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The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays 

Ranker Film
Updated June 14, 2019 1.6k votes 360 voters 10.3k views 29 items

List Rules Film adaptations of Shakespearean plays, set in the modern day.

List of the best modernized versions of Shakespeare plays. There are movies out there based on the plays of William Shakespeare that came out centuries after the plays were first published. After all, they did not exactly have cameras in the days Romeo & Juliet was first performed, let alone the technology that enabled Tromeo & Juliet to be the epic movie it is today.

The most popular example of a Shakespeare modernization is 10 Things I Hate About You. The 1999 teenage rom-com is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, starring Heath Ledger. But even widely known, classic movie masterpieces, like West Side Story and The Lion King, are merely modern day renditions of Shakespeare's writing. Ralph Fiennes's Coriolanus and Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho are examples of today's celebrities doing their take on the most classic of classics: the centuries-old theater pieces of William Shakespeare. That is why we see Hamlet set in today's Manhattan, just as we see Macbeth take place in a fast food joint in Scotland, Pennsylvania.

Vote up your favorite modern day version of one of Shakespeare's classics, or vote down the films you thought didn't quite translate to today's world.
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1
The Lion King is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Irons, Matthew Broderick

Released: 1994

Directed by: Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers

Hamlet

The Lion King is a 1994 American animated musical epic film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 32nd animated feature in the Walt Disney ...more

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2
10 Things I Hate About Y... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gabrielle Union, Heath Ledger

Released: 1999

Directed by: Gil Junger

The Taming of the Shrew

10 Things I Hate About You is a 1999 American romantic comedy film directed by Gil Junger, and a modern retelling of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. After finding out his crush ...more

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3
West Side Story is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, John Astin

Released: 1961

Directed by: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise

Romeo and Juliet

West Side Story is a 1961 American romantic musical drama film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn ...more

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4
She's the Man is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Jessica Lucas

Released: 2006

Directed by: Andy Fickman

Twelfth Night

She's the Man is a 2006 American romantic comedy film directed by Andy Fickman, inspired by William Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night. The film stars Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey, ...more

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5
Gnomeo & Juliet is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Ozzy Osbourne, Emily Blunt, Hulk Hogan

Released: 2011

Directed by: Kelly Asbury

Romeo and Juliet

Gnomeo & Juliet is a 2011 British-American-Canadian 3D computer-animated romantic comedy family film based on William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. The film was directed by Kelly ...more

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6
Tromeo & Juliet is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Ian Fraser Kilmister, Debbie Rochon, Charis Michelsen

Released: 1997

Directed by: James Gunn, Lloyd Kaufman

Romeo and Juliet?

Tromeo and Juliet is a 1996 independent transgressive comedy film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet from Troma Entertainment. The film was directed by Lloyd Kaufman from a ...more
7
Ran is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Tatsuya Nakadai, Susumu Terajima, Jinpachi Nezu

Released: 1985

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

King Lear

Ran is a 1985 Japanese-French jidaigeki epic film directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa. The film stars Tatsuya Nakadai as Hidetora Ichimonji, an aging Sengoku-era warlord who decides to ...more

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8
Kiss Me Kate is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Ann Miller, Keenan Wynn, Kathryn Grayson

Released: 1953

Directed by: George Sidney

The Taming of the Shrew

Kiss Me Kate is the 1953 MGM film adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name. Inspired by The Taming of the Shrew, it tells the tale of musical theater actors, Fred Graham and Lilli ...more

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9
Coriolanus is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Jessica Chastain, Gerard Butler, Ralph Fiennes

Released: 2011

Directed by: Ralph Fiennes

Coriolanus

Coriolanus is a 2011 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus, directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes in his directorial debut.
10
O is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
O Julia Stiles, Martin Sheen, Josh Hartnett

Released: 2001

Directed by: Tim Blake Nelson

Othello

O is a 2001 American drama film, and a loose modern adaptation of William Shakespeare's Othello. The film's intended release date was April 1999, but the film was shelved for two years by its ...more

