If there’s a theme to this list of disappointments from the year just past, it’s that almost all of these ten movies were made by artists — actors, writers, directors, producers — who can do and have done better. Think of this list, then, as less of an excoriation for mistakes made and more of an encouragement for these talented individuals to do better next time. In alphabetical order:
“Chaos Walking” / “Cherry”: It’s great that Tom Holland gets to cap off 2021 on the high of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” because this year saw him in two borderline-unwatchable films that were clearly intended to broaden the scope of his repertoire. No doubt future ventures will display the many facets of this skilled performer, but neither the muddled sci-fi adventure of “Chaos” nor the trite addiction drama “Cherry” did much to spotlight his abilities.
“Dear Evan Hansen”: This Tony-winning musical made the leap to the big screen in what might serve as a textbook example in how not to adapt a stage show. (For one thing, maybe don’t cast a late-20-something as your teenage lead, even when a performer as talented as Ben Platt originated the role.) In an unexpected twist, “Come From Away” — one of the shows that “Evan” beat out for that Tony — got a much lovelier film version this year than this uncomfortably awkward and frequently misbegotten adaptation.