Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Love Dune 2? The best Denis Villeneuve movies, ranked

Dune: Part Two director Denis Villeneuve has had a very prolific career.

The official poster for Dune: Part Two.
Warner Bros./Legendary Entertainment

Thanks to the box office success of Dune: Part Two, Denis Villeneuve is now firmly established among the top directors in Hollywood. It’s an overnight success story that only took 26 years to come to fruition. And over the past decade, Villeneuve has taken it upon himself to make some of the best science fiction movies of the century. But Villeneuve has already proven that he can do a lot more than sci-fi.

To celebrate the director’s films, we’ve narrowed them down to the 7 best Denis Villeneuve movies ranked from seventh to first. And there is no “worst” among these Denis Villeneuve movies.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy.
Entertainment One

7. Enemy

Although Enemy didn’t light the box office on fire, this unnerving thriller drew attention to Villeneuve’s work. Jake Gyllenhaal stars in dual roles as Adam Bell and Anthony Claire. Adam is a college professor who notices Anthony as an actor in a movie. Adam is so taken aback by his physical similarity to Anthony that he seeks out Anthony’s other films and suspects that they may be related.

Adam is such a perfect doppelganger for Anthony that the actor’s agency can’t tell them apart. Adam takes his stalking a step further and contacts Anthony’s home, where even Anthony’s wife, Helen Claire (Sarah Gadon), assumes that he’s Anthony. That puts Anthony and Adam on the road to finally meeting, but it won’t be a joyous occasion.

Hugh Jackman and Paul Dano in Prisoners.
Warner Bros. Pictures

6. Prisoners

Prisoners was the first film to bring Villeneuve’s work to the attention of American moviegoers. It was also his first collaboration with Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays Detective Loki, the lead investigator in the case of two missing girls: Eliza Birch (Zoë Soul) and Anna Dover (Erin Gerasimovich).

While Loki chases real leads on the case, Anna’s father, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman), becomes convinced that the girls were kidnapped by a mentally disabled man, Alex Jones (Paul Dano). Even proof of Alex’s diminished mental capacity isn’t enough to dissuade Keller, who kidnaps Alex and starts torturing him for answers that he may never be able to give.

Benicio del Toro in Sicario.
Lionsgate

5. Sicario

How’s this for a dream team? Villeneuve directed Sicario from a script by Yellowstone co-creator Taylor Sheridan with leading roles for Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, and Jon Bernthal. Blunt portrays FBI Special Agent Kate Macer, a woman who accepts an invitation to join a task force to take down the Sonora Cartel alongside CIA operative Matt Graver (Brolin) and Alejandro Gillick (del Toro), a former Mexican prosecutor who now works for the CIA as an assassin.

Kate becomes suspicious about the task force’s true nature, especially since both Graver and Gillick have agendas that don’t align with hers. There’s a very slippery slope of morality in this story, leaving Kate to wonder if she can trust anyone on this case.

Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet in Dune.
Warner Bros. Pictures

4. Dune

Frank Herbert’s Dune is a notoriously difficult novel to adapt. David Lynch tried to do it in a single movie in 1984, while John Harrison opted for a miniseries on Syfy in 2000. Villeneuve’s approach split the story of the first novel across two movies, which managed to convey the most important parts of the book without losing them.

The key thing to know going in is that Dune is another name for the planet Arrakis, the most important world in the galactic empire. It’s the only place where Spice is produced, and that’s essential to space travel. Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) accompanies his parents, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) and Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), to Arrakis after his family takes over the Spice mining from their enemies in House Harkonnen. What they don’t realize is that they’ve been trapped by their enemies, who are determined to wipe out their house. Paul’s growing mental abilities offer him a glimpse of the future, but not everyone around him will live long enough to see those events play out.

Amy Adams attempts to decipher an alien language in Arrival.
Paramount Pictures

3. Arrival

Villeneuve began focusing on sci-fi films with his adaptation of Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life. Arrival is a more appropriate name since it relates that the premise of the story is about aliens who have finally come to Earth. These creatures are not remotely human, nor does their language conform to anything humans would recognize.

Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) are called upon to make sense of the aliens’ enigmatic language. This turns out to be a transformative experience for Louise as she gets closer to unlocking the gift that the aliens have brought to mankind. But Louise still has to race the clock as other nations around the world are so afraid of the alien visitors that they may feel compelled to attack them.

Timothee Chalamet in Dune Part 2.
Warner Bros.

