20. "Violet & Daisy"
There's nothing worse than a crummy exploitation movie with grander pretensions. And there are fewer crummy exploitation movies that are more pretentious than "Violet & Daisy," which is seemingly about the two chattiest teenage assassins in the history of B-movies. The directorial debut from "Precious" screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher, is slow, clumsy and stagy, with our would-be warriors (Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel) talking their intended target (James Gandolfini, in one of his more inglorious final performances) to death. This movie is a special kind of boring, one in which you can't believe that you're still watching it, even with a relatively brisk runtime of 88 minutes. Brief stylistic flourishes are undone by the hoary, implausible twist at the end and the character work is constantly undermining itself, with these coldblooded killers engaging in infantile games. The movie's supposed outrageousness can't make up for a screenplay more leaden than a whole box full of bullets.
17. "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"
"The Mortal Instruments" was another contender all set to be the next hot YA franchise, with an uber-successful book series of the same name penned by Cassandra Clare filled with all the right elements: a we-want-to-but-we-can’t love story to rival "Twilight"; similar fantasy-world-mixed-with-real-world elements of "Harry Potter" and some potentially scintillating fight scenes—demon fight scenes no less! Unfortunately as is often the case with these book-to-film adaptations, in an effort to stay true to the source material, it is weighed down by extraneous details and plot minutiae that may work very well in a 200-odd page novel, but not so well in a 120 min film. In fact the film shoved so much detail in there if you hadn’t read the books you probably spent most of the film trying to catch up on all the narrative ornamenting. Jamie Campbell Bower really deserves a shout out for being particularly woeful as the romantic lead Jace Wayland. The next R-Patz he is sadly not, but you must give the film props for including a homosexual corner to this particular love triangle—it's straight from the book of course, but still. But that's about all we can say in its defense, and also, note to the wardrobe department: there is such a thing as too much leather.
15. “The Canyons”
What’s so unfortunate about “The Canyons,” the Bret Easton Ellis-scribed, Paul Schrader-helmed, Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen-starring sex drama is that even when you’re expecting a high-camp fiasco, it still manages to disappoint by being pointless. With all of the expectations for titillation and scandal (the group sex! the nudity! the Lohan!), the result is just so hideously boring that you can’t even squeal in delight at the trainwreck you're watching—though there is one excellent moment where it looks like a UPS truck is going to barrel straight into one of Lohan’s interminable gossipy lunches that is a true delight. The one good thing about the film (other than the UPS truck) is that by putting Lohan in scenes opposite truly amateur actors such as Nolan Funk, it’s easy to see just how effortlessly she acts circles around them, even in a state of unreliability (as reported by Stephen Rodrick in the infamous New York Times Magazine piece). You understand why Schrader put up with her antics, because she’s literally the only thing going for this movie. And James Deen, as great a performer as he is (and he is!), here’s hoping he doesn’t quit his day job anytime soon, or at least until he gets some acting classes. A dull and insipid look at the lives of the rich and horny in LA, “The Canyons” tries to be profound and just falls flat on its face.
6. "The Host"
A lot of young adult adaptations have attempted to fill the hole left by the "Twilight" franchise and almost all of them have failed. This isn't much of a surprise, since they are almost all poorly paced bores that care more about their self-important "mythology" than things like well-developed characters and inventive narratives. But it was still sort of shocking to watch "The Host" crash and burn, if only because of its literary "pedigree" (it's based on a novel that was written by "Twilight" godhead Stephanie Meyer) and the talent of writer/director Andrew Niccol (whose recent lark "In Time" is, by comparison, a masterpiece of speculative science fiction). Apparently in the future humanity has been co-opted by extraterrestrial beings (that look like glittery deep-sea squids), who live inside their human hosts. Saoirse Ronan (yes, her again) stars as a human who refuses to let the alien invader take over, which leads to a lot of back-and-forth voiceover where the two personalities bicker inside her skull. Add to that a minimally designed futureworld consisting mostly of silvery, mirrored cars, and a lengthily explored subplot involving underground wheat production, and maybe it is apparent why this wasn't the next "Twilight." At least in that movie the love triangle actually had, you know, bodies.
So who was Diana Princess Of Wales? In her all too brief 36 years, she experienced celebrity, royalty, scandal, romance, marriage and motherhood all in the very public eye, leading the kind of life few could even imagine. Hers is a story rich with intrigue, politics, charity, personal pain and public spectacle and somehow, Olivier Hirschbiegel’s turgid “Diana” manages capture none of that. Led by Naomi Watts, giving one of the most uninspired performances of her career, she mostly lets her wig do the acting as she navigates a script that reduces a post-Charles Diana into a barely-together shell of a person whose life has no meaning without a man as part of it. But more problematically, “Diana” never really makes the case why Dr. Hasnat Khan (played by Naveen Andrews aka Sayeed from “Lost," with whom Watts shares zero chemistry) was the lifeline for the People’s Princess. In fact, the pair spend most of the film making each other miserable, and refusing to put aside any of their own priorities for the sake of the other person. And when the picture isn’t detailing a relationship with no spark, it’s veering close to the edge of camp, particularly with its hilariously manhandled attempts to use jazz music as a patch of common ground between the new lovers. This is a movie that has two separate scenes of people listening to and appreciating jazz music, man. Isn’t it like, so free, and able to improvise—if only we could live like that! Directed with all the pizzazz of a low-rent TV special, soggy and misshapen from the first frame to the last, Hirshbiegel himself probably could’ve stood to listen to some jazz music before shooting this thing. As it stands, it’s an embarrassment all around, one that will unfortunately have the name Princess Diana forever attached: an undeserved indignity.
Yes, Saoirse actually made this list twice (sigh). What was your worst movie of the year, ONTD?