Stanley Kubrick Movies

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) one of the most famous directors of all time.

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) one of the most famous directors of all time.

Want to know the best Stanley Kubrick movies?  How about the worst Stanley Kubrick movies?  Curious about Stanley Kubrick box office grosses or which Stanley Kubrick movie picked up the most Oscar® nominations? Need to know which Stanley Kubrick movie got the best reviews from critics and audiences and which got the worst? Well you have come to the right place….because we have all of that information.

From 1953 to 1999 Stanley Kubrick only directed thirteen movies. This is a case of quality over quantity, as some of those thirteen movies are classic movies. Kubrick’s first two films were produced by friends and family. Both films,1953’s Fear and Desire and 1955’s Killer’s Kiss, failed at the box office, costing his friends and family most of the money they invested.

His next two movies 1956’s The Killing and 1957’s Paths of Glory, also failed at the box office but gained Kubrick notice as a director who could produce a quality movie on a limited budget. In 1960, Kirk Douglas picked him to direct the big budget movie Spartacus. Spartacus would be Kubrick’s second biggest hit  and establish him as a great director.

From 1962 to 1999, he would only direct eight more movies. But during this time frame he directed the classic movies Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket. In 1999, four days after screening a final cut of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick died of a heart attack in his sleep at the age of 70. It should be noted all the people that lost money on Kubrick’s first two films were paid back when Kubrick became successful.

Stanley Kubrick’s IMDb page shows 16 directing credits from 1951-1999. This page will rank 13 Stanley Kubrick movies from Best to Worst in six different sortable columns of information.  His 3 documentaries were not included in the rankings.

HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1969)...just one of the Kubrick classic movies.

HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1969)…just one of the Kubrick classic movies.

Stanley Kubrick Movies Worst to Best

Stanley Kubrick's first film #13 1953's Fear and Desire.

Stanley Kubrick’s first film #13 1953’s Fear and Desire.

#13 Fear and Desire (1953)

From Wikipedia….. “Fear and Desire (1953) is a military action/adventure film by Stanley Kubrick. It is Kubrick’s first feature film and is also one of his least-seen productions. Kubrick served as the film’s director, producer, cinematographer and editor.”

Kubrick would later try to purchase all known prints of the movie, in the hopes it would never be seen in public again.

When prints of the movie started to show up in the mid 1990s…..Kubrick issued a statement that severely downplayed the film’s value, and he called Fear and Desire “a bumbling amateur film exercise.”

He succeeded in making it difficult to locate…..but I actually tracked down and watched this movie.  A nice first effort….but this is a confusing movie that does not even bother to try and explain itself.

#12 1955's Killer's Kiss.....40,000 dollar budget only earned half it's money back.

#12 1955’s Killer’s Kiss…..40,000 dollar budget only earned half it’s money back.

#12 Killer’s Kiss (1955)

After his first movie, Fear and Desire, which was family and friend financed, failed to make a dent at the box office, Kubrick raised the money for his second movie, Killer’s Kiss, by going to different friends and different family members. Killer’s Kiss had a budget of $40,000 but only returned about $21,000 to its producers.

The movie which is about a boxer, a gangster and a dance hall girl, received mixed reviews….Kubrick not only co-produced but also directed, photographed and edited the venture from his own screenplay and original story…a true low budget film.

One of the better reviews came from the New York Times….they said it looked like Kubrick had some promise.

Sterling Hayden in 1956's The Killing

Sterling Hayden in 1956’s The Killing

#11 The Killing (1956)

This is the first movie Kubrick made that was not by being banked by his friends and family. With a budget of $320,000 dollars, Kubrick and Jim Thompson (of The Grifters fame) wrote the screenplay based on the novel Clean Break by Lionel White.

The drama features Sterling Hayden (who would later play Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove) and Elisha Cook, Jr.

The movie did not make its money back but established Kubrick’s reputation as a budding genius among critics and studio executives.

Kirk Douglas in Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957)

Kirk Douglas in Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957)

#10 Paths of Glory (1957)

Stanley Kubrick’s first great film. Paths of Glory is a 1957 anti-war film based on the novel by Humphrey Cobb. Set during World War I, stars Douglas as the commanding officer of French soldiers who refused to continue a suicidal attack.

