Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2020


 

Well, it’s nearly February so I guess it’s time for me to start listing my picks for the best and the worst of 2020.

It’s pretty much a tradition here at the Shattered Lens that I always end up running behind as far as posting these lists are concerned.  I always think that I’m going to have everything ready to go during the first week of January but then I realize that there’s still a host of movies that I need to see before I can, in good conscience, post any sort of list.  In fact, as I sit here writing this post, I’m watching some films that could very well make it onto my best of 2020 list.

Of course, the list below is not my best of 2020 list.  Instead, below, you’ll find my picks for the 16 worst films of 2020.  Why 16 films?  Because Lisa doesn’t do odd numbers!

It probably won’t be a surprise you to see some of these films on the list.  For instance, I don’t think anyone will be shocked to see The Grudge or After We Collided mentioned.  However, I imagine that some people will be surprised to see The Trial of the Chicago 7 on the list.  What can I say?  The more I thought about it, the more it represented everything that I dislike about mainstream Hollywood filmmaking.  The fact that it’s probably going to be a major Oscar contender made it even more important to list it.  I’m sure there’s a lot of critics, for instance, who wish they had found room for Green Book when they were compiling their 2018 lists.

In the end, of course, this list is my opinion.  You’re free to agree or disagree.  That’s the wonderful thing about having an opinion.

(Also be sure to check out my picks for 2019, 20182017201620152014201320122011, and 2010!)

And now, the list:

16. John Henry (dir by Will Forbes) — I actually feel kind of bad for listing this silly B-movie as one of the worst of 2020 but it was just so slowly paced and thematically muddled that I really didn’t have a choice.

15. The Binge (dir by Jeremy Garelick) — Doing The Purge with drugs and alcohol as opposed to murder is actually a pretty cool idea so this movie has no excuse for being so dull.  There is one fun dance number that livens things up, which is why The Binge is listed at number 15 as opposed to number 3.

14. Once Upon A Time In London (dir by Simon Rumley) — London has a rich and exciting history when it comes to organized crime but you wouldn’t know that from watching this dull film.

13. Valley Girl (dir by Rachel Lee Goldenberg) — This remake was a boring jukebox musical that featured 30 year-old high school students and unimaginative use of a host of 80s songs.  (A girl at the beach says that she just wants to have fun.  Can you guess what song the cast started singing?)

12. Ava (dir by Tate Taylor) — Jessica Chastain’s an assassin and …. *yawn.*  Tate Taylor was exactly the wrong director to be expected to do anything interesting with this story.

11. Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island (dir by Jeff Wadlow) — My fantasy would be for a better film.  Boom!  Roasted!  (Actually, I bet I’m the thousandth blogger to have said that.)

10. The Grudge (dir by Nicolas Pesce) — Eh.  Who cares?

9. Artemis Fowl (dir by Kenneth Branagh) — This was a confusing movie that mixed the least interesting parts of the Harry Potter franchise with the least interesting bits of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

8. The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson (dir by Daniel Farrands) — I actually defended The Haunting of Sharon Tate but this semi-follow up was just too distasteful.  What was the deal with Nicole being dragged across the ceiling?  Both Mena Suvari and Nick Stahl deserve better.  So does director Daniel Farrands, for that matter.

7. The Dalton Gang (dir by Christopher Forbes) — Never has the old west looked so cheap.

6. After We Collided (dir by Roger Kumble) — This was marginally better than the first After but that’s not saying much.  The total lack of chemistry between the two romantic leads makes it difficult to care about whether or not they ever end up together.  The cloying cameo from writer Anna Todd (“What have you written?”  “Oh, this and that,”) almost made me throw a show at my TV.

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (dir by Aaron Sorkin) — I liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance and the scene where Bobby Seale gets gagged in court was powerful and disturbing.  Otherwise, this movie represented Hollywood at its most vapid.

4. Sergio (dir by Greg Barker) — This was a muddled and poorly acted commercial for the United Nations.

3. A Fall From Grace (dir Tyler Perry) — Tyler Perry’s beard was the best thing about this movie.

2. The Last Thing He Wanted (dir by Dee Rees) — This was the first bad film that I saw in 2020 and it’s remained here, near the bottom of the list, for 12 months.  This movie was a muddle mess that thought it had more to say than it did.  It did feature a good performance from Willem DaFoe, which saved it from being the worst film of the year.  Instead, that honor goes to….

1. Let Them All Talk (dir by Steven Soderbergh) — This mind-numbingly dull film from Steven Soderbergh seems to be determined to troll everyone who has ever said that they’d watch Meryl Streep in anything.

Coming up tomorrow: my favorite songs of 2020!

