Walt Disney Studios courtesy Everett Collection
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios courtesy Everett Collection)

All Spike Lee Movies Ranked

Since making his feature debut with She’s Gotta Have It in 1986, Spike Lee has blazed a trail for himself as one of Hollywood’s most vibrant — and defiantly original — filmmakers. Lee has challenged audiences to confront their expectations, assumptions, and prejudices while delivering some of the most memorable films of the last several decades. Even when critics don’t warm to his movies, they still acknowledge his work is thoughtful, ambitious, and bold. In honor of his achievements, we’re taking a look back at all Spike Lee movies, excluding releases that filmed a live show and his contributions to anthology movies, to see how they stack up against each other. With comedies (Do the Right Thing), dramas (Malcolm X), and documentaries (When the Levees Broke) to choose from, there’s something for everybody here, especially if you like your pictures full of energy and attitude.

#28

She Hate Me (2004)
19%

#28
Adjusted Score: 21.277%
Critics Consensus: She Hate Me can't decide if it wants to be a commentary on corporate greed or a sex farce.
Synopsis: Harvard-educated biotech executive John Henry "Jack" Armstrong gets fired when he informs on his bosses, launching an investigation into their... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#27

Girl 6 (1996)
33%

#27
Adjusted Score: 34.242%
Critics Consensus: Girl 6 has a compelling star, a Prince soundtrack, and Spike Lee's vivid style - and, unfortunately, a story that's never as compelling or insightful as it needs to be.
Synopsis: An African-American actress, out of luck and needing cash, takes a job as a phone sex operator in this explicit,... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 36.909%
Critics Consensus: Miracle at St. Anna is a well-intentioned but overlong, disjointed affair that hits few of the right notes.
Synopsis: "Miracle at St. Anna" chronicles the story of four African-American soldiers who are members of the U.S. Army as part... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#25

Oldboy (2013)
40%

#25
Adjusted Score: 45.098%
Critics Consensus: Suitably grim and bloody yet disappointingly safe and shallow, Spike Lee's Oldboy remake neither surpasses the original nor adds anything new to its impressive legacy.
Synopsis: OLDBOY is a provocative, visceral thriller that follows the story of Joe Doucette, a man who is abruptly kidnapped and... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 45.735%
Critics Consensus: Da Sweet Blood of Jesus has no shortage of style, but it isn't enough to make this horror-tinged Spike Lee joint one of his best -- or worth recommending.
Synopsis: A Spike Lee Joint, DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS is a new kind of love story, one that centers on... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#23

Bamboozled (2000)
48%

#23
Adjusted Score: 51.045%
Critics Consensus: Bamboozled is too heavy-handed in its satire and comes across as more messy and overwrought than biting.
Synopsis: Pierre Delacroix is a hip, young, Harvard-educated writer who is the sole person of color working for an upstart network... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#22

Summer of Sam (1999)
51%

#22
Adjusted Score: 55.14%
Critics Consensus: Spike Lee offers intense visuals but his storytelling feels crowded and overambitious.
Synopsis: New York City's infamous summer of 1977 was a scene of disco divas and the culture clash between fashionable patrons... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#21

Red Hook Summer (2012)
57%

#21
Adjusted Score: 58.571%
Critics Consensus: Red Hook Summer is just as bold and energetic as Spike Lee's best work, but its story is undermined by a jarring plot twist in the final act.
Synopsis: Red Hook Summer tells the story of Flik Royale (Jules Brown), a sullen young boy from middle-class Atlanta who has... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 26.311%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Spike Lee's documentary on the football star, movie actor, and social activist is a no-frills examination of a man who... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#19

School Daze (1988)
59%

#19
Adjusted Score: 59.966%
Critics Consensus: School Daze is undeniably messy, but thought-provoking themes, strong performances, and Spike Lee's ingratiating energy help tie it all together.
Synopsis: Much of School Daze is based on director Spike Lee's experiences while a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Laurence... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#18

Clockers (1995)
69%

#18
Adjusted Score: 72.037%
Critics Consensus: A work of mournful maturity that sacrifices little of its director's signature energy, Clockers is an admittedly flawed drama with a powerfully urgent message.
Synopsis: The grim realities of drug dealers' lives provides the basis for this gritty drama. The story centers on Strike, a... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#17

Mo' Better Blues (1990)
73%

#17
Adjusted Score: 74.759%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Trumpeter Bleek Gilliam has many problems: his jazz quintet is troubled by internal rivalry, his manager and friend is deeply... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#16

Crooklyn (1994)
76%

#16
Adjusted Score: 77.236%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Spike Lee and his siblings Cinque Lee and Joie Lee co-wrote this nostalgic but unglamorized look at a family growing... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#15

