The Best Films Of...

The 25 Worst Films of 2014

I like to think of myself as a positive person. But sometimes, films are bad. Here are the greatest cinematic crimes to grace the big screen in 2014.


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#25 | Tammy© 2013 Warner Bros. Ent. / Saeed Adyani

Meandering aimlessly through a series of unconnected and ultimately inconsequential set pieces (it’s unclear as to why they rock up to a private lesbians’ party), Tammy‘s greatest insult is wasting its stars – the often excellent Melissa McCarthy and the Oscar-winning Susan Sarandon – on material that constantly feels a few drafts away from being only mediocre.

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#24 | BastardsBastards, film

Esteemed director Claire Denis does herself no favours with this willfully drab look into the dark underbelly of high culture. Its characters are only half-formed cyphers for showing us what really goes on behind locked gilded doors. To say there is no joy here would be missing the point; the film’s problem is that there’s no lyricism, either.

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#23 | An Oversimplification of Her Beautydownload (1)

Art films are cinema’s lifeblood; in keeping the medium experimental, it’s also consistently fresh and exciting. Which perhaps gives many art films a free pass when any criticism heads their way. But what about when one movie is so obsessed with its own form, that it’s as if it had knowingly lodged a mirror up its own backside?

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#22 | Before I Go to Sleepdownload (2)

A series of non-ambiguous lies presented to the audience do not red herrings make. That is only one of the many faults that litter Before I Go to Sleep, which badly wants to be a dark psychological thriller, but whose tone veers too widely from histrionic camp to syrupy nonsense toward the end. But hey – at least it’s not boring.

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#21 | Grace of MonacoOpening Film - Cannes Film Festival 2014

Poor Nicole Kidman. She’s a terrific actor, honest – merely one who makes bad choices now and then. Her first this year was Before I Go to Sleep; her second was Grace of Monaco, hailed on its premiere at Cannes as a camp classic of vaseline-smeared lenswork and dreary, self-important speechifying, intent on boring you to sleep before it reaches its faux-political climax. Glamour never looked so dull.

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#20 | Ride AlongRide Along

While Ride Along still marks a slightly better-crafted example of the 21st century broad humour crop, it still falls apart at its foundations. The reasons: Tired humour. Actors who could – and have done – better. Lazy direction. Kevin Hart’s voice.

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#19 | A Long Way DownA LONG WAY DOWN

Comedy doesn’t have to shy away from heavy subject matter. In fact, it’s regularly at its best when it tackles themes such as death and depression head-on; 50/50 grabbed cancer by the neck and made a heartbreaking and sidesplitting tale out of it. A Long Way Down lacks both that film’s heart, and its assured hand; feeling as if it were directed by at least seven different people, all who clearly didn’t have a clue, its suicide-pact theme is neither a joyous celebration of life nor an effective piece of black comedy.

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#18 | Stalingrad

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Even when you take its morally atrocious sexual politics away, Stalingrad stills fails even at its most basic level as an action film. Gaudy yet limp, this lets us know that Russia are also fully capable of producing multiplex fodder to rival America’s own. The worst-case scenario of this movie? Another cold war.

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#17 | The Equalizer

The Equalizer - 2014

In any other universe, Denzel Washington walking away from an explosion in full-on Eighties slow-mo would be undoubtedly thrilling. Unfortunately, we do not live in that merrier universe – instead, we exist in one where The Equalizer does everything in its power to bore, confuse, and confound us at every turn.

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#16 | Dracula Untold

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Now part of a wider Universal Monsters ‘shared universe,’ Dracula Untold had its present-day coda haphazardly stitched on at the last minute in order for it to fit in with a network of planned films. Which is problematic, at best; Luke Evans is great as Vlad, but his loveable monster is wasted in a film that puts badly-realised CGI in true spectacle’s stead.

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#15 | The Grandmaster

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Although admittedly hurt from studio butchery, what is still left intact in The Grandmaster amounts to little more than poorly designed show-offs and antiquated character beats. What should have been gung-ho martial arts sequences are uninspired pastiches. If you want a worthy cinematic rendition of the great teacher’s story, watch the excellent Ip Man instead.

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#14 | Magic in the Moonlight

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Woody Allen has crafted some of the greatest dramas and comedies Western cinema has seen. Manhattan and Annie Hall both reside in this list. But every now and then, Allen will fly on autopilot; this movie is a result of that, and it’s clearly evident in every aspect that he is completely uninvolved with what he is dragging out out of the talented cast, beautiful scenery and his own potentially great screenplay.

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#13 |  The Quiet Ones

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Even when it’s trying to be more than mere genre slosh, horror seems to suffer the most when it’s put together badly. Why? Because everything in it is dialled up to absurd heights. The Quiet Ones is guilty of this; zero scares and a leaden plot make it the worst horror movie of the year.

