As every critic knows, it's important to praise, but more fun to pan. The last two weeks of 2010 have seen the customary flurry of late-December best-of lists, singling out all that was ambitious, skillful, and moving about the arts this year. However, a few critics have also taken the time to dwell on the lazy, the self-important, and the stupid. Here, the Wire presents the worst of the worst: the movies, songs, and TV shows that topped the critics' Most Terrible lists.
WORST NEW TV SHOW: Gravity, on Starz
ACCORDING TO: Todd VanDerWerff at The A.V. Club
The film industry stopped giving Eric Schaeffer money to make terrible, self-indulgent films, so he moved over to cable, taking the cash of networks trying to get into scripted programming, networks that would buy into Schaeffer's intriguing concepts for shows he would eventually make all about himself ... What seemed like a potentially interesting series about a suicide survivor support group, starring Krysten Ritter and Ving Rhames, became a show about Schaeffer's detective character, who had only a tangential connection to anyone else. But even without Schaeffer's character, Gravity would have been awful. A character tried to commit suicide by cake. An atheist met her dream lover, an Irish grifter, in Heaven.
WORST SONG: "Hey, Soul Sister," by Train
ACCORDING TO: Maura Johnston and Christopher Weingarten at The Village Voice
HOW COME? Because it "was the only rock song to land in the Billboard Hot 100's top 10 this year," which is "pretty much proof that rock music is dead." Because "it's so white, Sarah Palin just named it her running mate for 2012." Because it's "an orgy where bad ideas trade STDs, and the most syphilitic brain-fart stumbled in drunk from a Smash Mouth show ... Listen to 'Hey, Soul Sister' a few times and you'll inevitably be reminded of the 'whistling solo' from the Shrek house band's inescapable All Star.'" And because "when your shitty kid marries someone you violently disapprove of 20 years from now, this song -- with its references to blowjobs and songs that were ground into the ground before the kid was a twinkle in your eye -- will serve as the couple's first dance."
WORST FILM: The Nutcracker in 3D, directed by Andrei Konchalovsky
ACCORDING TO: Stephen Whitty at The Star-Ledger
'The Nutcracker' has delighted generations with its music, its dancing and its sweet Christmas magic. So hey, why not throw out most of the music, skip the ballet, and turn it all into a $90 million metaphor for the Holocaust? With John Turturro as a fey dictator with jazz hands and an ash-blond wig? And Nathan Lane as Albert Einstein, high-kicking his way through a song called 'It's Relative'? Plus a dreadlocked Jamaican drummer and a fat clown who looks like a bad dream I had when I was 6? And--wait--did I mention this whole thing was in 3-D?
ALTERNATIVE WORST FILM: The Tourist, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
ACCORDING TO: Peter Travers at Rolling Stone
HOW COME? "I laughed like hell when this lame-ass thriller got a Golden Globe nod as Best Movie (Comedy or Musical). All the laughs are unintentional. And Golden Dildo acting nominees Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie hit career lows, producing the chemistry of high-fashion zombies."
ALTERNATIVE, THOROUGHLY VETTED WORST FILM: Grown Ups, directed by Dennis Dugan
ACCORDING TO: Andrew O'Hehir at Salon, who kept a running list for several months, ranking movies as he added them. Grown Ups was last on the list at #216.
HOW COME? In a follow-up interview with Kerry Lauerman, Salon's editor-in-chief, O'Hehir explained that Grown Ups "appalled me more than anything else I saw all year, in that talented people were involved, and in some sense the intentions could be called good--by all accounts, Adam Sandler is a great guy--and the results were teeth-grindingly juvenile and stupid."