M. Night Shyamalan may be the biggest heartbreaker in Hollywood. He first came on the map after his smash hit, The Sixth Sense, which earned six Academy Award nominations. Shyamalan became the king of the “twist ending” and over the years, has pumped out films that surprise, and sometimes enrage audiences and critics alike. Although some of his movies have been duds, he certainly has films on his resume that are absolutely brilliant. Is he the most understood filmmaker of all time?
The world may never know. He has a particular way of telling stories that undoubtedly stand out among the others. Shyamalan’s earlier work was original and beloved by many. As his career went on, he had ups and downs that were liked by some, and hated by others. Regardless, M. Night Shyamalan is a powerhouse filmmaker who has delivered classic tales of ghosts, monsters, and supernatural phenomena. Here are all of M. Night Shyamalan’s films, ranked.
14The Last Airbender
Let’s face it. The Last Airbender is a terrible movie. Shyamalan adapted the Nickelodeon series in 2010 and it was rightfully ravaged by critics and audiences. The whitewashed casting and cringeworthy performances did no justice to the beloved cartoon series. The story and the jokes did not play well in this live-action remake, making it the worst film of his career.
After Earth is Hollywood nepotism at its worst. The film was produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, who unsurprisingly cast their son, Jaden Smith, in the lead role. Unfortunately, Will Smith’s talent and on-screen charisma has not been passed down to his son. After Earth is filled with plot holes, stale performances, and cringey dialogue, making this movie doomed from the beginning.
12Lady In The Water
Lady in the Water really started the downfall of Shyamalan’s career. The “bedtime story” just didn’t work at all. The film is dull, strange, and extremely self-indulgent. Shyamalan even cast himself in a supporting role as a writer who is destined to write a book that will save the entire world…yikes.
Shyamalan has stated that The Happening was completely misunderstood, and has claimed that he meant to make the greatest B-movie of all time. Regardless, this uneventful film has one of his lamest “monsters” to date…plants. Not to mention, the film is filled with God-awful performances and weird changes in tone, making it one of the biggest disappointments of his career.
Before Shyamalan became the king of the supernatural, he wrote and directed Wide Awake, a 1998 comedy-drama about a ten year old boy on a personal quest to find the answers to life and God. It isn’t necessarily a bad film, earning mixed reviews upon its release, but it certainly isn’t memorable. The film stars Denis Leary, Rosie O’Donnell and Joesph Cross.
The final film of Shyamalan’s superhero trilogy was 2019’s Glass. The movie continued the adventures of David Dunn (Bruce Willis) as he faces off against The Beast (James McAvoy) and Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson). The anticipated sequel unfortunately was an anticlimactic let down with a lame twist that failed to live up to the first two films.
8Praying With Anger
Praying with Anger was Shyamalan’s first film. He personally funded the project and also cast himself in the leading role. It follows an East Indian teenager who is sent back to India to discover his roots. The film never had a wide release, but it did put Shyamalan on the map and lead to his future success as a filmmaker.
Shyamalan’s latest film was the much anticipated Old, a story about a group of people on a beach who begin to age rapidly. There is a lot to love in this movie, but also a lot to hate. The cinematography and special effects are top-notch and the story is definitely not boring. With that said, the film is a constant stream of exposition that leads to an uneventful twist that anybody could have seen coming.
Alright…now let’s get to the good stuff. Split tells the story of three teenage girls who are kidnapped by Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a man with 23 different personalities. The movie is entertaining from start to finish and showcases the acting range of James McAvoy. The final minutes of the film give us one of Shyamalan’s greatest twists to date…it is actually a sequel to Unbreakable.
The Visit marked a triumphant return of Shyamalan after a series of duds. The found footage-like movie follows a brother and sister visiting their estranged grandparents for the first time. Unfortunately, there is something very wrong with Grandma and Grandpa. The film relies on creepy performances, great camerawork, and subtle comedy that all just works. This is a perfect “popcorn movie” for a Saturday night.
The Village was definitely the beginning of Shyamalan’s controversial period. It’s a story of an isolated community in the 19th-century, who coexist with the monsters that live in the forest surrounding them. The twist ending was definitely not for everyone. Maybe audiences were just expecting something better. Regardless, The Village is a solid movie that deserves more credit than it’s given.
Unbreakable was Shyamalan’s take on superhero mythology. It follows David Dunn (Bruce Willis), who begins to discover that he has superhuman capabilities. This film is beloved by many, including Quentin Tarantino who called it one of the best films of the decade. The script is clean and tight, and the performances are top-notch, making it one of Shyamalan’s greatest flicks.
Yes, yes, we all know that it makes no sense that aliens who are killed by water would decide to invade Earth…but who cares?! This movie is absolutely fantastic. Shyamalan gave us a new type of alien invasion that managed to be absolutely terrifying while barely showing any aliens at all. But when the green creatures do show up, it absolutely delivers. Shyamalan proved himself as a master of suspense and story with Signs. He gave us a science fiction film that keeps it’s characters at it’s core.
1The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense is a masterpiece that made Shyamalan the commercial success we know today. We seldom see horror films nominated for Oscars. The Sixth Sense earned six nominations and gave us one of the most surprising twist endings in film history. Although it’s known for the twist, we must remember the heartfelt story and endearing characters that make the film so impactful. The camerawork, performances, and brilliant script make this bone-chilling nightmare one of the best films of the 20th century.