A comprehensive list of Jonathan Glazer movies ranked, including Birth, Under the Skin, The Zone of Interest, and more
Birth was the last Jonathan Glazer movie I had to see before I could do a complete ranking of his four movies that have spanned the entire 21st century. Now with that movie, along with his 2000 debut feature film Sexy Beast and 2019 stunning short film The Fall, streaming on The Criterion Channel in February, I’ve completed his filmography and have some thoughts.
And it’s important to note that I’m ranking these films only about a week after his latest film, The Zone of Interest, was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture. It feels as if Glazer is finally having his moment. This has been long overdue for the acclaimed English filmmaker, even with his abbreviated catalogue of films and an idiosyncratic, often non-commercial style of directing.
The Zone of Interest stunned me when I first laid my eyes on it, not just for the intense and upsetting attention to sound design and visual patterns, but also because Jonathan Glazer is able to stay out of focus behind the camera. It doesn’t feel like a Jonathan Glazer take on the general concepts of a Holocaust film. Instead, it feels like an elevation for the director, where he stays out of the limelight and allows the events on screen to grow into their own set of sensibilities. The best directors find a way to make the movies not feel like they’re solely about the director themselves. This was Glazer’s best attempt at exactly that.
The movie also serves as another example of Jonathan Glazer’s ability to adapt and mold to any material. His four movies are vastly different – from character archetypes to settings to time periods. He doesn’t double up on many themes. There is certainly a darker pattern of tone and a set of visual motifs that Glazer seems to stick to, but they transform depending on the world he chooses to operate him.
Here’s how I’d rank the Jonathan Glazer movies:
4. Birth (2004)
3. Under the Skin (2013)
2. Sexy Beast (2000)
1. The Zone of Interest (2023)
Jonathan Glazer presents these characters not as the stand-ins for pure evil, rather those complacent in atrocities of large-scale magnitude. And if this doesn’t sound like the most prescient way to depict complacency through a historical lens, Glazer goes as far as to break the fourth wall towards the end of the third act, putting the events of The Zone of Interest in modern context in a similar fashion to Martin Scorsese’s in Killers of the Flower Moon this year. They can only make sense of their stories through their own experiences and beliefs, and in both cases, they’re palpable and timely in a way few films achieve. The Zone of Interest review
View a Letterboxd version of this list here.
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- Jonathan Glazer Movies Ranked: The Zone of Interest, Under the Skin, and More