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21 Surprisingly Bad Movies Directed by Good Directors

Updated June 14, 2019 3.2k votes 716 voters 29.3k views20 items

List RulesVote up the most surprising crappy movie made by an iconic and respected film director.

Sometimes a director has an instantly recognizable style like David Fincher, Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott. But what if we told you that one of the worst films ever made (Alien 3) was the work of one of the most acclaimed directors or all time? Or that Steven Spielberg made a barely watchable film starring a young Justin Chatwin and Tom Cruise? How about a two hour Ridley Scott melodrama starring Russell Crowe about wine and... growing up? (It's real and it's awful!) Turns out there are plenty of bad movies directed by great directors, proving that no one is perfect.

There are also acclaimed film directors who pride themselves on being diverse and experimenting, but still maintain an incredible body of work. You've got your Coen Brothers, Scorseses, David O. Russells, and Robert Zemekises. Don't worry; they've all had their follies as well and they each make appearances on this list.

This is a list of movies that remind you that even the absolute best director can make an awful movie. These are the movies some of these directors wish were stricken from the record (one of the films on this list was, in fact, released under a pseudonym and with a different title). These are the surprising movies directed by Hollywood's iconic directors!
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  • Director: M. Night Shyamalan

    His early career is the stuff of legend (The Sixth Sense, Signs, Unbreakable), but then something happened and nothing he's made has been remotely watchable since (The Last Airbender, The Happening, After Earth).
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  • Alexander
    Photo: MGM / Warner Bros.

    Director: Oliver Stone

    Love him or hate him, the ever political, ever polarizing Oliver Stone has made some groundbreaking films: Platoon, Wall Street, JFK, and Tom Cruise's fantastic Born on the Fourth of July. But then there are the two movies we bet he wishes he had avoided altogether (they're oddly his least obviously political films). There was the shockingly bad Alexander, and the sequel nobody asked for: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
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  • Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen

    The Coen Brothers are a rare talent, masters of both comedy (Fargo, Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou) and drama (No Country for Old Men, Blood Simple, Barton Fink). They've really only had a few films that weren't astounding: the failed rom-com attempt Intolerable Cruelty and the surprisingly lackluster Tom Hanks vehicle The Ladykillers.
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  • Director: Woody Allen

    Woody Allen makes a movie a year, so they can't all be legendary, but many of them are. Films like Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters, and others keep people excited that for a new Allen film every year. On the flip side, there is the occasional movie like Scoop or Cassandra's Dream which even Ewan McGregor, Tom Wilkinson, and Colin Farrell couldn't save.
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