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The 22 movies we hated in 2022 — and how to watch them, if you must

You already know what last year’s must-see movies are. Here are the ones you should avoid.

Austin Butler in “Elvis.” (Hugh Stewart/Warner Bros. Pictures)
12 min

By now, in the wake of the Golden Globes, this week’s Oscar nominations, a raft of smaller film awards and a flotilla of top 10 lists, a consensus has started to congeal around the quote-unquote best movies of 2022, with “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “Tár,” “Aftersun” and “Elvis” leading the pack of last year’s most honored films.

But not so fast. Keep reading, and you’ll notice that one of those titles — I’m looking at you, “Elvis” — also appears in the list below, a compendium of the bottom tier of reviews by The Post’s critics: movies that couldn’t muster up more than 1½ stars out of four.

It’s often more fun to read a bad review than a good one. And sometimes it can be more fun to watch a bad movie — or at least a polarizing one — than something that has garnered universal acclaim. In the spirit of service journalism, here are 22 stinkers to put on your watch list (or your hate-watch list).

Babylon (R)

“The breathless energy begins to feel exponentially more forced (and, frankly, unpleasant) the harder [writer-director Damien] Chazelle works to sustain it. [Margot] Robbie delivers a fearless portrayal of a woman trying to outrun the forces seeking to domesticate her, but she’s abandoned by a story that amounts to little more than a mash-up of moments that, for all their high aesthetic and production value, feel shallow and not terribly original. Even ‘Babylon’s’ final moments — intended to be Chazelle’s crowning paean to cinema at its most expressive and transporting — can’t bring the hazy stuff-for-stuff’s-sake into focus.” (In theaters) — Ann Hornaday

The Batman (PG-13)

“At almost three hours, director Matt Reeves’s latest iteration of the endless Batman cycle seems determined to outdo even the most self-consciously glum visions of Christopher Nolan and, more recently, Todd Phillips. Unfortunately, Reeves — best known for ‘Cloverfield’ and smart adaptations of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies — has fully bought into the darker-equals-deeper myth, delivering a film that’s as ponderous as it is convoluted and, ultimately, devoid of meaningful stakes.” (HBO Max) — Ann Hornaday

Blonde (NC-17)

“It’s all very salacious, with [writer-director Andrew] Dominik staging imagined chapters of his heroine [Marilyn Monroe]’s life with gobsmackingly crass detail, whether he’s giving us a speculum’s-eye view of her vagina or cutting away to her unborn children, here presented as fetuses in utero, one of whom begs not to be aborted in a little-girl voice that echoes [Ana] de Armas’s carefully practiced Monroe whisper.” (Netflix) — Ann Hornaday

Bones and All (R)

“Fans of ‘Call Me By Your Name’ will remember [director Luca] Guadagnino’s first collaboration with [Timothée] Chalamet; they are hereby warned that, although suffused with moments of startling beauty, this is very much not that movie. Situated on the scuzzy outskirts of American society, ‘Bones and All’ is a graphic, often off-putting travelogue that seems to use the ultimate anti-social behavior as a convenient stand-in for every contemporary social problem from otherization to addiction. That metaphorical ambition feels flimsy at best in a film that revels in shock value, as its two attractive lead players slurp, crunch and gorge on their latest hapless victims.” (Multiple streaming platforms) — Ann Hornaday

The 33 movies we loved in 2022 — and where to watch them

Both Sides of the Blade (Unrated)

“When they return from vacation to reality, Sara’s former lover and Jean’s best friend, François (Grégoire Colin), suddenly shows up, offering Jean [Vincent Lindon] a job at the sports management agency he’s starting — and Sara [Juliette Binoche] an opportunity to pick things up where they left off when he dumped her 10 years ago and disappeared. ‘When you love someone, it never really goes away,’ she says. Oh, really? Maybe in the 16th arrondissement, it doesn’t.” In French with subtitles. (AMC Plus) — Michael O’Sullivan

Bullet Train (R)

“The result is a movie that is almost constantly two things at once: breezily lighthearted and overwrought; hyper-energetic and lazy; bracingly fresh and drearily derivative. Directed by David Leitch, who has evinced impressive action chops with such films as ‘Atomic Blonde’ and the first John Wick installment, ‘Bullet Train’ is reverse-engineered to satisfy an itch routinely met by the likes of Ben Wheatley, Matthew Vaughn, Guy Ritchie and Edgar Wright. If you’re craving one more variation on the well-worn theme of promiscuous bloodlettings accompanied by glib verbal filler, Leitch has served up a presentable slab of grist for an increasingly creaky mill.” (Netflix) — Ann Hornaday

