(Photo by MGM/courtesy Everett Collection)

All Werner Herzog Movies Ranked

The cosmically dry, low-key hilarious Werner Herzog has transformed himself into a global treasure over the span of a six decade career. For a guy famous from cinematic pursuits involving dwarf-only casts, pushing a steamboat up a hill, hypnotizing his actors for unique performances, debating whether to murder his friend Klaus Kinski, and eating his shoe, Herzog was able to find acceptance and success right from the beginning. His first feature, Signs of Life, was a hit, and within a decade, Herzog had directed masterpieces like Aguirre and Nosferatu.

Also known for his emphatic, occasionally quirky documentaries whose wide subject range reveals a deeply curious mind, Herzog’s first feature-length doc was released three years after Signs of Life and retains a perfect Tomatometer. In fact, it would not be until 2002 that Herzog would direct a Rotten film: Invincible, which is nonetheless close to the border of Fresh.

Since 2005, Herzog has experienced a resurgence in interest in his work, though he’s always been working at the same pace and with the same left field creative maneuvers. That was the year Grizzly Man came out, an unnerving riposte to the ‘nature is our friend’ documentaries that were in vogue at the time, like Winged Migration and March of the Penguins. Rescue Dawn and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans garnered a lot of hype for the big stars attached, while My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done — co-produced with David Lynch and starring Michael Shannon — seemed like it was going to be a shattering collaboration of oddball intensity.

In the 2010s, Herzog continued to delightfully confound with a 3D documentary about the original cave paintings (Cave of Forgotten Dreams), another doc about how awesome the internet is (Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World), and a juicy villain role in Jack Reacher. He’s also going to be in The Mandalorian. Next up for him in the director’s chair: Family Romance, LLC, a Japanese drama, and doc Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin, a tribute to the writer and Herzog’s friend.

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 20.577%
Critics Consensus: Queen of the Desert unites some undeniably talented professionals, but it's difficult to discern what drew them together -- or understand how its compelling real-life story became such a muddled mess.
Synopsis: Nicole Kidman and director Werner Herzog bring to life the extraordinary true story of a trailblazing woman who found freedom... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#30

Salt and Fire (2017)
32%

#30
Adjusted Score: 32.742%
Critics Consensus: Salt and Fire crowds together some impressive talent on both sides of the camera, precious little of which is put to compelling use.
Synopsis: SALT AND FIRE is about a mysterious hostage-taking where the leader of a small scientific delegation is deliberately stranded with... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#29
Adjusted Score: 49.388%
Critics Consensus: Enigmatic and digressive, this mystical potboiler possesses director Werner Herzog's penchant for offbeat atmosphere, but lacks the absurdist humor and profundity that makes his previous trips into madness compelling.
Synopsis: Brad (Michael Shannon) has committed murder and barricaded himself inside his house. With the help of his friends and neighbours,... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#28

Invincible (2002)
54%

#28
Adjusted Score: 54.728%
Critics Consensus: Sluggish and flawed, this is a minor work in Herzog's career.
Synopsis: Invincible tells the true story of Zishe Breibart, a Jewish blacksmith from eastern Poland who travels to Berlin in the... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 69.335%
Critics Consensus: An intriguing blend of low budget and high concept, The Wild Blue Yonder brings Werner Herzog's distinctive sensibilities entertainingly to bear on the sci-fi milieu.
Synopsis: The film follows a hypothetical proposition: a group of astronauts are circling the earth in a spacecraft, but they cannot... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#26

Fitzcarraldo (1982)
78%

#26
Adjusted Score: 79.941%
Critics Consensus: With a production as audacious as the feat it's depicting, Fitzcarraldo comes by its awe-inspiring spectacle honestly, even when it declines to examine the darker implications of its hero's dream.
Synopsis: German filmmaker Werner Herzog has never done anything by halves. When Herzog tackled Fitzcarraldo, the story of an obsessed impresario... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#25
Adjusted Score: 35.783%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In a slightly padded but well-acted and relevant drama, an Australian mining company and a group of aboriginals go to... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#24
Adjusted Score: 80.285%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: To say the working relationship between director Werner Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski was often stormy strains the boundaries of... [More]
Starring: Werner Herzog
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#23
Adjusted Score: 59.031%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This moving documentary by director Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo, and Aguirre, the Wrath of God) enters into the world of Fini... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#22

Woyzeck (1979)
85%

#22
Adjusted Score: 85.362%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A low-level soldier in the German army is subjected to a series of bizarre scientific experiments, which begin to transform... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#21
Adjusted Score: 89.392%
Critics Consensus: Befitting its unorthodox origins, this Bad Lieutenant benefits from Werner Herzog's typically fearless direction and a delightfully unhinged Nicolas Cage in the title role.
Synopsis: Abel Ferrara's cult crime drama Bad Lieutenant is given a sister film with this Werner Herzog-helmed production that takes its... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#20

