Not every movie is going to be a winner. In fact, many turn out to be complete wastes of time and the 2010s certainly had their fair share of duds. Even though the decade brought us some absolutely astounding cinematic masterpieces there have been quite a few big screen blunders that left a bad taste in the mouths of viewers and critics alike. Since I made it a habit before this pandemic to be at the theater nearly every weekend I can speak from experience in saying there were numerous films over the last tens years that I’m surprised ever even made it to the big or small screen and today I’m going to look at a small selection that were so bad they made me question my commitment to cinema altogether. As I continue to explore the best films of the decade, today I’m going to examine the other end of that spectrum. These are my picks for the Top 10 Worst Movies of the 2010s.
For today’s list it’s purely subjective. There are countless countdowns and editorials out there exploring movies released from 2010 through 2019 that deserve to be crucified as unwatchable train wrecks but these ten films I’ll discuss today are just the ones that irritated me the most as a critic or viewer, either when they were released or over time. I’ve covered some of these films in past “worst of the year” lists but in some cases they leapfrogged over their competition from those countdowns to land here as I’ve grown to despise them even more with time. There’s no genre or franchise limit here today. Just ten films that for me personally represent the worst movies I have given a chance in the last decade.
I know there are a lot of bad movies I never even saw as there were numerous cases where I purposefully avoided films knowing they weren’t worth my timem like”Gotti” and “Holmes & Watson” just to name a few. I’m sure there are some other deserving honorable mentions that should be here so lave a comment below if you feel I missed any legendarily bad movies of the last ten years. Now, on with the list!
10. “The Bye Bye Man”
Horror came a long way in the 2010s giving us some excellent slow burns and high-quality frights that helped both critics and viewers take the genre seriously once more. However, “The Bye Bye Man” is one of several horrendous films recalling a bygone era of horror where minimal effort and simply existing seemed to be enough for a passable horror feature. I gave this movie a chance because it was written by Jonathan Penner, a former “Survivor” contestant who I was a big fan of when he was on the show, but sadly I found myself trapped in an hour-and-a-half of boredom, clichés and bland attempts at scares that did little to nothing to engage me as a viewer. Derivative, uninvolving and incoherent at times, “The Bye Bye Man” is truly the worst horror film of the decade and would be a forgettable experience if it didn’t leave a stain on my brain as one of the worst films I’ve ever seen on the big screen.
9. “The Emoji Movie”
Most would question me putting “The Emoji Movie” this low on the list because in nearly every way this was the worst animated feature of the 2010s, but strangely enough it still worked thanks to its dependence on a cliché formula that serves as the baseline for most animated features nowadays. “The Emoji Movie” tried to explore a society within a young boy’s phone where the emojis are living things. This personification concept helped make movies like “Toy Story”, “The Lego Movie”, “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Inside Out” big hits but unlike those films “The Emoji Movie” lacks the charm, creativity or even sense of purpose that helped its competition earn critical praise. There’s not an ounce of true imagination in this film and the only thing it has going for it is it’s ability to pander to the lowest common denominator of animated movie fans with little effort. It’s a true waste of time with its legacy capped off by becoming the first animated film to be nominated for AND win Worst Picture, Worst Director and several other categories at the 38th Golden Raspberry Awards.
8. “Captive State”
“Captive State” is one of many movies on this countdown that legitimately made me want my money back. The marketing was promising, showcasing a future where aliens have become the overlords of society and rebels come together to rise against them. That idea could have presented some interesting questions about the nature of freedom versus a controlling power that actually makes the world better through oppression. However any potential it had was squandered in favor of a more by-the-books story of rebellion that takes little advantage of its setting or the larger questions that were promised in the previews. It’s political undertones go nowhere and its alien action is minimal which, for me, resulted in one of the most boring, plodding and directionless sci-fi films I’ve ever seen and a major letdown to say the least.
7. The “Fifty Shades” Franchise
While I skipped them in theaters, I have unfortunately seen these movies and I’m not proud of it. While it’s cheating to include them all on this list as a group, I couldn’t pick just one so here they are. The “Fifty Shades” trilogy, based on the best selling “Twilight” fan fiction about a woman who falls for a rich man and is introduced to the world of BDSM, was massively successful earning a combined $1.3 billion over the last ten years but just because you earn money doesn’t mean you’re a good film (just ask Michael Bay). Whether you’re in it for the erotic content or just to enjoy the film ironically you’re bound to be disappointed by any of these three features as they’re all lifeless slogs led by a pair of decent actors, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, whose lack of chemistry is now the stuff of cinematic legend. Despite earning a grand total of seven Razzies, the “Fifty Shades” franchise still managed to somehow find a fanbase which is a testament to the power of marketing and timing.
