The 2023 Cannes Film Festival is close to an end and has already produced some mixed receptions. Maïwenn‘s controversial opening film, Jeanne du Barry, and James Mangold‘s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny received mediocre reviews. However, Sam Lenvinson‘s The Idol has been utterly destroyed by critics, and it’s currently the lowest-rated HBO show on Rotten Tomatoes.
This is hardly the first time it has happened. Cannes has been the stage for many infamous turkeys throughout the years, with several derided movies premieres at the prestigious film festival. And while most of these premiered out of competition, a few were part of the festival’s Official Selection.
Disgraced movie director Woody Allen has premiered multiple films at Cannes, both in and out of competition. However, his lazy 2002 comedy Hollywood Ending might be his worst showing at the festival. The plot follows a washed-up director, played, of course, by Allen himself, who reconnects with his ex-wife while attempting to mount a comeback.
Hollywood Ending is Allen at his most uninspired and simplest, recycling themes and storylines and bringing nothing new to the table. The film often ranks among his worst, with critics considering it a frustrating and overlong effort in the director’s once-acclaimed career.
Cannes 2003 is often remembered as the festival’s worst iteration. Controversial and erratic, the 2003 Cannes Film Festival saw the premiere of what is arguably the most polarizing film to ever compete for the Palm d’Or, Vincent Gallo‘s The Brown Bunny.
Deliberately slow-paced and almost boring, The Brown Bunny is a movie begging to be divisive. Roger Ebert infamously called it “the worst film in the history of the festival.” The Brown Bunny‘s infamous sex scene featuring Chloë Sevigny has gone down in history as one of the most controversial moments in Cannes, with the film cementing its place in the festival’s infamy.
The Coen Brothers are considered Hollywood royalty, well-known for their crime movies that expertly blend satire and grit. However, they sometimes miss the mark, as they did with their awful remake of the 1955 dark comedy The Ladykillers. The film follows a group of thieves who use an older woman’s basement to plan a heist.
The Ladykillers premiered in competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. Reviews were mixed to negative, although Irma P. Hall‘s performance was praised and earned the Prix du Jury at the festival. However, time hasn’t been kind to The Ladykillers, with many considering it the worst Coen Brothers’ film.
Some movie remakes are better than the original; 2003’s Fanfan la Tulipe is not one. Penélope Cruz and Vincent Perez star in a swashbuckler adventure about a charming swordsman who joins Louis XV’s army after a seer promises he’ll marry one of the king’s daughters.
Fanfan la Tulipe opened the 2003 Cannes Film Festival out of competition. The film received largely negative reviews, with critics considering it vastly inferior to the 1952 original. The action sequences and humor earned some positive notices, but not enough to save it from the overall critical scorn.
Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, was polarizing but wildly successful; thus, it makes sense that the Hollywood adaptation would follow suit. The Da Vinci Code stars Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, a professor of religious symbology, who becomes the prime suspect in a murder committed inside the Louvre museum.
The question remains to this day: was Hanks miscast as Robert Langdon? The answer is probably “yes,” although Hanks does a valiant effort in the role. However, everything else about The Da Vinci Code is flat, mainly because what works on the page doesn’t translate into the screen. The film premiered out-of-competition at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival to a tepid response from attendees.
Nicole Kidman stars as the legendary Grace Kelly in Olivier Dahan‘s biopic Grace of Monaco. The film focuses on a dispute between France and Monaco, just as Kelly considers returning to Hollywood to star in Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1964 thriller Marnie.
Grace of Monaco was controversial before it even premiered, with the US distributor, disgraced predator Harvey Weinstein, clashing with Dahan over the film’s final cut. The controversy followed the film to Cannes, where the film received overwhelmingly negative reviews, with criticism toward Kelly’s depiction and the many historical inaccuracies.
As a rule of thumb, blockbusters hardly ever succeed at Cannes. Premiering a big-budget production at the festival seems like a good way to earn prestige, but it ends up blowing up in the studio’s faces more often than not, especially if the film in question is bad. Case in point, Roland Emmerich’s universally panned 1998 creature feature, Godzilla.
The film premiered out-of-competition at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, and reviews were not kind. The film is now considered among the worst in the 90s, with criticism for its changes to Godzilla’s lore, its design, and the cast’s performances. Godzilla‘s failure scared Hollywood from attempting another take on the famous monster for fifteen years until Warner Bros. launched its Monsterverse in 2014.
Fox’s X-Men series ended its original trilogy with the mediocre X-Men: The Last Stand. The unfocused plot juggles multiple storylines, including the Dark Phoenix Saga and the mutant cure, to deliver an erratic and unsatisfying ending to an otherwise great series.
The Last Stand premiered out-of-competition at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival to divisive reviews. However, even the positive ones treated the film as a joke, mocking its storytelling decision and the overstuffed plot. The film now ranks among the all-time worst superhero movies, with many detecting it for its treatment of the iconic Dark Phoenix storyline.
There are bad films, there are worse films, and then there’s Gotti. John Travolta stars as the infamous mobster John Gotti, with the film chronicling his takeover of the Gambino crime family and his efforts to prepare his son, John Jr., to take over as head of the organization.
Gotti premiered out-of-competition at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival to negative reviews. It is now one of the few movies with a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics considering it among the all-time worst movies. Gotti was lambasted for its questionable portrayal of the Gotti family, with Travolta’s performance and the screenplay earning considerable criticism.