The Worst Movies of the Decade

8:15 AM 12/10/2019

by Frank Scheck

A Hollywood Reporter film critic’s picks include an embarrassingly unsexy erotic trilogy, rom-coms utterly devoid of laughs or chemistry, a few disastrous genre mashups and more.

Oh, to have been given the assignment to write about the 10 best films of the last 10 years! Sure, it would have required some hard choices. But the number of good or excellent films in any given decade, except perhaps the '30s or the '70s, is decidedly finite. Not so the sheer deluge of mediocre or godawful movies, which seem infinite in number. I quickly realized that the task was damn near impossible when my list of possible contenders reached a dozen single-spaced pages, and I hadn't even gotten to 2014 yet. Not to mention that simply being reminded of most of these turkeys began to bring on symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

It seemed pointless to mention the endless numbers of horrific sequels, remakes and reboots that have come to dominate multiplexes. Nor did it make sense to shoot fish in a barrel; it would be easy, for instance, to come up with 10 titles with just Tyler Perry and Transformers movies. Or nearly anything starring Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Nicolas Cage, Adam Sandler, Bruce Willis, Martin Lawrence, Steven Seagal or John Travolta (although some of them do indeed make the cut).

The list below is in alphabetical order. If one of your most hated movies isn't on it, or one of your favorites is, take solace in the fact that I've suffered enormously in the course of my professional duties. And that for every title mentioned, there are at least 50 others that could just as easily have taken its place.

  • 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' (2012)

    Stephen Vaughan/ Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Photofest

    Neither a franchise nor a star (in the form of Benjamin Walker) was born in this adaptation of the hit novel, produced by Tim Burton. Forgetting that a film about one of our greatest presidents fighting undead bloodsuckers was supposed to be goofy fun, director Timur Bekmambetov somehow managed to come up with a ponderous mashup that made Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, released the same year, seem lighthearted in comparison. 

  • The Adam Sandler Oeuvre

    Columbia Pictures/Photofest (2); Image Entertainment/Photofest; Sony Pictures Releasing/Photofest

    Sure, he's an awards contender this year for his outstanding performance in Uncut Gems. But Just Go with It (2011), Jack and Jill (2011), That's My Boy (2012), The Cobbler (2014), Pixels (2015) are the turkeys more representative of Adam Sandler's juvenile cinematic oeuvre that eventually drove him to the relatively safe confines of Netflix. And while it's perfectly fine that his regular movie posse consists of such lightweight comic actors as David Spade, Kevin James, Rob Schneider and Jon Lovitz, did Sandler really have to drag Oscar-winner Al Pacino down to his level in the embarrassing cross-dressing farce Jack and Jill?

  • 'Cowboys and Aliens' (2011)

    Universal Pictures/Photofest

    Not since Sean Connery rocked a red mankini in Zardoz has a James Bond (Daniel Craig) appeared in such a silly film as this sci-fi/western (based on, what else, a graphic novel) that also represented seriously bad judgment on the part of co-star Harrison Ford, director Jon Favreau and producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. Despite grossing $100 million domestically, the expensive film was a huge box office flop. Who could have imagined that, considering the huge success (not) of such previous hybrids of the genres as Wild Wild West and Jonah Hex?

  • 'The Emoji Movie' (2017)

    Columbia Pictures/Photofest

    Representing all the cheesy, cynical animated movies of the decade, this offensive exercise in blatant product placement featured so many repellant characters that the Golden Raspberrys nominated "Any Two Obnoxious Emojis" in its Worst Screen Combo category. It's a wonder that after voicing a turd emoji, Sir Patrick Stewart didn't have his knighthood revoked.

  • The 'Fifty Shades' Trilogy

    Focus Features/Photofest

    Yes, it's one of the biggest R-rated franchises ever. But commercial success doesn't excuse the endless vapidity and unintentional silliness of this erotic film trilogy — Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), Fifty Shades Darker (2017) and Fifty Shades Freed (2018) — that seemed a parody of itself from the very beginning. Somehow managing to make sadomasochism supremely boring, these films based on the novels by E.L. James seemed to embarrass even co-stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, who despite their frequent semi-naked grappling displayed absolutely no chemistry whatsoever. If Christian Grey really wanted to torture his romantic partners, he'd keep these movies on a permanent loop in his Red Room.

  • 'The Human Centipede' Trilogy

    Courtesy of IFC Films

    Apparently, a single film wasn't enough to sufficiently explore the concept of a mad doctor sewing his victims together mouth-to-anus. Hence this truly demented trilogy from Dutch director Tom Six (installments came in 2010, 2011 and 2015) that managed to offend even the most die-hard horror fans. One can only hope that the cast and crewmembers participate in periodic reunions, like the survivors of plane crashes. The actors playing the "human centipede," who were necessarily on their hands and knees for long stretches of the shooting, were reportedly given massages at the end of each day. They should have received emotional and career counseling as well.

  • 'The Last Airbender' (2010)

    Paramount Pictures/Photofest

    Before he regained his creative mojo with such inventive low-budget hits as The Visit (2015) and Split (2016), director M. Night Shyamalan was trapped in movie jail. This big-budget 3D adaptation of an animated Nickelodeon series represented his nadir, although valid arguments can be made for the Will Smith family bomb After Earth as well. The sole saving grace of this turgid fantasy spectacle was that it was so universally reviled that plans for a trilogy were scrapped. 

  • 'Movie 43' (2013)

    Relativity Media/Photofest

    An anthology sketch comedy featuring no less than 14 directors and an ensemble including Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, Richard Gere, Hugh Jackman, Emma Stone, Kate Winslet, Seth MacFarlane and others too numerous to mention, this is the black hole of bad movies. The kind of notorious stinker that drives film critics out of the profession and its castmembers into the witness protection program, the film swept the Golden Raspberry Awards, winning Worst Picture, Worst Director and Worst Screenplay. The entire cast was rightly nominated for Worst Screen Combo, but they were robbed of the award.

  • 'This Means War' (2012)

    20th Century Fox/Photofest

    Because when you think of romantic comedy, you definitely shouldn't think of Tom Hardy. Nor director McG, for that matter. This harebrained action farce about two CIA agents (Chris Pine and Hardy) who discover they're dating the same woman (Reese Witherspoon) represented career lows for all three stars. It's no wonder that Hardy felt the need to wear a mask in The Dark Knight Rises

  • 'Valentine's Day' (2010)

    New Line Cinema/Photofest

    It's not that this all-star rom-com is so egregious in and of itself. It's more that director Garry Marshall squandered the talents of such actors as Bradley Cooper, Anne Hathaway, Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Shirley MacLaine and many, many others. And that he proceeded to ruin not only this holiday, but also New Year's Eve and Mother's Day in this hugely successful film's inevitable, and equally terrible, follow-ups.