Movies to Avoid at All Costs

The 10 worst movies of 2020 made a bad year even harder to take


Barb (Rachel Bloom) in Trolls World Tour
Photo courtesy of DreamWorks Animation LLC
Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984
Photo by Clay Enos
Michael Stuhlbarg and Elisabeth Moss in Shirley
Photo courtesy of Neon
George MacKay in True History of the Kelly Gang
Photo courtesy of IFC Films
Kevin Bacon in You Should Have Left
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
Ed Helms and Terrence Little Gardenhigh in Coffee & Kareem
Photo by Justina Mintz
Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton in Freaky
Photo by Brian Douglas/Universal Pictures
Kate Lyn Sheil in She Dies Tomorrow
Photo courtesy of Neon
Blake Lively in The Rhythm Section
Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Skyler Gisondo in The Binge
Photo courtesy of Hulu

The year 2020 was a double-edged sword for movie lovers. On one hand, the pandemic brought the vast majority of releases straight to streaming or video-on-demand options, giving plenty of options at viewers' fingertips. On the other hand, those movies could be a crapshoot, with no guarantee of quality in a year when many studios were just trying to find ways for their movies to be seen.

These are the 10 movies that might have been better off not seeing the light of day.

10) Trolls World Tour

Where the first Trolls movie was a pleasant surprise, the inevitable sequel was an exercise in laziness. The story merely feels like an excuse for the filmmakers to throw in as many music cues as they can, replacing any actual emotions with false ones created by the songs. As the first big movie to open at home during the pandemic, its failures made it even more disappointing.

9) Wonder Woman 1984

The last big movie of the year was unfortunately one of the worst, giving the god-like superhero little more to do than play mall cop and pine after a dead love interest. With a ham-tacular villain whose evil plot made little sense, another villain whose transformation made even less sense, and almost a complete lack of memorable action sequences, it's unclear why anyone would think there should be another sequel, and yet it's coming anyway.

8) Shirley

Elisabeth Moss lifted The Invisible Man to be more than it should have been, but the weight of this weird film dragged her down. The filmmakers appear to be making art for art’s sake, with little regard for any narrative coherence. With significant events happening at random, the "psychological thriller" is less than thrilling. While Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Odessa Young are all interesting, the story they're telling is not.

7) True History of the Kelly Gang

Yet another attempt to tell the story of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, this one fails by bouncing around from scene to scene, taking shortcuts in an attempt to force connections that don’t organically form.The filmmakers spend tons of time trying to tell the audience exactly what kind of person Kelly was, and almost no time in showing why he was so feared.

6) You Should Have Left

Another so-called “psychological thriller,” the film has a lot of difficulty in building up suspense. Almost all of the freaky stuff that happens in the film happens to one character, so any supernatural element is undercut by what seem to be clear-cut mental issues. Star Kevin Bacon underplays many of the moments that deserve bigger reactions, making it difficult to get into the spirit of what the story should be.

5) Coffee & Kareem

A film that consistently takes the low road with no regard for the potholes it finds along the way, Coffee & Kareem tries to cover up its lack of a good script with elements designed to shock, hoping the audience will figure laughing at over-the-top things is better than not laughing at all. Mildly amusing turns by Ed Helms and Taraji P. Henson can't make up for its dumb pun of a title and the crassness of using a kid to do its dirty work.

4) Freaky

The premise of the this comedy/horror movie is rife with potential, but it squanders nearly every opportunity to be memorable. The filmmakers try for a fun horror movie vibe, but they land on dumb instead of entertaining. Stars Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton are decent playing each other in the body switch plot, but each gives their respective dual roles more effort than they deserved.

3) She Dies Tomorrow

A pretentious film that gives arthouse movies a bad name, She Dies Tomorrow is nowhere near the horror film that its title seems to proclaim. Most people will be unwilling to make it through the initial mind-numbing section, and even if they do, there’s little in the way of a reward later on. The film may be art, but it sure as hell isn’t entertainment.

2) The Rhythm Section

The year started off promising with some decent films, but January lived up to its reputation as the dumping ground for bad movies with The Rhythm Section, a title that makes no sense even when it’s explained twice in the movie. What seemed to be an attempt to set Blake Lively's character up as a burgeoning action hero never connected, with boring action sequences and missed opportunity after missed opportunity.

1) The Binge

Like Vince Vaughn's other entry on this list, this film tries to flip the script on another more successful concept, and fails miserably. The film works neither as a parody of The Purge nor as a teen comedy, and is so actively unfunny that it’s a wonder anyone making it thought it would work at all. It should serve as a cautionary tale for how not to make a movie, much less a comedy.