Here we are again: we’ve reached the end of 2021, so it is time to take a look at which movies were the worst of the year according to the zeitgeist.
This aggregated list of the worst-perceived movies of the calendar year has been an annual endeavor for me since 2016. 2020 was a bit of an oddball, with many outlets electing to skip their “worst of the year” rankings. However, I recently went back to create a 2020 aggregated list while waiting for 2021 “worst of” lists to drop.
As with previous years, I want to emphasize that this is a measure of public opinion – I’m not assessing any kind of objective quality, but rather gauging the public perception of which movies were the worst of the year. I measure this by compiling published year-end “Worst of 2021” lists (from sources like The Chicago Sun-Times and Variety), then I tally up how often each film appears on these lists. It makes for a simple frequency distribution to visualize how widely despised these various 2021 films were. If you would like to see my tallies, they are available here.
This year, I pulled from 22 published year-end lists of the worst movies of 2021. This year continued a recent trend of a narrowing distribution of films making “worst of” lists: only 100 films were listed across the aggregated 2021 lists, down from 113 in 2020 and 127 in 2019.
As with previous years, there was not a universal consensus for the worst film of the year. In fact, I believe that this year’s “winner” had the fewest votes of a winner I have seen, as it was only included in 10 of the 22 year-end lists I collected, meaning 12 critics completely omitted it from their listings. While there was a single clear winner this year, there was a tight cluster of films towards the top of the distribution. Without further delay, here are the rankings.
- Dear Evan Hansen (10/22)
- (Tie) Chaos Walking / The Woman in the Window (9/22)
- (Tie) Music / Space Jam: A New Legacy (8/22)
- Vanquish (7/22)
- (Tie) Cosmic Sin / Thunder Force (6/22)
Are there any films that you expected to see that didn’t make the cut? Personally, I was a bit surprised that House of Gucci didn’t slip into a higher position. Of this list, I only caught The Woman in the Window, which I thought was mediocre, but nowhere near the mess of something like Prisoners of the Ghostland. Are there any “worst of 2021” contending films that I need to cover for the blog? Let me know!