6. I Saw the Light
Plenty of people are complaining about the casting of Tom Hiddleston as country singer Hank Williams, but that’s the least of this movie’s problems. In fact, that’s not really a problem at all. Hiddleston and Olsen’s performances are bright spots in a movie that’s lacking many positive features.
If you want to learn about Hank Williams, the musician, you’re going to have to wait for a different movie. Instead, I Saw the Light chooses to focus on Hank Williams, the alcoholic.
The movie absolutely basks in self pity. We get it, Hank Williams drank a lot and made controversial choices, but why does that have to be the primary focus of the film? It’s definitely worth including, but when the entire runtime is dedicated to watching Tom Hiddleston drunkenly stumble around things get a bit tiring.
The empty supporting characters also feel like an afterthought. Hiddleston and Olsen get plenty of screentime, but everyone else barely sticks around long enough to remember who they were. Despite the over two hour runtime, I Saw the Light still feels rushed. This is probably due to the fact that it’s so focused on one specific facet of Hank’s life.
I Saw the Light is a movie made up of missed opportunities. There are certainly things that work, but they’re outnumbered by the countless issues that are littered throughout the film. Even the most diehard Hank Williams fans will find the movie hard to appreciate.
7. The Finest Hours
The Finest Hours is a perfectly entertaining movie that tells a compelling story adequately. The problem is that the movie never tries to be anything more than adequate. The pieces are all there to make something incredible, but when they come together the end product is just “pretty good.”
There’s a lot of different plot lines to be found in The Finest Hours. They all work together well enough, but they fail move the audience in the way they intended.
The movie seeks to immerse us, but it only succeeds in keeping us occupied for a couple hours. If this didn’t have so much potential, that would be perfectly fine. Not every movie needs to be an emotionally gripping drama. However, given the source material and people involved, doesn’t it make sense that people were expecting a little bit more than what was actually delivered?
Visually, The Finest Hours is stunning. On top of that, Chris Pine seems genuinely invested in his role. The script and direction are ultimately what cause the movie to stumble. As a result, it feels like a nostalgia-infused adventure movie with too many moving pieces. It’s definitely a fun movie, but it never lives up to the promise.
8. X-Men: Apocalypse
It would take a lot to be worse than the flaming dumpster fire known as X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Luckily, X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t nearly that bad. In fact, it’s not bad at all. The problem with Apocalypse is that, after Bryan Singer’s excellent winning streak of X-Men hits, anything less than great is a bit disappointing. Admittedly, X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t great.
After Days of Future Past set the franchise up for a soft reboot, Apocalypse takes advantage of that and introduces us to some of our favorite mutants all over again. Unfortunately, all of them except Cyclops and Jean Grey are wasted. They get very little screen time and as a result, they feel completely unnecessary.
It’s as if Singer thought that a brief appearance would be good enough to please X-Men fans. These extended cameos seem to only exist to fatten the movie up, but the movie is already overstuffed as is.
Then there’s another major downfall in the form of the titular villain. Apocalypse has never been a particularly interesting character to begin with, but with the team of Singer and Oscar Isaac, you’d think they’d find a way to make him compelling.
Isaac is fine, but the character is even less developed than anyone could possibly imagine. His motivations are foggy and most of his screentime is dedicated to being ominous instead of a compelling villain with clear goals.
Once again, X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t bad. The action scenes are often breathtaking and the performances are great across the board. The muddled plot and unnecessary fan service, however, make this the undeniable weak link when compared to the other Bryan Singer X-Men films.
9. The Neon Demon
After the release of Only God Forgives and now this, is it safe to say that Nicolas Winding Refn peaked with Drive? After Only God Forgives landed with a thud, I was able to write it off as a misfire. Unfortunately, with the release of The Neon Demon it’s hard to stay positive about his future as a filmmaker. Refn hasn’t come remotely close to recapturing what made Drive such a compelling film in either of his recent releases.
Like the models in the film, The Neon Demon’s beauty is only skin deep. It’s absolutely gorgeous to look at, but it’s completely lifeless. The underdeveloped plot and paper-thin characters take a backseat to bright lights and slick imagery. These shiny visuals can only do so much for the movie. Unfortunately, they’re unable to make The Neon Demon any less vapid.
Then there’s the fact that Refn throws in scenes of arthouse inspired absurdity. These allegorical scenes have been known to work in movies like Under the Skin, but they don’t do much for Refn’s film.
The message he’s trying to tell the audience isn’t overly complex, and these surreal scenes do little to peak the audience’s interest. It’s frustrating that The Neon Demon sits somewhere between an arthouse film and a straightforward psychological horror film. If Refn would’ve just stuck with one, it may not have been such a jumbled mess.
In the end, it’s hard to recommend The Neon Demon to anyone. There are positive aspects to the film. Elle Fanning does a fine job with what’s given to her and the visuals are, as previously stated, gorgeous.
The negative aspects outweigh the positive aspects by a pretty noteworthy amount, though. If you need to see a Refn movie, rewatch Drive or check out his underappreciated Pusher trilogy. This isn’t the movie you’re looking for.
10. Hail, Caesar!
Remember when looking at this list that we’re not talking about bad movies but rather disappointing ones. Even so, when compared to a lot of the movies on this list, the latest offering from the Coen brothers seems like a bit of a black sheep.
Hail, Caesar! is definitely a better movie than the ones listed above it. It does a lot of things really well and it can be genuinely enjoyable to watch. That’s why it’s sitting at the bottom of the list, after all.
Keep in mind that with everyone involved in the movie, expectations were kind of soaring. So while Hail, Caesar! was a good bit of fun, it wasn’t quite the grand slam people were hoping for.
A Coen brothers movie with Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, and Alison Pill seemed like something that could potentially be one of the best movies of the year. One of 2016’s best movies, it is not. The narrative is all over the place, the humor has a tendency to fall flat, and when it comes down to it, the movie simply lacks the depth we expect from the Coen brothers.
Hail, Caesar! is definitely more Burn After Reading than Big Lebowski. It’s having itself a great time, but it fails to deliver in just enough key areas that the movie ends up feeling like a bit of a misfire. It’s something that a lot of people are going to like, but it’s also something that few people will remember by the end of the year.
Author Bio: Justin is a paraprofessional teaching assistant and full-time film enthusiast with a degree in English. When he’s not writing about films, he’s probably watching them in his spare time.