Update: Our revised worst directors list (as of July 2017) can be found here.
The worst directors since 2000
Yesterday, we revealed the best movie directors of the past dozen years; today, it is time for the flip side of that equation. Listed below are the worst directors since 2000, ranked by lowest average Metascore. Note that:
- Only directors with at least four films released in the U.S. since January 1, 2000 were considered. (All release years listed below are U.S. dates.)
- A film must have at least seven reviews from critics to be eligible.
- Documentaries, direct-to-video titles, and multi-director anthologies are excluded from consideration.
- The director scores are averages of their individual film Metascores prior to rounding.
1. Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Average Score: 13.8 for 5 films
Upset alert: There's somebody worse than Uwe Boll. Make that two somebodies. After getting their feet wet in the film parody game by co-writing the screenplays for Spy Hard 25 and Scary Movie 48, the Razzie-winning duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer added directing to their duties with 2006's Date Movie. And they have managed to churn out an average of one additional "satire" a year since, despite convincing and persistent evidence of a lack of talent. (An amusing "biography" of the pair at Uncyclopedia ends tellingly enough in "See also: Unfunny.") Friedberg and Seltzer, however, are laughing all the way to the bank; they've been hired yet again, this time to helm the Avatar spoof The Biggest Movie of All Time 3D, due in 2012.
11 Date Movie (2006)
17 Epic Movie (2007)
9 Meet the Spartans (2008)
15 Disaster Movie (2008)
18 Vampires Suck (2010)
2. Uwe Boll
Average Score: 18.2 for 6 films
Okay, so you knew he had to be on here somewhere. The century's most legendary bad filmmaker (but only because Tommy Wiseau has just one narrative feature film to his name so far), Germany's Uwe Boll managed to escape a #1 ranking thanks to the relative not-entirely-horribleness of his early thriller Blackwoods (which did get the briefest of theatrical screenings in May of 2002) and the fact that many of his releases are direct-to-video and, thus, unscored on Metacritic. Over the past decade, publications such as the New York Times have acknowledged Boll as the world's worst director, but the publicity-loving, self-proclaimed "genius" filmmaker doesn't seem to mind, literally taking some of his critics into the ring to fight at one point. Can he be stopped? Sadly, only 366,238 movie fans have signed a petition asking Boll to retire, well short of the million needed to end his career. As a result, we'll continue to get works like the recent Auschwitz (in which Boll himself plays a Nazi concentration camp guard) and the upcoming, Dolph Lundgren-starring In the Name of the King: Two Worlds.
30 Blackwoods (2002)
15 House of the Dead (2003)
9 Alone in the Dark (2005)
18 BloodRayne (2006)
15 In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2008)
22 Postal (2008)
3. Kunihiko Yuyama
Average Score: 25.6 for 4 films
What Kunihiko Yuyama does is make Pokemon movies, frequently with the help of a co-director or two. While there's nothing wrong with that—obviously, there's a market for it, though it skews a bit younger than the age of your typical film critic—if that's the career you choose, you are going to wind up on lists like this.
28 Pokémon: The Movie 2000 (2000)
22 Pokémon 3: The Movie (2001)
25 Pokémon 4: The Movie (2002)
27 Pokémon Heroes (2003)
4. Brian Levant
Average Score: 27.6 for 4 films
Well, he's consistent; we'll give him that. After a successful career in television writing for such shows as The Jeffersons, Happy Days, and Mork & Mindy, Brian Levant moved into feature film directing with 1991's Problem Child 2 (which under no circumstances should be confused with a good movie). Since then, Levant has specialized in family-friendly comedies (Beethoven, a pair of Flintstones films, etc.) with little appeal to grown-ups or people with a more refined sense of humor.
27 The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)
29 Snow Dogs (2002)
27 Are We There Yet? (2005)
27 The Spy Next Door (2010)
5. Renny Harlin
Average Score: 30.0 for 6 films
Renny Harlin has been doing this for 25 years. And by "this" we mean turning budgets large and small into critically derided films. The Finnish director has notched quite a few "achievements" since landing on the world stage in the late 1980s, from the 1990 Andrew Dice Clay flop The Adventures of Ford Fairlaine to 1995's Cutthroat Island (which set records at the time as the biggest box office flop in movie history), though he did manage some box office hits, including the second-worst Die Hard film to date (1990's Die Hard 2). Box office success has been elusive for Harlin in the past decade, however, and the director has been reduced to smaller scale (but still critically panned) projects like the Die Hard 3 rip-off 12 Rounds and 5 Days of War, which deals with the recent Russia-Georgia conflict.
