We’d honestly rather be positive. 2013 was a great year for movies, even if many of the best (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) were incredible, awesome downers. But twist our arm and here is what we would say were the 10 worst or most worthless movies we unfortunately sat through this year:
1. ‘The ABCs of Death’
Twenty-six short films and not one that’s better than just OK? And most of them are juvenile, bottom-rung-at-the-gorehound-festival crap? Where the “V/H/S” anthology horror series stepped up its game this year, this new franchise crashed right out of the gate. Even the talented filmmakers (“Kill List”’s Ben Wheatley, “Timecrime”’s Nacho Vigalondo) whiffed big. Watching it is like forever peering around the corner, waiting for quality that never comes. Can we even be optimistic for the forthcoming sequel?
The legendary nightclub, where American punk and New Wave were born, was boarded up over a silly rental dispute. That’s only a slightly worse fate than the biopic it received, which is by turns cheesy, wildly miscast and annoyingly disrespectful, dwelling on the filth and the ramshackleness while forgetting to pay attention to the music. That the live sequences just have actors lip-syncing to album tracks is the biggest, funniest insult of all.
3. ‘Saving Mr Banks’
Disney has long been a punching bag for the way it programs young minds towards questionable beliefs, but few things they’ve done are as blatantly, Bond villain-ish evil as this bastadization of the making of “Mary Poppins.” Author P.L. Travers hated the film made of her books. Now that she’s long dead, the company has erected a fib in which she didn’t totally — she was just a grump with some daddy issues. Shaded work from Emma Thompson and a not bad Walt Disney impersonation by Tom Hanks can’t overshadow the rampant lies.
4. ‘Now You See Me’
Guys, this movie makes no sense. A lot of blockbuster fare push the boundaries of basic realism, but this surprise sleeper hit — about a gang of Robin Hood magicians who may have ties to a centuries-old tribe or something — so relentlessly strains credibility, lacking even its own internal, consistent logic, that it’s admittedly impressive. Then again, it’s less fun watching talented actors — Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, etc. — clearly flabbergasted at the nonsense they’re tasked to do.
5. ‘Upside Down’
We feel bad adding to the pile of vitriol heaped at this international boondoggle, which took a faintly promising sci-fi premise — a planet with double gravity, with the richies on top and the poor on the bottom — and married it to a sub-soap opera “Romeo and Juliet” plot, complete with convenient amnesia. It cost a lot and no one anywhere in the world bothered with it, while co-star Kirsten Dunst (opposite a comically moony Jim Sturgess, prattling on about “the secret of the pink bees”) looks hugely embarrassed to be involved at all. Let’s move on.
The most boring movie ever made in which Naomi Watts and Robin Wright bang eachother’s sons, this either needed to be a dark comedy or a surreal fantasy. Instead it played it straight and, even with a terrific Wright performance, became an unintentional snickerfest.
Even with Selena Gomez mispaired with a grouchy, irritated-to-be-there Ethan Hawke, this feature-length chase picture could have been if not a modern day “Duel,” then a sturdy programmer. But in an attempt to be visually hip — albeit for hip for 2002 — the cameras were placed on or inside Hawke and Gomez’s car, resulting in the jitteriest images short of an anonymous YouTube video. This movie hurts to watch.
The year’s other laughable biopic (see: “CBGB”) contains a terrific performance from Peter Sarsgaard as Linda Boreman’s (aka Linda Lovelace) alternately menacing and pathetic husband, who forced her into a life of pornography and prostitution. But the direction (by documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman) is stiff and the structural gimmick — a “Boogie Nights”-style comedy that backs up halfway through to show the horror of Boreman’s life — is all kinds of questionable.
9. ‘August: Osage County’
The third take on redneck chronicler and playwright Tracy Letts lacks the luridness of “Bug” and “Killer Joe”; when it’s serious, it’s too serious, and when it’s funny, it’s usually camp. And it has Meryl Streep, allowed to roam free and chew untold scenery as a mother who’s already terrible without her pesky drug addiction. Actually, there are several decent performances here: Chris Cooper, Julianne Nicholson and Sam Sheppard all escape with dignity in tact.
10. ‘World War Z’
The world’s first mega-budgeted zombie film is, predictably, calcified. It’s not the goreless PG-13 rating that killed it; it’s the profound lack of fun, embodied by Brad Pitt as his most tiresomely serious. Admittedly, things perk up in the third act — an add-on after test audiences belatedly rebelled to the snoozy proceedings — but even that gives “In the Loop” master swearer (and new “Doctor Who” star) Peter Capaldi nothing to do. Because having him shout insults at zombies would have been too entertaining.
Note: We were fortunate enough to miss “Grown Ups 2.”
Most overrated: Joss Whedon has a huge, more or less deserved fanbase, almost all of whom not only forgave his take on “Much Ado About Nothing” for being amateurish, sloppily filmed and poorly acted (some, like Amy Acker as Beatrice, excepted), but crowned it one of the year’s best. No. (Honorable mention: “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Short Term 12.”)