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The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations 

Ranker Film
Updated November 1, 2019 2.8k votes 455 voters 10.4k views 37 items

List Rules Movies based on or adapted from the plays of William Shakespeare using the original text - no modernized versions.

List of the best Shakespeare film adaptations. There is no single human being in the history of entertainment who has spawned more adaptations than William Shakespeare. This list compiles the absolute greatest big screen adaptations of original Shakespeare works. His plays now live on in these major motion pictures, and are ranked by on this list by the community in order of excellence.

Romeo and Juliet began as a tragic play that may have first been published as early as the 1590s. 400 years later, in the 1990s, Baz Luhrmann came adapted the Shakespearean story for his film, Romeo + Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the title roles. Kenneth Branagh has also made more movie adaptations of William Shakespeare plays than just about anyone else between Hamlet, Henry V, and Much Ado About Nothing. The famous Shakespeare drama "Othello" has also been transformed into numerous film adaptations, most notably Tim Blake Nelson's O.

Vote up your favorite Shakespearean adaptation below or add the Shakespeare-based films and movies you love that aren't already on the list.

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1
Romeo + Juliet is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Claire Danes, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harold Perrineau

Released: 1996

Directed by: Baz Luhrmann

Romeo + Juliet is a 1996 American romantic drama film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It was directed by Baz Luhrmann. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in ...more

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2
Romeo and Juliet is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Laurence Olivier, Michael York, Olivia Hussey

Released: 1968

Directed by: Franco Zeffirelli

Romeo and Juliet is a 1968 British-Italian romance film based on the tragic play of the same name by William Shakespeare. The film was directed and co-written by Franco Zeffirelli, and stars ...more

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3
Much Ado About Nothing ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Kate Beckinsale, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves

Released: 1993

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Much Ado About Nothing is a 1993 British/American romantic comedy film based on William Shakespeare's play of the same name. It was adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh who ...more

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4
Hamlet is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Kate Winslet, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal

Released: 1996

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Hamlet is a 1996 Shakespearean tragedy film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars in the titular role as Prince ...more
5
Henry V is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Christian Bale, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench

Released: 1989

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Henry V is a 1989 British drama film adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, based on William Shakespeare's play of the same name about King Henry V of England. The film stars ...more

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6
A Midsummer Night's Drea... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Michelle Pfeiffer, Christian Bale, Sophie Marceau

Released: 1999

Directed by: Michael Hoffman

A Midsummer Night's Dream is a 1999 romantic comedy fantasy film based on the play A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare. It was directed by Michael Hoffman. The ensemble cast ...more

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7
Richard III is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Robert Downey Jr., Ian McKellen, Annette Bening

Released: 1995

Directed by: Richard Loncraine

Richard III is a 1995 drama film adapted from William Shakespeare's play of the same name, starring Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr., Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott ...more
8
Othello is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Laurence Fishburne, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Sheen

Released: 1995

Directed by: Oliver Parker

Othello is a 1995 film based on William Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name. It was directed by Oliver Parker and stars Laurence Fishburne as Othello, Irène Jacob as Desdemona, and ...more
9
Hamlet is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Christopher Lee, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons

Released: 1948

Directed by: Laurence Olivier

Hamlet is a 1948 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, adapted and directed by and starring Sir Laurence Olivier. Hamlet was Olivier's second film as director, and also ...more

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10
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Marlon Brando, Deborah Kerr, John Gielgud

Released: 1953

Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Julius Caesar is a 1953 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film adaptation of the play by Shakespeare, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also wrote the uncredited screenplay, and produced by John Houseman. ...more

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11
Titus is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Released: 1999

Directed by: Julie Taymor

Titus is a 1999 Italian-American-British fantasy thriller film adaptation of Shakespeare's revenge tragedy Titus Andronicus, about the downfall of a Roman general. Starring Anthony Hopkins and ...more

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12
The Taming of the Shrew ... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Michael York

Released: 1967

Directed by: Franco Zeffirelli

The Taming of the Shrew is a 1967 film based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare about a courtship between two strong-willed people. The film was directed by Franco Zeffirelli ...more

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13
Henry V is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Laurence Olivier, Robert Newton, Leslie Banks

Released: 1944

Directed by: Laurence Olivier

Henry V is a 1944 British Technicolor film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same name. The on-screen title is The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought ...more
14
Richard III is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Stanley Baker

Released: 1955

Directed by: Laurence Olivier

Richard III is a 1955 British Technicolor film adaptation of William Shakespeare's historical play of the same name, also incorporating elements from his Henry VI, Part 3. It was directed and ...more

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15
Twelfth Night: Or What Y... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Kingsley, Kyra Sedgwick

Released: 1996

Directed by: Trevor Nunn

Twelfth Night or What You Will is a 1996 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play, directed by Trevor Nunn and featuring an all-star cast. The adaptation is given a northern Central ...more

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16
Coriolanus is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Jessica Chastain, Gerard Butler, Ralph Fiennes

Released: 2011

Directed by: Ralph Fiennes

Coriolanus is a 2011 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus, directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes in his directorial debut.

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17
Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Francesca Annis, Keith Chegwin, Jon Finch

Released: 1971

Directed by: Roman Polanski

Macbeth is a 1971 British-American film adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth. Directed by Roman Polanski, it retells the story of the Highland lord who becomes King of Scotland ...more
18
Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Orson Welles, Roddy McDowall, Alan Napier

Released: 1948

Directed by: Orson Welles

Macbeth is a 1948 American film adaptation by Orson Welles of William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth.
19
Much Ado About Nothing ... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker, Clark Gregg

Released: 2012

Directed by: Joss Whedon

Much Ado About Nothing is a 2012 American romantic comedy film adapted for the screen, produced, and directed by Joss Whedon, from William Shakespeare's play of the same name. The film stars Amy ...more
20
A Midsummer Night's Drea... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Diana Rigg

Released: 1968

Directed by: Peter Hall

A Midsummer Night's Dream is a 1968 film of William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Peter Hall. It was the first live-action color film version of the play, unless one ...more

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21
O is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
O Julia Stiles, Martin Sheen, Josh Hartnett

Released: 2001

Directed by: Tim Blake Nelson

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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22
Othello is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Hilton Edwards

Released: 1952

Directed by: Orson Welles

Othello is a 1952 drama film based on the Shakespearean play, made by Mercury Productions Inc. and Les Films Marceau and distributed by United Artists when released in the United States in 1955. ...more

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23
The Tempest is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina

Released: 2010

Directed by: Julie Taymor

The Tempest is a 2010 American film based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare, featuring Helen Mirren in the principal role of Prospera. The film is directed by Julie Taymor and ...more
24
The King is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson

Released: 2019

Directed by: David Michôd

The King is a 2019 biographical drama film directed by David Michôd, based on several plays from Shakespeare's Henriad. Hal (Timothée Chalamet), a wayward prince, ascends the ...more
25
As You Like It is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
Bryce Dallas Howard, Kevin Kline, Alfred Molina

Released: 2006

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

As You Like It is a 2006 film adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare. It stars Bryce Dallas Howard as Rosalind, David ...more

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