Steven Soderbergh Movies Ranked, from Worst to Best

erin brockovich Steven Soderbergh
With 'High Flying Bird' coming to Netflix, we take a look at Stephen Soderbergh's eclectic oeuvre. Universal Pictures

Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming movie for Netflix, High Flying Bird, is the latest installment in a strange and eclectic career. Few directors can claim such a resume, one that combines Hollywood moneymakers and independent features.

One eight-month period in particular sums up Soderbergh’s idiosyncratic style: Between December 2001 and August 2002, he released both Ocean’s 11—a blockbuster heist movie that made $450 million on a budget of $85 million and launched a successful film franchise—and Full Frontal, a bewildering film about a movie within a movie that was shot in a month and made $3.4 million on a budget of $2 million.

In 2001, Soderbergh became the first director in more than 60 years to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar twice in the same season, for both Erin Brockovich and Traffic. (The latter took home the Academy Award.) In this career of contrasts, Soderberg’s latest creation, High Flying Bird—which premiered at Slamdance to rave reviews—is another surprising turn.

Produced by Netflix and co-written with Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight), it explores the dubious morality and insatiable demands of pro basketball. Though shot on an iPhone over 13 days, Bird still delivers the high-energy drama that Soderbergh fans have come to expect and has all the ingredients to be another smash for Netflix.

But will it be another hit for Soderbergh? How have his movies stacked up to date? Newsweek collated review data from Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDb to rank all of his theatrical releases and TV movies, from worst to best. Perhaps we'll have a new Number One once High Flying Bird is released on Netflix on February 8.

01 Full Frontal
Miramax

28. Full Frontal (2002). Total score: 48%. IMDb users: 4.7. Metacritic: 45. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.2. 
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Julia Roberts, David Hyde Pierce, David Duchovny, Catherine Keener, Blair Underwood, Terence Stamp, Sandra Oh, January Jones, Brad Pitt (as himself). 
Plot summary: A day in the life of a group of men and women in Hollywood, in the hours leading up to a friend's birthday party.
What the critics said: "Soderbergh is so busy trying to create his movie-within-a-movie—and, in at least one instance, his movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie—that he botches the enclosing movie." Peter Rainer, New York Magazine/Vulture

02 The Good German
Warner Bros.

27. The Good German (2006). Total score: 53.33%. IMDb users: 6.1. Metacritic: 49. Rotten Tomatoes: 5. 
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire, Beau Bridges. 
Plot summary: While in post-war Berlin to cover the Potsdam Conference, an American military journalist is drawn into a murder investigation which involves his former mistress and his driver.
What the critics said: "Interesting to watch, up to a point. The Good German gets lost amidst its references; it doesn't stand by itself but is held up by the films that inspired it." Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

03 Kafka
Miramax

26. Kafka (1991). Total score: 56.33%. IMDb users: 6.9. Metacritic: 46. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.4. 
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Jeremy Irons, Theresa Russell, Joel Grey, Ian Holm, Alec Guinness. 
Plot summary: Kafka works during the day at an insurance company, where events lead him to discover a mysterious underground society with strange suppressive goals.
What the critics said: "Soderbergh does demonstrate again here that he's a gifted director, however unwise in his choice of project." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

04 Schizopolis
Northern Arts Entertainment

25. Schizopolis (1996). Total score: 59.33%. IMDb users: 7. Metacritic: 44. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.4. 
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh (uncredited). Starring: Steven Soderbergh, Miles Hardy, Scott Allen. 
Plot summary: Fletcher Munson, the lethargic employee of a pseudo-religious self help company, and his doppelganger, the friendly but dull dentist Dr. Jeffrey Korchek.
What the critics said: "Schizopolis represents a minor act of self-indulgence on the part of the sometimes eccentric Steven Soderbergh but results in major tedium for the viewer." Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

05 Ocean's Twelve
Warner Bros.

24. Ocean's Twelve (2004). Total score: 60.67%. IMDb users: 6.5. Metacritic: 58. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.9. 
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy García, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Julia Roberts. 
Plot summary: Danny Ocean recruits one more team member so he can pull off three major European heists in this sequel to Ocean's 11.
What the critics said: "Ocean's Twelve feels like a lark, a dashed-off confiture that isn't so much a movie as an excuse for a bunch of old friends to hang out in Europe with somebody else paying the bill." Eric Harrison, Houston Chronicle

06 The Girlfriend Experience
Magnolia Pictures

23. The Girlfriend Experience (2009). Total score: 61.67%. IMDb users: 5.5. Metacritic: 66. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.4. 
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Sasha Grey, Chris Santos, Philip Eytan. 
Plot summary: A drama set in the days leading up to the 2008 Presidential election, and centered on a high-end Manhattan call girl meeting the challenges of her boyfriend, her clients, and her work.
What the critics said: "There are layers upon layers here—a porn star taking on a serious acting role in which she plays a woman whose job is to make herself an object of male fantasy—but it's unclear whether Grey is aware of any of them." Christopher Orr, The New Republic

07 Gray's Anatomy
Northern Arts Entertainment

22. Gray's Anatomy (1996). Total score: 63.33%. IMDb users: 6.9. Metacritic: 60. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.1. 
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Spalding Gray, Mike McLaughlin, Melissa Robertson. 
Plot summary: After doctors inform him that an eye affliction will require risky surgery, monologist Spalding Gray recounts his various pursuits for alternative medicine to avoid the doctor's scalpel.
What the critics said: "A chatty, colorful, nicely sardonic account of how a crisis led Mr. Gray to assess his medical state, consider his mortality and take one more funny, self-dramatizing look at the eccentric world around him." Janet Maslin, New York Times

08-The-Underneath
Gramercy Pictures

21. The Underneath (1995). Total score: 63.67%. IMDb users: 6.2. Metacritic: 69. Rotten Tomatoes: 6. 
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Peter Gallagher, Elisabeth Shue, Alison Elliott, Joe Don Baker, Shelly Duvall, William Fichtner. 
Plot summary: A recovering gambling addict attempts to reconcile with his family and friends but finds trouble and temptation when caught between feelings for his ex-wife and her dangerous hoodlum boyfriend.
What the critics said: "What The Underneath lacks is the kind of emotional connection that the best film noirs have. Instead of involving, this film is distancing, too given to admiring its own shiny surface." Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

09 Bubble
Magnolia Pictures

=19. Bubble (2005). Total score: 64%. IMDb users: 6.6. Metacritic: 63. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.3. 
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Debbie Doebereiner, Omar Cowan, Dustin James Ashley. 
Plot summary: Set against the backdrop of a decaying Midwestern town, a murder becomes the focal point of three people who work in a doll factory.
What the critics said: "A haunting film, made all the more intriguing by the use of ordinary people, not actors, in all the roles." Claudia Puig, USA Today

10 Solaris
Twentieth Century Fox

=19. Solaris (2002). Total score: 64%. IMDb users: 6.2. Metacritic: 65. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.5. 
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, Ulrich Tukur, John Cho, Viola Davis. 
Plot summary: A troubled psychologist is sent to investigate the crew of an isolated research station orbiting a bizarre planet.
What the critics said: "A return to what sci-fi was meant to be: Not a way to titillate teenage boys, but a means of finding a context for complex human issues." John Anderson, Newsday

11 Haywire
Relativity Media

18. Haywire (2011). Total score: 64.33%. IMDb users: 5.8. Metacritic: 67. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.8. 
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton. 
Plot summary: A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.
What the critics said: "Haywire comes close to achieving Soderbergh's goal of creating 'a Pam Grier movie made by Alfred Hitchcock.'" Peter Travers, Rolling Stone