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Stanley Kubrick Best Movies, Ranked: Top 10

Stanley Kubrick Best Movies, Ranked: Top 10

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There hasn’t been quite a director like Stanley Kubrick. The auteur of auteurs, Kubrick, in his 50-year career, had a reputation for being a perfectionist to the nth degree. Even perfect wasn’t perfect for him. A cinema genius who assumed near-total control over his films, from writing to editing to directing, it was probably a huge pain for actors to act in his scenes, given his extraordinarily close attention to detail.

As with most great directors of cinema, Kubrick’s filmography contains some of the most iconic and thought-provoking films and scenes in the history of cinema. He’s worked on most genres, from horror to thriller to dark comedy to science fiction, pushing the envelope almost every single time, which incurred a significant amount of controversy during his storied career. But he didn’t care.

I’ve done lists on other great directors of film, and obviously Kubrick has to be one of them. It has been extremely difficult picking a top 10, but here are what I think Stanley Kubrick’s 10 greatest movies: 


Stanley Kubrick Best Movies


10. Lolita (1962)

Stanley Kubrick best movies
Image Source: Critic After Dark

A black comedy about a pedophile rapist would definitely cause controversy today, so you can imagine what Kubrick faced back in 1962. Based on the classic novel which was deemed ‘unfilmable’, Kubrick decided to do the exact opposite. Censorship issues came forth and changed quite a number of scenes in the movie. Kubrick later claimed if he had known beforehand how severe the censorship restrictions would be, he wouldn’t have made Lolita. Uncharacteristically, it wasn’t a grand slam classic, but more of a miss. In no way a failure, but Kubrick was better than that. Way better.


9. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Stanley Kubrick movies
Image Source: Oklahoma City Museum of Art

Kubrick was always regarded as a cold and calculating director who had no business dealing with ‘trivial’ matters such as human emotion. That changed with his last movie ever, Eyes Wide Shut. Starring then husband-and-wife Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Eyes Wide Shut study of sociosexual paranoia, albeit an underwhelming one. It was hyped as an art house erotica which would’ve been his ultimate masterpiece, but alas, it was neither of those. It moves at snail-slow pace, ever slower than Kubrick’s usual standards. A good movie by normal standards, but it doesn’t cut it for Kubrick.


8. The Killing (1956)

Stanley Kubrick films
Image Source: Baltimore City Paper

The Killing was a huge step forward in Kubrick’s career. Starring Sterling Hayden as a career criminal who recruits a group of specialists to pull off a daring racecourse heist, this film is film noir at it’s finest. Even today, it remains hugely influential, with core elements of it evident in Quentin Tarantino‘s classic Reservoir Dogs. Kubrick turns a movie filled with B-movie tropes into a classic film noir with well-used character arcs. Add Kubrick’s smooth camerawork and you’re off to the races.


7. Paths of Glory (1957)

The late 50s was when Kubrick proved to the world that he could seamlessly shift between genres with scintillating results. This World War 1 drama was Kubrick announcing himself as a big league player. Winston Churchill considered Paths of Glory to showcase the most realistic portrayal of trench warfare, but the film was anti-war at heart with its shocking and brutal portrayal of World War 1. The stroll through the trenches remains one of the most iconic shots in cinema history to this day.


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6. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

top Kubrick movies
Image Source: Hollywood Reporter

Full Metal Jacket is one of the greatest films of the 80s and one of the greatest war films of all time. By then, there had been a few movies based on the Vietnam War, like The Deer HunterApocalypse Now and Platoon. By comparison, Full Metal Jacket may have suffered at first, but years later, the true meaning and uniqueness of the movie was realised. It contains many iconic Kubrick shots, like the climactic battle with a girl sniper systematically slaughtering the Marines. But Full Metal Jacket was more than just a war film. Along with the traumatizing effects of combat battle, Kubrick portrayed the mental toll it took on cadets with the brutal training regime under a dictator-like sergeant who yelled nothing but profanity at their faces. God, that scene is still funny.

Where to Watch: Netflix


Recommended: 50 Best Netflix Movies Right Now



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