The Best Steven Soderbergh Movies

The Best Movies by the 'Logan Lucky' Director

Logan Lucky
Bleecker Street Media

One of the most commercially successful filmmakers to emerge from the 1990s independent film scene, Steven Soderbergh has shot films in a wide variety of genres with equal mastery. He is also very prolific, having directed, written, or produced films nearly every year from 1995 to 2015 (in some years directing multiple films). He is even one of the few directors to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar twice in the same year.

After an award-winning career, Soderbergh claimed he retired (or was taking a long break) from directing feature films in 2013 to focus on other projects, including the Cinemax medical drama The Knick. Whatever it was, it was short-lived—Soderbergh returned to directing features in 2017 with Logan Lucky

With such a large cinematic output, Soderbergh has made a number of very impressive films ever since his 1989 feature debut, Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989). This is a chronological list of ten of Soderbergh's very best films.

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Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

Sex, Lies and Videotape
Outlaw Productions

The sexual drama Sex, Lies, and Videotape was one of the first major independent hits that kicked off the popularity of indie film in the 1990s. It grossed nearly $25 million in the U.S. on a budget just over $1 million. The movie features a frank depiction of the sexual lives of several acquaintances in Baton Rouge.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape won the Audience award at the 1989 Sundance Film Festival and the Palme d'Or at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. Soderbergh was later nominated for his first Oscar—for Best Original Screenplay—for this film.

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King of the Hill (1993)

King of the Hill
Gramercy Pictures

In a departure from his earliest films, King of Hill is a film about a young teenager living on his own in a hotel in St. Louis during the Great Depression. While it didn't receive much notice upon its release, critics have looked back on King of the Hill as one of Soderbergh's best early films.

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Out of Sight (1998)

Out of Sight
Universal Pictures

This throwback crime film based on Elmore Leonard's novel features George Clooney (in his first of many collaborations with Soderbergh) and Jennifer Lopez as two people on the opposite side of the law who play a cat-and-mouse game of whether or not the criminal will be brought to justice or if the pair will become romantically involved.

Out of Sight made only a minor blip at the box office, but it demonstrated that Soderbergh was able to direct more mainstream features.

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The Limey (1999)

The Limey
Artisan Entertainment

Though The Limey was a commercial failure at the box office, this crime film features a strong performance by Terence Stamp as an Englishman who is investigating his daughter's mysterious death in Los Angeles. Often overlooked, it's one of Soderbergh's best small-scale films before he began primarily making films with ensemble casts in the 2000s.

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Erin Brockovich (2000)

Erin Brockovich
Universal Pictures

Julia Roberts won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in this film as the title character, a real-life activist who used unconventional tactics to investigate an energy company whose operations poisoned the groundwater in a small town in the California desert.

Erin Brockovich was a big box office hit, and started off a series of critical and commercial hits for Soderbergh as a director.

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Traffic (2000)


Audiences and critics were impressed by Traffic, in which Soderbergh focuses on the illegal drug trade from the gritty street-level and inside the violent cartels to the highest level of Washington DC politics. The large ensemble cast includes Benicio del Toro, Michael Douglas, Albert Finney, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Soderbergh won the Oscar for Best Director for this film—and interestingly enough, he was in competition with himself since he was also nominated that same year for directing Erin Brockovich, a feat that has not been repeated since. Traffic also won three other Oscars -- Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (for Benicio Del Toro)

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Ocean's Eleven (2001)

Ocean's Eleven
Warner Bros. Pictures

A remake of the 1960 Rat Pack movie, Ocean's Eleven features an ensemble cast (including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, and Julia Roberts). Clooney and Pitt's characters create a complex plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos at the same time and recruit a team of highly-trained experts to accomplish the feat.

Ocean's Eleven is Soderbergh's highest-grossing feature and was followed by two very successful sequels, Ocean's Twelve (2004) and Ocean's Thirteen (2007), both also directed by Soderbergh. He is also producing the 2018 spinoff, Ocean's Eight.

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Contagion (2011)

Warner Bros. Pictures

While there have been many films about the outbreak of a plague, Contagion incorporates Soderbergh's Traffic style of storytelling to show how an epidemic affects many aspects of society. Contagion features a stellar cast, including Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, and Gwyneth Paltrow. In the film, Soderbergh focuses on both the spread of the disease and the race to find a cure.

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Magic Mike (2012)

Magic Mike
Warner Bros. Pictures

A movie that nearly every bachelorette party in the summer of 2012 went to see, Magic Mike is about male strippers navigating their way through the lifestyle of taking off their clothes for money and the seedy underbelly of their profession. But for many viewers, the story is secondary to seeing stars like Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, and Joe Manganiello in various states on undress.

Magic Mike was followed by a 2015 sequel, Magic Mike XXL. While Soderbergh did not return to direct, he served as executive producer, cinematographer (credited as Peter Andrews) and editor (credited as Mary Ann Bernard), aliases he has used on other projects as well.

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Side Effects (2013)

Side Effects
FilmNation Entertainment

Side Effects focuses on the use of antidepressants and, as the name implies, their various side effects... or does it? Rooney Mara stars as Emily, a woman who murders her husband while sleepwalking and uses the side effects of her antidepressant as her defense. With his reputation ruined, Emily's doctor Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) tries to untangle a potential web of lies to find out if Emily is telling the truth.

Side Effects received mostly positive reviews and drew many comparisons to classical Hitchcock-like thrillers.