This movie shows the insanity of trench warfare, Douglas is awesome in his role. In 1992, the film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

This is my 2nd favorite Stanley Kubrick film.  Outstanding supporting roles and Kirk Douglas is outstanding in the lead role.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in Kubrick's last movie #9 Eyes Wide Shut.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in Kubrick’s last movie #9 Eyes Wide Shut.

#9 Eyes Wide Shut

The last film to be directed, produced and co-written by Stanley Kubrick. The film was based on Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 Traumnovelle (Dream Story). This is one of my least favorite Kubrick movies. I have only seen it one time and that was enough for me.

The movie earned over $87 million in adjusted for inflation box office dollars. It’s 75% critic audience score is the second lowest of all the Kubrick movies. Kubrick died four days after showing the final cut to the stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

FYI.  The next time you watch Eyes Wide Shut….notice how there is a Christmas tree in almost every scene in the movie.

Joker and Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in #8 Full Metal Jacket.

Joker and Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in #8 Full Metal Jacket.

#8 Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Considered by some to be the best Vietnam movie ever made. For my money I think Platoon is easily the winner of that argument. Full Metal Jacket follows some infantry riflemen from basic training at Paris Island to the Tet Offensive in 1968.

It took Kubrick almost seven years to make this film. Vincent D’Onofrio and R. Lee Ermey are outstanding in the first half of the movie, neither makes it to the second half. IMDB has Full Metal Jacket ranked 86 on their Top 250 list.

Peter Sellers and James Mason in Lolita.

Peter Sellers and James Mason in Lolita.

#7 Lolita (1962)

Lolita is a 1962 comedy-drama based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov. James Mason plays Humbert Humbert, a 40-something British professor of French literature who falls in love with a fourteen-year old girl named Lolita.

Murder, mayhem and a very funny Peter Sellers (he was Oscar® nominated for his role) take place in the movie. This was Kubrick’s 5th biggest box office hit.

Jeremy Irons took over the James Mason role in the 1997 remake.

Jack Nicholson in 1980's The Shining

Jack Nicholson in 1980’s The Shining

#6 The Shining (1980)

Easily my favorite Staley Kubrick movie. No matter how many times I see this movie, it still can creep me out. Nicholson is fantastic, the sets are awesome, Shelly Duvall is memorable, and Danny Lloyd (his only film) as the son gives a great child performance.

The Shining was Kubrick’s 4th biggest hit with $134.40 million in adjusted for inflation box office dollars. For some unknown reason to me, it received no love from the Oscar® or Golden Globe® people, not a single nomination. One of the best movies based on a Steven King book to be filmed.

Peter Sellers in one of his three roles in Kubrick's #5 movie Dr. Strangelove.

Peter Sellers in one of his three roles in Kubrick’s #5 movie Dr. Strangelove.

#5 Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)

Dr. Strangelove was a 1964 black comedy movie that satirized the nuclear scare. The American Film Institute’s 100 years…..100 laughs poll ranks Dr. Strangelove as the 3rd funniest movie in American cinema history.

Kubrick earned his first ever Oscar® nomination for Best Director for this movie.  Peter Sellers was actually supposed to play 4 characters in the movie.  There is great debate about why he never filmed the 4th part. 

One story is that Seller’s broke his leg and therefore could not play the 4th and last part.  Another story goes that Seller’s did not want to play the part and faked an injury to get out of the part.  This was good news for Slim Pickens who got to play his most famous role in his career…Major “King” Kong.

Ryan O'Neal stars in Stanley Kubrick's #4 movie Barry Lyndon.

Ryan O’Neal stars in Stanley Kubrick’s #4 movie Barry Lyndon.

#4 Barry Lyndon (1975)

When people mention their favorite Kubrick movie, not too many people offer up 1975’s Barry Lyndon. Despite the movie’s lackluster box office (9th of his 13 movies), it earned seven Oscar® nominations (the most of any Kubrick film) and won four Oscars® (tied for most with Spartacus).

The movie follows Ryan O’Neal’s character Barry Lyndon from the 1750’s to 1789. In Sight and Sound’s 2002 critic poll, Barry Lyndon was ranked #27 of all-time.