29 Driven (2001)
30 Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
33 Mindhunters (2005)
19 The Covenant (2006)
38 12 Rounds (2009)
31 5 Days of War (2011)
6. John Whitesell
Average Score: 30.2 for 5 films
It took eight years for John Whitesell to follow up his debut film, the little-seen 1993 Jason Priestley vehicle Calendar Girl, but the director has worked more frequently over the past decade despite failing to make a splash at the box office or even a memorable film. (It can't be a good sign that his "best" film, Malibu's Most Wanted, stars Jamie Kennedy.) Next up for the director is the family comedy Switch, a creatively-titled, basketball-themed take on the Freaky Friday body-switching formula that will star Kevin Durant as himself. (Now you have at least one entry for your 2012 Razzie Awards pool).
24 See Spot Run (2001)
43 Malibu's Most Wanted (2003)
34 Big Momma's House 2 (2006)
28 Deck the Halls (2006)
22 Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (2011)
7. Dominic Sena
Average Score: 30.7 for 4 films
Last year, when we surveyed music video directors who later went on to film careers, Dominic Sena (best known for his Janet Jackson videos) finished dead last among his peers, despite a decent first effort (1993's Kalifornia 48). That film is just a distant memory now, however, and Sena's work over the past dozen years has exhibited a downward trend, with recent work like the Nicolas Cage supernatural thriller Season of the Witch not even bad enough to be entertaining.
35 Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)
32 Swordfish (2001)
28 Whiteout (2009)
28 Season of the Witch (2011)
8. Steven Brill
Average Score: 33.0 for 4 films
If you direct a lot of Adam Sandler films, you're going to wind up on this list. And while Steven Brill has directed only two such movies (in addition to the fat camp comedy Heavyweights and writing the scripts for three Mighty Ducks films), they are two of the worst. Labeled a "comedy hack" by the Washington Post's Stephen Hunter, Brill demonstrated some modest critical improvement with his most recent film, Drillbit Taylor (which was based on a story idea by the late John Hughes), though it failed at the box office. And he didn't do himself any favors by insulting fans during a controversy surrounding his needless reshoots for Kyle Newman's film Fanboys. Next up for the director is a segment in next spring's comedy anthology Movie 43.
38 Little Nicky (2000)
24 Mr. Deeds (2002)
29 Without a Paddle (2004)
41 Drillbit Taylor (2008)
9. Dennis Dugan
Average Score: 33.2 for 7 films
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: if you direct a lot of Adam Sandler films, you're going to wind up on this list. And nobody has directed more Sandler films than Dennis Dugan, the former actor who made his directorial debut with the first Problem Child film in 1990. (That leads us to another rule of thumb: If you direct a Problem Child film, you are going to wind up on this list.) And while the sadly prolific Dugan has given us some of Sandler's best films (well, Happy Gilmore), and his films have combined to gross well over $1 billion worldwide, his resume is littered with comedies that just aren't funny. In a few weeks, the latest example arrives: Jack and Jill, which features a double dose of Sandler (including one in drag!).
22 Saving Silverman (2001)
31 National Security (2003)
25 The Benchwarmers (2006)
37 I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007)
54 You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008)
30 Grown Ups (2010)
33 Just Go with It (2011)
10. Marcus Nispel
Average Score: 34.3 for 4 films
Award-winning German music video and commercial director Marcus Nispel has made a career in film by remaking other people's classic genre movies, though the only awards his films are in danger of earning are Razzies. Yes, every one of his films have been remakes and/or reboots; even Pathfinder was originally a (much better, Oscar-nominated) Norwegian film. But that pattern may finally end in 2012; Nispel's next expected project is an original horror story, awkwardly titled Backmask.
38 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
29 Pathfinder (2007)
34 Friday the 13th (2009)
36 Conan the Barbarian (2011)
|Director||# Films||Average||Worst Film|
|11||Roger Kumble||4||34.5||Furry Vengeance (2010) 23|
|12||Raja Gosnell||6||35.2||The Smurfs (2011) 30|
|13||Paul W.S. Anderson||4||35.4||AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) 29|
|14||Andrzej Bartkowiak||5||35.5||Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009) 17|
|15||Keenen Ivory Wayans||4||36.0||Little Man (2006) 26|
|16||Brian Robbins||6||36.4||Ready to Rumble (2000) 23|
|17||Donald Petrie||5||36.7||Just My Luck (2006) 29|
|18||James Wong||4||36.9||The One (2001) 25|
|19||Stephen Herek||4||38.2||Life or Something Like It (2002) 31|
|20||Garry Marshall||5||38.3||Georgia Rule (2007) 25|
|21||Rob Reiner||4||38.6||Alex & Emma (2003) 32|
|Andy Tennant||4||38.6||The Bounty Hunter (2010) 22|
|23||Darren Lynn Bousman||4||38.9||Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) 32|
|24||Rob Cohen||5||39.1||The Skulls (2000) 24|
|25||Tim Hill||4||39.2||Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006) 37|
|John Schultz||4||39.2||The Honeymooners (2005) 31|
What do you think?
Who are your least favorite directors working today? Do you wish to defend anyone listed above? Let us know in the comments section below.