Every decade throws up its movie anomalies: films adored by critics that no one saw, films lauded at festivals but attacked by critics (hello Green Book); and most baffling of all, films beloved by audiences that are unremittingly lousy. This decade certainly had its share of those. Here’s the worst movies everyone loved – and yes, Emma Stone is in three.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Peter Jackson just couldn’t leave well enough alone. A 310-page book inflated into eight hours of cinema was always going to face problems. Those problems became apparent early on where a scene of drunken dwarves singing seemed to last longer than a dragon’s lifetime.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Australians seem locked in an abusive relationship with Baz Luhrmann. We hope if we support his films, one day he’ll stop assaulting our senses. No such luck with this film, which completely undercut the quality of its source material through raucous unsubtle production values. But it gave us the splendid Elizabeth Debicki so that’s a plus.
300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
Forgive the self-promotion but I’ve read Herodotus in the original Greek, a reason I liked 300. But this wretched sequel, which took in enough at the box office to fund Xerxes’ army for a year, makes too many demands on any viewer with the remotest knowledge of history. By the time the Spartan navy sails in to save the Athenians in the straits of Salamis, on ships rigged with Essendon FC sails, I wished I were with Leonidas and his fellows on the final day at Thermopylae.
American Sniper (2014)
Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning military biopic was a hit with critics and audiences and it’s brutally compelling, setting its politics aside. But the scenes where Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) attempts to balance his deteriorating domestic life against the horrors of war are almost comically bad. Eastwood’s obsession with filming very few takes even resulted in the use of a ridiculously obvious rubber baby in one key scene, completely negating its emotional power.
A critical darling that took home the Oscar in a year that included Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman joins those best picture winners like The Greatest Show on Earth or Around the World in 80 Days, that will have future critics scratching their heads. A monument to flashy directorial style meeting empty ideas.
Fast & Furious 7 (2015)
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson enhances everything he touches. That’s just as well because Vin Diesel has the opposite effect. With this seventh in an overblown franchise the Vin-man’s influence held sway, culminating in a beach outing that’s a symbolic farewell to the late Paul Walker. Vin looks moody in his beach gear of white slacks and matching Cuban-heeled boots.
Aloha doesn’t really belong here because no one loved this film. But everyone loves Cameron Crowe and Emma Stone. How these two converged to produce a diabolical rom-com with Stone as a Chinese-Hawaiian Air Force Captain defies comprehension. Aloha indeed.
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Director Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington’s third collaboration remade John Sturges’ 1960 classic, itself an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s monumental Seven Samurai (1954). The result fell flat not least due to an apparent need to give the Seven’s leader Chisolm (Washington) a tragic backstory. Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen would be rolling in their graves between trying to steal scenes from one another.
La La Land (2016)
A film whose only shot at immortality came through two octogenarian Oscar-presenters opening the wrong envelope. Already forgotten.
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
A decent rise-fall-and-rise-again musical biopic anchored by Rami Malek’s Oscar-winning performance as Freddie Mercury. Bohemian Rhapsody’s success, however, caused viewers everywhere to re-watch Queen’s Wembley Live-Aid performance. Stacked alongside Mercury’s actual charisma Malek’s performance seemed less like inhabiting its subject’s skin and more like lyrebird mimicry.
John Wick 3: Parabellum (2019)
I just don’t get the success of this franchise – and I’m someone who considered 1987’s Predator a cinematic high point to match The Godfather. The third instalment was like the other two: noisy, confusing and plotless, not even benefiting from the gorgeous Roman locations of chapter 2. Keanu Reeves is apparently a lovely man, but when you’re relying on his acting chops to carry a movie, well, to quote Predator’s Jesse Ventura, you’re in a world of hurt.