The Best Prison Movies

Originally By 16k votes 2.8k voters 557k views 121 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Films set in prison or jails or that star prisoners or convicts.

Best prison movies is a list of the top jail films of all time. These are movies that take place within or around a penitentiary. This prison movies list also includes escape movies, as the plot sometimes revolves around a convict's escape attempt.

Jails create an interesting setting for filmmakers. Since prisons are self-encapsulated, prisons tend to form their own societies with their own rules, hierarchies, and etiquette. As such, the prisons become a veritable island for the prisoners inside.

The prison films on this list are some of the best, so there is bound to be at least one on here that you will enjoy. Make sure to vote for what you think is the greatest prison film ever and add your favorite movie set in jail if it's not on the prison movies list.
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  1. 1
    + 1,213
    - 130
    The Shawshank Redemption is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    the people's #1 & most listed
    The Shawshank Redemption Morgan Freeman, Rita Hayworth, Tim Robbins Released: 1994

  2. 2
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    - 182
    The Green Mile is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    The Green Mile Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Sam Rockwell Released: 1999

  3. 3
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    - 133
    Cool Hand Luke is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Cool Hand Luke Paul Newman, Dennis Hopper, George Kennedy Released: 1967

  4. 4
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    Escape from Alcatraz is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Escape from Alcatraz Clint Eastwood, Danny Glover, Patrick McGoohan Released: 1979

  5. 5
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    - 97
    American History X is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    American History X Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly DAngelo

  6. 6
    + 349
    - 102
    The Great Escape is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by mrblond
    The Great Escape Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Garner

  7. 7
    + 330
    - 121
    Papillon is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Papillon Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen, Vic Tayback Released: 1973

  8. 8
    + 318
    - 120
    Midnight Express is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Midnight Express John Hurt, Randy Quaid, Brad Davis Released: 1978

  9. 9
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    The Longest Yard is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by Lons
    The Longest Yard Burt Reynolds, Bernadette Peters, Ray Nitschke

  10. 10
    + 276
    - 111
    O Brother, Where Art Thou? is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    O Brother, Where Art Thou? George Clooney, John Goodman, Holly Hunter

  11. 11
    + 308
    - 80
    Law Abiding Citizen is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    ranked low on reranks & added by wiabux
    Law Abiding Citizen Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx, Viola Davis

  12. 12
    + 177
    - 97
    Birdman of Alcatraz is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by ryanmcw
    Birdman of Alcatraz Burt Lancaster, Telly Savalas, Karl Malden

  13. 13
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    - 101
    Con Air is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    ranked low on reranks
    Con Air Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi

  14. 14
    + 220
    - 111
    Dead Man Walking is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Dead Man Walking Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Jack Black Released: 1995

  15. 15
    + 195
    - 86
    American Me is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by oldguy07
    Edward James Olmos, William Forsythe, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

    ;
  16. 16
    + 165
    - 102
    The Last Castle is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by KimBrownsey
    The Last Castle Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo, Robin Wright

  17. 17
    + 168
    - 86
    Sleepers is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by GS69
    Sleepers Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman

  18. 18
    + 160
    - 92
    The Hurricane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by Lons
    The Hurricane Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Rod Steiger

  19. 19
    + 116
    - 79
    Stalag 17 is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by bojanthebest
    Stalag 17 William Holden, Peter Graves, Otto Preminger

  20. 20
    + 232
    - 108
    Bad Boys is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    ranked low on reranks
    Sean Penn, Ally Sheedy, Clancy Brown Released: 1983

    ;
  21. 21
    + 123
    - 99
    Brubaker is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Brubaker Nicolas Cage, Morgan Freeman, Robert Redford Released: 1980

  22. 22
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    The Longest Yard is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    The Longest Yard Adam Sandler, Courteney Cox, Chris Rock Released: 2005

  23. 23
    + 126
    - 76
    Stir Crazy is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Stir Crazy Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder, Craig T. Nelson Released: 1980

