The 52 worst movies made by iconic directors — from Spielberg to Scorsese

The 52 worst movies made by iconic directors — from Spielberg to Scorsese

“Gemini Man”

Even some of the most admired and iconic directors have made at least one critically reviled film.
Insider turned to Rotten Tomatoes to find the worst-reviewed movies of 52 acclaimed filmmakers.
The latest is Antoine Fuqua’s “Infinite,” which was released this year on Paramount+.

Most of the greatest film directors in history have swung and missed on occasion. 

Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, and numerous other critically acclaimed directors have directed at least one movie that critics tore apart. 

For this list, we chose 52 directors who have largely been praised by critics as masters of their craft, and we turned to the reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes to find out which of the films they’ve directed was the most critically panned.

We excluded a number of great directors who did not have a film in their catalog that they directed with a critic score under 60%. Stanley Kubrick, for instance, is not on this list, as his “worst” film, “Eyes Wide Shut,” has a 76% “Fresh” rating on the site. Another example is Alejandro G. Iñárritu, whose lowest-rated film is “Biutiful” at 66%.

John Lynch contributed to an earlier version of this post. 

Here are the 52 worst movies made by iconic directors, ordered from the (relative) best to worst, according to their critic scores:

Guillermo del Toro — “Blade II” (2002)

Critic score: 57%

What critics said: “The only dread it inspires is in the possibility that its director prefers turning human flesh into CGI-enhanced mush over exploring genuinely frightening material.” — The Village Voice

Sofia Coppola — “Marie Antoinette” (2006)Even if Marie Antoinette didn’t say it, the sentiment is clear.

Critic score: 57%

What critics said: “Although it is purposely devoid of substance, it is still devoid of substance.” — Detroit Free Press

Jonathan Demme — “Last Embrace” (1979)

Critic score: 57%

What critics said: “Belabored imitation Hitchcock.” — Las Vegas Review Journal

Wes Anderson — “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004)

Critic score: 56%

What critics said: “If there’s anything more tiresome in film today than hip irony, it is forced irony, and here comes a boatload.” — New York Daily News

Federico Fellini — “La Casanova de Fellini” (1976)

Critic score: 55%

What critics said: “An ordeal rather than a pleasure, a spectacle that cries out to be endured rather than enjoyed, ‘Casanova,’ may be the perfect consummation of the distasteful conception Fellini had in mind.” — The Washington Post

Joel and Ethan Coen — “The Ladykillers” (2004)

Critic score: 54%

What critics said: “Most of this stuff isn’t worthy of the Farrelly brothers, let alone the Coen brothers.” — Ebert & Roeper

George Lucas — “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” (1999)

Critic score: 52%

What critics said: “Too busy and talky by half, overpopulated by a baffling array of aliens and robot ‘droids,’ ‘The Phantom Menace’ fails to engage the audience in its mythic quest ‘to restore balance to the Force.'” — Toronto Star

Martin Scorsese — “Boxcar Bertha” (1972)

Critic score: 52%

What critics said: “‘Promising juvenilia’ is about the most one can say for it.” — Chicago Reader

Jean-Luc Goddard — “Sympathy for the Devil” (1968)

Critic score: 50%

What critics said: “The politics are as muddled as the art is (deliberately?) amateurish.” — TV Guide

Richard Linklater — “Bad News Bears” (2005)

Critic score: 48%

What critics said: “More irksome is the ordained focus on plot undulation and simplistic motivation, as if nobody remembered that the first film was a social satire.” — Village Voice

Alexander Payne — “Downsizing” (2017)

Critic score: 47%

What critics said: “The film, having launched a sprightly comic conceit, lets it glide away.” — The New Yorker

David Fincher — “Alien 3” (1992)

Critic score: 45%

What critics said: “Good acting has salvaged many a poor script in the past, but not here.” — Time Out

Terrence Malick — “Song to Song” (2017)

Critic score: 44%

What critics said: “We’re left with gorgeous photography (Emmanuel Lubezki), a plotless plot and a sense that some transcendentalist Nashville may lurk here waiting to be discovered, though not — thanks — by me.” — Financial Times

David Lynch — “Dune” (1984)

Critic score: 44%

What critics said: “This movie is a real mess, an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays of all time.” — Chicago Sun-Times

