Walt Disney Studios courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios courtesy Everett Collection)

Spike Lee Movies and Series 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. 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. His latest films (BlacKkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods, David Byrne’s American Utopia) are among his most vital and celebrated, and he most recently helmed his TV adaptation of She’s Gotta Have It. We’re ranking them all with Spike Lee movies and series by Tomatometer!

#32

4 Little Girls (1997)
100%

#32
Adjusted Score: 100905%
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: On Sunday, September 15, 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was bombed by four members of a... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 61450%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A radical (Roger Guenveur Smith) from Oakland, Calif., establishes the Black Panther Party based on his 10-point program for social... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#30
Adjusted Score: 106400%
Critics Consensus: Helmed in elegant and exhilarating style by Spike Lee, David Byrne's American Utopia is a concert film that doubles as a joyously cathartic celebration.
Synopsis: Singer David Byrne and a group of international musicians perform songs from the hit Broadway musical "American Utopia."... [More]
Starring: David Byrne
Directed By: Spike Lee

#29

BlacKkKlansman (2018)
96%

#29
Adjusted Score: 123186%
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: Ron Stallworth is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#28
Adjusted Score: 94711%
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: Spike Lee documents life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city's anti-flooding safeguards in 2005. In the film,... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 93508%
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: Beautiful Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) can't decide what kind of man she wants to date, so she decides to... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 100439%
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: Salvatore "Sal" Fragione (Danny Aiello) is the Italian owner of a pizzeria in Brooklyn. A neighborhood local, Buggin' Out (Giancarlo... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#25

Pass Over (2018)
93%

#25
Adjusted Score: 83714%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Moses and Kitch, two young black men, chat their way through a long, aimless day on a Chicago street corner.... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#24
Adjusted Score: 87940%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#23

Da 5 Bloods (2020)
92%

#23
Adjusted Score: 113459%
Critics Consensus: Fierce energy and ambition course through Da 5 Bloods, coming together to fuel one of Spike Lee's most urgent and impactful films.
Synopsis: Four African American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#22

Bad 25 (2012)
92%

#22
Adjusted Score: 87708%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Spike Lee examines the legacy of Michael Jackson's 1987 album "Bad."... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#21

Malcolm X (1992)
89%

#21
Adjusted Score: 94230%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by a powerful performance from Denzel Washington, Spike Lee's biopic of legendary civil rights leader Malcolm X brings his autobiography to life with an epic sweep and a nuanced message.
Synopsis: A tribute to the controversial black activist and leader of the struggle for black liberation. He hit bottom during his... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#20

Get on the Bus (1996)
89%

#20
Adjusted Score: 90203%
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: A disparate group of African-American men climb on a bus bound for the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. --... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#19

Inside Man (2006)
86%

#19
Adjusted Score: 95168%
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: A tough detective (Denzel Washington) matches wits with a cunning bank robber (Clive Owen), as a tense hostage crisis is... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#18

Chi-Raq (2015)
82%

#18
Adjusted Score: 91310%
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: The girlfriend (Teyonah Parris) of a Chicago gang leader (Nick Cannon) persuades other frustrated women to abstain from sex until... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#17

He Got Game (1998)
81%

#17
Adjusted Score: 81645%
Critics Consensus: Though not without its flaws, He Got Game finds Spike Lee near the top of his game, combining trenchant commentary with his signature visuals and a strong performance from Denzel Washington.
Synopsis: Jake Shuttleworth (Denzel Washington) has spent the last six years in prison after accidentally killing his wife during a violent... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#16

Jungle Fever (1991)
81%

#16
Adjusted Score: 84122%
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: A married black lawyer named Flipper (Wesley Snipes) begins an affair with Angie (Annabella Sciorra), his white secretary. When the... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#15

25th Hour (2002)
79%

#15
Adjusted Score: 83905%
Critics Consensus: An intelligent and well-acted film despite the usual Spike Lee excesses.
Synopsis: In New York City in the days following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) steels himself... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

She's Gotta Have It (2017)
78%

#14
Synopsis: Iconic filmmaker Spike Lee revisits his first feature film with this Netflix original series of the same name. Brooklyn-based artist... [More]

#13

Crooklyn (1994)
78%

#13
Adjusted Score: 78564%
Critics Consensus: A personal project that warmly reflects on director Spike Lee's childhood, Crooklyn is an episodic celebration of family and the indelible facets of one's hometown.
Synopsis: As her teacher mother, Carolyn (Alfre Woodard), and her jazz musician father, Woody (Delroy Lindo), worry over monthly bills, grade-schooler... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#12

Clockers (1995)
72%

#12
Adjusted Score: 73981%
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: Nineteen-year-old "Strike" Dunham (Mekhi Phifer) is a small-time street drug dealer for Rodney Little (Delroy Lindo), who wants Strike to... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#11

Mo' Better Blues (1990)
71%

#11
Adjusted Score: 71806%
Critics Consensus: Mo' Better Blues is rich with vibrant hues and Denzel Washington's impassioned performance, although its straightforward telling lacks the political punch fans expect from a Spike Lee joint.
Synopsis: Financially irresponsible Giant (Spike Lee) manages a jazz group, but his sax player, Shadow (Wesley Snipes), wants to replace him... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#10

Red Hook Summer (2012)
58%

#10
Adjusted Score: 59228%
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: A well-to-do Atlanta teen (Jules Brown) documents a summer spent in the Brooklyn housing projects with his devout grandfather (Clarke... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 31506%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Spike Lee directed this portrait of pro football Hall of Famer, actor and civil rights activist Jim Brown.... [More]
Starring: Jim Brown
Directed By: Spike Lee

#8

School Daze (1988)
57%

#8
Adjusted Score: 58263%
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: At historically black Mission College, the activist-minded Dap (Larry Fishburne) immerses himself in a world of political rhetoric and social... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#7

Bamboozled (2000)
53%

#7
Adjusted Score: 55539%
Critics Consensus: Bamboozled is too heavy-handed in its satire and comes across as more messy and overwrought than biting.
Synopsis: A blistering satire of network television's pitfalls and prejudices, a humorous look at how race, ratings and the pursuit of... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#6

Summer of Sam (1999)
51%

#6
Adjusted Score: 54113%
Critics Consensus: Spike Lee offers intense visuals but his storytelling feels crowded and overambitious.
Synopsis: During the summer of 1977, a killer known as the Son of Sam keeps all of New York City on... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 46014%
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: An anthropologist (Stephen Tyrone Williams) awakes with a thirst for blood after an assistant stabs him with a cursed dagger.... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#4

Oldboy (2013)
39%

#4
Adjusted Score: 45002%
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: Although his life is already in a downward spiral, things get much worse for advertising executive Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin)... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#3

Girl 6 (1996)
37%

#3
Adjusted Score: 37712%
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: Trying to make it in the acting world, a young black woman (Theresa Randle) resorts to working as a phone... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 37703%
Critics Consensus: Miracle at St. Anna is a well-intentioned but overlong, disjointed affair that hits few of the right notes.
Synopsis: During World War II, members of the U.S. Army's all-black division are stationed in the Tuscany region of Italy. Four... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#1

She Hate Me (2004)
19%

#1
Adjusted Score: 22735%
Critics Consensus: She Hate Me can't decide if it wants to be a commentary on corporate greed or a sex farce.
Synopsis: Fired from his corporate job, a man (Anthony Mackie) agrees to impregnate his ex-fiancee (Kerry Washington) and a slew of... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

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