Every composer has missed a note, every writer has warped a line, and every director has made a bad movie. Any artist who expects to complete a life's work without some kind of misstep is kidding themselves, and even the greatest ones can't expect to end their career with a perfect oeuvre, no matter how hard they try.
Mistakes are a fact of art as well as a fact of life, but when they are made by the greats they are amplified, made more prominent by questions of how?, and why? There are many reasons a great director might make a bad film, from studio pressure, to financial needs, to simply just wanting to troll his or her fan-base. Whatever the reason, a bad film from one of the greats is something to behold, an anomaly that often stirs more in you than their very best work; a freak-show more fun than the opera.
The films on this list are different kinds of bad. Some are only bad in comparison to the directors' other films, whereas others are only bad because they had the potential to be so much better. (Then there are the just plain bad ones, always the best because they raise the shouting of those Hows and Whys to levels of disproportional anguish). There are some obvious ones, and some controversial ones (the first entry is sure to raise a few eyebrows), but each one represents a significant misfire from a director used to hitting more than they miss.
10. David Fincher - Fight Club
David Fincher has made half-a-dozen or so great films, a few solid ones and three masterpieces (Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - seriously - and The Social Network). Fight Club, perhaps his most well-known and well-revered film, falls into none of these categories, instead sitting next to Alien 3 (his first film) on his list of misconceived efforts.
This is not a popular opinion, and the film regularly appears on those Greatest Films of the 90s lists. But Fight Club is bad in spite of itself, a film so doused in macho-porn nihilism that it ends up glossing over its great look and cast to become a stylish but ultimately cold affair.
There are some fine moments, and the first act is actually pretty damn good, but this is rendered immaterial by what follows, as Fincher dumps the wit and ups the machismo, turning Fight Club into little more than a glossy catalogue of things men supposedly like: violence, destruction and empty sex. The film, like the Chuck Palahniuk novel it's based on, tries to say pressing things about materialism and man's bestial nature, but in the end it only serves to endorse them, becoming product placement for the things it warns against in the process.