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#12 | Need For Speed

NEED FOR SPEED

Aaron Paul fails to find a foothold after Breaking Bad, and Imogen Poots misses yet another potential vehicle for her many talents. Need For Speed is so stupid, so knuckleheaded in its every crash, bang and wallop, that in a primitive way, it’s almost exciting – if it were not for its screenplay, which sucks up and swallows any shred of tension or drama along its absurd stretch of 132 minutes.

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#11 | Dumb and Dumber To

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Some sequels are so bad, that they make you reassess the original. Was Dumb and Dumber ever really that good? This twenty-years-after story is so narratively stunted, and filled with awkward performances and gross-out that goes nowhere, that you can’t help but think that, most probably, it wasn’t. And aside from a fart joke-to-genuine humour ratio that’ll make your head spin, that is this movie’s greatest crime.

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#10 | Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles should’ve been the most fun film of 2014. Instead, it’s an astoundingly dull ride (even when parts of it actually resemble a theme park attraction) that lacks the same sense of glee inherent in the original idea. And it’s all thanks to over-the-shoulder direction from producer Michael Bay, and a cloying proclivity for rationalising the turtle’s quirks and traits.

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#9 | Hector and the Search for Happiness

Hector and The Search for Happiness

The film that, somehow, makes Simon Pegg totally unlikeable. How the actor ever agreed to this indulgent, self-important circle-jerk, we’ll never know; Hector’s search for happiness leads him back home, where his stunning wife Rosamund Pike and high-paid lifestyle is waiting for him. Boo. Friggin’. Hoo.

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#8 | A Promise

Alan Rickman in A Promise

A Promise turns melodrama into an artform. Squeezing every last drop of dignity from its stellar cast of Rebecca Hall, Alan Rickman and Richard Madden, this stillborn period piece throws them into personal conflicts so barren of nuance and overbalanced hysteria, it reaches the same nonsensical heights of a Wagnerian opera performed in the pits of Mount Vesuvius itself.

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#7 | Let’s Be Cops

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Even the trailer for Let’s Be Cops advertises the movie’s dark heart. The two protagonists, who are impersonating police officers, respond rapidly – and gleefully – to an emergency call describing drunk girls in need of assistance. If that isn’t a troubling mindset for a big-budget, wide-release comedy to have, then that asteroid better come and collide with Earth, and quickly.

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#6 | A Million Ways to Die in the West

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Another year, another Seth MacFarlane comedy in the worst films countdown. Just what is he doing wrong? The first six seasons of Family Guy were actually great – so at what point did the comic avatar for our age hit the bottom of all the common denominators? At what point did the wit leave the laughs? When did pop culture references supersede actual jokes?

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#5 | Transformers: Age of Extinction

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To be fair, Transformers: Age of Extinction has achieved something extraordinary, something – some might say – impossible. That feat? It is actually worse than the three movies that precede it. But how? With mind-numbing action, offensively in-your-face product placement, and a complete and utter refusal to acknowledge that, sometimes, bigger isn’t always better.

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#4 | I, Frankenstein

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If it was any other year, I, Frankenstein would undoubtedly get the crown for worst film. Interestingly, 2014 was a spectacularly good year for bad movies – so fourth place will have to do for this screaming void of technical atrocity and logic so dumb, it makes a speech by George Bush sound like a thesis in rocket science.

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#3 | Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie

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This is it. This is the observable point at which film comedy collapses into itself. The 94 minutes in which all sense of comic timing, gags, and the genuine heart that goes with both, are forgotten to the ages, and the evolution of comedy over the last decade is stamped out and replaced with a man who genuinely thinks that he’ll be funnier if he puts some fake boobs on.

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#2 | A New York Winter’s Tale

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A New York Winter’s Tale starts out bad (the Irish Colin Farrell fails to convince as an Irishman). Then it gets worse (Will Smith turns up as a smart-casual Satan). Then it gets truly bad (we leap forward to present time. Jennifer Connelly looks chronically confused). And then, somehow, it ends with a flying CGI horse crashlanding into a sheet of ice, defeating Russell Crowe. The crowd cheers.

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#1 | Sex Tape

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Look at the sad faces of Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel in the image opposite; it’s clear they’ve just watched their film, Sex Tape, which takes every positive notion Western civilisation has effected so far this century and wipes them clean with a sure brand of humiliation, as if the filmmakers were God and Diaz and Segel were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. A trite comparison, probably, but as Joe Swanberg so eloquently put it, this is ‘an analogue film in a digital age.’ It has no place in society. And thanks to cinematography and screenwriting that feels as if they were a diseased donkey struggling uphill, trying not to die and keel over the sheer cliff face, it has no place in cinema either.

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About GaryGreenScreen

Freelance film critic.

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Gary Green: Freelance film critic.

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