Thursday, January 31, 2019

Top 5 “Rotten” Movies of 2018

Every year, I look forward to publishing a list of movies I enjoyed that were deemed “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes. This was a particularly strong year for movies of this kind, so please do share your favorite “rotten” films of 2018 as well. (Note: I’m using the Rotten Tomatoes scores each film had on December 31, 2018.)

Honorable Mention
Gotti
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 0%
People think I’m joking when I say this, but Gotti should be viewed by anyone who is interested in making films, because it is a perfect encapsulation of everything a movie should avoid doing. Gotti makes no actual sense in any context of the word “sense.” It is so hilariously bad that I am stunned MoviePass ended up distributing it at all. (Actually, given the crap year MoviePass had, I suppose I can’t be that surprised.)

5. The Strangers: Prey at Night
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 40%
The Strangers from 2008 is one of the best horror films of the last 10 years, and I was excited for its long gestating sequel. Of course, Prey at Night isn’t nearly as effective as its predecessor, but it doesn’t really try to be, either. Its silly character choices feel intentional (almost satire), and the film’s reliance on ‘80s pop music made the movie fun. I can’t say Prey at Night was scary, but I definitely had a blast watching it.

4. Unfriended: Dark Web
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%
Like the first Unfriended, I thought its sequel, Dark Web, was far better than people gave it credit for. In fact, I think Dark Web took the concept of the original film and enhanced it. I am equally fascinated and terrified by the dark web, and this movie did a great job showcasing the true horrors that a person can discover there. Moreover, unlike the original Unfriended, in which the spirit of a dead girl terrorizes her former classmates online, everything in Dark Web could actually happen, and that is scary as shit.

3. The Front Runner
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 59%
I feel bad for The Front Runner. The movie was Jason Reitman’s best since Young Adult, and it featured some great performances, namely from Hugh Jackman as disgraced politician Gary Hart. (Also, the long takes in the film were worth the price of admission. They were executed seamlessly.) Columbia was clearly grooming Jackman for a Best Actor Oscar campaign, but when the film was released, no one showed up for it. It was around for a week or two, then just vanished. Perhaps the current political climate didn’t do the film any favors, but Jackman’s work here, at the very least, deserved to be seen.

2. Red Sparrow
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 46%
Red Sparrow is the kind of effective, double-cross spy thriller that isn’t really made anymore. Sure, it was a bit long, and, at times, a bit too twisty for its own good, but I enjoyed it all the same. I also had no idea it was going to be that intense during certain sequences. The commitment of Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton made for one of the most disturbingly realistic torture scenes I’ve seen in years. I had to scrub the scene off me when it was done.

1. Vox Lux
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 59%
Brady Corbet’s Vox Lux was one of my Top 10 movies of 2018, but I get why the masses weren’t into it. This was a small-budget film that took huge risks. The film experimented with font choice, credit style, and aspect ratio, and those are just a few of the technical risks it took. The performances from Natalie Portman and Jude Law were unlike anything I’ve seen them do before, and the movie’s lengthy pop concert conclusion was so audacious, simply because it highlighted a reprehensible character enjoying the fruits of her cartooned labor. But that was the point. Why are certain famous people idolized, even if, by public accounts, they don’t seem like particularly good people, and are no longer putting out good work? Why, indeed.

Best of 2018 Lists

22 comments:

  1. I still have interest in The Front Runner as it's Jason Reitman as I'm sure it's better than Men, Women, & Children which I still haven't seen but I've heard bad things about it but still want to see it.

    Vox Lux is the film you and I definitely agree on as a lot of the critics were wrong on this film. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

    I will disagree with you on Red Sparrow where with the exception of Charlotte Rampling and Jeremy Irons who were the only things in the film that I enjoyed (along w/ a nude Jennifer Lawrence). I was annoyed by how awful J-Law's Russian accent was and some of the suspense as it played too much toward convention. It didn't work for me at all.

    There's one Rotten film that I enjoyed from 2018 and that is the remake of Overboard. It never took itself seriously as I kind of enjoyed it for what it is. Plus, it was the film that brought my parents to the theaters for the first time in years (although they had free movie passes).

    Gotti... I'm not sure if I want to see it though I heard why it's so atrociously awful. The fact that you have Travolta opening the film saying "Naw York is da best fucking ciddy in da world" and featuring music by Pitbull. I fucking hate that puto bitch. I'd go la raza on that cabron. It makes me wonder who the fuck gave E a job to direct the film. Maybe I will watch it for shit and giggles just to see how bad it is.

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    1. Men, Women, & Children is very bad. It doesn't make any sense, and nothing connects. It's baffling to me that someone as talented as Reitman made that film.

      Red Sparrow... I hear what you're saying. I kind of gave up on American actors being able to do convincing accents a while ago. It just doesn't seem to be a thing they focus on anymore, which is odd.

      Maybe I'll check out Overboard now. I like when movies like that don't take themselves too seriously.

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  2. I continue to maintain that Gotti is just an adorably mediocre Godfather/GoodFellas wannabe. Yes, it's bad, but it's far from being incomprehensible and it does have its moments of okay-ness. It's also the polar opposite of Paddington 2 for 2018, in that P2 is nowhere close to sacred and untouchable cinema. Gotti is simply the trendy "worst film for 2018," including and especially for those who haven't even seen it. I do not believe anyone who thinks the atrocious Slender Man is better than Gotti.

