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The Top 20 Worst Films of 2022 (#20 – 11)

January 14, 2023 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Babylon Margot Robbie Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

Top 20 Worst Films of 2022 (#20 – 11)

Welcome, one and all, to the start of my Movies Year in Review for 2022! I’m your host Jeremy Thomas, and today we’ll kicking off our look at the best and worst films of the past 12 months. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You’re free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong but stating that an opinion is “wrong” is just silly. With that in mind, let’s get right into it!

My 2022 movies year in review kicks off this week, as I always do, with the worst of the year. 2022 was a year that saw cinema continue to try and come back from the hit it took due to the pandemic. We’re still not quite back to 100%, as the backlog of post-production has led to the delay of several films and that led to some highly-anticipated films not actually coming out this year. But it was a good year for several genres — and a bad year for several movies. This year’s Worst Of list runs the gamut from big-budget spectacle that is directed by Oscar favorites to half-hearted Netflix comedies, from hollow blockbusters to misguided indie horror. In other words, there’s something for everyone to dislike here. I could go deeper, but let’s just dive right in.

Caveat: My criteria for a film qualifying for this list is simple: if a narrative film had its domestic release this past year, either theatrically or in a marketed release on VOD or a major streaming service, then it was eligible. The only other caveat is that I have tried, but have not seen everything that was released in 2022, especially factoring in streaming services. The film that I missed that could have possibly qualified based on reputation is Purple Hearts. Other than that, I feel reasonably confident I would have seen just about every movie that would have likely made the list. For those curious, I saw a total of 182 films that were released in 2022 (up from last year’s 168).

Just Missing the Cut

Mack & Rita
I Wanna Dance With Somebody
The School For Good & Evil
Choose Or Die
Home Team

#20: Babylon

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

First on our list is Damien Chazelle’s debauched ode to the silent and early talkie era of Hollywood. And don’t get me wrong here; I absolutely understand why Babylon worked for some people. But whoa Nellie, did it not work for me. Chazele’s story of several fictional figures making their way through the Hollywood of the 1920s and 1930s has a cast doing largely great work and looks gorgeous; it feels like a capital-m Movie. It’s also bloated, garish, overwrought, meandering, crass, and almost intentionally polarizing — but hey, at least it’s pretentious too.

With this $90 million flop, Chazelle attempts to express his love for cinema while also declaring his disdain for Hollywood. He takes great pains to show the hubris of the system and the way it treated the people working within it, from the rise and precipitous fall of Margot Robbie’s talented-but-troubled screen star to Diego Calva’s Manny hiding his heritage, the racism that Jovan Adepo’s Sidney Palmer encounters and more. And that’s all well and good. I love films that love the movies, and I love films that aren’t afraid to expose the seamy underside of the institutions that make art. The issue here is that his script gets so wrapped up in the hate that it only makes slight stabs at the love. And when he stabs he does so in the least subtle ways he can, effectively standing on a soapbox and shouting “It’s bad, but hey at least we got Avatar out of it.” Even that I can get to some degree; after all, nothing about this movie is subtle. But you can’t half-ass what is essentially roughly 50% of your movie’s thesis without it coming off poorly.

Again, there are positives here. Robbie, Brad Pitt, Calva, Adepo and the rest deliver — but then, if you can’t make a cast this good look as good as they are, you’re in even worse trouble than you already were. And some characters like Tobey Maguire’s cameo seem remarkably out of place, lifted whole-cloth from other, better movies. The cinematography and the editing work tries its best, but it’s in service to a movie that doesn’t deserve it. Essentially, everything is good here except the script. However, the script is so bad and lazy that it drags the entire movie down into the bottom 20 of the year for me.

#19: Paws Of Fury: The Legend Of Hank

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures & Nickelodeon Movies

This was a surreal movie-watching experience, and not in the good way. It’s weird to me that The Legend of Hank even got made, to be frank. There are a lot of great movies that I wouldn’t expect would be made today, and Blazing Saddles is one of them. We can debate the right or wrong of that, but either way it’s hard to look at Mel Brooks’ comedy as anything but greatness. I’m never opposed to remake on general principle, but remaking Blazing Saddles would be a difficult task even in the best of situations.

This animated film is very far from the best of situations. And yes, this is a kid-focused loose remake of Blazing Saddles. The script was written by Ed Stone and Nate Hopper, but it so directly lifts the storyline of the 1974 original that that film’s writers are all given credit for the screenplay. When you are required to give screen credit to the originals, then you’ve probably hedged way too close to the original — and this movie does. Even that would be forgivable, but what we have here is Stone and Hopper filing off everything that made Blazing Saddles great and dressing the story in a drab Japanese styling and talking animals, boiling down the original’s sharply satirical themes for a by-the-numbers kids movie about acceptance complete with plenty of puns, G-rated body humor and in-jokes.

