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What Is The Best Stanley Kubrick Movie of All Time?

best stanley kubrick movie

Stanley Kubrick (1928–1999) was perhaps the most iconic  American film director, screenwriter, and producer of all time. Renowned for his remarkable precision in filmmaking and his highly stylized approach to cinematography. Kubrick’s innovative visual storytelling and uncompromising exploration of complex themes have established him as one of the most influential directors in the history of cinema.

Born in the Bronx, New York, Kubrick developed an interest in photography at a young age and began his career as a photographer for Look magazine. His attention to visual detail and storytelling translated seamlessly into his film work when he transitioned to cinema in the 1950s.

Over his 46-year career, Kubrick directed 13 feature films, ranging from war dramas to psychological thrillers, from historical epics to science fiction. His films, such as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “The Shining,” and “Full Metal Jacket,” have left a significant impact on film theory and have a reputation for their controversial nature and complex narrative structure.

Kubrick’s perfectionism is legendary. He was known to demand countless retakes during filming to achieve the exact performance he envisioned. His rigorous control over all aspects of production, including writing, directing, editing, and even marketing, earned him the reputation of a film auteur.

Despite the controversies and debates his films often sparked, Kubrick’s contribution to cinema is widely recognized, and he continues to be a source of inspiration for filmmakers worldwide. His films consistently feature on lists of the greatest films ever made.  But what is his greatest film he ever made? Let’s vote! First, a refresher on some of his best. If you need more before you vote, you can read a brief blurb about each film at the bottom.

Film Release Date Budget Box Office
Dr. Strangelove 1964 $1.8 million $9.4 million
Lolita 1962 $2 million $9.25 million
Spartacus 1960 $12 million $60 million
2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 $12 million $190 million
A Clockwork Orange 1971 $2.2 million $26.6 million
Barry Lyndon 1975 $11 million $31.5 million
The Shining 1980 $19 million $47 million
Full Metal Jacket 1987 $30 million $120 million
Eyes Wide Shut 1999 $65 million $162 million

What Is The Best Stanley Kubrick Movie of All Time?

Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove, a satirical black comedy about nuclear conflict during the Cold War era, is one of Kubrick’s most critically acclaimed films. Its sharp wit, unforgettable characters, and insightful commentary on the absurdity of war has made it a classic. The performances, particularly that of Peter Sellers in three distinct roles, are widely praised.
  • Year Released: 1964
  • Budget: $1.8 million
  • Box Office: $9.4 million


Adapted from Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel, Lolita was a daring choice for Kubrick. The film explores a middle-aged man’s obsession with a young girl, featuring a balance of drama and dark humor. Its provocative subject matter sparked much debate upon release, and it remains a significant part of Kubrick’s filmography.
  • Year Released: 1962
  • Budget: $2 million
  • Box Office: $9.25 million


Spartacus, a historical epic, stands as one of Kubrick’s biggest commercial successes. The film, which tells the story of a slave revolt in ancient Rome, was a departure from the more experimental style that Kubrick is known for. Despite Kubrick later disowning the film due to creative differences with star Kirk Douglas, Spartacus won several Academy Awards and is considered a classic.
  • Year Released: 1960
  • Budget: $12 million
  • Box Office: $60 million

2001: A Space Odyssey

Widely regarded as Kubrick’s masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a groundbreaking science fiction film. Its innovative special effects, profound exploration of existential themes, and enigmatic narrative have made it a landmark in cinematic history. It’s a film that continues to inspire and influence filmmakers worldwide.
  • Year Released: 1968
  • Budget: $12 million
  • Box Office: $190 million

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange, based on Anthony Burgess’s dystopian novel, is another of Kubrick’s most iconic and controversial works. The film’s depiction of violence, and its exploration of free will and morality, sparked much debate upon release. It remains a powerful and influential work in cinema.
  • Year Released: 1971
  • Budget: $2.2 million
  • Box Office: $26.6 million

Barry Lyndon

Barry Lyndon, a period drama, is known for its meticulously detailed production design and its beautiful, painterly cinematography. Although it initially received a mixed reception, it’s since been hailed as a masterpiece of visual storytelling and a significant entry in Kubrick’s filmography.
  • Year Released: 1975
  • Budget: $11 million
  • Box Office: $31.5 million

The Shining

The Shining, an adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel, is considered one of the greatest horror films ever made. Its unsettling atmosphere, Jack Nicholson’s intense performance, and its iconic imagery have made it a classic. Despite King’s well-known dislike of the adaptation, the film has had a lasting impact on the horror genre.
  • Year Released: 1980
  • Budget: $19 million
  • Box Office: $47 million

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket, a war film set during the Vietnam War, is praised for its realistic depiction of military life and its critique of war. The film’s first half, focusing on the dehumanizing effects of military training, is particularly memorable, and R. Lee Ermey’s performance as a drill sergeant is often singled out for praise.
  • Year Released: 1987
  • Budget: $30 million
  • Box Office: $120 million

Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick’s final film, is a psychological drama starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The film’s exploration of sexual desire and paranoia, its dreamlike atmosphere, and its attention to detail have made it a subject of much discussion and analysis.
  • Year Released: 1999
  • Budget: $65 million
  • Box Office: $162 million