Jan 12

13 Worst Films Of 2011: Joint 12th – An Oscar Nominee

Do You See3 comments • 574 views

So negativity is the new black, and as ever it is easier to cream the crap from the good, than list the best of the year. I saw 120 films in the cinema last year and 154 on DVD, of which it turns out about 131 were officially released last year. But I was a little more discerning, if such figures allow one to be discerning. Previously I was desperate to see the good in everything, and so would even subject myself to a Jennifer Aniston romcom to see if something decent came out of it. It rarely did. This is a disclaimer to say that it is quite possible that the films I am about to list are actually not the worst of 2011 at all, rather the worst of those I saw. So do not quake in your boots Paranormal Activity 3, The Smurfs or even the Horrid Henry movie. Russell Brand I am sure will be pleased to hear I missed Arthur, and whilst Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds have no reason to rest on their laurels – I didn’t see the piss-in-a-fountain body swap comedy the Change Up. Despite LOVING body-swap comedies.

So why thirteen? Well thematically there are a few films which crop up together, which means there will be ten entries – with some nice joint entries to try to decide exactly why the colour Green is so bad for films.

So lets start with the first of the joint entries: coming in equal at twelve is a pairing which includes a film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.:

12: You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger / Midnight In Paris

I have been here before. The standard Woody Allen isn’t as good as he used to be gripe, which as been made all the more evident by the recent Woody Allen comedy retrospective at the BFI Southbank. I have a long gestating piece on why Zelig is a masterpiece waiting to come out, which is also a nice counterpoint to why Midnight In Paris is so bad.

I feel a little bad for Owen Wilson here – because he is easily the best Woody surrogate in twenty years. His own verbose laconic style makes a great alternative mouthpiece for Woody’s own delivery,its just that the whining weedling he has deliver in Midnight In Paris is so lumpen that even his charisma has trouble. I don’t deny that the magical realism of Midnight In Paris is a fun little short story puffed into a parade of the worst kinds of impressions and a moral so banal that when it is spelled out to the audience the third time you want to take up home trepanning.

“Hey Zelda”
“Hey Scott – That’s F.Scott Fitzgerald, my husband”
“Does that make you Zelda Fitzgerald?”
“Yes, you should meet our friend Pablo. He’s a painter. Pablo Picasso. HE’S REALLY FAMOUS IN CASE YOU DON’T GET IT.”

Alison Pill’s Zelda is great, Adrien Brody’s Dali is a good one scene gag, but what is left is all rather hollow. Perhaps Woody feels the only way the audience will get his conceit is if he spells it out over and over again. To which I say, yes – everyone looks back to a golden age. For me its those 70’s / 80’s films you made which they have just been showing at the BFI.

However Midnight In Paris is acres better than “You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger”, Woody’s 2010 effort which got a UK release in 2011. His fourth London based film, following up Cassandra’s Dream which elsewhere I have identified as one of the worst films ever made, and certainly one which excuses Dick Van Dyke from ever being teased about his English accent again. Now “You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger” is nowhere near as bad as Cassandra’s Dream, but its still an hour and a half of actors vainly looking for a movie. It plays like a low octane Husbands And Wives, with plenty of soapy moral dilemmas thrown in. Let’s look at some of these dilemmas:

-Should the failed author steal his dead friends manuscript? (Note, dead friend turns out to only be in a coma…)
-Should Naomi Watts have an a affair with Antonio Banderas?
-Should Lucy Punch’s bubbleheaded actress be sued by the entirety
-Should Freida Pinto be a bit more aggressive when negotiating character points in her movies.
-Should Antony Hopkins retire PROPERLY.

I cared not a whit about any of these people, their predicaments did not seem in any way real, and I could see why Nicole Kidman dropped out of the sorry affair. There is another writ large message, this time around fate and fortune telling which is pretty much explained by the films title. Basically its a waste iof everyones time. Find anything of note in this trailer, and maybe you’ll find something in the film – I’ll be surprised.


  1. 1
    weej on 2 Feb 2012 #

    I just saw Midnight In Paris, and thought it was, well, ok. It didn’t annoy me or excite me in any great way, and was generally a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours. The moral was spelled out in 127-point arial, yep, but everyone involved seemed to realise it wasn’t a great insight, so it didn’t seem overdone. I like to think of everything Wooody Allen has done in the last five years or so as a mid-afternoon TV series, something you can half-sleep through and not miss anything important.

  2. 2
    Mark M on 8 Feb 2012 #

    I’ve finally finished my piece about Woody’s crimes against the citizenry of this fine city. His next one is in Rome, which promises all manner of hilarious cultural stereotypes…

  3. 3
    swanstep on 20 Feb 2013 #

    I finally got around to seeing Midnight In Paris (which no less than Quentin Tarantino picked as his fave from 2011), and I completely agree with Pete here, except I’d go a little further. Owen Wilson is genuinely irritating (so that it’s impossible to what either Adriana/Cotillard or the Cole Porter-selling French gal see in his character) and is *not* the best Woody-surrogate of recent times; that would be Rebecca Hall’s character in Vicky Christina Barcelona.

    To be fair I never actually got the sense from Cotillard that she was falling for Wilson’s character Gill. This exacerbates the problem that the film had to rely on the super-duper coincidence of Gill in 2011 just happening to find her personal diary for sale at a book-stand by the Seine to *tell* us (and Gill) what they hadn’t been able to show: that Adriana was falling in love with Gill. I mean this is just *terrible* writing.

    The end for Adriana/Cotillard was deeply unsatisfying. If Gill’s drawn the right moral about past-worship then her decision to stay in the 1890s must be a stupid mistake and condemning of her. Or is Gill’s conclusion just supposed to be ‘what works for him’ rather than a considered view. At any rate, I don’t think we end up feeling anything either for or from Cotillard when she exits from the picture, which is to say that Allen manages to waste Marion Cotillard!

    I’m genuinely baffled that so many people have adored this film. I watched the relatively unheralded VCB the following day and thought it was significantly better; not great, but at least a real film with 4 pretty full, intriguing characters as opposed to MIP’s extended SNL-skit with no characters beyond caricature.

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