The Best Prison Movies

Originally By 17k votes 3k voters 569k views 123 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
    + 1,259
    - 137
    The Shawshank Redemption is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  2. 2
    + 896
    - 190
    The Green Mile is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Sam Rockwell Released: 1999

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  3. 3
    + 461
    - 138
    Cool Hand Luke is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  4. 4
    + 480
    - 95
    Escape from Alcatraz is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Clint Eastwood, Danny Glover, Patrick McGoohan Released: 1979

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  5. 5
    + 510
    - 101
    American History X is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly DAngelo

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  6. 6
    + 366
    - 104
    The Great Escape is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by mrblond
    Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Garner

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  7. 7
    + 340
    - 124
    Papillon is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen, Vic Tayback Released: 1973

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  8. 8
    + 329
    - 122
    Midnight Express is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    John Hurt, Randy Quaid, Brad Davis Released: 1978

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  9. 9
    + 359
    - 119
    The Longest Yard is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by Lons
    Burt Reynolds, Bernadette Peters, Ray Nitschke

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  10. 10
    + 319
    - 83
    Law Abiding Citizen is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by wiabux
    Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx, Viola Davis

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  11. 11
    + 282
    - 116
    O Brother, Where Art Thou? is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    George Clooney, John Goodman, Holly Hunter

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  12. 12
    + 182
    - 98
    Birdman of Alcatraz is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by ryanmcw
    Burt Lancaster, Telly Savalas, Karl Malden

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  13. 13
    + 393
    - 108
    Con Air is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  14. 14
    + 229
    - 114
    Dead Man Walking is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Jack Black Released: 1995

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  15. 15
    + 206
    - 87
    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

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  16. 16
    + 176
    - 103
    The Last Castle is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by KimBrownsey
    Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo, Robin Wright

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  17. 17
    + 174
    - 87
    Sleepers is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  18. 18
    + 164
    - 93
    The Hurricane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by Lons
    Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Rod Steiger

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  19. 19
    + 123
    - 80
    Stalag 17 is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    often listed & added by bojanthebest
    William Holden, Peter Graves, Otto Preminger

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  20. 20
    + 239
    - 109
    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

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  21. 21
    + 128
    - 100
    Brubaker is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  22. 22
    + 217
    - 127
    The Longest Yard is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Adam Sandler, Courteney Cox, Chris Rock Released: 2005

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  23. 23
    + 121
    - 27
    The Rock is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  24. 24
    + 132
    - 77
    Stir Crazy is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Prison Movies


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

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  25. 25
    + 105
    - 65
    In the Name of the Father is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Tom Wilkinson

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  26. 26
    + 161
    - 75
    Felon is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Val Kilmer, Anne Archer, Sam Shepard Released: 2008

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  27. 27
    + 98
    - 92
    A Prophet is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  28. 28
    + 76
    - 92
    Hunger is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  29. 29
    + 61
    - 13
    The Fugitive is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  30. 30
    + 134
    - 96
    Death Race is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  31. 31
    + 122
    - 50
    Escape from New York is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  32. 32
    + 111
    - 80
    Bronson is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  33. 33
    + 114
    - 79
    Life is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Eddie Murphy, Poppy Montgomery, Martin Lawrence Released: 1999

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  34. 34
    + 97
    - 67
    Murder in the First is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Prison Movies


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

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  35. 35
    + 45
    - 9

    added by mainpleine
    Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland, Charles Bronson

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  36. 36
    + 81
    - 88
    Jailhouse Rock is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  37. 37
    + 52
    - 16

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

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  38. 38
    + 93
    - 76
    Undisputed is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Wesley Snipes, Master P, Peter Falk Released: 2002

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  39. 39
    + 43
    - 19
    The Count of Monte Cristo is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by mainpleine
    Henry Cavill, Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce

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  40. 40
    + 84
    - 74
    Brokedown Palace is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Kate Beckinsale, Claire Danes, Paul Walker Released: 1999

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  41. 41
    + 91
    - 44
    Holes is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  42. 42
    + 37
    - 14
    Tango & Cash is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by mainpleine
    Sylvester Stallone, Teri Hatcher, Kurt Russell

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  43. 43
    + 59
    - 51
    The Defiant Ones is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Sidney Poitier, Tony Curtis, Lon Chaney

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  44. 44
    + 66
    - 56
    Let's Go to Prison is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  45. 45
    + 67
    - 76
    Get the Gringo is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Mel Gibson, Peter Stormare, Dean Norris

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  46. 46
    + 63
    - 69
    Runaway Train is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

    ;
  47. 47
    + 100
    - 68
    Lock Up is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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  48. 48
    + 56
    - 65
    Animal Factory is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Prison Movies


    Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe, Edward Furlong Released: 2000

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  49. 49
    + 58
    - 71
    Cell 211 is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Prison Movies

    added by srjthnk
    Luis Tosar, Carlos Bardem, Alberto Ammann

    ;
  50. 50
    + 80
    - 46
    Starred Up is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Prison Movies

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

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124 +

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