(Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)

Sidney Poitier Movies Ranked

We celebrate the life and career of Sidney Poitier, who rose along the civil rights movement to become one of America’s leading stars and icons. Often playing determined, unflinching heroes, Poitier’s most revered films include Lilies on the Field (he won the Best Actor Oscar, a first for Black artists), Best Picture In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and Sneakers. Learn more about Poitier’s seven most memorable performances.

#1

Deadly Pursuit (1988)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 100254%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a murderous diamond thief escapes with a cache of stolen jewels, grizzled FBI agent Warren Stantin (Sidney Poitier) gives... [More]
Directed By: Roger Spottiswoode

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 99268%
Critics Consensus: Tense, funny, and thought-provoking all at once, and lifted by strong performances from Sydney Poitier and Rod Steiger, director Norman Jewison's look at murder and racism in small-town America continues to resonate today.
Synopsis: African-American Philadelphia police detective Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) is arrested on suspicion of murder by Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger), the... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 95183%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This lauded drama follows the Youngers, an African-American family living together in an apartment in Chicago. Following the death of... [More]
Directed By: Daniel Petrie

#4

The Defiant Ones (1958)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 98249%
Critics Consensus: An advocacy drama that makes its points without belaboring them, The Defiant Ones relies on its clever concept and brilliant performances to repudiate racial prejudice.
Synopsis: In 1950s America, members of a chain gang are being transported through the South when their truck crashes. Two of... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kramer

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 92838%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When traveling African-American handyman Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier) stops by a farm in rural Arizona, he is welcomed by a... [More]
Directed By: Ralph Nelson

#6

No Way Out (1950)
83%

#6
Adjusted Score: 83388%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Robbers Ray Biddle (Richard Widmark) and his brother are shot and taken to the local hospital. There, the two are... [More]
Directed By: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 91192%
Critics Consensus: While it's a bit dated and overly schmaltzy, To Sir, With Love remains compelling because of Sidney Poitier's outstanding performance -- and the catchy theme song is a classic.
Synopsis: American Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) recently received his degree in engineering, but cannot find work. To make ends meet, he... [More]
Directed By: James Clavell

#8

A Patch of Blue (1965)
89%

#8
Adjusted Score: 88391%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When Selina D'Arcey (Elizabeth Hartman), a blind young white woman, befriends Gordon Ralfe (Sidney Poitier), a black office worker, their... [More]
Directed By: Guy Green

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 62180%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Stephen Kumalo (Canada Lee) is a black preacher living in South Africa, circa 1946. When his son is accused of... [More]
Directed By: Zoltan Korda

#10

Porgy and Bess (1959)
86%

#10
Adjusted Score: 66862%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This musical drama focuses on the poverty-stricken residents struggling to survive in the Charleston tenement of Catfish Row. The sultry... [More]

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 85037%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Reporter Ben Munceford (Sidney Poitier) is aboard a U.S. Navy ship sailing near the Arctic Circle, on assignment to write... [More]
Directed By: James B. Harris

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 76943%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: As a volunteer at a crisis center, Alan Newell (Sidney Poitier) is working the late shift when he hears from... [More]
Directed By: Sydney Pollack

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 44618%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: George Stevens Jr.

#14

Sneakers (1992)
79%

#14
Adjusted Score: 83137%
Critics Consensus: There isn't much to Sneakers plot and that's more than made up for with the film's breezy panache and hi-tech lingo.
Synopsis: Computer hacker Martin (Robert Redford) heads a group of specialists who test the security of various San Francisco companies. Martin... [More]
Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 76238%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: World War II veteran Richard Dadier (Glenn Ford) takes a teaching position at a rough New York City school for... [More]
Directed By: Richard Brooks

#16
Adjusted Score: 74288%
Critics Consensus: More well-intentioned than insightful in its approach to interracial marriage, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner succeeds thanks to the fizzy chemistry of its star-studded ensemble.
Synopsis: When Joanna Drayton (Katharine Houghton), a free-thinking white woman, and black doctor John Prentice (Sidney Poitier) become engaged, they travel... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kramer

#17

Paris Blues (1961)
67%

#17
Adjusted Score: 66377%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Despite being far from home, American jazz musicians Ram Bowen (Paul Newman) and Eddie Cook (Sidney Poitier) are content living... [More]
Directed By: Martin Ritt

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 66050%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Blue-collar buddies (Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby) search the underworld for a winning lottery ticket lost in a nightclub holdup.... [More]
Directed By: Sidney Poitier

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 42933%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: English engineer Jim Keogh (Michael Caine) and black anti-apartheid activist Shack Twala (Sidney Poitier) go on the run together in... [More]
Directed By: Ralph Nelson

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 53735%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Milkman Clyde Williams (Sidney Poitier) and his best friend, Billy Foster (Bill Cosby), are members of a fraternal lodge, The... [More]
Directed By: Sidney Poitier

#21
Adjusted Score: 36166%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this sequel to "In The Heat of the Night," Detective Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) must solve the murder of... [More]
Directed By: Gordon Douglas

#22

Little Nikita (1988)
57%

#22
Adjusted Score: 57254%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Roy Parmenter (Sidney Poitier) is an FBI agent with a long-standing vendetta against a Russian spy named Scuba (Richard Lynch).... [More]
Directed By: Richard Benjamin

#23

The Long Ships (1964)
50%

#23
Adjusted Score: 50296%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Moorish ruler El Mansuh (Sidney Poitier) is determined to locate a massive bell made of gold known as the "Mother... [More]
Directed By: Jack Cardiff

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 13632%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In Kenya, Peter (Rock Hudson), the son of a white settler, forms a tight friendship with Kimani (Sidney Poitier), a... [More]
Directed By: Richard Brooks

#25

Band of Angels (1957)
40%

#25
Adjusted Score: 27191%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The Civil War separates a New Orleans gentleman (Clark Gable) from his mistress (Yvonne De Carlo) and a slave (Sidney... [More]
Directed By: Raoul Walsh

#26

The Organization (1971)
33%

#26
Adjusted Score: 8885%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When an executive and a night watchman are killed in a San Francisco office building, Lt. Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier)... [More]
Directed By: Don Medford

#27

For Love of Ivy (1968)
33%

#27
Adjusted Score: 26155%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Two Long Island teens force a roving gambler (Sidney Poitier) to date their maid (Abbey Lincoln), to keep her from... [More]
Directed By: Daniel Mann

#28

The Jackal (1997)
23%

#28
Adjusted Score: 24243%
Critics Consensus: The Jackal is a relatively simple chase thriller incapable of adding thrills or excitement as the plot chugs along.
Synopsis: During an FBI raid on a Moscow nightclub, the brother of Russian gangster Terek Murad (David Hayman) is killed. Murad... [More]
Directed By: Michael Caton-Jones

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