Not everything was good in the media landscape during the last decade, so to balance out my previous top 10 lists I have to talk about the bad stuff. These are six games, movies, shows, or albums that greatly disappointed me. Disappointment involves having a previous liking, fondness, or hope in something, so I don’t necessarily hate the following but rather was severely let down by them.

6. Pokémon Sword/Shield

Pokémon Sword and Shield are fun games, I’ve already clocked more than 30 hours in my file. Despite this, they are very disappointing to me. These were the first mainline Pokémon games on a home console (Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee don’t count) and developer Game Freak’s laziness is apparent everywhere.

The most obvious example is the cutting of more than half of the Pokédex, “Gotta catch ’em all” no more. The 3D models are evidently recycled from previous games, but they couldn’t bother to port all the previous ones over. Graphics look like upscaled 3DS visuals and feature horrendous pop-up that’s inexcusable in 2019. The world design is exteremely linear and boring, except for the Wild Area (that’s a cool idea). Max Raids are not fun, but rather frustrating and uninsipired. And the list goes on.

Still, these games sold like crazy and they do have some good stuff in it. The new Pokémon designs are still pretty creative and inspired and the music is amazing. Pokémon, I love you, but you can do A LOT better.

5. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

crimes grindelwald

I consider myself a moderate Harry Potter fan. I read all the books, even the fanfic-y script for Cursed Child (which I cannot judge as harshly without seeing the play) and watched all the movies. I respect and admire J.K. Rowling for her creativity and imagination that created a worldwide beloved franchise. I thought the first Fantastic Beasts movie was OK, I did enjoy it and hence thought that things could only improve in the sequel, right? Wrong!

The worst sin of The Crimes of Grindelwald is just how BORING it is. The plot is convoluted and suffers from too much characters doing nothing interesting. There are some very stupid story decisions, like the lame romantic misunderstanding between Newt and Tina, the shying away from Dumbledore’s sexuality, random, unnecessary baby murder (twice!), a surprise Dumbledore sibling (this might change in the following movies), Nagini is a human and serves nothing to the plot, and some more I’m probably forgetting.

J.K. writes good stories, but not good scripts. WB shouldn’t let her write the following movies, or at least bring in some help.

4. The Handmaid’s Tale (TV Show)

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The Handmaid’s Tale started out as a faithful adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel, the first season covering the original book. It was shocking, gripping, tense, frightening, and very socially relevant. Without more source material to adapt, however, the show turned into a repetitive, glacially paced torture porn borefest.

When you set up the rules for a fictional world, disregarding or ignoring them constantly breaks the suspension of disbelief and makes the story fall apart. June should’ve been killed a thousand times by season three, but her plot armor is so thick that there is no suspense anymore. The fakeouts of her escaping Gilead are so tiresome now that I don’t care anymore. Those lingering close-up shots with a monologue from Elizabeth Moss were interesting the first times, but after seeing them for the hundreth time you feel exhausted.

Meh. At least Atwood released The Testaments and gave a (arguably) satisfying conclusion to Gilead.

3. Utopia by Björk

utopia_cover

I’m all for experimentation in music, but Björk is just fucking with us now. Utopia is avant-garde pop that is not pleasurable to listen to. There are almost no hooks or interesting melodies to latch on to, the Arca beats are cringe-worthy to put it mildly, and songs are just too long without creating an interesting progression to justify it, they just fall flat.

To give her credit, she creates some pretty unique fairy-tale-esque atmospheres that are enjoyable, but would probably serve better as background music for a movie or videogame. By trimming the excess fat, getting rid of those awful glitch drums, and adding some more interesting melodies, this album would actually be very nice. Those nice flutes and inventive music videos are wasted here.

2. Silent Hill

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Silent Hill was once a very respectable survival horror franchise (I love 2 and 3 to death). Although it never reached Resident Evil popularity, it steadily gained its good reputation with its unique setting, monsters and psychological horror. The last decade, however, saw this reputation being dragged through the mud by stupid choices made by Konami.

The games after the fourth were not developed in Japan anymore and thus lost their unique Japanese horror sensibility. The two Hollywood movies were a mess, the second one in particular is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in a theater. The Silent HD collection was a horrible glitch-ridden mess that performed worse despite being in newer generation hardware.

And when things started to look promising again with a new game developed by Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro and (almost) Junji Ito, Konami shut it down. How the hell do you fuck this up? Ugh. RIP Silent Hill.

1. Game of Thrones

Daenerys-Game-of-Thrones-Season-8-Episode-4

By now everyone knows Game of Thrones’ ending sucked. but this was a special kind of sucking because it retroactively made the series impossible to rewatch now, knowing it’s all for nothing. All the fascinating, complex characters and mysteries built during the previous years came crashing down violently. Nothing mattered in the end, the plot became nonsensical, characters turned into complete idiots, others were killed just to get rid of the clutter, and some others were kept alive because of fanservice.

