10 Best Controversial Movies

The list of the 10 best controversial movies includes some of the most infamous films ever made, with high-profiles and sometimes big box office takes. Movies garner negative attention for anything from sexual explicitness to challenging standing social mores. Some of these films, looking back through history, seem relatively benign, but in context they got a lot of people very upset.

  1. “A Clockwork Orange.” Considered by the American Film Institute as one of the greatest movies ever, this controversial movie from Stanley Kubrick was made in 1971. Its commentaries on modern society included showing senseless, violent scenes and a very graphic rape. It got an X rating in the United States.
  2. “Triumph of the Will.” Leni Reifenstahl created this film in 1934. What makes it one of the best controversial movies is that it is an ideal propaganda piece about the Nazi party in Germany. It used music and cinematography in novel ways and, despite its subject matter, is created a great piece of film art.
  3. “JFK.” Director Oliver Stone is not one to shy away from confrontation, and this 1991 film is one of the best controversial movies ever. It depicts the assassination of president John Kennedy from the “conspiracy theorist” point of view, presenting conjecture as fact and muddling the issue for a generation.
  4. “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.” The creators of this TV show seem to enjoy getting people mad, and they did so in this film, one of the best controversial movies of the 1990s. The movie depicted the children of the show using very foul language and making sexist, racial, and homosexual jokes.
  5. “Blue Velvet.” David Lynch enjoys making controversial movies, and this one didn’t fail to reach that level. The movie took a dark look at sex and violence in suburban America, often with graphic images. A particular dark scene has Isabella Rossellini’s character raped and degraded by a psychotic character played by Dennis Hopper.
  6. “Deep Throat.” Most people are familiar with this iconic porn film, one of the best controversial movies ever. What made it so shocking is that it was an adult film released in the mainstream. The movie helped introduce porn to a larger audience.
  7. “Short Bus.” This controversial movie from 2006 looks at the underground sex scene in New York and depicts events there using real, unsimulated sex, including ejaculations and orgasms.  Canadian TV personality Sook-Yin Lee, who plays one of the protagonists, was nearly forced out of her job due to her role in the film.
  8. “Last Temptation of Christ.” Religious movies are bound to get people riled up, and this 1988 film is one of the most controversial movies ever made. The movie shows a very human Jesus, struggling with sexual temptation. The film even follows him as he imagines climbing off the cross and starting a family with Mary Magdalene.
  9. “The Birth of a Nation.” This movie is a groundbreaking epic, a silent film clocking in at over three hours, it depicts America during reconstruction. Despite being a perfectly made film, the movie is controversial due to its racist depiction of blacks and heroic depiction of the Ku Klux Klan.
  10. “Freaks.” This film dates from the 1930s and used real-life circus “freaks” and sideshow performers—such as Siamese twins and other humans with severe deformities—as the villains in a horror movie. The public was generally appalled to see the people exploited in such ways.
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