I could write at length about this film’s strange release history (it was supposed to come out in 2017 but was delayed for various reasons), but the key here is that it’s just not a particularly enjoyable. The animation work is okay, but it’s not enough to dazzle people enough that they forget how much of a lame retread of other low-effort kids movies it is. The voice cast tries to inject some life into this, but they can only do so much. I at least hope that Brooks got a decent payday out of his voice role as a cat shogun, because his comedy classic was done dirty. On the plus side, this thing is so forgettable that I don’t expect people will be thinking of it for long.

#18: The 355

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

The one nice thing I can say about The 355 is that it was an encouraging sign that the movies were returning to normal after a couple rough pandemic years. After all, it proved that still have room in cinemas for generic, middling spy action-thrillers. Yes, I realize that “nice” is pushing it a bit, but so is this mishmash of tropes that takes a sparkling cast — Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Fan Bingbing, Diane Kruger, Lupita Nyong’o, and Sebastian Stan — and wastes them on a cookie-cutter script that is shoddily directed by Simon Kinberg. You may remember Kinberg as the guy who similarly fell on his face directing the X-Men film Dark Phoenix and you know, and I’m starting to think at this point that helming films isn’t really his thing.

Most of the problems here seem to fall on him, too. Kinberg is pretty much inert behind the camera, framing the story of international spies forced to work together to stop an ill-defined device of technological terrorism in the most pedestrian and ineffectual ways. He also co-wrote the screenplay, which sets the cast up with more or less stock characters. Chastain stoics her way through the lead role and everyone else tries to spark up their characters, but there’s nothing here for them to work with; they’re only vaguely interesting because the actors do everything they can to make them palatable. And that seems to be in part because the false climaxes and predictable plot swerve mean that at two hours, the film is already overstuffed.

I’d be lying if I said that this film was the worst thing in the world. But it’s not competent at all, and it thinks it is much clevere than it is. A spy film like this needs to do the work to catch its audience off guard, and this is all very “done there, been that but with women this time.” It’s the kind of bland, airport novel-style espionage thriller you would expect to see kicked straight to digital or streaming and toplined by Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, and Gerard Butler. And it wouldn’t be any more palatable then either. I liked the potential this had considering the talent involved, but it all ended in disappointment.

#17: Where the Crawdads Sing

Image Credit: CTMG

Where the Crawdads Sing has a real problem with authenticity, a concept that it avoids like the plague. This adaptation of the Delia Owens novel never lets you forget that you’re watching a movie, and one that desperately wants to be A Film at that. But Olivia Newman’s sophomore directorial effort is very much not A Film. Rather, it’s a collection of tropes better seen in other movies, built around the vague notion of a character who is given more life than she deserves by Daisy Edgar-Jones.

That character is Kya, known to the people of her 1960s North Carolina town as the “Marsh Girl” who ends up on trial for murder. Jones is fine enough, but the character is a collection of traits in that don’t quite ever coalesce into a real person because it feels like the movie isn’t sure what it wants her to be. Is Kya a weird girl who grew up alone in the marsh, or is she an innocent-yet-worldly and wise dream girl? Yes, she could conceivably be both but the script and direction don’t make any effort to reconcile these halves, much less figure out exactly who Kya could be.

But at least Kya is some kind of stab at a character. Less can be said about literally every other person in the film, whether Kya’s two romantic interests (one of whom is the man she’s on trial for maybe murdering) or the always-reliable David Strathairn’s Wish version of Atticus Finch. I have not read the novel so I don’t know if these characters come off this facile there, but they certainly don’t work on the screen. And Newman is unfortunately unable to make anything else in this film feel particularly real either. As good as cinematographer Polly Morgan is at capturing the beauty of the marshes, it just highlights the fact that everyone inside it feels fake. There isn’t more than a smidgen of dirt on this supposed “marsh girl” for the whole of the film, and Lucy Alibar’s screenplay features some — choices regarding the dialogue. I’m actually glad this film did well because it’s the kind of mid-budgeted movie that Hollywood needs; I just wish it was a whole lot better .

#16: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

If we’re being honest, the Fantastic Beasts franchise really should have stopped at one film. I know, that was never going to happen; Warner Bros. has its Golden Goose with the lightning-shaped scar, and with the main book series over there was no way they weren’t going to monetize the franchise by turning Newt Scamander’s story into a multi-film series. But it hasn’t exactly turned out well for them. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was overcomplicated, belabored and frankly just a dull mess of a film. And while there are aspects of The Secrets of Dumbledore that are definitely a step up from its predecessor, but they’re counterbalanced by a myriad of other issues.