Clerks III (R)

“As ‘Clerks III’ gets underway, with the franchise’s trademark blend of amateurish acting, sophomoric humor and inane, pop-culture-riffing dialogue to get the game going, Randal (Jeff Anderson) is having a massive heart attack, just as [writer-director Kevin] Smith did in 2018. That close call inspires him to make a no-budget, black-and-white film memoir based on the retail experiences of Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and him. That movie turns out to be very ‘Clerks’-like, with actual footage from the first film passed off as footage shot in this film. (It’s a little weird and hard to swallow that the now-middle-aged O’Halloran and Anderson somehow look 28 years younger whenever the camera is on them. Perhaps that’s the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia.)” (Multiple streaming platforms) — Michael O’Sullivan

Crimes of the Future (R)

“With its outré images and pulsating shots of human viscera, ‘Crimes of the Future’ is clearly meant to shock, as well as reference very real anxieties about technology, genetics and environmental degradation. But as the convoluted plot wears on, [filmmaker David] Cronenberg’s transgressive kink looks more and more played out. He develops an irritating habit of explaining his symbolism through characters who spend a lot of time spouting dialogue that’s expository without illuminating much.” (Hulu) — Ann Hornaday

Don’t Worry Darling (R)

“The advance hype for ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ has been so incessant — from director Olivia Wilde’s location-turned-relation-ship with her leading man, Harry Styles, to a Kabuki-like feud with her lead actress, Florence Pugh, and something involving Chris Pine and Styles at the recent Venice Film Festival — that it’s easy to forget there’s an actual movie at the center of it all. A movie that’s not a disaster, but not particularly distinguished; a movie that, in the end, will wind up being as forgettable as its own bizarre publicity.” (HBO Max) — Ann Hornaday

Elvis (PG-13)

“The result is a dizzying, almost hallucinatory experience — akin to being thrown into a washing machine and mercilessly churned for 2½ hours. That isn’t to say that ‘Elvis’ doesn’t provide moments of insight, or even genuine inspiration; it’s just that they occur fitfully, when the viewer is briefly pasted up against the window before being plunged into the barrel of [writer-director Baz] Luhrmann’s lurid sensibility once again.” (HBO Max) — Ann Hornaday

Father Stu (R)

“I can’t say all that much about the nuance of [writer-director Rosalind] Ross’s screenplay, because a lot of what’s spoken, at least by [Mark] Wahlberg, is imperfectly intelligible, thanks to a mumbling delivery by the film’s star. It’s a performance that takes the character from a buff, cocky, mustachioed young boxer turned wannabe actor to a dying man.” (Netflix) — Michael O’Sullivan

The Good Nurse (R)

“Directed by the Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm, screenwriter of the Oscar-nominated 2013 film ‘The Hunt’ and the 2020 Oscar winner ‘Another Round,’ ‘The Good Nurse’ stars Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne, prestige performers who between them have been nominated for five Oscars. (Chastain won [in 2021] for ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye,’ as did Redmayne in 2015 for ‘The Theory of Everything’ — both times, it should be noted, for portraying real people, as they do here.) Based on Charles Graeber’s 2013 nonfiction book by the same name about serial killer Charlie Cullen, a hospital nurse who in 2004 admitted to murdering multiple patients while on duty, ‘The Good Nurse’ was adapted for the screen by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, herself an Oscar nominee, with Sam Mendes, for the World War I drama ‘1917.’ That’s a boatload of pedigree for what turns out to be not much more than the kind of dime-a-dozen true-crime tale that typically goes straight to streaming, where an eager audience is waiting.” (Netflix) — Michael O’Sullivan

Jurassic World Dominion (PG-13)

“[Director Colin] Trevorrow has saved his most monstrous amalgamation for last: a bombastic movie that proves the timeless wonder and simmering suspense of 1993’s ‘Jurassic Park’ have gone extinct in favor of an ungodly blockbuster blend. Although the return of that classic’s stars — Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, gamely giving it their all — offers some welcome nostalgia, there’s only so much they can do to salvage an ill-calculated, algorithmic misfire that clumsily evokes the superior ‘Mission: Impossible,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and ‘Don’t Look Up’ all at once.” (Peacock) — Thomas Floyd

