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20 Bad Movies Made By Great Directors

07 February 2014 | Features, Film Lists | by Michael Edwards

bad movies great directors

We all love to discuss the successes of the great directors. But even the best stumble every once in a while. Looking at the failures of great craftsman of cinema can be just as fun of a conversation. We found a few titles that reminded us that no great director is always on his game.


20. Scoop – Dir. Woody Allen


Woody Allen has made his fair share of questionable titles. But this murder mystery caper involving journalists from beyond the grave was far from his usual level of decent quality stories. A criminally underused Ian McShane plays a dead writer who tries to scoop the journalism student played Scarlett Johansson, and she ends up falling for her subject who might be a killer. Allen seemed to phone in this less-than-captivating entry to a very prolific catalogue.

Redemption Film: Midnight in Paris

The highly regarded return-to-form for Allen reminded us that he still has the quick magical wit we fell in love with.


19. Charlie Wilson’s War – Dir. Mike Nichols

Charlie Wilson’s War

If you don’t know Mike Nichols by now, it would do you good to start at the beginning. Which happens to be the seminal classic “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”. An actor’s director, Nichols firmly planted himself as a man who could get the most out of his actors. The bizarrely boring Charlie Wilson’s War was a stumble not in craft but of material. A script not even the great Nichols could overcome.

Redemption Film: Nothing as of yet. 

This was the last thing to come from Nichols. But with a catalogue including “The Graduate” and “Primary Colors”, We’ll welcome his next foray.


18. Random Hearts – Dir. Sydney Pollack

Random Hearts

Sydney Pollack is usually the king of political and personal intrigue when it comes to his dramas. His films such as “Tootsie”, “Three Days of the Condor” and “The Firm” are all classics of their times. But this boring film turned out to be nothing for audiences even with the star power of Harrison Ford and Kristen Scott Thomas. Probably mostly due to the lack of chemistry between the leads, and a somewhat preposterous story of two widowers who discover their deceased spouses were having an affair and in their discovery of this end up falling in love.

Redemption Film: The Interpreter

This was unfortunately the last film from Sydney Pollack before his tragic death. While not perfect, it was a much stronger effort with some great performances from Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman.


17. The Bonfire of The Vanities – Dir. Brian DePalma

The Bonfire of The Vanities

The famous book adaptation disaster by the seemingly always-troubled career of the great Brian DePalma. His passion project to adapt this famous literary work seemed like a doomed proposition. A novel commonly thought to be un-filmable turned out to be just that. We recommend looking up the original reviews for this tone-deaf comedy, some are more entertaining than watching the movie.

Redemption Film: Carlito’s Way & Mission: Impossible

DePalma came back strong with the one – two punch of his gangster classic and what became the biggest movie of the summer. Al Pacino and the Sean Penn (in an Oscar nominated performance) deliver a story that could be seen as an unofficial “Scarface” sequel (had he lived that is). There is some complain of the over-complicated Mission: Impossible, but DePalma delivered a well crafted and beautifully shot suspense action thriller that spawned three sequels.


16. Duplex – Dir. Danny DeVito


We honestly had completely forgotten DeVito directed this comedy misfire. Where Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore contemplate murder in order to get a NYC apt. DeVito as a director always goes for off kilter dark comedies with classics like “War of the Roses” and “Death to Smoochy”. But this somehow missed its mark and died in the wasteland of in between hits for Stiller.

Redemption Film: St. Sebastian

Hopefully this new thriller scheduled for later this year will be a welcomed addition to DeVito’s dark twisted comedy resume.


15. Intolerable Cruelty – Dir. The Coen Bros.

Intolerable Cruelty

The Coen Bros have a close-to-immaculate record for films. But post “O’ Brother Where Art Though” (and even that wasn’t immediately well received) there was a lull with these strange comedies that didn’t always land on their feet. The one with the least balance was this take on divorce and a gold digging George Clooney. A film with a somewhat similar structure to the also poorly received “Life Aquatic”, where halfway through the tone shift is so drastic it takes you right out of the zone.

Redemption Film: No Country for Old Men

After another faulty comedy with “The Ladykillers”, Coens came back strong with the dark and direct tragedy drama. Finally earning them a much deserved award sweep. But rather than some more political Oscar wins (*cough cough The Departed *cough cough) this film well deserved its golden statues.


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  • Red Lagoon

    Not sure if I can agree with this list!

  • Mark Chiddicks

    Family Plot? Bizarre choice or Hitchcock, who also made the far far worse Topaz and Under Capricorn.

  • Madeline

    I really enjoyed “Girl 6″ however I can why some people might not like it. Instead of this movie, I would have put “S.O.S” for Lee. It was so, so terrible! “Bamboozled” barely redeemed that one!

  • Jim Beaver

    Danny DeVito is a “great” director? Nothing against him, but Ford, Kurosawa, Renoir, Fellini,….DeVito?

  • Nivaz

    OMG, Terminal a bad film!!!!

    you got some serious problem dude :(

  • DNAsplitter

    You pick G.I. Jane over 1492 for Ridley Scott? Really? A film that was both a financial and critical disaster but instead you choose G.I. Jane. Or instead of Terminal why not 1941 for Speilberg as that’s another critical and financial bust that almost sent Speilberg questioning his directing skills as it was his follow up to Close Encounters.

  • Shubhendu Singh

    Okay i am gonna defend these movies to death..,
    Death Proof & Terminal are good movies. Especially The Terminal.

  • bookon

    I hated this list. Hated hated hated hated hated this list. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant reader-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the readers by its belief that anyone would be entertained or informed by it.

    Also North should have been on this list…

  • johnjohnphenom

    deathproof is fuckin awesome. also ridley, allen & burton have made shitier movies. oh coppala…did you forget Jack? not bad after that

  • william jerome sperber

    I completely disagree with most entries here. Pirates is as sardonic as Fearless Vampire killers is, and Frantic is embarrassing in every sense of the word. Also Family plot is a clever, tricky film, when Topaz was a most obvious choice…

  • CaptSensible

    ANY praise for the child rapist Roman Polanski is nauseating.

  • CaptSensible

    Death Proof probably WAS Tarantino’s worst film but I still enjoyed the hell out of it.

  • wikig1itch

    Death Proof is definitely Tarantino’s weakest film when stacked up to his near perfect filmography, but it’s still an excellent movie overall.
    Similar to Korean master filmmaker Boon Joon-Ho, his 2009 thriller “Mother” was considered his weakest film yet, but it’s a brilliant film either way.

  • williamsommerwerck

    “Family Plot” is hardly a “bad” film — simply a disappointing one.
    Obviously you have never seen “Kiss Me, Stupid”, Billy Wilder’s filthy farce.

  • renynzea .

    I have to argue against The Color of Money, GI Jane, and The Planet of the Apes. Enjoyed all of those films.

  • tntdaddy

    THAT’S the Scorsese movie he needed to be redeemed from?! Not the FAMOUSLY crappy musical “New York, New York”, which he followed with freaking “RAGING BULL”?!!! You don’t like “Color of Money”? Fine. It was pretty by-the-numbers. But it’s “Citizen Kane” next to “New York, New York.”

  • En Pi III


  • jamesmerendino

    I must have bad taste but I like all of these movies. Some of them are among my favorites.

  • Tito Piccolo

    Death Proof is QT’s most original film, I don’t consider it a bad movie compared to his new ones