Controversial Masterpieces: The Most Controversial Films of the 21st Century

The world of cinema has always been a source of entertainment for millions of people, providing an escape from the realities of life.

by Faruk Imamovic
Controversial Masterpieces: The Most Controversial Films of the 21st Century

The world of cinema has always been a source of entertainment for millions of people, providing an escape from the realities of life. However, there are some films that have not only failed to escape the controversies surrounding them, but have also left a lasting impact on audiences.

From poor casting choices to bizarre plots, these are some of the most controversial films of recent times.

"The Wolf of Wall Street"

"The Wolf of Wall Street" was a 2013 film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The film was based on the life of Jordan Belfort, a broker who swindled ordinary people out of millions of dollars. Despite the collaboration of two Hollywood heavyweights, the film received negative reviews for its glamorization of Belfort's behavior and the chaos that ran rampant on Wall Street.

Audiences felt that the film did not shed light on the victims and instead perpetuated a negative image.

"The Exorcist"

Considered one of the greatest horror films of all time, "The Exorcist" has been surrounded by controversies since its release in 1974.

The film was reported to have induced physical reactions from moviegoers, including vomiting and fainting. Some have argued that the film used subliminal messages to elicit these negative reactions. The actors and crew were not spared either, as two main actors were seriously injured during filming and a freak fire destroyed the set.

"Justice League"

The Justice League movie was highly anticipated by DC Comic fans, with director Zach Snyder at the helm. However, Snyder stepped down from the production before it was completed, leading to Joss Whedon taking over.

Fans were disappointed with Whedon's take on the film, leading to the creation of a fan-led Justice League whose mission was to release the "Synder Cut." The 4-hour version was eventually released in 2021 and received much better reviews.


The 2016 film "Nina" was based on the life of the iconic American music icon, Nina Simone. The choice of Zoe Saldana to play the lead role of Simone was met with criticism, as Saldana had to wear braces and makeup due to her Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, while Simone was African American.

The film received negative comments for not casting an actress of similar origin and skin color as Simone.

"The Silence of the Lambs"

"The Silence of the Lambs" was a 1991 film based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Harris.

The film followed FBI trainee Clarice Starling as she hunted a serial killer with the help of cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lecter. Although the film won five Oscars and is considered a masterpiece of the horror genre, it was criticized for its portrayal of LGBTQI+ characters.

Queer rights activists have criticized the film for perpetuating negative stereotypes associated with the community.


James Cameron's 1997 epic romance "Titanic" was a huge success, but it was not without controversy.

The film was six months late and reportedly went over budget by $100 million. More than 60 crew members also became seriously ill after their lunch was mixed with PCP (angel dust). The culprit was never caught, but it is believed to have been a disgruntled crew member in response to the harsh working conditions on set.

"Brokeback Mountain"

Ang Lee's 2005 film "Brokeback Mountain" was a landmark moment for "New Queer Cinema," but not everyone was accepting of its gay romance between two cowboys. The film was banned in some countries and was a favorite to win the "Best Picture" Oscar in 2006, but some believe it was rejected due to its controversial subject matter.

Despite these controversies, "Brokeback Mountain" remains a hallmark of queer representation in cinema. These controversial films have left a lasting impact on audiences and have sparked debates and discussions about various issues.

From poor casting choices to negative stereotypes, these films have pushed boundaries and challenged societal norms. While some may disagree with the content of these films, they are a testament to the power of cinema and its ability to evoke strong reactions from audiences.