This third (and based on the box office, presumably final) entry in the spinoff prequel series completes the slow transition from centering on Newt to centering on Jude Law’s Dumbledore and Mads Mikkelsen’s Grindelwald. It’s a smart move; Newt has never been very compelling, and Law & Mikkelsen are just more interesting here. They have a rather electric and tragic dynamic between them, and the focus on their story lets the movie streamline the story in much-needed ways. But the attempts to course correct are exceptionally awkward at times and many of them fall flat; the attempts to conjure the original Potter magic only work in small sputters.

Add into all of that the conclusion of the Credence story arc — a character who Ezra Miller has never seemed more than half-awake during — and you have a film that frankly just seems to be going through the motions to get to the end. The need to make sure Newt and Credence still get their screen time sidelines of some of the franchise’s better characters; Katherine Waterston’s Tina is basically a cameo, for example. I won’t say this is a worse movie than Crimes of Grindelwald, but it’s only very marginally better and that’s not a high bar.

#15: Amsterdam

Image Credit: 20th Century Studios

David O. Russell is a guy that you’re gonna love or hate, and probably not be anywhere on the middle on that spectrum. His list of controversies are almost as long as his filmography, but he usually manages to come back from them (right or wrong) because he’s made some some legitimately great movies in his time. Amsterdam is not one of those movies. Russell’s disastrously overstuffed fictionalization of the 1930s Business Plot conspiracy to overthrow FDR is the perfect example of a director getting high on his own supply, going off the rails and then filling the cast with stars in the hopes that you’ll be too distracted by an A-lister popping up every five minutes to notice how bad the story is.

Unfortunately for the film, there’s no amount of stunt casting that can obscure how intolerable the wacky, quirky and way-too-busy story gets. Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington try their damnedest to keep this thing afloat as the trio who get caught up in the whole mess, and to their credit they have a fantastic camaraderie between them. Supporting performances by Anya Taylor-Joy and Zoe Saldana stand out while others such as Chris Rock, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Robert De Niro, and Taylor Swift are more distracting than anything else.

And regardless, none of it saves the material. If there’s one thing consistently in Russell’s favor, it’s been that even if his scripts veer off course, he can at least direct the hell out of a movie. Here he falls largely apart with even that. The tone is janky and all over the place, the stylistic flourishes add little, and it all completely falls apart at the end when Russell suddenly decides to get VERY heavy-handed with his themes — ones that are far better explored in more enjoyable movies. This is Russell’s worst film to date by a large margin, and a disservice to pretty much everyone else involved.

#14: Me Time

Image Credit: Saeed Adyani/Netflix

I don’t have any particular disdain for Netflix as a creator of films; they have roughly the same percentage of hits and misses as any other studio. They do have an infuriating habit of producing half-assed comedies starring actors who should (in theory) be in better projects. First it was Adam Sandler, and now its Kevin Hart. Hart stumbled with two such films in 2022 and while The Man from Toronto at least had some fun chemistry between Hart and Woody Harrelson, Me Time doesn’t even have that going for it.

Instead, Hart finds himself in his typecast role as a buttoned-up loser who ends up cutting loose due to his odd-couple relationship with a buddy or buddy-esque figure, this time being that of Wahlberg’s manchild of a friend. Wahlberg is playing the kind of role we’d have previously seen Will Ferrell play — and frankly, Ferrell is better at it. What’s more, the dynamic between the two stars never clicks, which is essential if you’re going to power through the kinds of lame gags that this film wants to throw at us. Director Patrick Hughes shows none of the style he displayed in The Hitman’s Bodyguard and its sequel, while the script just runs through predictable hoops and rarely inspires more than a couple of light chuckles.

Listen, I don’t mind that Netflix is giving stars work like this. Comedies are an decreasingly viable option for theatrical release, and movies like this would have definitely fallen short at the box office. But they don’t get a pass by being “just Netflix movies”; the service puts out too many good films for that kind of lowered expectation to fly. Both actors (and the supporting cast) are better than this film, which saw me annoyed or bored far more often than amused.

#13: The Bubble

Image Credit: Laura Radford/Netflix

…you know, I just finished talking about how Netflix makes some good movies, and now we have the second failed Netflix comedy in a row to make my bottom 20. And in some ways, The Bubble is a lot like Me Time in that we have a cast of top-notch talent in a film that doesn’t deliver. But the potential for this comedy about a bunch of ridiculous actors making a blockbuster movie during the pandemic is worse by degrees because while Me Time sees the cast largely going through the motions, the actors here are all in on the premise. Karen Gillan, Iris Apatow, Pedro Pascal, Leslie Mann, Fred Armison, Keegan-Michael Key, and David Duchovny are giving this everything they have and this really should have worked for a guy like me, who enjoys this kind of inside baseball look at movie making.