David Cronenberg — “M. Butterfly” (1993)

Critic score: 43%

What critics said: “When John Lone parades around in mascara and speaks in an asexual monotone, the film audience discovers itself staring at John Lone’s whiskers underneath his makeup.” — FilmCritic.com

John Huston — “Sinful Davey” (1969)

Critic score: 43%

What critics said: “A bland, lethargic period comedy.” — Variety

Ava DuVernay — “A Wrinkle In Time” (2018)

Critic score: 42%

What critics said: “Disney’s version of the Madeleine L’Engle young-adult novel is a magical mystery tour minus the magic and mystery, and a great disappointment, since there were so many reasons to root for the film’s success.” — Wall Street Journal

John Ford — “The Wings of Eagles” (1957)

Critics score: 40%

What critics said: “Wants to be epic in scope but ends up feeling like ham-fisted CliffsNotes version of a man’s life. The film loiters way, way too long on Frank Wead’s early days as a hell-raising test pilot, then skips ahead through long sections of his life.” — Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Alfonso Cuarón — “Great Expectations” (1998)

Critic score: 37%

What critics said: “A meandering, stilted movie.” — San Francisco Chronicle

Tim Burton — “Dark Shadows” (2012)

Critic score: 35%

What critics said: “This is not so much a coherent movie as it is a long, expensive joke in search of a purpose.” — The New Yorker

Kathryn Bigelow — “The Weight of Water” (2001)

Critic score: 35%

What critics said: “A boring, pretentious muddle that uses a sensational, real-life 19th-Century crime as a metaphor for — well, I’m not exactly sure what — and has all the dramatic weight of a raindrop.” — Detroit Free Press

Robert Zemeckis — “Welcome to Marwen” (2018)

Critic score: 35%

What critics said: “Mind-numbingly immense, joylessly violent and utterly lifeless… You’ve got to see it to believe it, though I wouldn’t advise doing so.” — Wall Street Journal

Steven Soderbergh — “The Good German” (2007)

Critic score: 34%

What critics said: “There’s a line between homage and mimicry, and Soderbergh has crossed it.” — Houston Chronicle

Peter Jackson — “The Lovely Bones” (2009)

Critic score: 32%

What critics said: “Jackson seems more at home in the afterlife than in this one, rendering this off-kilter project creepy and pretentious.” — CNN

Jane Campion — “In the Cut” (2003)

Critic score: 32%

What critics said: “Beneath its dense texture and rich mood, Jane Campion’s romantic thriller is about nothing and goes nowhere.” — Associated Press

Woody Allen — “Wonder Wheel” (2017)

Critic score: 31%

What critics said: “‘Wonder Wheel’ will strike fans as an embarrassment and doubters as further evidence of decline – proof of Allen’s lack of interest or engagement in a world beyond his shrinking artistic comfort zone.” — Boston Globe

Miloš Forman — “Goya’s Ghost” (2007)

Critic score: 30%

What critics said: “Think of it as an ‘Amadeus’ that doesn’t work.” — Orlando Sentinel

Ingmar Bergman — “The Serpent’s Egg” (1977)

Critic score: 30%

What critics said: “Bergman’s paranoia runs dementedly and tediously out of control.” — Time Out

Steven Spielberg — “Hook” (1991)

Critic score: 29%

What critics said: “The exposition is so underlined and re-underlined, you could teach yourself to fly waiting for something to happen.” — The Washington Post

Alfred Hitchcock — “Juno and the Paycock” (1930)

Critic score: 27%

What critics said: “A fairly deadly case of canned theater that’s pretty close to what Hitchcock many years later would refer to as ‘photographs of people talking.'” — Chicago Reader

Robert Redford — “Lion for Lambs” (2007)

Critic score: 27%

What critics said: “There is much talk of paralysis in Robert Redford’s what’s-wrong-with-America movie ‘Lions for Lambs,’ and there is a whole lot of the same in the movie itself.” — Toronto Star

Ang Lee — “Gemini Man” (2019)

Critic score: 26%

What critics said: “No matter how many (presumably non-computer-generated) tears Smith sheds, he and Lee never transform this baby hit man into a plausible science-fiction conceit, let alone invest him with a soul.” — Los Angeles Times

Ridley Scott — “A Good Year” (2006)

