The 15 Worst Movies From the Best Directors

on January 20, 2014

The 15 Worst Movies From the Best Directors

Even the best strike out sometimes. You may know these famous Hollywood directors for some of cinema’s greatest masterpieces, but every once in a while, they’ll get behind the camera for a film that leaves critics and viewers alike scratching their heads. Take a look at some of the worst movies from the best directors.

Martin Scorsese – “Shutter Island” (2010)

Martin Scorsese may be one of the most revered directors in Hollywood history. Decade after decade has seen him crank out masterpieces, from “Taxi Driver” to “Raging Bull” to “The Departed.” But when he teamed up with Leonardo DiCaprio for this period-piece prison mystery, some wondered if the director had lost his footing. The film wasn’t a complete disaster, but it certainly did not match up with some of Scorsese’s more memorable works.

Woody Allen – “Scoop” (2006)

Quirky writer-director Woody Allen is one of Hollywood’s most prolific filmmakers, and he’s had huge success with films such as “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan.” But when you crank out a film nearly every year for multiple decades, at least one of them is bound to be a bust. Not even costars Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson could salvage this turgid journalistic dramedy.

Clint Eastwood – “Hereafter” (2010)

Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood has had enduring success both in front of and behind the camera. His iconic characters are remembered by movie-lovers, but he’s undertaken some forgettable projects as well, such as the supernatural drama “Hereafter,” starring Matt Damon. Eastwood’s compelling plot couldn’t quite keep this one afloat.

The Coen Brothers – “The Ladykillers” (2004)

The Coen Brothers have made a name for themselves as quirky, dark masterminds with such hits as “Fargo,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “The Big Lebowski.” Many, however, found this wicked comedy, a remake of a 1955 cult classic, to be contrived and poorly executed. Not even Tom Hanks’ Colonel Sanders-esque character could save this flop.

Oliver Stone – “Alexander” (2004)

Controversial director Oliver Stone has had success in the past with such hits as “Platoon” and “Born on the Fourth of July,” but his take on the life of Alexander the Great has become infamous as a colossal big-budget flop. Featuring weak performances from Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie and clocking in at nearly three hours, very few critics or viewers enjoyed this film.

Roman Polanski – “Pirates” (1986)

Polanski’s unique directorial style has captured the hearts of many generations, from “Rosemary’s Baby” to “The Pianist,” but this film starring a bearded Walter Matthau misses the mark completely, and is considered by many to be the low point of his long career.

Steven Spielberg – “1941” (1979)

Before John Belushi and Dan Akroyd became the Blues Brothers, they starred in this satirical war movie helmed by Steven Spielberg. It is by far one of Spielberg’s worst-received films, but then again, it’s hard to compete with “Jaws,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “E.T.” and “Catch Me If You Can.”

Francis Ford Coppola – “Jack” (1996)

Classics like “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now” have cemented Coppola’s reputation as one of Hollywood’s greatest directors, but he must have had an off day with this dramedy, starring Robin Williams as, effectively, an boy in a man’s body trying to survive the travails of public school.

Ridley Scott – “A Good Year” (2006)

Ridley Scott forged his reputation with sci-fi classics like “Alien” and “Blade Runner,” so when he and Russell Crowe teamed up for a romantic comedy, many weren’t surprised when it turned out quite poorly.

Tim Burton – “Dark Shadows” (2012)

Burton and actor Johnny Depp have had many successful collaborations in the past—“Edward Scissorhands,” for example—but “Dark Shadows” is not one of them. Inspired by the 1960s cult classic TV series, this campy comedy with vampire Barnabas Collins doesn’t quite reach the same freakish heights as some of Burton’s other efforts.

M. Night Shyamalan – “The Last Airbender” (2010)

The director of “The Sixth Sense” has made a name for himself as a master of the thriller with the twist ending, so when he decided to take on the live-action film adaptation of the popular Nickelodeon TV Series, “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” many were excited to see the final product. What they got was something totally shocking: a disaster of directing, writing and acting, and a film that many considered the worst in a long time.

Sam Mendes – “Away We Go” (2009)

Sam Mendes first made waves with the Oscar-winning modern masterpiece “American Beauty,” and he’s continued his success with recent hits like last year’s James Bond film “Skyfall.” His 2009 film “Away We Go,” however, fell short of the high mark he had set for himself. Though it is not a disaster of a film—a strong performance from Maya Rudolph is noteworthy—many felt it was too idiosyncratic and detached to be an enjoyable movie experience.

David Fincher – “Alien3” (1992)

Fincher’s take on the beloved sci-fi series was not nearly as successful as its Ridley Scott-helmed predecessors, with many complaining of a poor script and some uninspired filmmaking. Luckily for viewers, however, Fincher has only gone up from here, with hits like “Fight Club” and “The Social Network” coming a few years later.

Terry Gilliam – “The Brothers Grimm” (2005)

Formerly of Monty Python fame, director Terry Gilliam is famous for the bizarre, out-of-this-world imagery seen in his most acclaimed films “Brazil” and “Time Bandits.” This big-budget effort, however, did not quite have the thought-provoking punch behind the wild images of his masterpieces, so despite acting efforts from Matt Damon and the late Heath Ledger, the movie was not received well by critics.

Baz Luhrmann – “The Great Gatsby” (2013)

This acclaimed Australian director has hits like “Moulin Rouge!” and “Romeo + Juliet” under his belt thanks to a flair for visual audacity, but many felt his take on the great classic of American literature focused too much on bright colors and special effects, leaving little substance for the audience to enjoy.

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