6. “Fantastic Four” aka “Fan4stic”
The worst superhero movie of the decade, “Fantastic Four” has become a legendary mess that sidelined Josh Trank’s directing career and pretty much ended all hope for Fox to create a blockbuster franchise from Marvel’s first family. Trank’s original vision was slaughtered thanks to studio interference and the changes made from the source material as well as a poorly utilized cast of legitimate talent all added up to an unwatchable, unfocused and all-around uneven experience that seemed confused as to exactly what it wanted to be. While the first two “Fantastic Four” movies weren’t very good they at least had color, heart and some sort of purpose. This film lacks all of that. Fun fact, I actually snuck into this movie because I heard how bad it was and when it was all over I felt like I deserved my money back. Yes, this is the only movie on this list I thought I should be PAID to have watched on the big screen. It’s that bad.
5. “Movie 43”
What if I told you there was a film out there containing fourteen different stories by fourteen different directors starring an ensemble cast with the likes of Halle Berry, Seth MacFarlane, Hugh Jackman, Chris Pratt, Emma Stone and countless other big stars attached to the project? Sounds exciting right? Unfortunately, this describes 2013’s “Movie 43”, an anthology film showcasing several movie ideas being presented by a screenwriter and each idea is more ridiculous, unwatchable and unfunny than the last. It might have worked if the idea was anti-comedy but even then “Movie 43” comes off as completely out of left field. Stories like a man with a ball sack on his chin, a woman who is sexually aroused by feces, and a life sized robotic nude woman that doubles as an MP3 player are included in the mix and none of them are the least bit amusing. Most are downright disturbing or boring at best and some are even insulting. Richard Roper called it “the ‘Citizen Kane’ of awful” and I’d agree with that conclusion if there weren’t a few other films that irritated me even more over the last decade.
4. “Jack and Jill”
Oh Adam Sandler, how the mighty fall. The 2010s provided a big supply of mediocre films from the comedian although it also saw his triumphant resurgence in the later years. Arguably the worst film in his 2010s repertoire is “Jack and Jill” which features Sandler in duel roles playing a man and his twin sister and the mishaps that occur over a Thanksgiving reunion. Infamously unfunny and considered one of the worst films ever made, “Jack and Jill” even went on to sweep all ten categories at the 32nd Golden Raspberry Awards, a milestone first for the annual celebration of horrible pictures. What keeps this movie from topping my list however is that is has this odd “so bad it’s good” quality about it for people who like to torture themselves. It also has Al Pacino in a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial that, even though he and his on-screen self would like us to forget it, is arguably the most enjoyable part of the film even if only because it’s such a low point for Pacino’s illustrious career.
3. “The Snowman”
A lot of people overlook this 2017 box office bomb when examining the worst of the decade, and maybe that’s because it is, in fact, so forgettable. Based on a novel Jo Nesbø and apparently having little to actually do with the book, “The Snowman” isn’t just boring, cliché and directionless, it’s unfinished. Director Tomas Alfredson, who also directed the 2011 critically lauded “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, blamed the result on the film’s rushed production schedule but even then, it’s hard to imagine how this movie got released in its final form. Clearly composed of a bunch of parts meant to create some semblance of a coherent whole, “The Snowman” lacks much of anything worth complimenting and thus was my least favorite film of 2017. I went in hoping for an intriguing crime caper about a killer with a snowman as his calling card and left literally wishing I had burned the money I spent on the movie AND the popcorn instead of wasting my time.
2. “The 15:17 to Paris”
I give the filmmakers credit for trying something new and creative with this one, but it’s a prime example of how acting is not an easy job that just anyone can do. Produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, this is arguably his worst movie as he attempts to capture the essence of a real-life act of heroism by using the actual people the film is celebrating to play themselves. Now this isn’t unheard of in cinema. I even did an entire list of people who played themselves in movies which you can read here (shameless plug), but with “The 15:17 to Paris” all of the drama, suspense and emotional weight leading up to the real life thwarting of the Thalys train attack in 2015 is lost because the stars can’t act. Their lifeless line reads, and clear inexperience fail to capture their own story and Eastwood’s trademark approach to utilizing the first take for his movies probably didn’t help. It may have been well intentioned, but it’s also a perfect example of how experimentation can destroy and otherwise promising idea.
1. “The Last Airbender”
While there were many bad movies over the last decade this was the film that started it all as the absolute worst mainstream offering from 2010. I luckily did not see this movie in theaters. I saw it years later after its infamy grew to a level where I just couldn’t avoid it anymore. Adapted from the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” TV show on Nickelodeon, this was the last straw for many fans of the once great M. Night Shyamalan who would eventually resurrect his career with “Split” and “Glass”, but when the decade began this movie proved to be not only his magnum opus of cinematic mediocrity but a truly insulting movie in more ways than one. It has been deemed among the worst films of all time, even earning several Razzies, with its lifeless acting, wrongly pronounced character names, controversial casting choices and horrible storytelling all becoming widespread examples of how not to adapt a property or even make a movie. “The Last Airbender” isn’t even enjoyably bad. It’s the absolute definition of unwatchable and that’s why it takes the top spot here today.