Stanley Kubrick is widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. With a career spanning over four decades, he left behind a legacy of 13 feature films that continue to captivate audiences and critics alike. From his early days as a photographer and documentary short director to his later years as a master of cinematic storytelling, Kubrick’s films have consistently pushed the boundaries of what is possible on the big screen. Here, we’ll explore the 8 best movies of Stanley Kubrick, according to movie critics, and delve into what makes each one a major work of cinematic art.

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

IMDB Rating: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%

Storyline: In this dark comedy, a deranged United States Air Force general launches a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, believing that the Russians are planning to do the same. As the world teeters on the brink of nuclear war, a group of military officers and politicians scramble to prevent the catastrophe.

Why it’s a major movie: Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a groundbreaking film that tackles the very real threat of nuclear war with a mix of satire and absurdity. Kubrick’s masterful direction and the performances of the cast, particularly Peter Sellers, bring to life a world that is both terrifying and hilarious. The film’s exploration of the dangers of unchecked power and the absurdity of war continues to resonate with audiences today.

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

IMDB Rating: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%

Storyline: This groundbreaking science fiction film follows a team of astronauts as they journey to Jupiter to uncover the secrets of a mysterious alien artifact. Along the way, they encounter strange and unexplained phenomena that challenge their understanding of humanity and the universe.

Why it’s a major movie: 2001: A Space Odyssey is a landmark film that redefined the boundaries of science fiction and the possibilities of cinematic storytelling. Kubrick’s use of visual effects, combined with the film’s thought-provoking themes and philosophical undertones, created a cinematic experience that continues to inspire and influence filmmakers to this day. The film’s exploration of human evolution, technology, and the search for meaning in an increasingly complex world remains a major work of cinematic art.

3. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

IMDB Rating: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%

Storyline: In a dystopian future, a group of teenage thugs, led by the charismatic and violent Alex, roam the streets, committing acts of violence and mayhem. When Alex is caught and subjected to a behavioral modification treatment, he begins to question his own morality and the nature of free will.

Why it’s a major movie: A Clockwork Orange is a powerful and thought-provoking film that explores the complexities of human nature and the dangers of government control. Kubrick’s masterful direction and the performances of the cast, particularly Malcolm McDowell, bring to life a world that is both terrifying and fascinating. The film’s exploration of themes such as violence, morality, and the nature of humanity continues to resonate with audiences today.

4. Barry Lyndon (1975)

IMDB Rating: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%

Storyline: This period drama follows the life of Redmond Barry, an Irishman who rises to wealth and power in 18th-century England through a series of cunning and ruthless maneuvers. Along the way, he must confront the consequences of his actions and the moral implications of his choices.

Why it’s a major movie: Barry Lyndon is a visually stunning film that explores the complexities of human nature and the dangers of unchecked ambition. Kubrick’s masterful direction and the performances of the cast, particularly Ryan O’Neal, bring to life a world that is both beautiful and brutal. The film’s exploration of themes such as morality, power, and the nature of humanity continues to resonate with audiences today.

5. The Shining (1980)

IMDB Rating: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 82%

Storyline: A family becomes trapped in a haunted hotel during the off-season, where the father’s sanity begins to unravel and the family is threatened by supernatural forces.

Why it’s a major movie: The Shining is a masterclass in building tension and suspense, as Kubrick expertly crafts a sense of unease and dread that permeates every scene. The film’s exploration of themes such as isolation, madness, and the supernatural continues to captivate audiences today.

6. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

IMDB Rating: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%

Storyline: This war drama follows a group of Marine recruits as they undergo rigorous training at a military base, only to find themselves deployed to Vietnam where they must confront the harsh realities of war.

Why it’s a major movie: Full Metal Jacket is a powerful and thought-provoking film that explores the complexities of human nature and the dangers of war. Kubrick’s masterful direction and the performances of the cast, particularly Matthew Modine and Adam Baldwin, bring to life a world that is both brutal and haunting. The film’s exploration of themes such as violence, morality, and the nature of humanity continues to resonate with audiences today.

7. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Storyline: A married couple becomes embroiled in a series of mysterious and surreal events after the husband’s nocturnal adventures lead him to question the nature of his marriage and the world around him.

Why it’s a major movie: Eyes Wide Shut is a visually stunning film that explores the complexities of human nature and the dangers of unchecked desire. Kubrick’s masterful direction and the performances of the cast, particularly Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, bring to life a world that is both beautiful and unsettling. The film’s exploration of themes such as morality, power, and the nature of humanity continues to captivate audiences today.

8. Lolita (1962)

IMDB Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%

Storyline: This adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel follows the story of a middle-aged professor who becomes obsessed with a young girl and begins a torrid affair with her.

Why it’s a major movie: Lolita is a powerful and thought-provoking film that explores the complexities of human nature and the dangers of unchecked desire. Kubrick’s masterful direction and the performances of the cast, particularly James Mason and Sue Lyon, bring to life a world that is both beautiful and unsettling. The film’s exploration of themes such as morality, power, and the nature of humanity continues to resonate with audiences today.

In conclusion, Stanley Kubrick’s films continue to captivate audiences and critics alike with their thought-provoking themes, masterful direction, and visually stunning cinematography. From his early days as a photographer and documentary short director to his later years as a master of cinematic storytelling, Kubrick’s films have consistently pushed the boundaries of what is possible on the big screen.