Every Stanley Kubrick Movie, Ranked

Stanley Kubrick is easily one of the greatest filmmakers in history. Kubrick’s sharp social satire, untraditional framing techniques, and complex storylines distinguished him as a maverick director whose style has been replicated and repeated ever since.

Kubrick’s films are worthy of heavy discussion and debate, and their meaning continues to be a subject of debate among cinephiles for a long time after the project was released.

13. Fear and Desire It's almost hard to judge Kubrick’s directorial debut Fear and Desire against the rest of his filmography, as the hour-long anti-war film is more or less an extended student short project that’s mostly fascinating in how it predicates his later achievements.

12. Killer’s Kiss Kubrick’s second film is certainly a step up from Fear and Desire, but it was still the work of a developing filmmaker who was more trying to perfect current trends than innovate his own. Compared to the rest of his filmography, Killer’s Kiss is perhaps the biggest outlier.

11. Lolita Lolita is a fascinating example of Kubrick biting off more than he could chew. On paper, matching the novel filmmaker with the controversial 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov seemed like a perfect fit, as Kubrick had shown he could adapt great literature and offer his own interpretation.

10. Spartacus It's fascinating that a film as  iconic as Spartacus is Kubrick’s most compromised work, and although the film is hailed as a classic, is the one film within Kubrick’s filmography where he didn’t have complete artistic control.

9. The Killing In only a few short parallels, it's easy to see how The Killing is one of the most influential films ever made. Kubrick’s 1956 neo-noir heist thriller tells its robbery plot from multiple perspectives and was among Quentin Tarantino's primary influences for Reservoir Dogs.

8. Paths of Glory Anti-war themes are prevalent within a good portion of Kubrick’s work, and in many ways Paths of Glory is a more mature version of his early attempts to make a statement in Fear and Desire.

7. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb What has always made Kubrick such a fascinating filmmaker is that despite the dark subject material that he frequently tackles, he’s never failed to have a sense of humor. There are satirical elements woven into all of his films, and unsurprisingly his only outright comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is both one of the funniest and most devastating films ever made.

6. Full Metal Jacket There is a broad misconception among cinephile circles that Full Metal Jacket is a lesser Kubrick work that only works in its first half. Undoubtedly, the first hour of Kubrick’s 1987 war film includes some of the most powerful imagery of his career as it follows the brutal training process of U.S. Marines as they undergo boot camp training.

5. A Clockwork Orange The only thing more shocking than the highly disturbing material within A Clockwork Orange is how completely ahead of his time Kubrick was, and how half a decade later his 1971 dystopian classic is just as impactful and relevant (and unfortunately subject to the same debates over whether or not it's “promoting” its characters' behavior).

4. Barry Lyndon It goes without saying that Barry Lyndon is one of the most beautiful-looking movies ever made. Rarely will you find a three-hour film that’s this entertaining, as Barry Lyndon saw Kubrick lampooning the self-seriousness of the cinematic epic with a titular character that’s selfish, repugnant, and generally unlikeable.

3. Eyes Wide Shut Leave it to Kubrick to create the most anxiety-inducing Christmas movie ever made. Kubrick’s final film preyed on marital anxieties amidst a holiday season that subverts the festive decorations of modern New York into a nightmarish prison.

2. The Shining Kubrick is a filmmaker who works in extremes, and fittingly The Shining is a film about descending into madness that forces the viewer to undergo the same desensitization to reason. It's not hard to see why Stephen King remains unsatisfied with Kubrick’s vision, because there’s nothing about the film that aligns with rules or building a greater mythology.

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey One of the greatest achievements in film history, 2001: A Space Odyssey was such a game-changer that it's hard to summarize the extent of its influence. It's both a vision of the future and a window into the past, a criticism of technological overbearance and an insight into the search for a creator, and a richly metaphorical text that’s still engaging as an outer space adventure.