25th Hour (2003)
78%

#15
Adjusted Score: 82.784%
Critics Consensus: An intelligent and well-acted film despite the usual Spike Lee excesses.
Synopsis: The clock is ticking on Monty Brogan's freedom--in 24 hours he goes to prison for seven long years. Once a... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#14

He Got Game (1998)
80%

#14
Adjusted Score: 82.985%
Critics Consensus: Though not without its flaws, He Got Game finds Spike Lee at or near the top of his late-period game, combining trenchant commentary with his signature visuals and a strong performance from Denzel Washington.
Synopsis: Denzel Washington does some of his best work as a prison inmate trying to earn himself an early release by... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#13

Jungle Fever (1991)
81%

#13
Adjusted Score: 84.295%
Critics Consensus: Jungle Fever finds Spike Lee tackling timely sociopolitical themes in typically provocative style, even if the result is sometimes ambitious to a fault.
Synopsis: The romance between black architect Flipper Purify (Wesley Snipes) and his white office temp Angie Tucci (Annabella Sciorra) is the... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#12

Chi-Raq (2015)
82%

#12
Adjusted Score: 86.826%
Critics Consensus: Chi-Raq is as urgently topical and satisfyingly ambitious as it is wildly uneven -- and it contains some of Spike Lee's smartest, sharpest, and all-around entertaining late-period work.
Synopsis: Chi-Raq is a modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play "Lysistrata" by Aristophanes. After the murder of a child... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#11

Inside Man (2006)
86%

#11
Adjusted Score: 92.624%
Critics Consensus: Spike Lee's energetic and clever bank-heist thriller is a smart genre film that is not only rewarding on its own terms, but manages to subvert its pulpy trappings with wit and skill.
Synopsis: The volatile showdown between a determined cop and a perfectionist bank robber is sent spiraling toward disaster when a scheming... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#10

Get on the Bus (1996)
88%

#10
Adjusted Score: 89.854%
Critics Consensus: Get on the Bus finds Spike Lee pulling a page from history with fervor and flair, offering a strong, stirring fact-based drama further elevated by an array of solid performances.
Synopsis: Eighteen African American men board a bus in South Central Los Angeles bound for the Million Man March in Washington... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#9

Malcolm X (1992)
88%

#9
Adjusted Score: 92.109%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by a powerful performance from Denzel Washington, Spike Lee's biopic of the legendary civil rights leader brings his autobiography to life with an epic sweep and a nuanced message.
Synopsis: Writer-director Spike Lee's epic portrayal of the life and times of the slain civil rights leader Malcolm X begins with... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 92.385%
Critics Consensus: With She's Gotta Have It, Spike Lee delivered his bracing first shot across Hollywood's bow -- and set the template for the groundbreaking act to follow.
Synopsis: Spike Lee's breakthrough independent feature, shot in fifteen days on a budget of $175,000, ushered in (along with Jim Jarmusch's... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 95.452%
Critics Consensus: Smart, vibrant, and urgent without being didactic, Do the Right Thing is one of Spike Lee's most fully realized efforts -- and one of the most important films of the 1980s.
Synopsis: This powerful visual feast combines humor and drama with memorable characters while tracing the course of a single day on... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#6

Bad 25 (2012)
92%

#6
Adjusted Score: 43.661%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Chronicles the making of Michael Jackson's iconic, record-breaking Bad album and Michael's first world tour as a solo artist. Spike... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#5
Adjusted Score: 55.083%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: One morning, a television set broke down in a living room in Gary, Indiana, leaving a large family of children... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#4

BlacKkKlansman (2018)
96%

#4
Adjusted Score: 113.916%
Critics Consensus: BlacKkKlansman uses history to offer bitingly trenchant commentary on current events -- and brings out some of Spike Lee's hardest-hitting work in decades along the way.
Synopsis: From visionary filmmaker Spike Lee comes the incredible true story of an American hero. It's the early 1970s, and Ron... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#3
Adjusted Score: 97.252%
Critics Consensus: When the Levees Broke offers a heart-rending elegy for an American city overflowing with culture, beset by natural disaster, and betrayed by institutional indifference.
Synopsis: Controversial filmmaker Spike Lee explores the U.S. government's response to the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina in this made-for-television documentary... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 19.217%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: BLACK STARZ!, a Starz Encore channel will premiere this spring an original production, A Huey P. Newton Story (AHPNS), in... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#1

4 Little Girls (1997)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 100.97%
Critics Consensus: 4 Little Girls finds Spike Lee moving into documentary filmmaking with his signature style intact -- and all the palpable fury the subject requires.
Synopsis: Spike Lee's first documentary is a simultaneously wrenching and provocative account of the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham, AL church... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

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