Honorable Mention: Prey
I really had to come around on this. While better than “Predator: Skulls,” which was floating around for a while, “Prey” is way too common a title. Even in one medium – video games – it’s contentious, with a 2006 Prey and a completely unrelated 2017 Prey that had the title foisted upon it. It’s also a movie about lions and a Michael Crichton book about deadly nanoparticles.
Of course, Prey is so good that I’d never award it this dubious honor. I am curious to know where the series goes from here, title-wise. Back to Predator? Maybe have two subseries: Prey for the good ones and Predator for the bad ones!
Jurassic World Dominion / God of War Ragnarok / Horizon Forbidden West
One of the big trends this year was dropping the colon, and true enough, that colon rarely shows up in logos. The problem with Jurassic World is that the previous film was Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and you’ll note the punctuation, please. Strangely, though, Jurassic World Dominion is more appealing than Jurassic World: Dominion, I think because “Dominion” is shorter than “Jurassic World,” and I generally prefer subtitles to be longer than titles. Taking out the colon is a workaround, but it creates a new problem: being bullshit.
Related: Goodnight Mommy, Don’t Worry Darling
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
If they’re gonna keep doing this shit! We’re going on six years now, if Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the first. There is no earthly way that Rian Johnson wanted to call this movie Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, because that’s absurd. Who would ever say that out loud? What’s wrong with making “A Knives Out Mystery” the tagline? Well, according to IMDb, the tagline is – I shit you not – “A Rian Johnson Whodunit.” Fuck!
A Knives Out Mystery
A Rian Johnson Whodunit
Dog / Ambulance / Men
I don’t know what you get out of calling a movie “Dog.” How could you spend months, years even, producing a movie that someone else (with a higher salary) called “Dog”? He gave it, like, three seconds of thought! “This movie’s called Dog.” Fuck you, you overpaid dick!
Texas Chainsaw Massacre / Scream / Hellraiser / Willow / The Man Who Fell to Earth / American Gigolo / Resident Evil / Halo
This year, like any other, saw its share of titles simply repeated from the past, defeating one of the foremost utilities of titles: clarity. It didn’t help that the slate of horror remakes was uneven – apparently Scream was good and Texas Chainsaw Massacre wasn’t – I can personally attest that Hellraiser was, well, a Hellraiser movie.
Resident Evil will be buried under references to the franchise itself, the original game and its remakes, and even the original movie. People probably would’ve been 1% less mad if it had a subtitle, to secure its place as an entry, an installment, but they’d be no less racist. And given how poorly the Halo show was received, you can expect another attempt somewhere down the line. But what will they call it, Captain Keyes?
Also, I choose American Gigolo for the image not because I knew there was already an American Gigolo but because putting the word “American” in front of your TV title is a dangerous game.
This one enters a pet pantheon of titles that suggest the protagonist’s hidden nature by foregrounding a mundane profession: The Night Manager, The Accountant, The Mechanic (though I realize ‘mechanic’ is in-universe jargon). Similarly, “contractor” has a military connotation, but I see what you guys are doing.
365 Days: This Day
I reserve a special place in my heart for subtitles that recycle at least one word from the title. It has a particularly dull ring which I love so much. For the record, I would not have heard of any of these 365 Days movies if not for the prying mind of one Donovan Morgan Grant.
Decision to Leave
I’m sorry, but this has done irreparable harm to Park’s filmography. Sure, the movie itself is relatively lukewarm, but we’ve always come up with good English titles for his films. The Handmaiden is a great revision of “Lady,” though I do always have to clarify I’m not talking about The Handmaid’s Tale, and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is just crazy enough to work! Decision to Leave is so awkward by comparison.
Worst Title of 2022: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
There’s a story about how, during pre-production on the film Scorn, Keanu Reeves would go around saying he’s doing “this John Wick movie,” and eventually, that became the title. Sometimes, simplicity is best – and Scorn could’ve landed on this list, by happenstance, because talk about an undersell. Anyway, yes, everyone will say “the Obi-Wan show,” so you might as well go for simplicity, but Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi is simply terrible. I cannot have it.
I mean, so many things wrong with it, but let’s start with context. There are currently four Star Wars shows, with more on the way: The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Andor. There is no consistency here. In fact, it looks like they changed their minds halfway through about the naming convention, though you couldn’t call it Star Wars: Din Djarin, because I don’t think you know his name right away. Ironically, I would’ve accepted Star Wars: Boba Fett, because that has some precedence, and a TV show isn’t a book. The TV Show of Boba Fett. There you go.
Second, if you want to do this MCU-style character-based TV show title – which, frankly, has precedent on TV generally, with shows like Dexter, Sherlock, Bosch, Luther, Lucifer all featuring supporting casts – you already have the template: A fucking Star Wars Story! I don’t give a shit that Solo underperformed, you spawned this monster and the rest of Hollywood ran with it! Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Star Wars Story. Was that so fucking hard? I can’t guarantee it would’ve kept the show off this list, but you probably would’ve avoided the dreaded number one spot.
Third, what happened to Star Wars? I have issues enough with the sequel trilogy titles, which completely neglect the whole idea. See, The Empire Strikes Back and Attack of the Clones sound like serial titles, something you could go and watch without having seen the previous episodes. You want to see Clones attack? Even if you don’t know what a Sith is, you want to see Revenge! They earn Return of the Jedi because it’s the finale. The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker rely too much on in-universe terminology. And you can say (dumb guy voice): “Well, it’s the finale of the saga,” but why not follow that original serial spirit? Duel of the Fates works. The Last Jedi borderline works, to be fair. Regardless, the Obi-Wan TV show needs a real title. Give me something fun and dumb, you know?
Beyond context, there’s also just that “Obi-Wan Kenobi” is awkward. It’s too much. There’s the specter of “Star Wars” floating about it, too. Is it Obi-Wan Kenobi or Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi? Shouldn’t there be a difference? Shouldn’t a title have some meaning? What is Obi-Wan doing, anyway? Is it his Book? Is he redeeming himself? (Obi-Wan: Redemption? Totally). The character name alone doesn’t tell me anything – actually, it does tell me something. The character has become a brand, and that’s the only reason I’m watching. You’re taunting me.
Well, that’s it for 2022. Yet another year full of awful titles. Nothing makes me happier.