Since I’m struggling to find ten movies worth recommending in a Top Ten List, I realize now that I’m far more prepared to serve up a different kind of list…

No, not the ten worst movies… but the ten movies that SHOULD have been GREAT.

THE BROTHERS GRIMM. Terry Gilliam’s first bad movie. And yikes, is it awful! If he doesn’t get back on the horse and show us he can still ride, Lost in La Mancha‘s going to look more and more like the story of a director who’s lost his touch. And I say that as a wild-and-crazy fan of Terry Gilliam.

WAR OF THE WORLDS. Spielberg’s first truly unpleasant movie. Capped off with a scene that feels like a complete joke… like a parody of Spielbergian sentimentality.

KING KONG. He dreamed of making this movie for so many years, and yet he could only develop one interesting and engaging character… Kong himself.

WALK THE LINE. Given the life story of Johnny Cash, they decided that his real triumphs were album sales and a glorious infidelity? Come on.

THE CONSTANT GARDENER. Fernando Mereilles’ masterful first film City of God made me eager to see this. Why did his first film about Europeans have to include cheap and easy shots at Dubya? Did it have to gaze romantically at cheap sex between “heroes” who have just met and implausibly fallen in love? Did it have to be another bleeding-heart story that oversimplifies things to a Michael-Moore level of CORPORATIONS BAD/TRUTHSEEKERS GOOD?

IN MY COUNTRY. How do you take a film about the South African reconciliation hearings… one of our recent history’s most important and heartbreaking events… and turn it into a movie that sends people out of the theater focused on the fact that they can’t believe they just watched Samuel Jackson and Juliette Binoche having sex?

MADISON. Can a film about hydroplane racing really be disappointing? Yes.

BE COOL. The sequel that sucks most when compared to its predecessor.

THE NEW WORLD. What’s disappointing? The fact that it’s probably the BEST movie of 2005, but it’s going to be released too late to stand any chance of winning the Oscars it will deserve. I haven’t seen it yet, but everything I’m hearing suggests it may be the first movie of the year that I love to the point of sheer enthusiasm. Release this movie!!

ALIAS. Okay, that doesn’t count. It’s a television show. But it’s just pure torture to watch what started as one of television’s all-time-greatest shows devolve into one of television’s all-time-worst shows, heading into a final season where it will die gasping and writhing from malnourishment. Jennifer Garner, how I once loved thee. J.J. Abrams, if you let Lost die like this, I’m coming after you… with some of those torture weapons you used in Alias.

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