Stanley Kubrick, the notoriously meticulous filmmaker, only finished 13 films before his death in 1999, yet some of them have gone on to become breakthrough masterpieces in a range of genres and topics. Stanley kubrick movies ranked worst to best.
Kubrick, who was born in New York City in 1928, began his career as a photographer for Look magazine before moving on to create short documentaries. His first two films, “Fear and Desire” (1953) and “Killer’s Kiss” (1955), were made on a tight budget out of his own pocket. His talent blossomed with the noir thriller “The Killing” (1956) and the antiwar drama “Paths of Glory” (1957), and he was soon directing the epic “Spartacus” (1960) and an adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel “Lolita” (1962), both of which earned him Golden Globe nominations for Best Director. In the past, Stanley Kubrick movies are also known as the best movies. Some of the Stanley Kubrick movies didn’t go well but by the time they ranked worst to the finest movie of all time.
10 Stanley Kubrick Movies Ranked As Best
Let’s take a look at 10 Stanley Kubrick movies, graded from worst to finest.
10. WIDE SHUT EYES (1999)
One movie of all Stanley Kubrick movies, Stanley Kubrick and Frederic Raphael wrote the screenplay, which was based on Arthur Schnitzler’s novella “Traumnovelle.” Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, Todd Field, Marie Richardson, Sky du Mont, Rade Serbedzija, Vinessa Shaw, Fay Masterson, Alan Cumming, Leelee Sobieski, Leon Vitali, and Julienne Davis star in the film.
Kubrick died just a few weeks before the premiere of his final film, the sexually charged fantasy “Eyes Wide Shut.” Much was made of its graphic orgy sequence, which was edited digitally after the director’s death by CGI characters hiding nude tussling (the original version is now on video). In fact, the whole plot revolves around sex, with then-couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman acting as married physicians whose relationship is strained when Kidman recounts a fantasy she had about a young naval officer, leading Cruise on a journey through New York City’s murky underworld. It’s completely hypnotic, with Kubrick crafting a dreamworld full of strange side characters, most notably Sydney Pollack, as a rich businessman with ominous ties.
9. Full METAL JACKET (1987)
Stanley Kubrick directed the film. Stanley Kubrick, Michael Herr, and Gustav Hasford wrote the screenplay, which was based on Hasford’s novel “The Short-Timers.” Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Arliss Howard, Kevyn Major Howard, and Ed O’Ross star in the film.
Kubrick spent most of his career fighting against man’s predisposition for violence, maybe never more successfully than in this harrowing Vietnam War thriller. “Full Metal Jacket” is divided into two parts to depict how the military develops young men into dehumanised killing robots, as seen through the eyes of a young grunt (Matthew Modine). The first act takes place in boot camp, where the vicious drill sergeant (real-life instructor R. Lee Ermey in his acting debut) browbeats the sensitive Pvt. Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio), resulting in catastrophe. The second section immerses us in conflict, ending in breathtaking sniper action. Kubrick was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay, which was adapted from Gustav Hasford’s novel.
8. LOLITA (1962)
Stanley Kubrick directed the film. Based on Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, the screenplay was written by him. Starring are James Mason, Shelley Winters, Sue Lyon, and Peter Sellers.
Fans of Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel gasped when Kubrick decided to adapt it for the screen, and for good reason: how could anyone adapt the storey of a middle-aged professor (James Mason) falling in love with a 14-year-old nymphet (Sue Lyon) for the screen, especially after the censors got a hold of it? However, the filmmaker pulls it off (despite the harsh cuts) by turning it into a stinging parody of love romances. As the professor, Mason is unexpectedly sympathetic, while Shelley Winters is a hoot as Lolita’s mother, and Peter Sellers steals the show as the quirky writer Clare Quilty. Nabokov was nominated for an Oscar for his writing, while Kubrick competed for Best Director at the Golden Globes and the DGA.
7. BARRY LYNDON (1975)
Stanley Kubrick wrote and directed the film, which was based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel of the same name. Ryan O’Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kruger, Diana Koerner, and Gay Hamilton co-star.
Barry Lyndon, perhaps Kubrick’s most difficult work, has been acclaimed for its breathtaking vistas and derided for its plodding pace in equal measure. Nonetheless, the time has been quite kind to the picture, which has stripped the historical drama of all its pomp and ceremony. It’s based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel of the same name, and it’s about an impoverished Irishman (Ryan O’Neal) who plots his way into British high society. It is one of the most gorgeous movies ever produced, with lavish costumes and art direction, as well as innovative photography (the filmmaker went to great lengths to capture interiors with candlelight), all of which received Oscars. Kubrick received offers to write, direct, and produce the best picture nominee.
6. THE KILLING (1956)
Stanley Kubrick directed the film. Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, dialogue by Jim Thompson, based on Lionel White’s novel “Clean Break.” Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Jay C. Flippen, Elisha Cook Jr., Marie Windsor, and Ted de Corsia star in the film.
