The 10 Best Stanley Kubrick Movies, Ranked

by Jeremy Spirogis
Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick might not be America’s most iconic director—that may most likely be Steven Spielberg. Nor is he America’s favourite—that may most likely be Tarantino or possibly even Martin Scorsese. But on the subject of America’s most revered and revered director, it’s most likely Stanley Kubrick. You know his films—Full Metal Jacket, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The freaking Shining. Anything with Kubrick’s title connected to it’s just about status in cinematic kind.

The query although, is out of his 13 feature-length films, which had been his easiest. Any Kubrick aficionado is aware of that he was a perfectionist verging on being a madman, so it’s fascinating to crawl inside his head now and again to choose aside his movies. You could not put his movies in the identical order that we’ve, however actually, you may’t go fallacious with any Kubrick film. They’re all masterpieces. With that being mentioned, let’s make a journey into insanity, lets?

Tom Cruise, ready for an orgy in Eyes Wide Shut

10. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Dying simply six days after he confirmed his last reduce to Warner Bros., Stanley Kubrick’s final image was Eyes Wide Shut (until you rely Spielberg’s love letter to Kubrick, A.I.). One of his finest movies, Eyes Wide Shut is the type of movie that few administrators in addition to Kubrick may make palatable and even fascinating. The story considerations one Dr. Bill Harford, performed by Tom Cruise, who learns that his spouse, Alice, performed by Tom Cruise’s then-wife, Nicole Kidman, as soon as thought-about having an affair. This units Dr. Harford off and makes him exit to discover a unusual cultish group that engages in sporting masks and having orgies. It additionally takes place throughout Christmas, making it the sexiest Christmas film ever.

Upon its launch, Eyes Wide Shut was seen as a becoming swan tune to the director’s profession, however not considered one of his finest. But since then, it has been reappraised and it’s now thought-about high tier Kubrick. The movie works properly, however Kubrick tackled subjects of obsession and isolation higher in different photos discovered larger on this checklist. Still, it is the work of a genius firing on all cylinders.

Kirk Douglas as Spartacus

9. Spartacus (1960)

Lots of people are inclined to overlook that Spartacus is a Stanley Kubrick image. Maybe as a result of it doesn’t actually really feel like a Stanley Kubrick image, which is sensible since he didn’t have full management over the movie. If something, it feels extra like a Dalton Trumbo image, because the author’s fingerprints are throughout it. But as a sword and sandals film, it’s a terrific watch. Kirk Douglas performs the titular character who leads a slave revolt. One of its most well-known scenes, “I am Spartacus” is famous. And in addition to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Spartacus is Kubrick’s most epic movie in scope.

A key cause why it’s a favourite although is as a result of it’s an indication of what Kubrick might need gone on to do if he had made is oft-discussed, however by no means filmed Napoleon film. Most curiously is that Spartacus exhibits what Kubrick may do with one other particular person’s imaginative and prescient, and it turned out to be considered one of his finest. That ending with all of the crucifixions nonetheless provides us chills.

Private Joker, looking worried in Full Metal Jacket

8. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Anybody who loves Full Metal Jacket—and that clearly contains us—has to confess its one essential flaw. Only the primary half of the film is a masterpiece. The different half is type of simply meh. But that first half, let me let you know. When anyone thinks of Full Metal Jacket, they immediately consider Vincent D’Onofrio as “Private Pile” and R. Lee Ermey because the profane Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. And each of these characters die within the first half.

That mentioned, a number of the most fascinating and Kubrickian moments come after that first half, particularly in that ending when the squad is singing the theme to Mickey Mouse. What makes Full Metal Jacket distinctly a Kubrick movie although is that it doesn’t actually have a stance on warfare itself, however extra so on the individuals who take part in warfare. Loads of warfare movies take care of dehumanization, however few, if any, give attention to the true results on the individuals themselves who’re despatched off to do the killing, and whether or not they had been already rotten earlier than they even hit the battlefield. An important movie, though solely 50% of it’s sheer genius.

Wearing a clown mask to a heist in The Killing

7. The Killing (1956)

At the time in comparison with the unique Scarface and Little Caesar, The Killing is a few profitable heist at a race monitor and the repercussions that observe. It’s usually seen as Kubrick’s first critical work, nevertheless it’s extra than simply that. The Killing is a masterclass in filmmaking and a movie noir for the ages. It’s additionally a key inspiration for Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. You can see it within the plot and the characters. Much of the story may be very comparable.

But what makes The Killing so particular is the way it feels so nihilistic at occasions. From its theft to its final line (“What’s the difference?”), The Killing was an indication of what was to return from Kubrick, nevertheless it’s an additionally total good image that by no means feels boring or gradual. I’d say it’s higher and smarter than each Scarface and Little Caesar mixed.

Here's Johnny! Jack Nicholson with his face in the door in The Shining

6. The Shining (1980)

The Shining might be most individuals’s favourite Kubrick film. Well, until they’re Stephen King. Besides its writer, all people loves The Shining. And why wouldn’t they? What Kubrick did for science-fiction with 2001, he additionally did for horror with The Shining, i.e. classed up the style. The Shining is about an writer who’s slowly going loopy and tries to homicide his household. But is he being haunted by ghosts, or is he genuinely going insane?