Cobra Verde (1987)
88%

#20
Adjusted Score: 88.539%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When Francisco Manoel de Silva (Klaus Kinski) impregnates the three daughters of his plantation-owning employer, he is sent to West... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 90.575%
Critics Consensus: Meeting Gorbachev plays to filmmaker Werner Herzog's endlessly inquisitive strengths -- and reveals the fascinating story of a pivotal political figure.
Synopsis: Werner Herzog and André Singer's riveting documentary, filled with unforgettable archive materials and based on three long interviews, provides incredible... [More]

#18

Signs of Life (1968)
91%

#18
Adjusted Score: 91.344%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Recuperating from war injuries on a remote, enchanted Greek island, a lonely soldier starts to hallucinate, eventually goes totally insane,... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#17

Rescue Dawn (2007)
90%

#17
Adjusted Score: 95.183%
Critics Consensus: Director Werner Herzog has once again made a compelling tale of man versus nature, and Christian Bale completely immerses himself in the role of fighter pilot (and prisoner of war) Dieter Dengler.
Synopsis: In the annals of history's great escapes there is no other story like that of Dieter Dengler, the only American... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#16
Adjusted Score: 92.514%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A mesmeric production by Werner Herzog about the power and importance of art. A small town in Bavaria has become... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#15

Into the Inferno (2016)
92%

#15
Adjusted Score: 93.046%
Critics Consensus: Into the Inferno finds director Werner Herzog observing some of the most beautiful -- and terrifying -- wonders of the natural world with his signature blend of curiosity and insight.
Synopsis: Werner Herzog and volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer embark upon a global journey exploring some of the world's most mythical volcanoes in... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#14

Into The Abyss (2011)
92%

#14
Adjusted Score: 94.946%
Critics Consensus: Another probing, insightful look at an interesting subject, Werner Herzog explores the American prison system with passion and not politics.
Synopsis: In his fascinating exploration of a triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas, master filmmaker Werner Herzog probes the human psyche... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#13

Grizzly Man (2005)
92%

#13
Adjusted Score: 96.418%
Critics Consensus: Whatever opinion you come to have of the obsessive Treadwell, Herzog has once again found a fascinating subject.
Synopsis: This documentary centers on amateur grizzly bear expert Timothy Treadwell, who periodically journeyed to Alaska to study and live with... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#12
Adjusted Score: 84.259%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: While growing up in desolated post-WW II Germany, all Dieter Dengler, the son of a Nazi slain during the war,... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#11
Adjusted Score: 97.967%
Critics Consensus: Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World finds Werner Herzog bringing his distinctive documentarian gifts to bear on a timely topic with typically thought-provoking results.
Synopsis: Society depends on the Internet for nearly everything but rarely do we step back and recognize its endless intricacies and... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#10
Adjusted Score: 55.249%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Werner Herzog once again turns his eye on the beautiful and dangerous wilds of the Amazon in this documentary. Dr.... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#9

Wheel of Time (2003)
94%

#9
Adjusted Score: 56.674%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Celebrated filmmaker Werner Herzog turns his attention to one of the largest Buddhist gatherings in the world in this documentary.... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#8

Stroszek (1977)
94%

#8
Adjusted Score: 95.048%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Can anything be bleaker than the shabby slums of Berlin? Yes, argues director Werner Herzog in Stroszek: try Wisconsin sometime.... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#7
Adjusted Score: 97.211%
Critics Consensus: Encounters at the End of the World offers a poignant study of the human psyche amid haunting landscapes.
Synopsis: Werner Herzog confirms his standing as poet laureate of men in extreme situations with "Encounters at the End of the... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#6
Adjusted Score: 96.752%
Critics Consensus: The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser marks a powerfully humane entry in writer-director Werner Herzog's acclaimed oeuvre, further bolstered by tremendous work by star Bruno S.
Synopsis: This film is based on the famous story of mysterious 19th-century child genius Kasper Hauser. Hauser shows up unannounced in... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#5
Adjusted Score: 100.078%
Critics Consensus: Stunning visuals from Werner Herzog and an intense portrayal of the famed bloodsucker from Klaus Kinski make this remake of Nosferatu a horror classic in its own right.
Synopsis: For Werner Herzog's 1979 remake of F.W. Murnau's classic 1922 silent horror-fest Nosferatu, star Klaus Kinski adopts the same makeup... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 99.679%
Critics Consensus: Hauntingly filmed and brimming with Herzog's infectious enthusiasm, Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a fascinating triumph.
Synopsis: Cave of Forgotten Dreams follows an exclusive expedition into the nearly inaccessible Chauvet Cave in France, home to the most... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#3
Adjusted Score: 103.926%
Critics Consensus: A haunting journey of natural wonder and tangible danger, Aguirre transcends epic genre trappings and becomes mythological by its own right.
Synopsis: The most famed and well-regarded collaboration between New German Cinema director Werner Herzog and his frequent leading man, Klaus Kinski,... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 77.301%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Straddling a line between documentary and science fiction, Werner Herzog's Lektionen in Finsternis is an epic visual poem set in... [More]
Starring: Werner Herzog
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#1
Adjusted Score: 100.313%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Even viewers who've seen Freaks won't be completely prepared for Werner Herzog's bizarre Even Dwarfs Started Small. The film is... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

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