Don’t Worry Darling and Blonde may be the films that launched a thousand think pieces and/or gossip columns, but the act of sheer folly that is Amsterdam puts them both to shame. It is, in this writer’s opinion, the worst movie of the year—a “meandering mess crammed with poor performances from its starry cast… and more embarrassing liberal sloganeering than Lingua Franca’s sweater collection.”
Directed by David O. Russell, a notorious hothead who once told police that he’d groped his niece’s breasts, Amsterdam tells the tale of a trio of World War I vets—Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington—who reunite in 1933 to foil a fascist plot to overthrow the U.S. government. In addition to those three, it’s stacked with big-name stars, including Robert De Niro, Rami Malek, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Rock, Mike Myers, Zoe Saldana, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alessandro Nivola, and Taylor Swift, who delivers the least regrettable turn. It may be the biggest squandering of talent ever, and that’s really saying something given Hollywood’s long history of star-studded duds.
Here are the worst of the worst.
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes, Selena Gomez, John Cena, Marion Cotillard
As Robert Downey Jr. told it, he was googling “weirdest Welsh doctor” and stumbled upon William Price, a gonzo neo-pagan physician who wore a suit with stars, and based his Dr. Dolittle—a doc who can speak to animals—on that. And yet, in this film about the talks-to-animals doctor who’s tasked with finding a magical elixir to cure an ill Queen Victoria, he’s never seemed more disengaged. It’s visually drab, the script is all over the place, the voiceover work (from a massive cast) is uninspired, and all the jokes fall flat. Did I mention it’s written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, who won an Oscar for penning the drug-trade drama Traffic?
Cast: Francesca Hayward, Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Rebel Wilson, James Corden, Jason Derulo, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Ray Winstone
Expectations were high for Oscar-winning filmmaker Tom Hooper’s (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables) screen adaptation of the popular Broadway musical, but oh my, were they not met. Boasting some of the more puzzling character-design choices in recent memory—Judi Dench’s Old Deuteronomy is nightmare fuel, and nobody should be subjected to James Corden as CGI cat—and a distinct lack of magic, the film also has the cruel distinction of being the last movie many people saw in theaters prior to the COVID pandemic hitting, since it was released over Christmas 2019. Also… release The Butthole Cut!
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (2019)
Cast: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Harrison Ford, Kelly Marie Tran
J.J. Abrams’ finale to the rebooted Star Wars trilogy is one giant fuck you to the previous film in the series, The Last Jedi, retconning much of its action via unsatisfying, canon-shredding reveals. It’s the cinematic equivalent of giving in to the trolls.
THE LAUNDROMAT (2019)
Cast: Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Sharon Stone, David Schwimmer, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeffrey Wright, Will Forte, James Cromwell, Larry Wilmore, Robert Patrick
Not only is Steven Soderbergh’s Panama Papers-skewing satire needlessly convoluted and showy, exhibiting some of the worst qualities of Adam McKay’s socially conscious oeuvre, but it also features Meryl Streep in brownface as a Panamanian woman named Elena. She’s lucky nobody saw it.
JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017)
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, J.K. Simmons, Ciaran Hinds, Amber Heard, Jesse Eisenberg
This superhero extravaganza is just awful—narratively and tonally incoherent, packed with confused performances—and replacement director Joss Whedon is alleged to have terrorized his cast, and it boosted the profile of public menace Ezra Miller. Amy Adams, in particular, deserves far better than this crap.
ZOOLANDER 2 (2016)
Cast: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penelope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Kyle Mooney, Milla Jovovich, Justin Theroux, Benedict Cumberbatch, Justin Bieber, Sting
There are precious few laughs to be found in this long-awaited sequel to the 2001 comedy classic Zoolander. They’ve been replaced by an endless number of celebrity cameos, including an opening sequence where Justin Bieber is killed. Oh, and it contains a heavy dose of nasty mockery at the expense of the transgender/non-binary community in its character of All, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch.
COLLATERAL BEAUTY (2016)
Cast: Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Michael Pena, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Jacob Latimore, Naomie Harris, Ann Dowd
Will Smith’s lows are not confined to the Oscars stage. Despite his A-list status, Best Actor Academy Award, and string of blockbuster hits, Smith has also starred in some of the worst movies ever, such as Winter’s Tale, Seven Pounds, and this deeply misguided, poorly titled drama about a depressed ad exec who has run-ins with the concepts of Love, Time, and Death, here embodied by Jacob Latimore, Keira Knightley, and Helen Mirren, respectively. It’s cringeworthily saccharine, though will encourage the occasional unintentional chuckle.