TSL Looks Back at 2020:

  1. My Top 20 Albums of 2020 (Necromoonyeti)
  2. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems That I Saw In 2020 (Valerie Troutman)
  3. Top 10 Vintage Collections (Ryan C)
  4. Top 10 Contemporary Collections (Ryan C)
  5. Top 10 Original Graphic Novels (Ryan C)
  6. Top 10 Ongoing Series (Ryan C.)
  7. Top 10 Special Mentions (Ryan C.)
  8. Top Ten Single Issues (Ryan C)

The Films of 2020: Artemis Fowl (dir by Kenneth Branagh)


What exactly is Artemis Fowl about?

Basically, it opens with news reports about the home of millionaire businessman Artemis Fowl (Colin Farrell) being raided by the police and the discovery that Fowl has apparently been stealing ancient artifacts from across the world.  A bearded man named Mulch Diggums (Josh Gad) is arrested at the house and is interrogated by …. someone.  I guess he’s being interrogated by an intelligence agency, I don’t know.  Mulch explains that he’s a dwarf and that he’s about to tell a story that will prove that magic exists which …. okay, I guess.

The story is about Artemis Fowl’s 12 year-old son, who is also named Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw).  The younger Artemis Foul is a criminal mastermind, just like his father, and he wears a suit and dark glasses and basically, he looks like a 12 year-old who dressed up like one of the Men In Black for Halloween.  Artemis Fowl the younger is investigating the disappearance of Artemis Fowl the older which leads to a search for a missing magical object.  Somehow, it all involves faeries and other magical figures. Judi Dench pops up a few times, looking stern.  There’s a lot of chase scenes and a few fight scenes, none of which really make much of an impression.

The plot of Artemis Fowl is pretty much impossible to follow, especially if you haven’t read (or, in my case, recently reread) the books on which the film is based.  A huge part of the problem is that the film itself doesn’t really develop any sort of individual personality.  For a film about a 12 year-old wearing a suit and concocting criminal schemes, Artemis Fowl is surprisingly bland.  It feels like a collection of scenes from other YA adaptations.  We get the slow motion fight scenes.  We get the magical scenes that feel as if they were lifted from a lesser entry from the Harry Potter series.  Indeed, a huge chunk of the film seems to be made up of discarded scenes from director Kenneth Branagh’s previous excursion into the world of fantasy and vaguely defined magic, Thor.  The film moves quickly but since nothing interesting or unusual is happening, you find yourself wishing that maybe the film would slow down for a just a minute or two and spend a bit of time exploring the world in which the two Artemis Fowls live.  It’s a remarkably undetailed fantasy world that Artemis Fowl presents us with.  I spent the majority of the movie wondering whether Judi Dench was supposed to be an elf or a faerie.  One of the great actress, Dench spends the entire film wearing pointed ears and looking rather annoyed.

Much like Dolittle, Artemis Fowl ends with the promise of more cinematic adventures, though it’s doubtful that promise will actually be fulfilled.  Also — and again like Dolittle — it’s hard not to feel that Artemis Fowl would have worked much better as an animated film than as a live action spectacular.  Unfortunately, Artemis Fowl is just too bland and borderline incoherent to really make much of a lasting impression.

The St. Louis Film Critics Association Rewards Downhill


The St. Louis Film Critics Association announced the winners of their 2020 awards earlier today!  Downhill picked up its first trophy of the awards seasons as the SLFCA named it The Worst Picture of the Year.  How will this effect Downhill‘s Oscar chances?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Here are the winners:

BEST FILM
First Cow (RUNNER UP TIE)
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Nomadland (WINNER)
Promising Young Woman (RUNNER UP TIE)
The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST DIRECTOR
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (RUNNER UP)
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland (WINNER)

BEST ACTRESS
Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand – Nomadland (RUNNER UP)
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman (WINNER)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (RUNNER UP)
Ellen Burstyn – Pieces of a Woman
Olivia Colman – The Father
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Yuh-jung Youn – Minari (WINNER)

BEST ACTOR
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (WINNER)
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods (RUNNER UP)
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Gary Oldman – Mank

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Bo Burnham – Promising Young Woman
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (RUNNER UP)
Bill Murray – On The Rocks
Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal (WINNER)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman (WINNER)
Jack Fincher – Mank
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7 (RUNNER UP)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things (WINNER)
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami (RUNNER UP)
Jon Raymond & Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Benjamin Kracunc – Promising Young Woman
Erik Messerschmidt – Mank (RUNNER UP)
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland (WINNER)
Newton Thomas Sigel – Da 5 Bloods
Dariusz Wolski – News of the World

