The Most Controversial Films In The Last 10 Years

Thought-Provoking And Controversial Films From The Past Decade

Sometimes it’s great to sit down and laugh your way through a comedy, or spend a couple of hours escaping to a galaxy light-years away from present reality, but occasionally a film comes along that stirs up something stronger than mere enjoyment in viewers. Some of these films deal with contentious issues while others have caused debate about the actions of producers and cast members. 

Escape from Tomorrow (2013)


This 2013 thriller by Randy Moore ruffled feathers when he bypassed getting permission from Disney to film at Disney World, making use of the “guerrilla”   filming style and organising shoots that would pass unnoticed by tourists and park officials. Moore also managed to portray the theme parks in a dark light – opposite to the impression of innocence they’ve cultivated over the years. It was anticipated that Disney would take legal action to prevent the film’s release but that never materialised. Instead, Disney paid as little attention to Escape from Tomorrow as possible, perhaps in an attempt to avoid bad publicity. 

Aloha (2015)

alohaThis movie wasn’t controversial in topic matter but rather due to the casting of Emma Stone as a character with Chinese and Hawaiian descent. The decision to cast Stone stirred debate about whitewashing; white actors being cast as characters who are black, indigenous or people of colour. Director Cameron Crowe came under fire for perpetuating the lack of representation suffered by BIPOC on a daily basis, leaving viewers disheartened.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013)

blue-is-warmestThis adaptation of the graphic novel disturbed audiences not only with its graphically direct sex scenes, but with allegations about director Abdellatif Kechiche’s treatment of the cast and crew. This plot follows a teenager who falls in love with a painter and depicts the development of their relationship in the ensuing years. After the film’s premier it was reported that the treatment of cast and crew on set bordered on “moral harassment” – as well as issues with unpaid overtime and the behaviour of director Kechiche towards the female co-stars. 

The House That Jack Built (2018)

Directed by Lars von Trier, this movie is said to have prompted walkouts when it premiered at Cannes in 2018. Critics described it as toxic and repulsive, referring especially to the film’s graphic depictions of violence against women which were not perceived as critical commentary but rather as an indulgent display intended to offend. 

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

The plot of this film focused on the USA’s hunt for terrorist Osama Bin Laden and his eventual capture and death in 2011. The production of Zero Dark Thirty raised the ire of some who saw it as a propaganda opportunity to boost Barack Obama towards re-election in 2012. Apart from that, audience were divided in their perception of the torture portrayed in the movie: while some thought it censored torture, others believed the film to be pro-torture. If this isn’t up your alley, rather spend some time at instead. 

Up for debate?

Some films provoke lively discussions because of their unflinching examination of difficult themes, but when the movie’s impact has the potential to cause harm, justifying the controversy becomes problematic.

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