pan adaptation would be like without magic and wonder, featuring a Peter Pan with no charisma, look no further than Disney's live-action Peter Pan & Wendy. Of all the stories to bring realism to, why on earth would you pick Peter Pan? While I appreciated it wasn't a beat-for-beat live-action of the original animated classic, it was way too subdued for its own good. Neverland is supposed to be the epitome of every kid's wildest imagination, and instead, it is represented here as a colorless, muted bore. And don't even get me started on the ridiculous backstory they cooked up for Captain Hook. Sorry Jude Law, but you were all wrong for the role. Though I dreaded The Little Mermaid remake far more (and believe me, I hated a lot of that movie too...) Halle Bailey saves it from appearing on this list. But Peter Pan & Wendy has no such saving grace, and thus earns its spot here.
6. TIE: ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA, SHAZAM: FURY OF THE GODS
I thought about doing a three-way tie here to include The Flash along with these two, but I was just so much more apathetic about every single thing that happened in these two sequels than The Flash. I can barely muster a thing to say about either because they're both just uninspired duds that helped pave the way for mainstream audience's apparent superhero fatigue. Like The Flash, they too are filled with unsightly CGI designs and humor that doesn't work.
Despite inspired performances by Nicolas Cage and Nicholas Hoult as Dracula and Renfield respectively, they just aren't able to overcome its lackluster script. It's such a shame because the trailer looked so funny and had so much potential when in reality the tone of the film was just all over the place. Cage's instincts are spot on for what this movie should be, but unfortunately, he's just not in it enough. As a result, we're left with a derivative unfunny cop/mob comedy with touches of horror here and there. This one disappoints more because it really could have been good.
Ghosted feels like the epitome of a fake movie seen in other movies. Nothing about it feels authentic. When it came out, so many people joked about whether or not these two were ever actually filmed together in the same room at the same time, and sometimes you really do wonder! This action rom-com has definitely been done before, but could have been forgiven with better casting and a couple with great chemistry. While Ana de Armas played a believable agent in No Time to Die, she's less so convincing here. But the real problem is Chris Evans, who after playing Captain America for a good decade just isn't believable as a guy who can't take care of himself. But it's also odd how though they shared a good bit of chemistry in Knives Out, they're completely devoid of it here. But perhaps the most distracting part of Ghosted might just be Ana de Armas' horrible wig.
3. YOU PEOPLE
A lot of unfunny movies have made this list, but none more unfunny than this one. Awkward, cringey humor definitely can work...but it really helps when there's at least one likable character. But there's none to be found in You People, which feels more like nails on a chalkboard than a movie. With so many talented actors involved, it's truly stunning that it fell so flat.
2. WHAT HAPPENS LATER
Poor Meg Ryan. She must have seen last year's Ticket to Paradise and thought, I can do this too! So she found a generic script, signed on to direct, and cast herself along with another 90's rom-com alum David Duchovny. But unfortunately for her, this romantic comedy set entirely in an airport, fails to ever take flight. It's trying so hard to be one of Richard Linklater's Before movies, relying entirely on dialogue and the relationship between characters, but doesn't realize that those things have to also be compelling. It's clear when the two have a chance encounter in an airport that there is a history between the two, and as the film goes along more and more of their past relationship is revealed. Yet instead of feeling more drawn to the characters by each revelation, it feels like more of an endurance test for how stupid this movie can get. Also, its attempt at mixing fate and destiny into the proceedings just feels completely out of place.
If you've ever been so bored that you decided to do nothing but stare at the ceiling for an hour and a half, congratulations, you've practically already seen Skinamarink. There are few instances where I feel like a movie truly has wasted my time, and not only did Skinamarink do that--it seemed like it was proud to do so. It honestly feels like a con--as if The Emperor's New Clothes was a horror film. You keep waiting for something, ANYTHING to happen and you're left feeling like an absolute sucker by the time we cut to the end slate. Yet people will bend themselves in knots trying to derive any kind of meaning from images of toys scattered on the ground and old cartoons playing on loop rather than admit they've been had. While I understand liking the premise and admiring the style, the execution should produce a movie that's actually watchable and Skinamarink is anything but.