BEST EDITING
Jonah Moran – Hamilton
Robert Frasen – I’m Thinking of Ending Things (RUNNER UP)
Kirk Baxter – Mank
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland (WINNER)
​Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Kave Quinn – Emma. (RUNNER UP)
Mark Ricker – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Donald Graham Burt – Mank (WINNER)
Cristina Casali – The Personal History of David Copperfield
Michael Perry – Promising Young Woman

BEST SCORE
Ludovico Einaudi – “Nomadland” (RUNNER UP)
Ludwig Goransson – “Tenet”
James Newton Howard – “News of the World”
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Baptiste – “Soul” (WINNER)
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – “Mank”

BEST SOUNDTRACK
Birds of Prey
Da 5 Bloods
Hamilton (RUNNER UP)
Lovers Rock
Promising Young Woman (WINNER)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Birds of Prey
The Invisible Man (RUNNER UP)
Mank
The Midnight Sky
Tenet (WINNER)

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Onward
Over The Moon
Soul (WINNER)
The Wolf House
Wolfwalkers (RUNNER UP)

BEST HORROR FILM
Alone
The Invisible Man (WINNER)
La Llorona
Possessor: Uncut
​The Vast of Night

BEST COMEDY FILM
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (WINNER)
Emma.
The King of Staten Island
On The Rocks
Palm Springs (RUNNER UP)

BEST ACTION FILM
Birds of Prey (RUNNER UP)
The Gentlemen
Greyhound
The Old Guard
Tenet (WINNER)

BEST DOCUMENTARY
City Hall
Collective (WINNER)
Dick Johnson Is Dead
My Octopus Teacher
The Social Dilemma

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Another Round (WINNER)
Bacurau
Beanpole (RUNNER UP)
Collective
Vitalina Varela

WORST FILM
Artemis Fowl
The Doorman
Downhill (WINNER)
Hillbilly Elegy
Wonder Woman 1984

BEST SCENE
HR scene in The Assistant
Rudy Guiliani in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (RUNNER UP)
Dinner with parents in I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Sisters dine in The Invisible Man (WINNER)
Questionnaire in Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Here are the 2020 Nominations of the St. Louis Film Critics Association


The St. Louis Film Critics Association yesterday announced their nominees for the best of 2020.  The winners will be announced this Sunday, the 17th.

The great thing about St. Louis is that they give out a lot of awards.  They honor the Best Horror Film and the Best Comedy and all the rest.  As a result, their awards are always marginally more interesting than what you get from some of the other regional groups.

Here are the nominations!

BEST FILM
First Cow
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Nomadland
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST DIRECTOR
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

BEST ACTRESS
Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Ellen Burstyn – Pieces of a Woman
Olivia Colman – The Father
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Yuh-jung Youn – Minari

BEST ACTOR
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Gary Oldman – Mank

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Bo Burnham – Promising Young Woman
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Bill Murray – On The Rocks
Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Jack Fincher – Mank
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami
Jon Raymond & Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Benjamin Kracunc – Promising Young Woman
Erik Messerschmidt – Mank
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland
Newton Thomas Sigel – Da 5 Bloods
Dariusz Wolski – News of the World

BEST EDITING
Jonah Moran – Hamilton
Robert Frasen – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Kirk Baxter – Mank
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland
​Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Kave Quinn – Emma.
Mark Ricker – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Donald Graham Burt – Mank
Cristina Casali – The Personal History of David Copperfield
Michael Perry – Promising Young Woman

BEST SCORE
Ludovico Einaudi – “Nomadland”
Ludwig Goransson – “Tenet”
James Newton Howard – “News of the World”
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Baptiste – “Soul”
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – “Mank”

BEST SOUNDTRACK
Birds of Prey
Da 5 Bloods
Hamilton
Lovers Rock
Promising Young Woman

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Birds of Prey
The Invisible Man
Mank
The Midnight Sky
Tenet

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Onward
Over The Moon
Soul
The Wolf House
Wolfwalkers

BEST HORROR FILM
Alone
The Invisible Man
La Llorona
Possessor: Uncut
​The Vast of Night

BEST COMEDY FILM
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Emma.
The King of Staten Island
On The Rocks
Palm Springs

BEST ACTION FILM
Birds of Prey
The Gentlemen
Greyhound
The Old Guard
Tenet

BEST DOCUMENTARY
City Hall
Collective
Dick Johnson Is Dead
My Octopus Teacher
The Social Dilemma

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Another Round
Bacurau
Beanpole
Collective
Vitalina Varela

​WORST FILM
Artemis Fowl
The Doorman
Downhill
Hillbilly Elegy
Wonder Woman 1984

BEST SCENE
HR scene in The Assistant
Rudy Guiliani in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Dinner with parents in I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Sisters dine in The Invisible Man
Questionnaire in Never Rarely Sometimes Always