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11
Love's Labour's Lost is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Alicia Silverstone, Kenneth Branagh, Emily Mortimer

Released: 2000

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Love's Labour's Lost

Love's Labour's Lost is a 2000 adaptation of the comic play of the same name by William Shakespeare, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh. It was the first feature film to be made of this ...more
12
Strange Brew is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Max von Sydow, Rick Moranis, Mel Blanc

Released: 1983

Directed by: Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas

Hamlet

Strange Brew is a 1983 Canadian comedy film starring the popular SCTV characters Bob and Doug McKenzie, portrayed by Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis, who also served as co-directors. Co-stars ...more

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13
Forbidden Planet is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis, Walter Pidgeon

Released: 1956

Directed by: Fred M. Wilcox

The Tempest

Forbidden Planet is a 1956 American science fiction film from MGM, produced by Nicholas Nayfack, directed by Fred M. Wilcox and starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren ...more

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14
Romeo Must Die is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Grace Park, Aaliyah, DMX

Released: 2000

Directed by: Andrzej Bartkowiak

Romeo and Juliet

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15
My Own Private Idaho is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Keanu Reeves, Jim Caviezel, River Phoenix

Released: 1991

Directed by: Gus Van Sant

Henry IV, Part 1

My Own Private Idaho is a 1991 American independent drama film written and directed by Gus Van Sant, loosely based on Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V, and starring ...more

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16
Scotland, PA is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Christopher Walken, Amy Smart, Andy Dick

Released: 2001

Directed by: Billy Morrissette

Macbeth

Scotland, PA is a 2001 film directed and written by William Morrissette. It is a modernized version of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. The film stars James LeGros, Maura Tierney, and Christopher ...more
17
The Bad Sleep Well is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Chishū Ryū

Released: 1960

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

Hamlet

The Bad Sleep Well is a 1960 film directed by the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. It was the first film to be produced under Kurosawa's own independent production company. It was entered into ...more
18
Big Business is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Seth Green

Released: 1988

Directed by: Jim Abrahams

The Comedy of Errors

Big Business is a 1988 American comedy film farce starring Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin. The movie revolves around two sets of identical female twins who were mismatched at birth, with one ...more

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19
Chicken Rice War is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Kevin Murphy, Tanya Chua, Pierre Png

Released: 2000

Directed by: Chee Kong Cheah

Romeo and Juliet Chicken Rice War is a Singaporean film released in 2000 by Raintree Pictures. It is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in a Singaporean setting, where fierce competition between rival Chicken ...more
20
King of Texas is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Patrick Stewart, Lauren Holly, Marcia Gay Harden

Released: 2002

Directed by: Uli Edel

King Lear

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21
The Sea Prince and the F... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Keiko Han, Tōru Furuya, Kenji Utsumi

Released: 1981

Directed by: Masami Hata

Romeo and Juliet

The Sea Prince and the Fire Child is a 1981 Japanese/Australian/New Zealand anime film by Sanrio, based on the story by Shintaro Tsuji. It is said to be a loose retelling of Romeo and Juliet, ...more
22
Basilisk: The Serpent Ki... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Basilisk: The Serpent King Yancy Butler

Released: 2006

Directed by: Stephen Furst

Richard III

23
Let the Devil Wear Black... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Mary-Louise Parker, Jacqueline Bissett, Norman Reedus

Released: 1999

Directed by: Stacy Title

Hamlet

Let the Devil Wear Black is a 1999 thriller film directed by Stacy Title.
24
Deliver Us from Eva is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Gabrielle Union, LL Cool J, Meagan Good

Released: 2003

Directed by: Gary Hardwick

The Taming of the Shrew

Deliver Us from Eva is a 2003 American romantic comedy film starring LL Cool J and Gabrielle Union, revolving around LL's character Ray being paid to date a troublesome young lady named Eva. To ...more
25
A Thousand Acres is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Modern Versions of Shakespeare Plays
Michelle Pfeiffer, Michelle Williams, Jessica Lange

Released: 1997

Directed by: Jocelyn Moorhouse

King Lear

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