1-5. ‘Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party’
In any other year, Dinesh D’Souza’s latest documentary — or whatever you call the shapeless blobs of conspiracy theories, outright lies, nonsensical arguments and overt racism the far-right pundit periodically slips into mainstream theaters — would simply be a terrible film. It would make more money than any of the year’s other “non-fiction films” (again, used loosely), but it wouldn’t actually destroy the world.
We won’t blame this year’s election squarely on this two-hour stream of argumentative poop, which made considerably less cash money than D’Souza’s “2016: Obama’s America” or “America: Imagine the World Without Her.” We will, however, offer that D’Souza’s three films, taken in total as a single virus that have poisoned the multiplex since 2012, haven’t helped. The rise of Trump’s America was a long con, and D’Souza has been one of its most shameless hucksters.
So good job, asshole, for joining the crypto-fascists at Breitbart by feeding dupes an elixir of half-truths, fabricated lies and bald assertions that did little but serve your plot to harm the country and the world so much worse than you thought Obama ever could have. Your latest had slightly better production values than the past two, though it still included historical titans played by actors you seem to have found at a backwater regional production of “1776.” You remain the master of shots of yourself looking at things with a fake-interested face, and this time you threw in three musical numbers back-to-back-to-back, one with you crooning on a piano.
Oh, and you made a film whose entire purpose was to pull a rope-a-dope, distracting minions from the present bigotry of your party by “revealing” the “secret history” that Democrats used to be the crappy ones — a fact you can find even in Texas school textbooks Repubs have gutted of all that stuff about the civil rights era. You’re smart enough to know how stupid your claims are, and you knew there were enough idiots to take them as gospel. You deserve all the spots on this list and many more besides. But that would simply be unfair to some of the year’s other dogs, so we’ll only give it the first five.
6. ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’
A miserable sequel to one of the worst films ever made was a two-hour advertisement for the permanent banishment of CGI. Since cinema’s birth, Lewis Carroll has inspired filmmakers to use their imagination, creating new and surreal sights that enrich our world. Disney made one of the best adaptations, and now they’ve also made two of the worst. At least their second go had less of Johnny Depp’s annoyance of a Mad Hatter, who still looks like a rainbow farted on his face. But it was an even bigger joy vacuum than Tim Burton’s career nadir from 2010, with a fan-fiction plot that wouldn’t fly even in the deeper recesses of Reddit.
In which a gaggle of Hollywood’s coolest players made a movie in which a woman essentially falls in love with her abuser, and only because he proves a blue collar stud. That’s offensive, though let’s also not forget that this space opera starts off swimmingly, looks like it might prove intriguingly complex then descends into the kind of gender lesson that should gross out even Men’s Right Activists. But it won’t gross them out; this is their new classic.
8. ‘London Has Fallen’
This movie features our rah-rah-American hero (played by a Scotsman) telling an of-course-Arab terrorist to “Go back to F—headistan.” And it didn’t even have the decency to be a good dumb Cro-Magnon actioner with awful politics. The good news, though, is Stallone swears he’s making a fourth “Expendables.”
9. ‘God’s Not Dead 2’
Any year that boasts Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” (and even Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” also starring Andrew Garfield) can hardly be said to be a terrible time for movies about religion. Both films grappled, in very, very different ways, with their maker’s issues around faith and suffering. Sadly, the nation’s theaters were still occasionally hit with the crude and sinister wares of Pure Flix Entertainment, a growing independent film and TV studio dedicated not only to Christian films, but Christian films in which Christians are routinely told the secularists want to destroy them. There was something vaguely of merit to “I’m Not Afraid,” even though it was their attempt at a Columbine movie. But there was nothing nice to say about their latest in their “God’s Not Dead” franchise, which this time found Melissa Joan Hart having to “prove” the historicity of Jesus in court, with eye-rolling and deeply paranoid results. OK, we lie: David A.R. White, reprising his role as the shlubby “Reverend Dave,” is, we have to admit, a pretty charming dude.
10. ‘Norm of the North’
The year’s most confusing movie concerned a polar bear trying to stop condos from being built in the Arctic — because what richies don’t want to live in actual Arctic temperatures? Then he becomes a viral star when people mistake him for a man impersonating a polar bear, because he can also talk somehow, and with the voice of Rob Schneider. Far as cynical, cut-rate animated doozies that unaccountably wind up in multiplexes go, “Norm of the North” had nothing on previous dogs like “Hero of Color City” (about talking crayons) or “Legends of Oz.” But it’s still “un-bear-able” — a pun the movie is too dumb to make itself.
Bonus list: Worst films we feel the worst about feeling are bad
1. ‘Mother’s Day’
This is bittersweet, or whatever the bad movie equivalent of that is: Garry Marshall passed away this July, mere months after his final film, which, we’ll charitably say, wasn’t very good. So we’ll ignore the flubbed comedic set pieces, the barely-there performances and the many, many questionable life lessons, especially about childless career women. Instead, we’ll say that Marshall’s ability to wrangle a legion of talented performers to make whatever movie he wanted to make, no matter the quality, shows what a warm and lovely guy he was. Julia Roberts agreeing to strap on one of cinema’s most hideous wigs is proof that love is real.
Oh, “Warcraft” is bad: Confusingly plotted, overly dense, utterly devoid of joy. This, evidently, is the fate of any attempted video game movie franchise that’s not called “Resident Evil.” But there was something especially sad about this one: It was made by Duncan Jones, an avowed fan of the games who also happened to be David Bowe’s talented son, previously of the nimble “Moon” and “Source Code.” He spent valuable years better spent elsewhere, laboring on a project that appears to have been tripped up by confused execs, who wanted to make money off of a phenomenon but never bothered to understand it. It’s a dispiriting mess, and let’s simply pretend it never happened — until someone makes a sequel anyway, because it did make a lot of money in places that weren’t America.
3. ‘Collateral Beauty’
Critics, apparently, killed that nice, star-studded holiday movie about dealing with grief and learning to appreciate the beauty of everyday life. It was a chance for strong word of mouth to draw crowds to one of the few modern studio movies not based on comic books or featuring talking animals. Instead, they reacted as one should to a movie whose title is a made-up nonsense term, featuring a plot so bizarrely convoluted the trailer wouldn’t even explain what it was. This is a giant, hilarious mess, but we have to admit we sort of admire it, in a way. Every inch of it, from stem to stern, is a crazed fever dream; at only 97 minutes, it bears not an ounce of fat. And it’s made all the more nuts by the number of very talented actors contained who signed off on it. It probably won’t end up becoming a future holiday classic, unloved during its era. Instead, it will be reclaimed by bad cinema enthusiasts of the future. If there is one.
One more film to ensure this article technically has 10 titles on it: 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'
It just hurt to watch it.