I see no point in trashing a horror movie or comedy. You paid for it, sucker — what did you expect? More fun is to mention prestige favorites that embarrassed themselves. Below are the first most execrable moviewatching experiences of 2015 and possibly 2016, for I still haven’t recovered my equilibrium after exposure to the first film on the list.
1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, dir. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.
As cute as a dead baby, this Sundance favorite thinks it upsets cancer movie clichés by acting self-reflexive. Jesse Andrews’ novel might be better than his own script, but what he and director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon realize is yet another example of a dying woman releasing a young man’s artistic potential. She must die so that his shitty ideas can live. As a final insult, she is a fourth-rate muse too.
2. The Danish Girl, dir. Tom Hooper.
Eddie Redmayne looks like Julie Andrews covered in frosting sugar, and that’s the kindest thing I can say about his performance in The Danish Girl. Playing Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe, who in the 1920s became one of the first men to undergo sex reassignment surgery, Redmayne brings his gum-jawed tremulousness to a role that exploits his weaknesses as an actor. For a movie that begins in a bohemian milieu, ends in martyrdom, and thinks bathos is earned emotion, it’s a fatal development. Like Tom Hooper’s other projects, The Danish Girl exists to win awards. It exists to win applause for its daring. It’s about as outré as a kid brother trying on Mom’s pumps, as joke free as an oncologist’s waiting room.
3. My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, dir. Liv Corfixen.
For a director specializing in pop and modish violence, Nicolas Refn sure overvalues his capacity to feel. I don’t doubt that like most people he’s a complex guy but in the documentary created by wife Liv Corfixen he comes off as a man given to bathos, pontificating with numbing banality on his loneliness, the reception of his movies, and whether he pays enough attention to his kids. A director attracted to glittering surfaces shouldn’t dare come off as a boring surface himself lest he force some in his audience to give his movies the second look they don’t deserve.
4. The Hateful Eight, dir. Quentin Tarantino.
Talk talk talk. Long takes bereft of tension. Talk talk talk. Intermission. Talk talk talk. Sodomy joke. Talk talk talk. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Oscar campaign.
5. Jurassic World, dir. Colin Trevorrow
No sequel or “reboot” should be so inept. Some of the affection for Spielberg’s Jurassic Park strikes me as excessive, but I can’t deny its pace and shape. Frictionless and slovenly, Jurassic World doesn’t even pay attention to the cliches it foists on the audience. I’m surprised Bryce Dallas Howard wasn’t given a “I just broke a nail!” line.