Every once in a while, a famous Hollywood actor will show the world that they are more than just a pretty face. It is always exciting to see a celebrity take a break from being in front of the screen, and instead make their way behind the camera. Sometimes, we are wowed by the range of talent these actors are able to deliver as directors. Other times… not so much.
We are all familiar with the brilliant talent brought on by actor-turned-directors such as Rob Reiner and Marlon Brando, but what about some of the more recent films over the past few decades made by actor-turned-directors? Which of them took us by surprise? Which flopped?
Let’s find out in the list below.
Mid90s – Jonah Hill (Best)
Mid90s (2018) is a coming of age tale that lets you take a nostalgic dip into the era of midriffs, Capri sun, and grunge. The 90s is perhaps the era that people of the millennial age are most nostalgic about and for good reason. It was a time when bumming around with your friends and making each other laugh was all you needed to have a good time. No video games, no TV, no cell phones to distract everyone, just the pure joy of each others company.
Jonah Hill’s directorial debut perfectly captures the art of kicking back in the sun and wasting time with the family you’ve created for yourself. This sunny indie flick reminds audiences how precious the simple moments in life can be.
Garden State- Zach Braff (Worst)
It should be noted that there is a lot of good in Zach Braff’s Garden State. The soundtrack is incredible, the cinematography and storyline are unique enough. Yet what makes Braff’s directorial debut one of the worst films directed by a famous actor on this list comes from the degradation Natalie Portman must succumb to in her role as the poster child of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
Her character is infantilized to the core and exists solely to give brooding men her latest indie music playlists and to do quirky little dance moves that are impossible not to cringe at. Poor Nat has recently stated in an interview with Vanity Fair how much she regrets taking on the role. We don’t blame her!
Million Dollar Baby – Clint Eastwood (Best)
Million Dollar Baby is a Million Dollar Film for more reasons than one. The 2004 Oscar-winning movie has a big heart and a brilliant set of characters with quotable and authentic dialogue. Eastwood not only directs but he acts in the film as well, taking on the role of a boxing manager named Frankie Dunn. After much hesitance, Dunn decides to take on a female boxer (Hillary Swank) as his trainee.
With a cold start, the two slowly begin to warm up to each other and they eventually form a bond that is equivalent to that of a father/daughter relationship. It is a lovely and memorable connection that gives Eastwood’s masterpiece all the chops necessary to make it an instant classic. This boxing film is one that is so emotional, it’ll hit you right in the feels.
Run Fatboy Run – David Schwimmer (Worst)
What? A film with Simon Pegg as the lead that’s considered bad? Unfortunately, yes. Not even Pegg’s charm could save David Schwimmer’s 2007 directorial debut for Run Fatboy Run from being labeled as mediocre at best.
Maybe Schwimmer should stick to playing gawky dudes who chase Jennifer Anniston-like women around and insist that they were “on a break”. Perhaps that’s the only “break” he’s gonna get because when it comes to directing, he hasn’t gotten on yet.
The Disaster Artist – James Franco (Best)
James Franco had a bit of a rocky start when it came to his career as a film director. He was often labeled as “pretentious” and therefore he was considered a bit of a joke by fans and critics alike. Fortunately, Franco was able to take all that criticism and discouragement brought on by the general public, and turn it into cinematic gold. The Disaster Artist tells the true story of Tommy Wiseau (Played flawlessly by Franco), a man whose deepest passion in life is to be seen as a true artist.
The Disaster Artist unravels the making of Wiseau’s film The Room, which has been labeled as “the worst movie ever made”. Instead of mocking Wiseau, Franco creates a film that is willing to empathize with him. Even those who aren’t familiar with the cult classic The Room will be able to appreciate the comedic masterpiece Franco has directed.
The Passion Of The Christ – Mel Gibson (Worst)
Mel Gibson Passion of The Christ
The Passion of The Christ is one of the most mixed reviewed films of all time. While some people label Gibson’s movie as the greatest piece of cinema ever made, others consider it to be an exploitative anti-semitic snuff film. South Park even dedicated an entire episode to how awful The Passion of The Christ is. The episode rightfully concludes that “focusing on how Jesus got killed is what people did in the dark ages and it ends up with really bad results”. The episode decides it’s wrong to allow violence to inspire faith, and that is exactly what The Passion Of The Christ attempts to do.
A QUIET PLACE – JOHN KRASINSKI (Best)
While Krasinski’s days of playing a character who pulls pranks on his uptight coworker may be behind him, he is still bringing us great on-screen amusement in his films such as A Quiet Place. Krasinski not only stars in the movie but he directs it as well and we can’t help but find ourselves wildly impressed with The Office veterans chops.
What makes A Quiet Place stand out is how original its concept is. In a world of movie remakes and films based entirely off of novels, Krasinski’s masterpiece stands out as a creative individual piece which tells the story of a dystopian universe where “If they hear you, they’ll hunt you”. If you are looking for a thrilling movie with a big heart and fantastic premise, look no further.
Sonny – Nicolas Cage (Worst)
Sonny tells the story of a male gigolo in New Orleans played by James Franco. With an unfortunate 23% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s clear how critics felt about Nic Cage’s directorial debut and the general public didn’t seem to have much praise for it either. Sonny has even been labeled as “An instant candidate for the worst film of the year.”
Yikes! Can’t NC catch a break? The poor man managed to create one of the most laughable films in cinema history despite the fact that it is certainly not meant to be a comedy.
Eighth Grade – Bo Burnham (Best)
Bo Burnham managed to deliver artistic triumph in his directorial debut, Eighth Grade. It’s hard to create a film that is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking but that is exactly what Burnham’s 90-minute flick does. Eighth Grade follows 13-year-old Kayla (Elsie Fisher), an awkward young girl who struggles with social anxiety.
Anyone who has been a student in a junior high will instantly empathize with Kayla’s journey to a huge extent. Burnham’s film deserves all the praise in the world for his careful analyzation of what life is like for a socially anxious middle schooler.
The Brave – Johnny Depp (Worst)
Johnny Depp rarely delivers a bad film, but when he does, he directs it. In 1997, Depp decided to take his shot behind the camera (and in front of it) in the film The Brave. Depp considered it to be his passion project, yet despite how much he loved it, the general public didn’t seem to agree with his outlook on the movie.