The number one show in the last decade, the global phenomenon, the ratings (and piracy) king was killed in front of our eyes and we sat and watched and died inside. This show will go down in television history as a perfect example of how to turn gold into a turd. At least we have the books for a satisfying conclusion… Just kidding, George R.R. Martin will never finish them ☹️.

Choosing my top movies was a very hard process, maybe because you watch too many movies in the span of ten years. I decided to be honest with myself and put the ones I enjoyed the most instead of the ones I know are “objectively” the best.

10. The Big Sick

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The Big Sick is a poignant romantic comedy based on the real life story of its protagonist. Kumail is a struggling stand-up comedian that falls in love with a girl he hooked up with, and after dating and breaking up, she falls severly ill and has to be hospitalized. The movie doesn’t fall into the usual rom-com clichés and actually explores intercultural relationships though its characters. There is a palpable honesty to this love story that fills my heart with warm feelings.

9. Annihilation

annihilation

A group of scientists have to enter a continously expanding quarantined zone called the Shimmer, which was created from fallen meteorite. Inside, biology doesn’t follow Earth rules and instead goes very, very wrong. There is some disturbing and bizarre imagery that is also very beautiful in a weird way. It is not a perfect movie, but the concept alone sells it for me. The ending creature is just so incomprehensible that I loved it.

8. Bridesmaids

bridesmaids

Kristen Wiig is hilarious and so is this movie. The jokes are continuous and the whole cast seems to be always having fun, so even if a joke doesn’t land (they can get raunchy) you can’t help but smile all the way through. And there’s also a heartfelt story centered around the friendship between two women, which was refreshing to see at the time. Very rewatchable.

7. Logan

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I’ve always had a notalgic soft spot for the X-Men because of their popularity in the 90’s. The movie franchise under FOX was pretty uneven to say the least, but Logan stands out as the best one if you take it as a standalone piece (continuity be damned). It’s a mature exploration of Wolverine as a character and how he deals with failure and a world that doesn’t need him anymore, until he meets Laura, aka X-23. In some regards, it reminded me of Joel and Ellie’s journey in The Last of Us game. Logan finds a reason to live by protecting and caring for her surrogate daughter and it’s a beautiful relationship that leads to a bittersweet send-off for the iconic superhero.

6. Coco

coco

Pixar did what no Mexican animation studio has been able to do yet, honor our culture while delivering a tight, well written and emotional story (looking at you crappy Día de Muertos movie). As a mexican, you recognize the hard work the animation studio did because all the little details in the characters, settings, and soundtrack (I actually own the CD) give it a very authentic feel. The story of Miguel travelling to the underworld and reconnecting with his family is really touching and when he plays Remember Me/Recuérdame to Mamá Coco you might just be dead inside if you’re not moved by it (tears are optional).

5. Spotlight

Spotlight

An actual Best Picture Oscar winner, Spotlight is an all-around great movie: great script, acting, directing, pacing, etc. What makes this an important movie is its subject matter: the real case of the Boston Globe’s investigation on child abuse by Catholic priests and the Church’s systematic covering and concealment of it. Shedding light on a real-world crisis through art is a pretty big deal, so props to this film.

4. Black Swan

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Being an Aronofsky movie, you know from the start that Black Swan is gonna get dark, and it does, and I love it. Nina is a ballet dancer that works hard for her dream of becoming the lead in the Swan Lake, maybe too hard, to the point of losing her mind in the process. This is pure psychological horror with beautiful cinematography and a captivating performance by Natalie Portman.

3. Blue Jasmine

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Cate Blanchett is enthralling as tragic Jasmine. After losing her wealth and getting back in touch with her estranged sister Ginger, she has to learn to get her life back together by working hard and being a good person. Only she cannot, or more precisely, does not WANT to do that.  This is a black comedy where shitty people get what they deserve and there is a certain satisfaction to be had when you watch an unlikeable wealthy, privileged person descend into misery by their own doing (schadenfreude is normal, right?). 

2. Hereditary

hereditary

Recently, mainstream horror had become too predictable and reliable on jump scares, so Hereditary was a fresh breath of air, taking its time to become more disturbing as it goes on and actually delivering a plot twist halfway that severely impacted the plot. The first half of the film actually plays out like a drama about a grief-stricken family, and later on when the supernatural occurs we know these people well enough to understand why they act like they do. Toni Collette gives an amazing performance and practically carries the movie herself. There is very haunting imagery throughout but just as unsettling are the scenes where the family speaks out their repressed anger and trauma. 

