Stanley Kubrick Movies Ranked from Worst to Best, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Eyes Wide Shut

A comprehensive list of Stanley Kubrick movies ranked, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove, Eyes Wide Shut, and more

stanley kubrick directing 2001 a space odyssey in 1968
Stanley Kubrick directing 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Within the last few weeks, I submitted myself to the lifelong works and career of the legendary director Stanley Kubrick. With the Blank Check series starting up and many of his films being available on streaming or in the Criterion Collection, it felt like the right amalgamation of instances that finally brought me over to the dark side.

Kubrick’s writing and style can be quite intimidating on first viewing. It made it hard to fully grasp and understand the magnitude of some of his lesser-established films after just one experience with them. I was able to return to some of his significant accomplishments – ones I had seen before and were so excited to return to and visit now having the prior knowledge of the building blocks he had worked on for decades prior. Seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and others through the lens of The Killing, Paths of Glory and Spartacus gave me a new perspective on the goals and achievements Kubrick may have been reaching for with each effort. And for the most part, he succeeded.

No filmography is without a few less admirable films, though. While Stanley Kubrick has a bag overflowing with capital “C” Classics, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being strangled out of a few of the projects deep into his filmography. Many of Kubrick’s detractors cite his work as being emotionless and claustrophobic, and I can see and understand that criticism. I think Kubrick’s films are the most accomplished when they work hand-in-hand with the stylistic flourishes that draw these comparisons. The deadpan close-ins or zoom-outs that clearly took shape from his documentary days never cease to captivate me because of his ability to capture a subject within the totality of the world around him.

There are many more tidbits and points that have been lauded over for years since the director’s death, and I implore anyone interested to seek out the early life and career of Stanley Kubrick because, while it may not be all pleasant and uplifting (many note Kubrick for being a prick on set and not the most compromising individual), there are so many great films that come out of these stories and events.

For now, here’s how I’d rank all 12 Stanley Kubrick movies:

12. Killer’s Kiss (1955)

killers kiss movie 1955

11. Spartacus (1960)

spartacus movie 1960

10. Lolita (1962)

lolita movie 1962

9. The Killing (1956)

the killing movie 1956

8. Barry Lyndon (1975)

barry lyndon movie 1975

7. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

a clockwork orange movie 1971

6. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

full metal jacket movie 1987

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

dr strangelove movie 1964

4. Paths of Glory (1957)

paths of glory movie 1957

3. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

eyes wide shut movie 1999

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001 a space odyssey 1968

1. The Shining (1980)

the shining movie 1980

View a Letterboxd version of this list here

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