I’d planned to accentuate the positive this year and refrain from making a ten-worst list, but the folks at Vulture asked for my input on a poll of critics’ ten-worst films, and it’s hard to resist a final jab at my most painful experiences of 2010. Alas, in hastily pulling it together I repressed the memory of an especially appalling film—The Nutcracker in 3-D—so I’ve swapped it in here for the well-intentioned How Do You Know? (NB: As I was out of town and writing about other films that week, I did not rush to M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender. Then, on the day I was set to go, I came down with a bad intestinal virus. The next week I went to the Pavilion in Park Slope but there was a bedbug scare... All right, I'm lying like mad. I just didn't go. I think the trees must be to blame.)
1. Little Fockers. The worst movie of 2010 is in a League of Shame all its own. Alternately strenuous and dirge-like, it’s a comedy made by once-exacting artists who took the big sequel money and are visibly depressed at having to make the picture. They should be. They should also have had enough self-respect to make it better.
For Colored Girls... So flamboyantly terrible it would make a great midnight hoot-fest if you had the stomach to laugh at Ntozake Shange’s poetry or some of the best (and most underused) actresses of their generation.
Sex and the City 2. Not just an epic eyesore, but camp’s Gotterdammerung.
The Nutcracker in 3-D. No dance, “Waltz of the Sugar Plum Fairy” with risible lyrics, anti-fascist allegory It’s a real-life “Springtime for Hitler” (except everyone hated it).
Tron: Legacy. All the CGI power in the world and it still looks like Disco Night at the jai-alai fronton.
Hereafter. Hailed by some as a masterly summing-up of Clint Eastwood’s career, this impersonal film—shot from a Peter Morgan first draft that the writer virtually disowned—is too lame to be a decent ghost story and too contrived to enlighten us about how to live in the shadow of death.
Robin Hood. War is hell—on the eyes and ears—in Ridley Scott’s interminable hash, which is rich in bogus historical context.
Machete. The grindhouse deserves better.
The Expendables. Best enjoyed as a rare case study in egregious male plastic surgery.
Black Swan. Darren Aronofsky is a gifted filmmaker, and his first feature, Pi, is the perfect fusion of form and content. But this one's too conceptually retarded to live. Goofy horror-movie tropes + goofier Method acting clichés + ballet shot like Grand Guignol = Roman Polanski’s Showgirls.
Let's do better this year, people.