Kirk Douglas in the #3 Stanley Kubrick movie Spartacus

Kirk Douglas in the #3 Stanley Kubrick movie Spartacus

#3 Spartacus (1960)
After veteran director Anthony Mann was fired after the first week of filming by producer Kirk Douglas. Douglas turned to Kubrick to take over the film. Douglas had appeared in Kubrick’s 4th film, Paths of Glory, and felt that Kubrick could handle the $12 million dollar budget with a cast of 10,500.

Also starring in this movie with Douglas, were Sir Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov (won Oscar® for his role), and Jean Simmons. The movie turned into Kubrick’s second biggest hit of his career with over $281 million in adjusted for inflation box office dollars.  Only 2001: A Space Odyssey earned more in Kubrick’s career.  Spartacus would also earn six Oscar® nominations, winning four Oscars®.

Alex and his droogs in Kubrick's #2 movie A Clockwork Orange

Alex and his droogs in Kubrick’s #2 movie A Clockwork Orange

#2 A Clockwork Orange
Kubrick’s 3rd biggest blockbuster hit of his career with over $180 million in adjusted for inflation box office. Kubrick would receive his 3rd Oscar® nomination for Best Director for this movie. The movie follows the ruthless Alex as he goes from street thug to guinea pig in this futuristic science fiction movie based on a novel by Anthony Burgess. Malcom McDowell gives a great and very memorable performance as Alex. An awesome 40 year anniversary Blu-Ray is now available, it is highly recommended.

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey

#1 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

One of Kubrick’s biggest blockbusters with over $380 million in adjusted for inflation dollars at the box office. Kubrick would receive his 2nd of four Oscar® nominations for Best Director for this movie.

Sight and Sound’s 2002 poll of critics ranked A Space Odyssey as one of the top ten movies of all-time. It was also ranked the number one movie of all-time in the 2010 Movie Arts Film Journal’s poll. Its groundbreaking special effects won an Academy Award®.

One of the best science fiction movies ever.....1968's A Space Odyssey

One of the best science fiction movies ever…..1968’s A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick Movies Can Be Ranked 6 Ways In This Table

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Sort Stanley Kubrick movies by the stars of the movies.
  • Sort Stanley Kubrick movies by adjusted domestic box office grosses using current movie ticket cost (in millions)
  • Sort Stanley Kubrick movies by their yearly domestic box office rank
  • Sort Stanley Kubrick movies how they were received by critics and audiences.  60% rating or higher should indicate a good movie.
  • Sort by how many Oscar® nominations and how many Oscar® wins each Stanley Kubrick movie received.
  • Sort Stanley Kubrick movies by Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score.  UMR Score puts box office, reviews and awards into a mathematical equation and gives each movie a score.
RankMovie (Year)UMR Co-Star LinksAdjusted B.O. Domestic (mil)Box Office Rank by YearCritic Audience RatingOscar Nom / WinUMR Score
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)Gary Lockwood & HAL$372.703rd of 196890.00%04 / 0183.50
Clockwork Orange, A (1971)Malcolm McDowell$263.207th of 197288.00%04 / 0082.59
Spartacus (1960)Kirk Douglas & Laurence Olivier$387.503rd of 196088.00%06 / 0478.41
Barry Lyndon (1975)Ryan O'Neal$114.6018th of 197587.75%07 / 0472.83
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)Peter Sellers & George C. Scott$128.1014th of 196492.50%04 / 0071.68
Lolita (1962)Peter Sellers & James Mason$144.5016th of 196287.50%01 / 0065.17
Shining, The (1980)Jack Nicholson$142.7010th of 198087.00%00 / 0063.01
Full Metal Jacket (1987)Matthew Modine$99.9023rd of 198790.00%01 / 0058.18
Paths of Glory (1957)Kirk Douglas$51.6068th of 195889.50%00 / 0050.06
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman$92.8026th of 199974.50%00 / 0049.94
Killing, The (1956)Sterling Hayden$13.80124th of 195689.00%00 / 0043.97
Killer's Kiss (1955)Frank Silvera$1.30203rd of 195574.50%00 / 0035.22
Fear and Desire (1953)Paul Mazursky$0.90214th of 195363.50%00 / 0032.48