Luck (G)

“The CGI animation is not especially pleasant to look at, with [main character] Sam resembling a life-size Bratz doll and the other characters, in general, looking like they were produced on a 3D printer. Pardon the pun, but there’s a stiff ‘Soul’-lessness to the animation.” (Apple TV Plus) — Michael O’Sullivan

Mack & Rita (PG-13)

“It’s wonderful to see older women on-screen. It’s wonderful to see getting older presented as something a younger woman wants to do, even if she doesn’t really understand what comes with it: knee pain, weird pokey hairs on your chin, getting those pill organizers with ‘AM’ and ‘PM’ written on them — and more knee pain. But ‘Mack & Rita’ just can’t sell that message. [Diane] Keaton, who can be so, so funny, seems at a loss as to what to do. The short script by Madeline Walter and Paul Welsh is stuffed with filler.” (Hulu) — Kristen Page-Kirby

Marry Me (PG-13)

“There’s lighthearted escapism, and then there’s insult to the audience bordering on the contemptuous: ‘Marry Me,’ which has been adapted from Bobby Crosby’s graphic novel by screenwriters Harper Dill, John Rogers and Tami Sagher, never quite recovers from the brain-numbing suspension of disbelief it demands from otherwise sentient viewers.” (Prime Video) — Ann Hornaday

My Policeman (R)

“Adapted by screenwriter Ron Nyswaner, with plodding predictability, from Bethan Roberts’s 2012 novel, ‘My Policeman’ might have been salvaged by someone with the kind of transcendent screen presence that occasionally lifts a stodgy period piece from the depths of convention. Instead, [Harry] Styles’s flat performance delivers the fatal blow to the film’s uninspired depiction of mid-century homophobia, forbidden love and long-simmering resentment.” (Prime Video) — Thomas Floyd

Scream (R)

“At a recent preview screening of the new installment — co-directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, in a way that is so insufferably self-conscious that watching it feels like it’s watching you back, waiting for your reaction — one audience member signaled his displeasure at the heavy-handedness of its humor by loudly stating, not laughing, ‘Ha. Ha.’”(Paramount Plus) — Michael O’Sullivan

Studio 666 (R)

“[The cast, members of the band Foo Fighters,] are a likable bunch, in what comes across as a kind of home movie about a group of dudes trying to make an album while their band leader is plagued by writer’s block and the spirit of a deceased former resident who, before he killed himself, opened a portal to a demonic underworld.” (Multiple streaming platforms) — Michael O’Sullivan

Three Thousand Years of Longing (R)

“But at the end of the day, and despite its metaphysical ambitions and air of epic romance, ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’ is essentially two people in a room conversing, with occasional breaks for illustration. There are moments in the film when viewers could be forgiven for thinking that if they wanted to watch two preternaturally attractive people chat in their bathrobes, they could watch ‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’ for a third time.” (Multiple streaming platforms) — Ann Hornaday

The Whale (R)

“In the 1995 film ‘Leaving Las Vegas,’ Nicolas Cage played a man determined to drink himself to death. Here, [Brendan Fraser as] Charlie is on the same course, except that he’s drowning his existential sorrows in buckets of fried chicken, candy bars, pizza and whipped cream. The eating scenes in ‘The Whale’ are staged with horrified detail, the sound design tuned to accentuate every gloppy slurp. [Director Darren] Aronofsky and [screenwriter Samuel D.] Hunter leave little to the imagination, emphasizing at every graphic turn that, for Charlie, food isn’t the stuff of life-giving nourishment, but a vector for compulsion and self-annihilation.” (In theaters)— Ann Hornaday

Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody (PG-13)

“Despite clocking in at nearly 2½ hours, “I Wanna Dance’ barely scratches the surface of its celestial subject and the figures in her orbit. If you have a favorite Houston performance, expect it to be immaculately re-created on-screen. The tabloid headlines that hounded her are dutifully addressed as well. But even if ‘I Wanna Dance’ celebrates Houston’s stirring rendition of the national anthem at Super Bowl XXV — as she slows the tempo and luxuriates in the spectacle — [director Kasi] Lemmons and screenwriter Anthony McCarten clearly didn’t absorb that showmanship lesson while speeding through the pop icon’s life story at a frenetic pace.” (In theaters) — Thomas Floyd