Alex Garland Movies Ranked, from Ex Machina to Civil War

A comprehensive list ranking Alex Garland movies, including Ex Machina, Annihilation and Men

ex machina alex garland movie 2015
Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina (2015), directed by Alex Garland

Alex Garland stands as a singular figure in contemporary filmmaking, both as a screenwriter and director. His work defies easy categorization, traversing the genre motifs of science fiction, psychological horror, and existential exploration with the dexterity of a seasoned cartographer navigating uncharted territories. To rank his films is not simply to list achievements; it’s to dive into a meticulously constructed, dimly lit world, with each twist and turn revealing a new facet of the human psyche illuminated by the harsh glare of technological anxieties.

His narratives, far from mere spectacle, are puzzles woven with philosophical inquiries and existential unease. In Ex Machina, the sleek minimalism of Nathan’s AI lab becomes a lair for interrogating the nature of consciousness. Ava (Alicia Vikander), the captivating synthetic intelligence at the center of the movie, compels us to redefine the very boundaries of humanity, while Nathan’s (Oscar Isaac) hubris serves as a chilling cautionary tale about the dangers of playing God with our own creations.

Alex Garland, however, is not a techno-dystopian prophet dead-set in only one direction. He recognizes the potential for beauty and connection embedded within the digital fabric of our world. In Annihilation (starring Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac), the Shimmer, instead of being a hostile alien entity, becomes a transformative crucible, pushing its protagonists to confront their deepest desires and fears. The film isn’t just a descent into the unknown; it’s a testament to the human capacity for metamorphosis, a journey where shedding one’s skin is not merely a loss but a gateway to evolution.

And he does not shy away from the darkness that lurks within, either. Men, his latest offering, wanders into the murky depths of male toxicity, a visceral exploration of the primal fears and violence that simmer beneath the surface of masculinity. It’s a film that provokes discomfort, yes, but that discomfort is the very catalyst that forces us to confront the uncomfortable truths about ourselves and the society we’ve constructed.

There’s a specific time and place for each of Alex Garland’s movies, which all operate with their own ideas of technology and human interaction – all pointing towards the man spearheading his own projections. I admire Garland’s specific interests with these themes, and his ability to further diagnose his own sensibilities as he works through each new movie.

Here’s how I’m thinking I’d rank all four Alex Garland movies:

4. Civil War (2024)

civil war movie 2024 alex garland

I’m fascinated to see how Civil War will change in my estimation on a rewatch. The movie is significantly less tied to its premise and more tied to its character than I expected. Alex Garland is so, so remarkably close to making a thoughtful statement on the tenuous state of affairs in our country. But he pulls back when he should be going all in. It slips through his fingers when it comes to the biggest details. Civil War review

3. Men (2022)

Men movie poster Alex Garland

Now nearly two years removed from its initial release date, Alex Garland’s Men for A24 feels underrated. A body horror home invasion movie featuring one of Hollywood’s best actresses in Jessie Buckley, the film is a shift in tone and themes from Garland’s previous works, transitioning from stories involving anxiety we have about the advancement of technology, to the societal and gender issues that plague our society. Men movie (2022) review

2. Annihilation (2018)

Annihilation movie poster Alex Garland

1. Ex Machina (2015)

ex machina movie 2015 a24 alex garland film

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