Critic score: 25%

What critics said: “Russell Crowe has many talents, but a gift for light comedy is not one of them.” — Rolling Stone

Clint Eastwood — “The 15:17 to Paris” (2018)

Critic score: 23%

What critics said: “A single act of heroism can truly transform a life, but that action does not necessarily make for a transformative motion picture.” — Los Angeles Times

Ron Howard — “Inferno” (2016)

Critic score: 23%

What critics said: “Ron Howard’s mostly lame adaptation of Dan Brown’s wholly lame novel.” — Vulture

James Ivory — “Slaves of New York” (1989)

Critic score: 22%

What critics said: “The first thing I feel is a genuine dislike for the people in this film.” — Chicago Sun-Times 

Robert Altman — “Beyond Therapy” (1987)

Critic score: 18%

What critics said: “There’s no special logic at work. The performances are good, but the film has been assembled without an overriding sense of humor and style.” — New York Times

Howard Hawks — “Today We Live” (1933)

Critic score: 20%

What critics said: “As a drama of the war it is not precisely convincing, for coincidences play an important part in its arrangement. It is also anachronistic.” — New York Times

Danny Boyle — “The Beach” (2000)

Critic score: 20%

What critics said: “‘The Beach’ is the kind of literary rubbish that makes you trace the patterns in the carpet while you’re supposed to be watching the screen.” — Observer

Spike Lee — “She Hate Me” (2004)

Critic score: 19%

What critics said: “Succeeds in finding something to offend almost everybody.” — Orlando Sentinel

Werner Herzog — “Queen of the Desert” (2017)

Critic score: 18%

What critics said: “An emotionally empty, thematically ill-defined, and listless affair. It is never able to communicate the complexity of the woman at its center.” — RogerEbert.com

Francis Ford Coppola — “Jack” (1996)

Critic score: 17%

What critics said: “Someone deserves a timeout for letting this mawkish misfire get to the screen.” — USA Today

Roman Polanski — “Diary of Forbidden Dreams” (1973)

Critic score: 17%

What critics said: “I wonder how much Carlo Ponti gave Roman Polanski to make ‘Diary of Forbidden Dreams.’ Ten cents would have been excessive.” — Chicago Sun-Times

Antoine Fuqua — “Infinite” (2021)Mark Wahlberg in “Infinite.”

Critic score: 16%

What critics said: “The pace of all the action gets tripped up by a convoluted plot that Infinite tangles instead of unfurls.” — IGN

Oliver Stone — “Alexander” (2004)

Critic score: 16%

What critics said: “By summoning his inner classicist, [director] Stone has made an excruciating disaster for the ages.” — AV Club

Sydney Pollack — “Random Hearts” (1999)

Critic score: 15%

What critics said: “Pollack appears to have taken lessons from Martin Brest about how to irritate and bore viewers with endless pauses in conversations.” — ReelViews

Sidney Lumet — “Gloria” (1999)

Critic score: 14%

What critics said: “Sidney Lumet-directed dud that sprung from the singularly bad idea of remaking John Cassavetes’ oddball 1980 character study.” — Entertainment Weekly

Mel Brooks — “Dracula – Dead and Loving It” (1995)

Critic score: 11%

What critics said: “Either this is the lamest Mel Brooks comedy ever or it’s too close to other contenders to make much difference.” — Chicago Reader

Harold Ramis — “Club Paradise” (1986)

Critic score: 11%

What critics said: “A frenetically unfunny and charmless movie.” — Los Angeles Times

Barry Levinson — “Rock the Kasbah” (2015)

Critic score: 7%

What critics said: “An acclaimed film director, a legendary comic actor, lots of fun rock and pop songs, and a noble story at its core can’t save ‘Rock the Kasbah’ from being one hugely misguided dud.” — Los Angeles Times

John Singleton — “Abduction” (2011)

Critic score: 5%

What critics said: “Actual abduction may be preferable to the movie of the same name, but only if your kidnappers don’t torture you by forcing you to watch it.” — New York Post

Wiliam Friedkin — “Good Times” (1967)

Critic score: 0%

What critics said: “The movie’s incredibly thin storyline seems to exist for the sole purpose of allowing Sonny and Cher to sing a lot of silly pop songs and appear in cheesy sketches.” — Reel Film Reviews

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