  24. 24
    + 108
    - 26
    The Rock is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    ranked low on reranks
    The Rock Nicolas Cage, Sean Connery, Ed Harris

  25. 25
    + 98
    - 63
    In the Name of the Father is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    In the Name of the Father Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Tom Wilkinson

  26. 26
    + 155
    - 75
    Felon is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Val Kilmer, Anne Archer, Sam Shepard Released: 2008

    ;
  27. 27
    + 95
    - 92
    A Prophet is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    often listed & added by erwan
    A Prophet Leïla Bekhti, Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup

  28. 28
    + 74
    - 92
    Hunger is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    often listed & added by PeteBoyle
    Hunger Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, Stuart Graham Released: 2008

  29. 29
    + 131
    - 94
    Death Race is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by PeteBoyle
    Death Race Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Natalie Martinez Released: 2008

  30. 30
    + 115
    - 48
    Escape from New York is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    ranked low on reranks & added by BushWanker
    Escape from New York Jamie Lee Curtis, Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine

  31. 31
    + 52
    - 12
    The Fugitive is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by mainpleine
    The Fugitive Julianne Moore, Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones

  32. 32
    + 106
    - 77
    Bronson is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by PeteBoyle
    Bronson Tom Hardy, Amanda Burton, James Lance Released: 2009

  33. 33
    + 108
    - 79
    Life is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Life Eddie Murphy, Poppy Montgomery, Martin Lawrence Released: 1999

  34. 34
    + 81
    - 86
    Jailhouse Rock is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    often listed & added by azzy_roth
    Jailhouse Rock Elvis Presley, Dean Jones, Gloria Pall

  35. 35
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    - 66
    Murder in the First is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon, William H. Macy Released: 1994

    ;
  36. 36
    + 42
    - 13
    Scarface is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by mainpleine
    Scarface Michelle Pfeiffer, Al Pacino, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

  37. 37
    + 89
    - 76
    Undisputed is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Wesley Snipes, Master P, Peter Falk Released: 2002

    ;
  38. 38
    + 39
    - 18
    The Count of Monte Cristo is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by mainpleine
    The Count of Monte Cristo Henry Cavill, Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce

  39. 39
    + 78
    - 74
    Brokedown Palace is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Brokedown Palace Kate Beckinsale, Claire Danes, Paul Walker Released: 1999

  40. 40
    + 59
    - 50
    The Defiant Ones is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Sidney Poitier, Tony Curtis, Lon Chaney

    ;
  41. 41
    + 85
    - 42
    Holes is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    ranked low on reranks
    Holes Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette Released: 2003

  42. 42
    + 31
    - 13
    Tango & Cash is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by mainpleine
    Tango & Cash Sylvester Stallone, Teri Hatcher, Kurt Russell

  43. 43
    + 64
    - 54
    Let's Go to Prison is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by wiabux
    Will Arnett, Michael Shannon, Bob Odenkirk Released: 2006

    ;
  44. 44
    + 61
    - 68
    Runaway Train is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by AdrianDanga
    Runaway Train Jon Voight, Rebecca De Mornay, Eric Roberts

  45. 45
    + 58
    - 70
    Cell 211 is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by srjthnk
    Luis Tosar, Carlos Bardem, Alberto Ammann

    ;
  46. 46
    + 55
    - 64
    Animal Factory is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Animal Factory Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe, Edward Furlong Released: 2000

  47. 47
    + 62
    - 76
    Get the Gringo is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Mel Gibson, Peter Stormare, Dean Norris

    ;
  48. 48
    + 93
    - 68
    Lock Up is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    ranked low on reranks
    Lock Up Sylvester Stallone, Donald Sutherland, Tom Sizemore Released: 1989

  49. 49
    + 75
    - 45
    Starred Up is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    ranked low on reranks
    Jack O'Connell, Rupert Friend, Ben Mendelsohn

    ;
  50. 50
    + 50
    - 69
    Undisputed II: Last Man Standi... is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by wiabux
    Undisputed II: Last Man Standing Michael Jai White, Scott Adkins, Ben Cross Released: 2005

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