The Atlantic Daily: Six Movies We Didn’t Love This Year

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The red carpet awaits, but not every film from the last year is worth celebrating. Here are six that our critic David Sims (who watched more than 100 films this season) did not recommend to our readers, along with a highlight from his review. As you place those last-minute Oscar bets with friends, enjoy this journey through Hollywood’s recent lowlights.

1. Dear Evan Hansen (a big-screen version of a Broadway hit)

Dear Evan Hansen would have needed a miracle to land in cinemas with anything but a thud. Instead, almost everything imaginable has gone wrong on the journey from stage to screen, and the result is a film that isn’t even “so bad it’s good,” like some other recent musical movies; mostly, it’s just painful to watch.

2. Nightmare Alley (the latest release from the Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro)

Again and again, Nightmare Alley telegraphs where its plot is going, then is way too slow in actually getting there. … For a thriller to connect, it needs to deliver some real thrills along the way.

3. Space Jam: A New Legacy (a sequel to the ’90s classic)

Space Jam: A New Legacy feels like a preview of a more terrifying, siloed future, one in which having an encyclopedic media library is more important than enjoying the work right in front of you. So what if this movie essentially forgets to have a coherent plot or any real stakes; look at all of the exciting crossovers!

4. Uncharted (a film adaptation of the popular video-game series)

Video games have gotten quite good at imitating movies, but translating games to cinema has always proved a much more challenging task. … Uncharted removes the thrill of controlling the main character, leading to a sterile, banal viewing experience, a tech demo for an out-of-date product.

5. Last Night in Soho (a horror film set in ’60s London by the director Edgar Wright)

The film works best in its gauzy opening act, as Wright leads the viewer on a stylish trip down memory lane; when the plot turns grim, and the viewer is repeatedly bashed by the director’s thesis, Last Night in Soho turns into an unmemorable slog.

6. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (a remake of the legendary 1974 horror film)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is full of elaborate, digitally created saw wounds far more shocking and anatomically bizarre than anything that could be achieved through makeup. These impressive-looking kills, however, have no heft; the CGI blood spurts are too artificial.

What else to explore ahead of this year’s ceremony:

Revisit the week that was. Read our latest coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Our assistant editor Jacob Stern looks at how the war is creating conditions for a COVID outbreak. Our senior editor Alan Taylor collects photos of news events from around the world in this latest installment of Photos of the Week.

Read. This week’s Books Briefing focuses on the tricky task of writing villains.

Looking for a little romance (but not too much)? The writer Carole V. Bell shares five books that are unexpectedly love stories.

Watch. First, the films: Everything Everywhere All at Once is a mind-bending multiverse fantasy starring Michelle Yeoh. A new two-part HBO documentary looks at the actor Evan Rachel Wood’s allegations of abuse against the musician Marilyn Manson. Pixar’s Turning Red centers a cringey teen protagonist—and that’s the point.

Turning to TV: Pachinko is an adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s epic novel. The eight-episode miniseries, streaming on Apple TV+ beginning today, is “equally epic,” Shirley Li writes, but has lost some of the novel’s “thoroughly personal touch.” Shirley also looked at how two new shows—Abbott Elementary and Minx—offer alternative visions for women in leadership.

Listen. Spencer Kornhaber shares the artist that’s making him feel excited about music again.

Today’s dispatches: Imani Perry argues for the importance of writing about Blackness in its fullness in her latest edition of Unsettled Territory. In Galaxy Brain, Charlie Warzel considers what happens when we have an infinite amount of information at our disposal. Jordan Calhoun, of Humans Being, weighs in on the debate around Turning Red.

Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.

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