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By now, I hope you know the drill: Hollywood still invokes playground rules and hangs out only with the cool kids. The best movies often time travel to the Midwest from the previous year, after being rolled out as “limited releases” exclusive to nepotistic regions filthy with the family of industry members. I don’t want to look like a dumb, idiot loser by leaving off flicks with aggressively unrotten tomatoes. This means that while I wait for cinematic splendor to finally arrive to our humble hamlet, the first thing I do each year is look back on the worst movies the previous 365 days had to offer: because bad things are always readily available. That should really be the slogan of modern life …

The year 2022 was a doozy of deuces, with a few of the most upsettingly terrible films I’ve seen in recent years. Many critics believe “naughty lists” that count down misfires are mean-spirited at best and actively monstrous at worst. I have been called worse on both counts. The reason I believe in doing them is because it is a form of cultural accountability that furthers discussion. Saying you didn’t like something opens no doors. Saying something was “one of the worst films of the year” prompts debate. Beyond that, we should be allowed to have a bit of cheeky fun purple nurple-ing products that bring profits to billionaires. God knows that we are far more often the nurples that are purpled. Anyway, let the textual twisting begin!

Honorable mentions

I will never understand why they done what they done to “Halloween Ends,” but it was more perplexing than upsetting. “Moonfall” was a fever dream, an impression of a bad movie that I would have sworn came out years ago. “Uncharted” had the audacity to make Tom Holland bland and operated under the delusion that anyone likes Mark Wahlberg. “Don’t Worry Darling” would have made the top five, but Dame Florence Pugh would not allow it. “Jurassic World: Dominion” was violently upsetting at the time but has been lost in time like urine in the rain. Finally, although it served as a painful reminder of Jared Leto’s continued existence, “Morbius” has almost fart-cloud teleported into the “so bad, it is watchable” realm. Enough awful appetizers, bring on the malignant main course!

5. “Black Adam”

Maybe it was Dwayne Johnson’s promotional hubris, but something about the latest DC misfire felt more galling. Every time he bragged about how he single-handedly willed this adaptation onto the big screen, it was a reminder of how close we all were to simply never having to have thought or talked about it ever. The film is a galactic catastrophe of cliches and gibberish featuring the world’s most popular actor as an unlikable murder lover. It was the first and only time that I have wanted to scream at a movie’s score to “Just shut up for one second!” So that’s groundbreaking, I guess?

4. Ambulance

Over time, I have come to hate this movie more than I thought possible. During its shenanigans, it felt like it was daring me to either have a seizure or run away. With the manic energy of a 3 a.m. post from Don Jr., Michael Bay’s tale of star-crossed brothers misuses Jake Gyllenhaal, which is absolutely the eighth deadly sin. This is real: On multiple occasions since I watched the film, I got inexplicably angry when I saw an ambulance in real life. If I am horrifyingly injured, nobody call one. Call Jake Gyllenhaal. Only he can save me.

3. The Black Phone

Seeing this on the list of “best horror movies of the year” makes me angrier than the thought of a child having a normal adolescence makes Stephen King. Clunky kiddie performances bump up against recycled plot points from King “classics,” leading to what is one of the all-time stupidest final five minutes of a spooky flick I’ve ever seen. And I have a subscription to Shudder. Don’t worry, it is also offensive at times, so there’s that to look forward to!

2. Resurrection

If you haven’t heard of this, I beg you to trust me and keep that streak going. No matter how cool an A24-style movie with Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth sounds, this ain’t cool. The central “metaphorical” conceit is as upsettingly obvious as the film is plodding and redundant. It is almost as though having a man write and direct a movie about an allegorical experience that could be fully understood only by a woman was a mistake. If I could unmake this movie, I would do it. I would unmake it so hard.

1. Vengeance

This is on Variety’s best films of 2022 list, which is like telling on yourself in the worst way. BJ Novak wrote, directed, and stars in a movie about a podcaster, which is all I should have to say for you to know how up its own ass it is. But the ending … The bulk of it is just run-of-the-mill bad, the kind in which someone thinks he is making a smart point but is really just regurgitating a word salad. You know, it’s like listening to podcasters talk about their podcasts. But the last few minutes are so maniacally self-serious, so preposterously and laughably stupid as to make this a shoo-in for the year’s worst film in my book. Hats off, BJ! No, literally. That cowboy hat you wear at the end is a visual violation of the Geneva Conventions.


Subscribe to The Reader Newsletter

Our awesome email newsletter briefing tells you everything you need to know about what’s going on in Omaha. Delivered to your inbox every day at 11:00am.

Become a Supporting Member

Subscribe to thereader.com and become a supporting member to keep locally owned news alive. We need to pay writers, so you can read even more. We won’t waste your time, our news will focus, as it always has, on the stories other media miss and a cultural community — from arts to foods to local independent business — that defines us. Please support your locally-owned news media by becoming a member today.

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