Stanley Kubrick is arguably one of the finest filmmakers to ever live. The influential director, dogged perfectionist, and infamous recluse left behind some of the most celebrated and iconic movies ever made. From 1953 to 1999, Kubrick only made 13 feature films, yet nearly every one of them has gone on to become a landmark achievement.
One of Kubrick’s most beloved movies is The Shining, the sequel to which finally arrives when Doctor Sleep opens in theaters this Friday, November 8th. In anticipation of the new release, here are Stanley Kubrick’s 10 Best Movies, According to IMDB!
10 Lolita (7.6/10)
Vladimir Nabokov’s explosive and controversial novel Lolita had been thought unfilmable in Hollywood until Kubrick optioned rights to adapt the story to the big screen. The taboo topic of Humbert Humbert, a pedophilic professor with lusty eyes for a 14-year old girl, was simply too risque for the time. Heck, it still is!
Yet through verbal innuendo and visual suggestion, Kubrick skirted the strict rules of the Production Code to tell the story as faithfully as possible. The film went on to score an Oscar nomination for Nabakov’s adapted screenplay.
9 Spartacus (7.9/10)
While Kubrick only bears partial ownership for the sprawling 3-hour epic, Spartacus, fans still feel quite strongly about the end result. More of a job for hire than a typical passion project, Kubrick was brought on board to finish filming after original director Anthony Mann was fired.
Star Kirk Douglas, who had previously worked with Kubrick on Paths of Glory, asked the director to rescue the doomed production. Kubrick agreed but was given zero control over the script, prompting him to ultimately disavow the film and never work-for-hire again.
8 The Killing (8.0/10)
The nonlinear editing of cool crime flicks like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs owe a debt of gratitude to Kubrick’s groundbreaking heist film, The Killing. This just in, everyone steals from Kubrick!
The black-and-white film follows a group of thieves who carefully plot a race-track heist during a horse race. The stylish film-noir story follows a five-man crew out to rob $2 million during the race, and the systematic breakdown of the plan once the money is taken. The movie jumps back and forth in time in a way never before seen in the crime genre.
7 Barry Lyndon (8.1/10)
Barry Lyndon is arguably one of the most beautiful films ever made. The sprawling three-hour saga about Barry Lyndon (Ryan O’Neal), the Rougish Irishman who climbs his way up the social ladder in 18th-century Europe, was captured with lenses specifically made for Kubrick by NASA. Seriously, who can compete with that?
As Barry cons his way up through the rungs of the English aristocracy, he meets and marries the wealthy Lady Lyndon in the belief that opulence will solve all his problems. Spoiler alert, he learns differently in the end!
6 2001: A Space Odyssey (8.3/10)
As narratively challenging and technologically trailblazing as any Kubrick effort, 2001: A Space Odyssey is often hailed as one of the most influential movies ever assembled. Heck, the Oscar-winning Special Visual Effects are so convincing that some people still believe Kubrick was hired to stage the moon landings a few months later. And that was 50 years ago!
The trippy visual marvel, which currently ranks #90 on IMDB’s Top 250, follows a space mission to retrieve an alien artifact located on the lunar surface. However, the malevolent supercomputer Hal 9000 has other plans for the crew!
5 Full Metal Jacket (8.3/10)
The grueling psychological toll of warfare is on display in Kubrick’s bifurcated Vietnam film, Full Metal Jacket. It may be one of Kubrick’s shortest films, but the impact can’t be measured!
The first half of the film follows a squad of soldiers being groomed and programmed through intensely dehumanizing basic training. The second half follows the same soldiers in the throes of a deadly skirmish during the Vietnam war. As the protagonist Joker (Matthew Modine) echoes throughout, the film explores the duality of man’s good and evil sides.
4 A Clockwork Orange (8.3/10)
Adapted from Anthony Burgess’ controversial novel, A Clockwork Orange explores the impact of gang warfare and government-controlled brainwashing with equal insights.
The tale of the wayward teenage scoundrel, Alex (Malcolm McDowell), who leads his “droogs” down a destructive path of violence in contemporary London, currently sits at #97 on IMDB’s Top 250 Movies Ever Made. When Alex is apprehended and sent away for psychological rehabilitation, the intended consequences do not go smoothly. Funny, frightening, and downright ferocious, A Clockwork Orange is one of the most beloved movies ever made.
3 Paths Of Glory (8.4/10)
Here’s a tidbit for all you trivia buffs out there. Stanley Kubrick met his wife Christiane Harlan on the set of Paths of Glory. The two remained married for 40 years before Kubrick suddenly passed away in 1999. Yes, that’s the story of, that’s the glory of love!
In a time when most war movies served as pro-military propaganda, Paths of Glory was a deliberate antiwar story. Kubrick’s groundbreaking tracking shots inside the WWI trenches are still lauded to this day, as is the lead performance by Kirk Douglas.
2 Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (8.4/10)
Following their collaboration on Lolita, Kubrick offered Peter Sellers the opportunity to play three different roles in the hilarious antiwar satire, Dr. Strangelove. This just in, he didn’t disappoint!
The farcical film makes light of the gravest subject imaginable: nuclear extinction. When a paranoid General thinks the Russians are poisoning the U.S. water supply with fluoride, a nuclear response is irrationally triggered. The buffoonish powers-that-be convene in the war-room for the proper course of action, but it may be too late.
1 The Shining (8.4/10)
With more total IMDB votes than Dr. Strangelove and Paths of Glory combined, The Shining is easily the top-rated Kubrick film to date. How crazy is it to think the movie bombed at the box-office during opening weekend!?
With The Shining, Kubrick again proved that he was ahead of his time. The now-classic horror film was dismissed at the time of its release, earning several Razzie nominations for its perceived inferiority. The movie has since gone on to be regarded as perhaps the scariest horror movie ever made. The film currently ranks as the #62 film on IMDB’s Top 250.