2014 In Review: Lisa’s Picks For The 16 Worst Films Of 2014


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Continuing our look back at the previous year, today I present you with my choices for the 16 worst films of 2014!

I have to admit that 2014 was a strange year for me.  While I saw a lot of films that I didn’t think were very good, none of them quite inspired the amount of loathing that I felt while watching previous TSL worst film “winners” like Love and Other Drugs and Man of Steel.  Looking at the 16 films below, I’m struck by how many of them were simply films that failed to live up to my expectations.  (The Judge and Endless Love are obvious examples.)  Some of the other entries are films that we all knew ahead of time would never be good but they made the list because they represent everything that annoys me about mainstream film making. (Case in point: Transformers: Let’s Deafen The Audience or whatever the Hell that thing was called.)

Of course, some of the films listed below are on the list because they just plain sucked.  In fact, one made-for-Lifetime movie was so mind-numbingly awful that it made the list despite having never actually been released in theaters!  That’s pretty bad!

(Be sure to click on the links in this sentence if you want to see what I considered to be the worst of 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013!)

Without further ado, here’s the list!

16) Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart 
15) Ride Along
14) The Judge 
13) Into the Storm
12) Endless Love
11) Nuse 3D
10) Barefoot
9) The Best Of Me
8) I, Frankenstein
7) Left Behind
6) Paranormal Activity — The Marked Ones
5) The Legend of Hercules
4) Transformers: The Age of Extinction
3) A Million Ways To Die In The West 
2) The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story

And finally, without further ado, here is the worst film of 2014!

1)  April Rain

Birdemic 2 April Rain

Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

Tomorrow, I’ll be presenting my 10 favorite songs of 2014!

Others Entries In TSL’s Look Back At 2014:

  1. Things I Dug In 2014 Off The Top Of My Head
  2. 2014 In Review: The Best of SyFy and Lifetime

Here Are The Houston Film Critics Nominations!


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I love it when groups from my home state make their voice known.  Here are the Houston Film Critics nominations!

Best Picture
A Most Violent Year, A24 Films
Birdman, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Boyhood, IFC Films
Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel
Inherent Vice, Warner Bros.
Nightcrawler, Open Road Films
Selma
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
The Imitation Game, The Weinstein Compaany
Whiplash, Sony Pictures Classics

Director
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Actor
Bendict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Eddie Redmayne, Theory Of Everything
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Tom Hardy, Locke

Actress
Essie Davis, The Babadook
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Supporting Actor
Andy Serkis, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Edward Norton, Birdman
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

Supporting Actress
Emma Stone, Birdman
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Kiera Knightley, The Imitation Game
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer

Screenplay
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., Armando Bo; Birdman
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budpest Hotel

Animated
Big Hero 6
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Book of Love
The Boxtrolls
The Lego Movie

Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Hoyte van Hoytema, Interstellar
Robert Elswit, Nightcrawler
Robert Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Roger Deakins, Unbroken

Documentary
Citizenfour
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
Jodorowsky’s Dune
Life Itself
The Overnighters

Foreign
Force Majeure
Ida
Leviathan
The Raid 2
Two Days, One Night

Original Score
Alexander Desplat, The Imitation Game
Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Antonio Sánchez, Birdman
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar
Johann Johannson, The Theory of Everything

Original Song
Big Eyes, Big Eyes
Everything is Awesome, The Lego Movie
Glory, Selma
I’m Not Going to Miss You, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
Lost Stars, Begin Again

Texas Independent Film Award
Above All Else
Boyhood
Hellion
Joe
No No: A Dockumentary
Stop the Pounding Heart

Best Poster
Birdman
Godzilla, IMAX
Guardians of the Galaxy, Primary Theatrical
Inherent Vice
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Technical Achievement
Birdman – Creation of single long take for bulk of film
Boyhood – Filming over 12 years
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – creation of ape characters

Worst Film of the Year
Blended
Dumb and Dumber To
Left Behind
The Identical
Transformers: Age of Extinction

Horror (?) Review: Left Behind (dir by Vic Armstrong)


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I have always felt that film critics and bloggers should be open and honest about their biases.  Most critics, of course, claim that their reviews are solely based on the merits of what they’ve seen and that they leave their personal political or religious beliefs out of it.  That, needless to say, is complete bullshit and I’ve never quite understood why some people are so terrified over the prospect of being revealed to be just as biased as everyone else in the world.  The fact of the matter is that critics are supposed to be opinionated and readers have a right to know exactly where those opinions are coming from.

