In a trilogy, it’s hard to get all three films right. To repeat critical success after critical acclaim for the first or even the second film in a series, there is a lot of pressure. However, this has been done before.
Film trilogies come in a variety of forms. Blockbuster films of the 1970s and 1980s have influenced various genres, including science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Then there are the “spiritual” trilogies, in which each film is linked by a common topic or idea.
Regardless matter the reason for the series, each film should have supporting material. We’ve compiled a list of the top ten best cinematic trilogies ever made.
This list only includes programs that received a fourth installment decades later (such as Indiana Jones) and does not include series that expanded to four episodes within a decade of their first release (sorry to Toy Story and Jason Bourne).
1. The Living Dead trilogy
There aren’t many horror trilogies to be found, mainly because of how lucrative they can be (think Halloween, Friday the 13th, Saw). Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978), and Day of the Dead (1985) by George A. Romero are not only horror films, but also a reflection on society and materialism, and how the human race is more deadly than a horde of the undead. J.J. Stolworthy2.
2. The Back to the Future trilogy
I don’t know how Back to the Future would have performed if Fox had not been cast as Marty McFly. Robert Zemeckis’s time-travel trilogy has a lot to do with the pleasure he brings to the character he shares with Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown. Back to the Future: Parts I, II, and III are all family-friendly flicks that will be mocked for generations to come. JS
3. The Indiana Jones trilogy
The Indiana Jones trilogy (excluding the tardy and crazy fourth installment of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull from 2008) has a nostalgic feel to it because to its old-fashioned method of adventure. It was Steven Spielberg who brought the stories to life brilliantly between 1981 and 1989, when George Lucas wrote the scripts. Even if you can get past the films’ somewhat haphazard chronology and enjoy what proved to be a crucial part in Harrison Ford’s career, the films Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade all have ideal balances of mystery, action, and wit. Theodore Pattle, Jr.
4. The Dark Knight trilogy
When it came to producing his Dark Knight trilogy, Christopher Nolan got it exactly right by drawing from the rich canon of Batman comics while also delivering a distinctly “Nolan” film experience. Batman Begins (2005) was overshadowed by The Dark Knight (2008) and Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker, yet that first part is an essential, inspired origin narrative. While parts of The Dark Knight Rises (2012) are disappointingly careless, the film as a whole is far superior than the expectations of certain audiences. AP
5. The Godfather trilogy
One of the finest dramatic film series of all time is Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather. Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Robert Duvall star in the mafia trilogy, which centers on the Corleone family’s violent enterprise (to name but a few of the cast members). The first and second films (released in 1972 and 1974, respectively) are often mentioned in debates over the greatest film of all time, while the third film (released in 1990) is by no means a bad film, but it falls short of the quality of its predecessors, as are some of the other concluding films on this list. AP
6. The Dollars trilogy
It was Sergio Leone’s three spaghetti westerns, featuring Clint Eastwood as an outlaw on horseback, that established the spaghetti western as a distinct subgenre of cinema. Eastwood anchors the series with a bravura performance that is the exact essence of doing a lot with a small amount of time and resources. A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and For A Few Dollars More (1965) are both excellent westerns, but The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) rises head and shoulders above the rest thanks to Ennio Morricone’s memorable score.
7. The Apu trilogy
The adaptations of Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay’s novels that Indian director Satyajit Ray made are some of his most heartfelt work. Apu, a young Bengali character in Ray’s coming-of-age trilogy, not only demonstrated the power of a trilogy to improve a character’s journey, but also had a profound impact on Indian cinema. Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1956), and The World of Apu (1959) are three of India’s greatest films, and with good reason.
8. The Before trilogy
Only Richard Linklater’s Before… trilogy has prompted people to visit a Parisian bookshop, and it’s the only one on this list. It follows Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) from their chance meeting on a train in Before Sunrise in 1995 to their turbulent marriage in Before Midnight in 2013. This is a picture that has a lot to live up to when it comes to the real-time Before Sunset (2004), which brings together the two stars nine years after their first meeting.
9. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy
JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, adapted by Peter Jackson, made fantasy accessible and cool with its debut film, 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring. Those movies created the groundwork for a series that only got better with each subsequent installment, culminating in 2002’s The Two Towers and the mega-hit The Return of the King. Among the 11 Oscars it was nominated for, including Best Picture and Best Director, the last installment of this epic trilogy won all of them. AP
10. The Star Wars originals
For George Lucas’s landmark 1977 picture, the visual effects of Star Wars (later renamed Star Wars: A New Hope) were just as pioneering as its world-building. A “good vs evil, but in space” theme proved foolproof, even in the subsequent films of this series that tried to incorporate politics. One of the greatest plot shocks in film history may be found in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, the sequel to the original Star Wars film. The Return of the Jedi is a suitable end to the Star Wars saga, despite a minor setback. AP