17. 'The Newton Boys' (1998)
This ambitious comedy/drama/gangster film about a real-life family of bank robbers in the 1920s certainly means well, and the notion of Linklater taking on an old-school, star-studded epic sounds great on paper. But the indie filmmaker's strengths are mismatched to the story he's trying to tell, and his characteristically laid-back style gives way to a forced boisterousness that feels way off. Though his best movies give their casts plenty of room to roam, he's clearly a little too in love with his Newton crew (Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Julianna Marguiles, Vincent D'Onofrio, Skeet Ulrich) to restrain them; the result quickly ends up tipping into actorly self-indulgence. Add in a rather overbearing use of contemporaneous music and a cavalier attitude to plot development, and you wind up with a movie where the past doesn't really come alive so much as get trotted out like sepia-toned show pony. Period pieces are rarely Linklater’s strong suit, and you can kind of see why here. Even he tends to cringe whenever the film is mentioned.