With that in mind, allow me to let you know my mindset before I attempt to review Left Behind.

First off, you should know that I come from a Catholic family.  On my Dad’s side, I’m Irish.  On my mom’s side, I’m Italian and Spanish.  Put those three together and basically, you’ve got a big and fiercely Catholic heritage to deal with.  Therefore, I have to admit that I really don’t know a whole lot about the whole Evangelical Protestant background from which Left Behind apparently sprung.  (In fact, the only thing that I really knew about the Left Behind books is that, apparently, most of the book’s Catholics get left behind.)  So, who knows?  Maybe some of the issues that I had were just a case of me not being a member of the film’s target audience.

Secondly, you should know that I love being a contrarian.  I love any excuse to express an opinion that goes against the majority because, quite frankly, I think that there’s way too much groupthink going on when it comes to film reviewing.  Far too often, it seems that critics have already decided which films that they’re going to love and which films that they’re going to hate.  I knew that the critics were going to hate Left Behind so I was really hoping that the film would somehow be good.  That way, I could write a review defending it and, best of all, I could annoy a lot of people.  After all, the only thing worse than organized religion would be organized hipster douchebags.

(I’m looking in your direction, A.V. Club commenters….)

On the other hand, another part of me hoped that the movie would be really, really bad.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen a truly bad film and, in another few months, it’s going to be time for me to make out my list of the 16 worst films of 2014.  And since I can only list films that I’ve actually seen, I need to step up my game and see more bad movies.  I mean, A Million Ways To Die In The West and Transformers 4 are a good start but they can’t make up the entire list…

Fourth, I was really hoping that Nicolas Cage would somehow be responsible for redeeming Left Behind.  I hoped that he would either give a brilliant performance or he would give a performance so weird that the film itself would become oddly watchable.  A lot of this is because Cage was so good in Joe that it kind of breaks my heart to see him throwing away whatever critical respect he may have regained by appearing in Left Behind

And finally, I’m on vacation!  Why is that important?  Because it meant that, when Jeff and I went to Left Behind, we saw it in a theater that we’ll never have to visit again.  As such, we didn’t have to worry about running into anyone we knew.  Yay! (The theater, incidentally, was nearly empty.  Jeff and I were the youngest people there…)

So, with all that in mind, Left Behind was really, really bad.

Nic

Nicolas Cage plays Rayford Steele and let’s just start with a bit of praise.  Rayford Steele is a great name!  Anyway, Rayford Steele is a pilot who, one day, is flying an airplane and thinking about cheating on his wife (Lea Thompson), who just happens to be an Evangelical Christian!  (How religious is Mrs. Rayford Steele?  So religious that she apparently carries her bible with her everywhere.)  Rayford has picked the flight attendant that he’s going to cheat with.  He’s even got brand new U2 tickets that he’s going to use for enticement because, apparently, Left Behind takes place in the 20th Century.

And then suddenly — his copilot vanishes!  Several passengers on the plane vanish!  Children all over the world vanish!  It’s the Rapture, a point that becomes clear as soon as Rayford takes a look at a vanished flight attendant’s date book and sees “BIBLE STUDY” written in all caps.

Even worse, apparently every flight controller in the world was a Christian because there’s nobody on the ground to help Rayford land his plane.  Uh-oh!

Also on the plane (and unraptured) is a reporter named Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray) and, let’s just be honest — Buck Williams is not as good a name as Rayford Steele.  Shortly before boarding the plane, Buck met Rayford’s daughter, Chloe, (Cassi Thomson) and they bonded over their mutual atheism.