1. Toy Story 4

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Instead of creating a bigger, more out-there story (like, I don’t know, a war between toys and humans), Toy Story 4 scales down the scope and deals with the natural progression of Woody’s journey after leaving Andy. I find it fascinating that a kids’ movie doesn’t shy away from mature themes like finding meaning in life after abandonment or leaving your family behind to pursue your own happiness. There are very clear human-God and parent-child metaphors in display, which make for very good food for thought. And above all that, the movie is very funny and stunning to look at. This movie shouldn’t be this good, but Pixar somehow did it again! 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Roma
  • Parasite
  • Your Name
  • Melancholia
  • Ex Machina
  • The Witch
  • The Favourite
  • Spider-Man: Into de Spider-Verse
  • Two Days, One Night

“En esta vida no todos obtienen lo que quieren”, le dice el ama de llaves a Eve casi al final de La camarista, tras negarle un merecido ascenso. Este primer largometraje de Lila Avilés nos enfrenta a esta realidad, la de miles de personas cuyo empleo no tiene reconocimiento o recompensa satisfactoria, aquellos trabajadores invisibilizados que contribuyen a que el sistema siga funcionando. La mirada sobria de Avilés, casi documental, hacia este mundo no pretende dar una moraleja sino ser un campo fértil para la reflexión.

La camarista guarda algunas similitudes con Roma de Alfonso Cuarón al ser un slice of life de una trabajadora cuya labor no siempre es bien agradecida por sus empleadores. Evelina (Gabriela Cartol) es una chica de 24 años que tiene que trabajar en un hotel ejecutivo para mantener a su hijo. La mayor parte de su vida transcurre dentro del edificio donde labora, donde la gente alrededor de ella espera resultados y subordinación. El trato con los huéspedes es prácticamente nulo, algunas veces indigno, siempre bajo una dinámica implícita de sumisión, pues los únicos deseos que importan son los del cliente.

Eve recupera su humanidad momentáneamente cuando habla por teléfono con su hijo, un recordatorio de que debe aguantar el día a día por el bien mayor. Su relación con otros empleados, particularmente Minitoy, también ayudan a mitigar el tedio y dan un escape momentáneo a las repetitivas y arduas tareas de Eve. Pero la protagonista no está resignada a su condición actual, sus acciones indican que quiere superarse, sin embargo las condiciones de su entorno no siempre lo permitirán. Cuando no le dan un esperado ascenso o las clases para empleados son abruptamente canceladas, no hay lugar para la queja. Hay más habitaciones por asear y el sistema no permite que alguien sea improductivo.

A diferencia de Roma, cuya fotografía y dirección creaban cuadros hermosos, casi poéticos, que enaltecían escenas cotidianas, en La camarista las imágenes son claustrofóbicas y opresivas, llegando incluso a ser abstractas ocasionalmente. Sin recurrir al melodrama y libre de idealizaciones, entendemos perfectamente la frustración y enojos de Eve. Cuando las adversidades llegan, no tenemos opción más que absorberlas y guardarlas, pues rara vez se nos permite la catarsis.

La película de Avilés no tiene necesariamente el objetivo de entretener: es lenta, silenciosa y no está preocupada por crear escenas dramáticas si no son necesarias. El disfrute de ver esta obra está directamente ligada a la capacidad de empatía y esfuerzo intelectual que se quiera emplear. Ver a Eve trabajar a solas en tareas mundanas como tallar una bañera o atendiendo a personas ingratas, sin ningún tipo de exageración, deja en el espectador la tarea de encontrarle significado.

Personalmente, La camarista (al igual que Roma) me parece una película imprescindible para comprender el México en el que vivimos, para tener una visión más amplia que vaya más allá de la vida de la gente rica y su opulencia o los problemas de violencia que vive el país. La desigualdad social, el clasismo y el racismo son un lado oscuro del país que no queremos ver (en el cine), por eso es importante enfrentarlo y mostrarlo honestamente. Por eso es importante dignificar y darle voz a aquellos que la sociedad nos ha hecho pensar que no importan. Eve es un personaje digno, fuerte y que no se da por vencido a pesar de que a su entorno no le interesa si triunfa o no. El final abierto no nos da un indicio sobre su futuro, si su vida será buena o mala. Eso ya es decisión del espectador, así como pensarlo dos veces antes de hacer un tiradero en un hotel porque “alguien más lo va a limpiar”.

Si no todos vamos a cumplir nuestros sueños, debemos aprender a encontrar la felicidad en las cosas pequeñas. Yo quisiera creer en el goce de aprender algo nuevo, de platicar con los amigos, de leer por gusto o incluso de la esperanza de recibir un vestido rojo del lost and found.