Whereas the e book makes it clear that it’s the previous, the film does a terrific job of creating you suppose it’s the latter. And that’s all Kubrick. In reality, this may be the director’s most maddening work. A complete documentary was made on all of the weird conspiracy theories that encompass it. And when a director may be even crazier than the character in his film, you already know you have entered the Kubrick zone.

Dr. Strangelove having a good ol time

5. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Dr. Strangelove is a few potential nuclear apocalypse, and it’s a comedy. If that’s not Kubrickian, I don’t know what it’s. The story, which is ready in the course of the Cold War, is a few normal who orders an unprompted strike in opposition to the Soviet Union, and all people from different generals to the President — performed by Peter Sellers who takes on three completely different roles — have to speak it down to forestall Armageddon.

And it’s really humorous. It’s satire, in fact, however Kubrick takes all of the grim seriousness of such a potential state of affairs and makes it completely ridiculous, with George C. Scott even going as far as tripping over his personal ft and generals worrying about our “precious bodily fluids.” And then, you could have that well-known shot of Slim Pickens driving the bomb. Kubrick hardly ever tried to be humorous, however when he did, it labored. Everything he did labored.

Alex staring you down

4. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange is unquestionably Kubrick’s most controversial movie, because it was banned in some nations and rated X upon launch within the U.S. The story considerations some younger males, referred to as droogs, who like to have interaction within the previous ultraviolence and rape. It’s an unflinching have a look at youth unchecked (Even although the actors within the film are adults whereas the characters within the e book are nearer to youngsters), and it’s most likely probably the most Kubrickian movie the director ever launched.

What I imply by that’s that it has all of the Kubrick logos. Within the primary jiffy, it has Kubrick’s “eyes looking up”, which he usually utilized to signify insanity, it has his nihilism, his hopelessness, and his cynicism. Even the writer, Anthony Burgess, disliked the ending of the movie, which was completely different from his e book in that the primary character, Alex, actually learns nothing on the finish of the film and can possible return to his previous methods once more. It’s a very disturbing movie and doubtless the director’s second most iconic, proper after 2001.

Barry Lyndon, dropping knowledge

3. Barry Lyndon (1975)

Barry Lyndon is probably Kubrick’s most disliked film by most of the people because it’s gradual, and I imply SLOW. But it’s additionally lovely. The cinematography usually will get probably the most consideration on this movie since a few of it’s modeled after work, with a number of scenes even utilizing solely candle lit lighting. But past its esthetics, it’s additionally a brilliantly informed narrative of a jerk who has no regret for climbing the social ladder. It’s most likely Kubrick’s most fascinating character research, and one which doesn’t get practically sufficient credit score.

The movie may have really been Kubrick’s Napoleon mission, however that fell by. What we received as a substitute is a movie that improves immensely on repeated viewings. If you did not like Barry Lyndon the primary time, critically, watch it once more. You need to be in the appropriate mindset, and as soon as you might be, it is a masterpiece.

Kirk Douglas in the trenches

2. Paths of Glory (1957)

Paths of Glory might be Stanley Kubrick’s most under-appreciated film. It’s a hidden gem that in some ways surpasses most of his different work in its simplicity, but additionally its energy. Set throughout World War 1, Kirk Douglas should defend French troopers in courtroom as a result of they would not go into battle since they knew they might find yourself dying. But by not going into battle, they’re deemed cowards and are set to be executed. The better part is Kirk Douglas. He’s positively hamming it up, however he is additionally providing most likely the best efficiency of his profession.

And whereas Full Metal Jacket is type of clunky in its messaging, Paths of Glory may be very clear. War is unhealthy. War is fallacious. And no one ought to need to endure what it does to the human spirit. Kubrick doesn’t actually have many prospers on this movie, or any of his logos, nevertheless it’s an excellent story informed brilliantly, and it is one which touches me probably the most each time I watch it.

Admiring the space pods

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Could it actually be every other image? Considered one of many best movies ever made, 2001 is Kubrick’s magnum opus and the movie that everyone considers his masterwork. Personally, I feel there are many different Kubrick films I’d somewhat watch than 2001 since I discover it extremely boring, however the normal consensus is that Kubrick’s area epic, which he labored on with sci-fi legend, Arthur C. Clarke, is his finest work ever, and I perceive why.

The music, the environment, the story, the infant in a bubble, the obelisk, that intro with the monkey throwing the bone into area and it transitioning right into a satellite tv for pc, 2001 appears to transcend even Kubrick himself and is extensively thought-about one of many best technical feats within the historical past of cinema. Hal is nice. The visuals are nice. The story is nice. Everything is nice. While it may not be as re-watchable as his different movies for a few of us, 2001 continues to be the perfect film Kubrick ever made, and it’ll ceaselessly be on that larger stage. It’s lived on previous the 12 months in its title and can dwell on for a few years nonetheless. That’s simply how groundbreaking it was.


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