Stats and Possibly Interesting Things From The Above Stanley Kubrick Table

  1. Seven Stanley Kubrick movies crossed the magical $100 million domestic gross mark.  That is a percentage of 53.87% of his movies listed.  Spartacus (1960) was his biggest box office hit.
  2. An average Stanley Kubrick movie earned $146.90 million in adjusted box office gross.
  3. Using RottenTomatoes.com’s 60% fresh meter.  13 of Stanley Kubrick movies are rated as good movies…or 100.00 % of his movies.  2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is his highest rated movie while Fear and Desire (1953) is his lowest rated movie.
  4. Seven Stanley Kubrick movies have been nominated for at least one Oscar® nomination in any category…or 53.84 of his movies
  5. Three Stanley Kubrick movies won at least one Oscar® in any category…..or 23.07% of his movies.
  6. An average Ultimate Movie Rankings (UMR) Score is 40.00.  11 Stanley Kubrick movies scored higher that average….or 84.61% of his movies. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) got the the highest UMR Score while Fear and Desire (1953) got the lowest UMR Score.
Slim Pickens in 1964's Dr. Strangelove

Slim Pickens in 1964’s Dr. Strangelove

Check out Stanley Kubrick career compared to current and classic actors.  Most 100 Million Dollar Movies of All-Time.

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103 thoughts on “Stanley Kubrick Movies

  1. 1 Stanley’s The Killing (1956) is one of the few B movies that critics consider a minor classic and indeed it is awarded a splendid 89% on this page and ranked 5th for critic/audience -very observant Bruce even if you have pluralised the title ! It was shot on a shoestring budget and the sets were so cheap that observers say that if you watch closely you can see the cardboard walls of rooms move when there is the slightest vibration in a scene. That’s a far cry from the $65 million (about $90 million in today’s dollars) that they gave Kubrick to direct his penultimate film Eyes Wide Shut in 1999 which didn’t impress me at all and which Bruce has wisely rated joint penultimate for critic/audience. My own favourite Kubrick movie is Paths of Glory.

    2 Kubrick made very few films but some of those that he did make such as Dr Strangelove, 2001 and a Clockwork Orange are so unique that in my opinion they have ensured that his legacy will always be secure. In one other respect Stanley has a minor claim to cinematic history in that he was indirectly responsible for the only film Marlon Brando ever directed, One Eyed Jacks (1961). Initially Stanley was assigned to direct it and there are photos on the internet of a smiling Kubrick and Brando with their arms round one another but they fell out and Marlon directed the movie himself. Tracy was initially considered for the Karl Malden part and if everything had gone according to the original plan I’m sure that it would have been some fun set to be on with Old Cantankerous, Mr Mumbles and Stanley all having to work with each other!

    3 One Eyed Jacks was OK but I personally much preferred say The Big Country or even “Always take the long view” but One Eyed Jacks is Martin Scorsese’s favourite western so what do I know? However whilst the Kubrick/Brando quarrel was well publicised at the time show people can have such huge egos that there are probably many other great on-set clashes of personality and temperament that we never hear about. I read somewhere for example that Stanley and Kirk were not exactly in love with each other during the shooting of Spartacus, Peck and Wyler did not hit it off when making The Big Country and Larry apparently wanted to boil Monroe in oil when he directed her in Prince and Showgirl.

    1. Hey Bob…wow….that Killings error has been out there for a very long time…..thanks for the heads up on that. I love The Killing….one of the best heist movies….and every time I watch it I hope that Hayden will get away….so far…he always gets caught….but maybe one day….lol. Too bad Brando and Kubrick could not fix that bridge….it would have been interesting to see how that movie would have worked out. As for One Eyed Jacks……it is a cult classic…..but I was not too impressed with it….maybe a second viewing is required. Brando used his box office clout to go out of control on that project. His version of that movie would have been 12 hours long…and he filmed enough to make it 24 hours long. He required even extras in the back ground to “method” act…..explaining why they were walking from point a to point b. Not picking on one of your favorites..just sometimes stars get so big they get out of control….Bruce Willis in Hudson Hawk…also comes to mind. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Mr. Kubrick.

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