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin, Bill Camp, Jaeden Martell
The Sony hack revealed that Cameron Crowe’s Hawaii-set love story was a very drama-filled production, and yes, it focuses on a military contractor (Cooper) who’s tasked with running a privatized weapons satellite, and falls in love with an Asian Air Force pilot, Allison Ng, played by… Emma Stone.
MOVIE 43 (2013)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Emma Stone, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Uma Thurman, Halle Berry, Dennis Quaid, Elizabeth Banks, Gerard Butler, Richard Gere, Jason Sudeikis, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pratt, Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Allen White, Anna Faris, Chloe Grace Moretz, Justin Long, Kristen Bell
No, Green Book is not the most egregious thing Peter Farrelly has done—it’s this anthology comedy flick comprising 14 comedy shorts, each more dreadfully unfunny than the last, including one of Hugh Jackman with testicles hanging from his neck. Despite its huge cast of stars, it’s now regarded as one of the worst films ever made.
GANGSTER SQUAD (2013)
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Anthony Mackie, Nick Nolte, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Pena, Robert Patrick, Mireille Enos, Holt McCallany
This terrible script somehow spent several years on the Black List of the best unproduced screenplays before landing in the hands of Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), who proved to be the absolute wrong director for this noir tale about a group of renegade cops who try to take down crime lord Mickey Cohen in 1949 Los Angeles. It’s a pulpy mess boasting ugly production design and gangster-movie cliches. The typically reliable Gosling has never seemed so bored.
NEW YEAR’S EVE (2011)
Cast: Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Sofia Vergara, John Lithgow, Sarah Paulson, Common, Matthew Broderick
Garry Marshall gave us so many wonderful TV shows and films, from Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley to Overboard and Pretty Woman. His final three films in the director’s chair, however, were the let’s-put-on-a-show catastrophes Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Mother’s Day—all packed with stars whose storylines intersect. There is truly nothing of value here. It’s sentimentalist dreck that might even be worse than getting caught in the middle of Times Square during the ball drop.
VALENTINE’S DAY (2010)
Cast: Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Taylor Swift
While not quite as bad as New Year’s Eve, this collection of colliding movie-star storylines is set over the course of its titular holiday and will make you hate it even more than the most bitter single people. Like Amsterdam, the one bright spot in this otherwise tortuous affair is Taylor Swift, who really needs to make better movie decisions.
Cast: Harry Belafonte, Nick Cannon, Emilio Estevez, Laurence Fishburne, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Hunt, Joshua Jackson, Ashton Kutcher, Shia LaBeouf, Lindsay Lohan, William H. Macy, Demi Moore, Martin Sheen, Christian Slater, Sharon Stone, Elijah Wood, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
It’s always excruciating when a filmmaker thinks they’ve made an Oscar-worthy masterpiece but have instead crafted a dud—take this Emilio Estevez film about the hours leading up to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy that is thoroughly convinced it’s Nashville when it’s far closer to Garry Marshall’s cursed rom-com anthology trilogy. You do get to see Shia LaBeouf catch a stray bullet from Sirhan Sirhan though, if that’s your thing.
BE COOL (2005)
Cast: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn, Cedric the Entertainer, Andre Benjamin, Dwayne Johnson, Harvey Keitel, Danny DeVito, Debi Mazar, Seth Green, James Woods
Most films do not need sequels—like Get Shorty, Barry Sonnenfeld’s near-perfect black comedy about a loan shark (Travolta) who wants to break into the film industry. This F. Gary Gray-directed sequel sees that same loan shark try his hand at the music industry, yet says nothing funny or interesting about that industry. It’s a sanitized (see: PG-13 rating) money grab whose lone bright spot is an Afro-sporting Dwayne Johnson as a queer aspiring actor in tight pants.
Cast: Elijah Wood, Bruce Willis, Jon Lovitz, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, Reba McEntire, Kelly McGillis, Kathy Bates, Jon Ritter, Scarlett Johansson, Richard Belzer
Rob Reiner had made five excellent films in a row—Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally…, Misery, and A Few Good Men—but that streak ended with this on-the-road adventure about a young boy (Wood) who successfully divorces his parents (Alexander, Louis-Dreyfus) and goes off on a global search for new ones lest he be confined to an orphanage. With stops in Texas, Zaire, China, Paris, Hawaii, Alaska, and New York City, it’s such a misfire (none of the bits work) stuffed to the gills with offensive ethnic stereotypes that the late, great film critic Roger Ebert awarded it zero stars. It did, however, mark the film debut of Scarlett Johansson, so there’s that.