(Chloe might as well have been wearing a Neil deGrasse Tyson t-shirt.)

Of course, post-rapture, Chloe spends most of the day desperately searching for her mother and her younger brother.  Riots are breaking out down on the ground.  Airplanes are falling from the sky.  Will Chloe survive?

(Ha, Chloe!  Where’s your Neil deGrasse Tyson now!?)

One thing that I did find interesting is just how quickly society collapsed after the Rapture.  It’s almost as if everyone in the world decided, “Now that the children are gone, let’s burn this place down!”

To be honest, it all felt a bit like a SyFy original film.  SyFy films are almost always divided in half, with 50% of the film dealing with someone in either a plane or a boat while the other half of the film deals with that person’s son or daughter trying to lead a group of idiots to safety and hopefully avoid the monster.  It’s tempting to think of what a SyFy version of Left Behind would look like.  It would probably be a lot more fun than this one…

Anyway, the problem with Left Behind is that it’s just so boring.  The film takes forever to get going and then, once everyone vanishes, the film tries to generate some suspense as to what happened but we already know it was the Rapture so why drag it out?  The dialogue is flat, the performers do just enough to get by, and it’s obvious that the majority of the film’s budget was spent on Nicolas Cage.  This, of course, is what I expected but I was hoping that Nicolas Cage would at least go crazy.  Well, he doesn’t.  In fact, he’s remarkable restrained and this film, if nothing else, proves that Cage can deliver even the worst dialogue with conviction and a straight face.

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But we don’t want a restrained Cage in a film like Left Behind!  We not only wanted him to go crazy, we needed him to go crazy!  And he didn’t and, as a result, the film is even more disappointing than it would be otherwise.

Now, you may have noticed that I referred to Left Behind as being a “horror (?)” film in the title of this review.  My argument there is that the film is obviously meant to scare nonbelievers.  Indeed, this film was actually advertised with a pull quote from Satan.  (“Please don’t take nonbelievers to this film.” — Satan.)  Unfortunately, I think that Left Behind missed an opportunity.  If the filmmakers had strictly focused on the horrific implications of being left behind — as opposed to trying to be both a sermon and a disaster movie, it probably would have been a lot more effective.  Seriously, The Exorcist is probably the most effective religious film ever made.

Now, I do have to take issue with some of Left Behind‘s critics.  Quite a few critics have made it a point to say, “Even if you agree with the film’s worldview, you’ll be annoyed by the bad acting and the bad directing…”  Uhmmm …. no.  Sorry, it doesn’t work like that.  Usually, people will enjoy any film that supports their beliefs, regardless of how terrible it is.  That goes for all people regardless of religion or ideology.  We all enjoy having our beliefs confirmed.

But, yeah — Left Behind is pretty bad.  Is it the worst film of the year?

Well, the year’s not over yet.

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The Eternally Frustrating Nicolas Cage


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Just put yourself in my 4 inch heels for a moment.

You’re a film blogger who, though her tastes may be quirky, can usually defend her opinions fairly well.  You make an effort to see films that others may have missed and you pride yourself on your willingness to take and defend unpopular positions.

And let’s say that you’ve defied the conventional wisdom of so many of your fellow bloggers by declaring that Nicolas Cage is still a good actor and he still has something to offer the film world, beyond bad movies and weird performances.  You’ve even reviewed a film called Joe and triumphantly declared that this film proves that Nicolas Cage is a “great actor.”

And maybe, when certain people on Facebook laughed at you for using the terms “great” and “Nicolas Cage” in the same sentence, you argued that Cage is about to make a Matthew McConaughey-style comeback.  How?  By playing challenging roles in intelligent indie films.  You might have even said, “McConaughey had his Killer Joe and Nicolas Cage has Joe.”

And then this trailer for an upcoming film is released:

Nic, I still believe in you but, oh my God, you do test me sometimes.