After the practice runs of “Fear and Desire” and “Killer’s Kiss,” Kubrick hit it out of the park the third time around with “The Killing.” It’s a harsh, nasty little heist film, a pure exercise in style done by a filmmaker who was just 28 years old at the time. Sterling Hayden is a seasoned thief who assembles a rogue’s gallery of criminals to commit a racetrack theft before retiring to Florida with his girlfriend (Coleen Gray). But, of course, nothing happens as planned. It’s a delightfully dark noir with a dour, cynical ending, told nonlinearly with hard-nosed language by crime author Jim Thompson (“The Grifters,” “The Getaway”). A small-scale masterwork that paved the way for Kubrick’s larger-scale directorial efforts.
5. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)
Stanley Kubrick wrote and directed the film, which was based on Anthony Burgess’ novel of the same name. Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Adrienne Corri, and Miriam Karlin star.
A Clockwork Orange, undoubtedly the most divisive picture from a habitually rabble-rousing director, sparked outrage with its violent representations of “ultra-violence.” Kubrick, in fact, removed it from release in the United Kingdom following a string of copycat incidents. However, this adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ novel is a scathing satire of society’s production of malice, rather than a celebration of violence. Malcolm McDowell is terrifyingly terrific as Alex DeLarge, a ruthless thug who spends his evenings wreaking havoc in a dystopian London. When he is jailed, he agrees to participate in a brainwashing experiment to cure him of his evil ways. Kubrick was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
4. PATHS OF GLORY (1957)
Stanley Kubrick directed the film. Stanley Kubrick, Calder Willingham, and Jim Thompson wrote the screenplay, which was based on Humphrey Cobb’s novel. Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, and Richard Anderson co-star.
“Paths of Glory” comes as close to robbing battle of its thrills and spectacle as any antiwar film has ever come. Kirk Douglas is at his most heroic in this film as a French Colonel in WWI who refuses to proceed with a suicide mission, much to the chagrin of the generals reclining luxuriously in their beautiful offices. When three soldiers are sentenced to death, it is up to Douglas to defend them against cowardice allegations. This is a career pinnacle for both its director and actors, who imbue the drama with their individual grit and seriousness. It is anchored by a breathtakingly realistic fight sequence and a renowned gut-punch of a finale. Though the picture was largely snubbed by the Academy Awards, Kubrick did receive a WGA nomination.
3. THE SHINING (1980)
Stanley Kubrick directed the film. Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson wrote the screenplay, which was based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, and Danny Lloyd star.
When “The Shining” was released in 1980, it was met with outrage by Stephen King fans (not to mention the author himself), who objected to the film’s numerous changes from the novel. Despite this, its popularity rises with each passing year, an incredible achievement for a picture that earned its director his only Razzie nomination. As Jack Torrance, a writer who progressively goes insane while tending to a lonely hotel with his wife (Shelley Duvall) and telepathic son, Jack Nicholson provides one of his most manic performances (Danny Lloyd). Kubrick makes excellent use of the then-new Steadicam, which enables him to cast an unsettling spell over us with long, wandering shots along the dark corridors of the haunted inn, where a deadly surprise lurks around every corner.
2. DR. STRANGELOVE OR; HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964)
Stanley Kubrick directed the film. Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, and Peter George wrote the screenplay, which was based on George’s novel “Red Alert.” Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, Peter Bull, James Earl Jones, Tracy Reed, and Shane Rimmer star.
Only Kubrick could have transformed the prospect of nuclear war into one of the best comedies ever filmed. “Dr Strangelove” joyfully mocks the paranoid panic that gripped our nation during the Cold War, with incompetent politicians with their finger on the button as its target. Col. Mandrake, who must reverse an attack launched by the crazed Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), President Muffley, who tries to stop the conflict from the war room with Gen. Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott), and Dr. Strangelove himself, who has a plan for life after the Earth becomes a wasteland, are all played by Peter Sellers. Kubrick was nominated for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Actor, while Sellers was nominated for Best Actor.
1. A SPACE ODYSSEY IN THE YEAR 2001 (1968)
Stanley Kubrick directed the film. Based on Arthur C. Clarke’s book, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke wrote the screenplay. Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, and Douglas Rain star.
Few films are as awe-inspiring as Stanley Kubrick’s seminal sci-fi classic, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” It begins with the birth of man and the discovery of a massive monolith, which subsequently ends up on the moon. It is very non-narrative and perplexing. When the supercomputer HAL 9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain) seeks to murder the human scientists onboard (Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood), a voyage to Jupiter becomes fatal. Dullea then travels through a wormhole to another realm, where he spends the rest of his life in a mystery chamber until being resurrected as a star kid. Kubrick earned his one and only Academy Award for the film’s revolutionary special effects, as well as for writing and directing.