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22 Movies That Divided Film Critics and Moviegoers

Christopher Nolan, Harmony Korine, and M. Night Shyamalan all have experience dividing film critics and moviegoers.

THE NEON DEMON, Elle Fanning, 2016. ph: Gunther Campine /© Broad Green Pictures /courtesy Everett Collection

“The Neon Demon”

Courtesy Everett Collection

When “Philadelphia” was released in 1994, it was considered a groundbreakingly progressive film for its compassionate portrayals of gay men with HIV. Part of its success sprung from the casting of Tom Hanks, possibly the most winning actor on the planet, as one of its gay leads. While the move allowed the film to bring a once-taboo subject into the mainstream (and won Hanks an Oscar for his effort), Hanks himself now sees the film a bit differently. He recently said that audiences would not accept a straight actor playing a gay role like that today, and that he would have no interest in playing one again.

While many still cherish the movie “Philadelphia,” the new round of discourse surrounding the film is the latest example of a polarizing film dividing audiences and critics. From blockbuster sequels to bold arthouse fare, plenty of recent films have provoked equally strong responses from their proponents and detractors. Sometimes a film boasts objectively great craftsmanship but divisive ideas, other times something is beloved by casual fans despite not being critics’ cup of tea. Keep reading for 22 of the most divisive films in recent memory, and watch them all so you can form your own opinions.

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