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Scott Lucas Lists His LEAST Favorite Films Of 2014

By Scott Lucas in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 13, 2015 4:30PM

Even Bill Murray couldn't save 'St. Vincent' © The Weinstein Company

Where was I? Oh, right. 209 movies. Last week I picked my 10 favorite movies from the 209 that I saw in a theater in 2014. And those were just the new ones. I failed to mention all the excellent retrospectives and repertory screenings I attended last year. My favorites? The Jaques Demy retrospective and the beautiful print of The Conformist that both played at The Gene Siskel Film Center, to name a couple (a few, actually)—but really, just too many to mention. Filmgoing in Chicago really can be an embarrassment of riches.

But the embarrassment doesn’t stop there. Along with the soaring highs come soul crushing lows. And I’m not just talking about the movies. There’s the talkers, the texters, the people who seem to be in some sort of pie eating contest that I’m not aware of. There’s the current trend of theaters with La-Z-Boy recliner chairs that are intent on turning us into lolling spooges straight out of the second half of Wall-E. Then there are theaters, like The Logan, that can’t even be bothered to project the goddamn movie correctly.

But the worst is having to wait a whole month to see the new Paul Thomas Anderson flick simply because we don’t live in New York or Los Angeles. I think of us Chicagoans as fairly sophisticated folks. Sure, we’ve got our share of yahoos, but New York has Long Island and L.A. has actors —so I’d say it kind of evens out. Why, then, should we always be made to feel like a second tier town? Especially when it comes to movies? All apologies to Pauline Kael—but some of the best film critics in the country have come out of this city. Giants of the form like Roger Ebert, Dave Kehr, and Jonathan Rosenbaum championed films and directors that most American critics weren’t even aware of. Currently, we have the likes of J. R. Jones and Ignaty Vishnevetsky continuing that tradition with writing that manages to be both informed and capable of avoiding the critical lockstep that people like Peter Travers can’t ever avoid falling into. Do the studios really think we lack the savoir faire to enjoy their newest prestige pictures hot right out of the oven? Or are they worried we’ll be too brutal with their shitty Oscar hopefuls? Whatever. Fuckers.

Inherent Vice finally opened this past weekend (thank, science!), but we’re still waiting on (among others) A Most Violent Year, Two Days, One Night, and Godard’s reportedly mind-blowing foray into 3-D, Goodbye To Language. All are scheduled to play in Chicago this month, so even if December was a bit lackluster, January promises to be an excellent month to go to the movies.

But I digress. We’re here to focus on the worst, worst part about going to the movies: The movies. Those movies that make you feel like you just got crop-dusted by a Cubs fan in a crowded bar. Those movies that make you feel like — well, really what’s worse than getting crop-dusted by a Cubs fan? I think I’ve made my point.

These ten movies are the worst of what I had to sit though in 2014. The movies that actually made me angry at the human race. Movies that deserve some kind of cosmic karmic payback that I’m simply unable to deliver. I guess a bunch of snarky comments will have to do.

'Sin City 2' © The Weinstein Company

10. Sin City 2 - I’m actually surprised it took this long to cough up a sequel to Robert Rodriguez 'sand Frank Miller’s ode to macho shit-head posturing. This is just more of the same —good looking nihilism for 12-year-old boys. A real yawner.

9. The November Man - From Cocktail to Species, Roger Donaldson could always be counted on to deliver some top-notch, first rate trash of the most purely enjoyable kind. Joy doesn’t seem to be a factor anymore. His directing here feels as tired as star, Pierce Brosnan, looks. I’m not sure who’s dad was asking for this movie, but he needs to stop.

8. Locke - You love Tom Hardy so much, you think you could watch him in anything, right? Wanna bet?

7. 22 Jump Street - It’s not like there’s anybody who was unaware that this was an unnecessary sequel to a movie that everyone was surprised they liked in the first place—but directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller took that piece of common knowledge and played it up like they were subversives on a par with Paul Verhoeven. Just stating that you have a cynical dearth of ideas doesn't excuse you from having a cynical death of ideas. And if Jonah Hill wants those teary-eyed apologies for acting like Alec Baldwin to hold some weight, maybe he should cool it with the gay panic gags. Just a thought. Finally, that jokey closing credits sequence of future possible sequels only grows more depressing as its inevitability dawns on you.

'The Monuments Men' photo via the movie's Facebook page © Sony Pictures
6. The Monuments Men - From the trailers, it looked like George Clooney’s latest directorial effort was just harmless Oscar bait. But then Oscar season came and went and it became apparent that something else was coming down the chute: harmless Oscar bait that not even toothless Oscar voters wanted to see — much less vote for. Ouch! One hopes that Clooney will recover.

5. The Other Woman - At first you’re watching this movie and thinking, “Hey! It could be worse. At least Cameron Diaz doesn’t have to resort to playing a drug muling stripper.” Cue the pratfalls and the farting dog, and that’s when you start to yearn for all that Aniston career acumen. I could bring up the fact that John Cassavetes’ son directed this movie, but that would be too depressing.

4. The Equalizer - Why is it that we want to put fine actors like Denzel Washington and Liam Neeson into the sort of dreck that used to be the exclusive domain of our Schwarzeneggers and Seagals? What is it about our culture that craves these kinds of movies time and time again? Could there be a correlation between our foreign policy and our unquenchable thirst for tales of bloody revenge? I thought about these and other questions while watching The Equalizer — then it turned into Rambo in a Home Depot and I realized that it was probably too silly to be dangerous. Worthless cinematic Viagra.

3. Tusk - So you thought Human Centipede wasn’t ridiculous enough? Check out Kevin Smith’s latest piece of shit.

2. Begin Again - The story behind all that music you hate. I’m not going to pretend I was the biggest fan of John Carney’s last quasi-musical, Once — but every ounce of charm or honesty that movie had has been wrestled to the ground by hackiness and crass falseness. It’s cringe inducing, but I suppose that’s what happens when you get into bed with American Idol. Or is it The Voice? Ahhh, who gives a fuck?

1. St. Vincent - Hey! I love Bill Murray as much as the next guy, but this is pablum of the most insulting kind. It’s especially disappointing when you consider how many times gold has been spun from pairing up Murray with a much younger co-star. Unfortunately, this movie couldn’t hold Rushmore’s jock. Or Meatballs’s balls, for that matter. So contrived and so very shameless, it’s hard to believe that a man of Murray’s good taste would ever agree to appear in such a cut-rate slice of schmaltz. Yet the screenplay was included on the list of best unproduced scripts known as the Hollywood Black List. Well, that says just about all I need to know when it comes to Hollywood and what kinds of stories they feel they should pretend to value. Make no mistake, this is not plucky independent filmmaking flying in the face of mediocrity —this is slick commercialism of the most formulaic and depressing kind. Truly awful.

Follow Scott on Twitter as he tracks all the movies he watches in 2015.