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    1. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, and while I am very appreciative that you commented here, I respectfully disagree with you in full. The framing, editing, and music made no virtual sense in Gotti. (And those are just technical specs; acting, narrative, and script are other stories.) I was watching the trailer yesterday (to grab a still for this post), and I just started laughing, because every shot is off-frame. And the editing cuts in the movie were very much incomprehensible to me.

      But again, I respect your opinion, and after all, it's just a movie. There was nothing inherently offensive about Gotti, I just thought it was truly, horribly made.

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    2. Thanks for replying and I respect your disagreement.

      Still, I've found it quite annoying how everyone describes the film as "incomprehensible", as though it were one random scene after another. The film was a real-life rise and fall of a notorious gangster and there was never any point during the film where I wasn't like "okay, there's that part of the trajectory" and "there's that part of the trajectory" and "that's where this happens", etc. There's a difference between "incomprehensible" and "cheaply produced", the latter to which Gotti belongs far more and which was enough to keep it more than several steps outside my bottom 10 for 2018.

      Have you had the chance to watch Slender Man? Now **that's** incomprehensible and cheap horror cinema.

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    3. I seriously love this constructive discourse, which seems all but lost in today's online world. I respect your opinion, and completely agree that it is always bullshit when someone judges a film without having actually seen it.

      And I didn't see Slender Man (I saw the HBO documentary, which was terrifying), but now I have to check it out. It's THAT bad, huh?

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    4. Slender Man is one of the funniest movies of 2018.

      Case in point:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5QZYBOYLy0
      Skip to the 2:50 mark. You're welcome.

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    5. Oh... my. I have to see this damn thing now. I mean, I kind of give them props for using "Maggot Brain," but still, this thing looks a hot mess.

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  3. I'm with you on the Front Runner. I didn't think it was excellent but I enjoyed watching it and thought the actors did very well. That's the only one of these I've seen. I hope to see Vox Lux when it hits DVD.

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    1. I hope you like Vox Lux! It's a real trip. And The Front Runner... so weird that it just vanished. I really thought Jackman would be more in the running. But that thing just disappeared.

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  4. I have not watched any of the movies on your list, but i really want to check out Vox Lux and The Front Runner though. As for "rotten" movies i have watched and enjoyed i would have to go with either Tomb Raider or Venom. Tomb Raider mostly because it has Walton Goggins in it as the bad guy and he can make even the worst trash watchable. I do wish they had given him more to do though. As for the rest of the movie i can't even remember what it was about. It was as bland of an action adventure movie as you can get, but watchable on a Sunday afternoon when you have nothing else to do.

    Venom however was just pure cheese. Tom Hardy got to go all out and it really saved the movie. If anyone else had been the lead it would have almost definitely been an unwatchable movie. The story makes no sense, the action scenes are boring and the climatic battle with Venom against grey Venom is a mess. Literally. But Tom Hardy is just too much fun to watch in the movie. Especially in the restaurant scene when he jumps in the lobster tank.

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    1. You're speaking my language about Tomb Raider. I absolutely think there is a place for those types of movies, so I will definitely be checking it out. You had me at "Walton Goggins." Love the guy.

      And I've been meaning to check out Venom as well, strictly for the cheese aspect of it all.

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  5. I'm gonna check out the Front Runner this weekend! This has gotta be the biggest Oscar hopeful flop of the year, it got absolutely nothing

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    1. So strange that it just vanished! Hugh really showed up for it, but people just didn't care. It was so weird to watch him on THR Actor's Roundtable a few days ago, because I myself almost forgot that movie existed.

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  6. I haven't seen these yet, purely 'cause I haven't been able to find them on-demand. But I'm excited for Vox Lux and The Frontrunner, and interested to see if Serenity makes this list for you next year.

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    1. I've been hearing that Serenity has an insane twist, so I'm kind of interested to check it out. Have you seen it? Is it bonkers?

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  7. I honestly haven't seen any of these, but I kind of love that you're sticking up for the underdog. The Front Runner is baffling because leading up to its release it was considered on the same tier as Vice as this latebreaking mystery film that could swoop in for all the nominations...and then I swear I never even heard it was ever released! LOL!

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    1. Thanks Drew! I'm always looking to shine a little light on the underdog if I can. And yeah, The Front Runner really seemed to be poised as an Oscar... front runner. So weird that it up and vanished.

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  8. As a music fan, I'm curious to see Vox Lux eventually. Looks as if Portman is on fire in that!
    Under the Silver Lake is my favorite "rotten" movie from 2018 (apparently UK and US audiences will have to wait a bit for that one)

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    1. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts on Vox Lux. I don't think I'm ruining anything here, but the music Portman sings in the film is not good, and I think that turned a lot of people off from the movie. But that was the entire point of her character. She makes bad art but is still widely loved. It's a fascinating character study.

      And Under the Silver Lake hasn't had a proper release here yet! I'm curious about that one for sure.

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  9. the only one I've seen is Red Sparrow and I do not agree at all. The thing that bothers me the most... is the fact that the main character speaks English all the time. Even ordering a drink at a bar... with a heavy Russian accent.. from a Russian bartender... that's just... it rips you away from the character and you sort of see through her as an actress. And that makes the movie really breaks the illusion. I do want to see Vox Lux though, I feel like I could agree on that.

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    1. I totally hear that, and it bugs the hell out of me too. And I have to admit that that technique has worn me down over the years, because so many damn movies do it. It's just all about American marketing and potential box office gross. The major studios assume that if English-speaking actors don't speak English, then no one will see the movie. They've done a great job at normalizing this, but it still sucks.

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