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The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations

Updated November 1, 2019 2.8k votes 467 voters 10.7k views37 items

List RulesMovies 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
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    Romeo + Juliet

    Claire Danes, Leonardo DiCaprio

    Released1996

    Directed byBaz Luhrmann

    Romeo + Juliet is a 1996 American romantic drama film adaptation of William Shakespeare's... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 2
    Hamlet is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    118
    63

    Hamlet

    Kate Winslet, Robin Williams

    Released1996

    Directed byKenneth Branagh

    Hamlet is a 1996 Shakespearean tragedy film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 3
    Much Ado About Nothing is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    117
    66

    Much Ado About Nothing

    Kate Beckinsale, Denzel Washington

    Released1993

    Directed byKenneth Branagh

    Much Ado About Nothing is a 1993 British/American romantic comedy film based on William... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 4
    Romeo and Juliet is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    139
    87

    Romeo and Juliet

    Laurence Olivier, Michael York

    Released1968

    Directed byFranco Zeffirelli

    Romeo and Juliet is a 1968 British-Italian romance film based on the tragic play of the same... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 5
    Henry V is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
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    Henry V

    Christian Bale, Emma Thompson

    Released1989

    Directed byKenneth Branagh

    Henry V is a 1989 British drama film adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 6
    A Midsummer Night's Dream is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    82
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    A Midsummer Night's Dream

    Michelle Pfeiffer, Christian Bale

    Released1999

    Directed byMichael Hoffman

    A Midsummer Night's Dream is a 1999 romantic comedy fantasy film based on the play A Midsummer... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 7
    Richard III is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    59
    36

    Richard III

    Robert Downey Jr., Ian McKellen

    Released1995

    Directed byRichard Loncraine

    Richard III is a 1995 drama film adapted from William Shakespeare's play of the same name,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 8
    Othello is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    61
    38

    Othello

    Laurence Fishburne, Kenneth Branagh

    Released1995

    Directed byOliver Parker

    Othello is a 1995 film based on William Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name. It was... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 9
    Titus is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    55
    33

    Titus

    Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange

    Released1999

    Directed byJulie Taymor

    Titus is a 1999 Italian-American-British fantasy thriller film adaptation of Shakespeare's... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 10
    Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    47
    28

    Julius Caesar

    Marlon Brando, Deborah Kerr

    Released1953

    Directed byJoseph L. Mankiewicz

    Julius Caesar is a 1953 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film adaptation of the play by Shakespeare,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 11
    Hamlet is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    52
    36

    Hamlet

    Christopher Lee, Laurence Olivier

    Released1948

    Directed byLaurence Olivier

    Hamlet is a 1948 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, adapted and... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 12
    The Taming of the Shrew is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
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    The Taming of the Shrew

    Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton

    Released1967

    Directed byFranco Zeffirelli

    The Taming of the Shrew is a 1967 film based on the play of the same name by William... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 13
    Coriolanus is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    39
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    Coriolanus

    Jessica Chastain, Gerard Butler

    Released2011

    Directed byRalph Fiennes

    Coriolanus is a 2011 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 14
    Love's Labour's Lost is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    36
    23

    Love's Labour's Lost

    Alicia Silverstone, Kenneth Branagh

    Released2000

    Directed byKenneth Branagh

    Love's Labour's Lost is a 2000 adaptation of the comic play of the same name by William... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 15
    Henry V is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    41
    30

    Henry V

    Laurence Olivier, Robert Newton

    Released1944

    Directed byLaurence Olivier

    Henry V is a 1944 British Technicolor film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 16
    Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    41
    33

    Macbeth

    Francesca Annis, Keith Chegwin

    Released1971

    Directed byRoman Polanski

    Macbeth is a 1971 British-American film adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth.... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 17
    O is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    37
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    O

    Julia Stiles, Martin Sheen

    Released2001

    Directed byTim Blake Nelson

    O is a 2001 American drama film, and a loose modern adaptation of William Shakespeare's... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 18
    Twelfth Night: Or What You Wil is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    35
    31

    Twelfth Night: Or What You Will

    Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Kingsley

    Released1996

    Directed byTrevor Nunn

    Twelfth Night or What You Will is a 1996 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare's... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 19
    Taming of the Shrew is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    27
    21

    Taming of the Shrew

    Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks

    Released1929

    Directed bySam Taylor

    The Taming of the Shrew is the first sound film adaptation of the Shakespearean play of the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 20
    Much Ado About Nothing is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    33
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    Much Ado About Nothing

    Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker

    Released2012

    Directed byJoss Whedon

    Much Ado About Nothing is a 2012 American romantic comedy film adapted for the screen,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 21
    Richard III is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    39
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    Richard III

    Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud

    Released1955

    Directed byLaurence Olivier

    Richard III is a 1955 British Technicolor film adaptation of William Shakespeare's historical... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 22
    A Midsummer Night's Dream is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    30
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    A Midsummer Night's Dream

    Helen Mirren, Judi Dench

    Released1968

    Directed byPeter Hall

    A Midsummer Night's Dream is a 1968 film of William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 23
    Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    37
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    Macbeth

    Orson Welles, Roddy McDowall

    Released1948

    Directed byOrson Welles

    Macbeth is a 1948 American film adaptation by Orson Welles of William Shakespeare's tragedy... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 24
    The Tempest is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    25
    24

    The Tempest

    Russell Brand, Helen Mirren

    Released2010

    Directed byJulie Taymor

    The Tempest is a 2010 American film based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 25
    The King is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations
    8
    2

    The King

    Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton

    Released2019

    Directed byDavid Michôd

    The King is a 2019 biographical drama film directed by David Michôd, based on several plays... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
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