And yet, it really doesn’t. I enjoy a good long movie, but at 124 minutes this concept is played out well before we get to the final moments. Shaving about 20 minutes off would have done some wonders here; too many side gags go on for too long and the story just sort of meanders around. Judd Apatow has always liked his extended runtimes, but this is his least focused to date and everything is wearing pretty thin by the end. It really doesn’t matter how much fun the cast is clearly having when the audience is kept at arm’s length from that fun by way of overplayed jokes. There were so many ways that this could have been fantastic but like Doctor Strange in Avengers: Endgame, I think Apatow found the single path that defies the odds and galloped down that road.

#12: Redeeming Love

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

At first glance, it might seem a bit harsh to beat on Redeeming Love too badly. Faith-based films absolutely have a place in Hollywood; they serve a portion of the movie-going audience that has been ill-served over the years. And this adaptation of Francine Rivers’ 1991 novel is by no means as egregiously bad as the likes of the God’s Not Dead franchise or other movies from Pinnacle Peak (previously known as PureFlix). By the same token, a bad movie is still a bad movie and this “romantic” drama fails its cast thanks to a script co-written by Rivers that loosely adapts the Biblical story of Hosea but ignores the fact that said story is supposed to be a metaphor for a nation’s abandonment of God.

Instead, the film abandons the allegory and piles tragedy porn onto the lead character of Angel, a sex worker in the 1850s who endures sexual slavery, assault, medical abuse and just about everything else before finding the prospect of a new life — and the titular “redeeming love” — through a man named Michael. Abigail Cowan gives it her all as Angel, but she’s undermined by the simplistic way Rivers approaches all of its characters. She also isn’t able to conjure much chemistry with Tom Lewis, who is somewhat less compelling as Michael. And if you’re going to make a romantic drama, your first goal should be to at least make sure your stars spark on screen.

I know that Redeeming Love has an audience out there who will believe it’s an inspiring and powerful statement. I don’t take issue with that at all. But adapting a story where the characters aren’t fleshed out requires that you make them compelling enough to stand on their own, and that just doesn’t happen here. D.J. Caruso captures a few pretty images, but he fails to turn the film into anything more than a tone deaf, moralizing slog that stops just slightly short of being full on proselytizing. There are plenty of other perfectly fine faith-based dramas out there justify their existence far more than this one, which is (thankfully) a largely forgettable experience.

#11: Moonfall

Image Credit: Reiner Bajo/Lionsgate

I’m always game for a big, dumb blockbuster that knows how to blow things up. I am, after all, a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise despite its reckless disregard for physics and joyous refusal to carry more than a couple brain cells at any particular moment. Roland Emmerich is often regarded as the master of the “blow up the world” movie, and he has some of the best examples of this genre in films like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. Unfortunately, he also has 2012, Godzilla, Independence Day: Resurgence, and now Moonfall. The latter film is perhaps Emmerich’s dumbest film yet, but it lacks in the entertainment value of his more successful entries.

When you hear the elevator pitch for Moonfall, it reads like something that should be a lot of fun. “You see, the moon is actually a machine that is being crashed into the Earth, and while all that’s going on a discredited astronaut and the deputy director of NASA have to try to save the world!” Based on that kind of batshit crazy logline alone, I would be in. Sadly, Emmerich’s opus isn’t nearly as fun as the wackiness suggests it is basically Independence Day done worse thanks to less interesting characters, worse pacing and Emmerich kind of coasts along on his same tired tracks.

The cast tries to do what they can here, but they’re working with a story that never really manages to rise to the level of interesting. The effects are good (and considering how much they cost, they’d better be), but there is a difference between good effects and fun action sequences. It’s almost hard to believe that a studio paid over $150 million after seeing how bland the script is; it’s almost as if they knew what was coming and tried to buy their way into a success. It didn’t work, to say the least. In the end, Moonfall’s worst crimes are that the wacky plot doesn’t go anywhere exciting and Emmerich somehow manages to top 10,000 BC and 2012 as his most forgettable film to date.


And that will do it for part one! Join me once again later this week as we count down the worst of the worst with #10 through #1. Before I leave you though, I wanted to give some love and recognize some of the top documentaries of the year. I don’t include documentaries in my Best Of/Worst Of because they’re a very different beast from narrative films, so below you can see the best of the format for the past year:

5. Girl In the Picture
4. In Search of Tomorrow
3. Is That Black Enough for You?!?
2. The Princess
1. Moonage Daydream

And that is that. Until later this week, don’t forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at! JT out.