2. Dune: Part Two

Continuing where Dune left off, Dune: Part Two finds Paul (Chalamet) and Lady Jessica (Ferguson) as the only two members of the Atreides family to survive their betrayal. While taking refuge alongside the Fremen tribe, some of their members believe that Paul is the prophesied savior of their people. That’s a belief that Lady Jessica works to cultivate as Paul proves himself as a fighter.

Chani (Zendaya), a young Fremen woman, is one of Paul’s most vocal detractors regarding the idea that he is their chosen one. However, Chani and Paul have romantic feelings for each other, especially when he denies being their savior. However, Paul is forced to reconsider the question, which may end his romance with Chani soon after it begins.

Dune: Part Two is now playing in theaters.

Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049.
Warner Bros. Pictures

1. Blade Runner 2049

Villeneuve may personally disagree with the placement of Blade Runner 2049 over both of his Dune movies, but this sequel deserves the top spot for its great performances, compelling story, and absolutely jaw-dropping visuals. Barbie‘s Ryan Gosling leads the cast as K, a replicant who has inherited a job that used to fall to humans: hunting down renegade replicants.

During a routine case, K discovers shocking proof that a female replicant has given birth, which shouldn’t be possible. It also shouldn’t be possible that K is the child in question, but he has good reason to believe that he might be. First, K will have to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a retired Blade Runner and the leading character from the first film. If K can live long enough to locate Deckard, he may not like what he discovers about himself.

Editors' Recommendations

Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell is a freelance writer for The Manual, Digital Trends, Fandom, Yahoo Entertainment, and more!
The 11 best Clint Eastwood movies (acted in and directed), ranked
Here's a good place to start if you want see Eastwood's best of the best
Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge

 

If one were to mention the greats from classic Hollywood cinema (especially Western movies), Clint Eastwood’s name would be one of the first to come up. A highly successful actor, producer, and director, Eastwood has developed his own unique style of film that follows a narrative format with a monumental ending every time.
Before his illustrious cinema career, Eastwood worked as a lumberjack, a firefighter, a swimming instructor, and a bouncer to get by. Kicking off his film career in 1955 as a few unnamed extras, Clint has since spent the following over 65 years committing his life to the practice of film and acting. As a director, and unlike David Fincher and his meticulous directing, Eastwood has been known to get what he wants in one take without storyboarding, rehearsing, or changing the script at all. Considering some of the great directorial works he has produced, this is impressive beyond belief but not exactly unexpected from a character like Clint.
Since there are so many Eastwood features to pick from (72 acting credits on IMDB), this list is about the films he has directed and acted in. This means that we will, unfortunately, have to omit some of his greatest performances to date (Dirty Harry, A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Escape from Alcatraz, Hang ‘Em High, etc.), despite them being as great as they are.

Read more
The 9 best golf movies of all time – from Caddyshack to The Legend of Bagger Vance
Do you love the game? Then get inspired to get back out there by watching these movies
Happy Gilmore

When it comes to sports movies, some of our favorite films have always been golf adjacent. There's just something about this slow-paced and overwhelmingly frustrating game that we can't get enough of. So now that spring has arrived, it feels like the perfect time to go back and rewatch some of the best golf movies of all time.
Whether you're a seasoned pro or a complete amateur, these great golf films have a little something for everyone. Whether you're looking to experience the drama of the game through a comedy or a biographical spotlight, we've got you covered.

Tommy's Honour (2017)

Read more
Ranked: The 11 best Bill Murray movies ever
He's starred in a lot of films, but if you're a fan, you must see these Murray movies
Bill Murray from Lost in Translation

A name that is and should be widely recognized in comedy, Bill Murray has been around to provide laughs for decades. Bringing his own unique qualities to the screen, Murray has carved for himself a niche based on his personality that simply cannot be copied. Between his masterful physical comedy to his perfectly timed and hysterical line deliveries, Bill is truly a one-of-a-kind talent. From his many roles over the years, the films he stars in are either because a certain director or repeat collaborator has a great bond with him, or simply because he is able to steal the spotlight no matter the assignment. Due to this, he has been given opportunities to play cameos in later films such as Dumb and Dumber To, Get Smart, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and a cameo as himself in Zombieland, which has got to be his best cameo.
All the way from wacky and zany to introspectively deep, Bill Murray portrays a lifetime of emotions in our list of films today. If you watch him closely enough, his performative nuances will make you laugh, cry, and think about what it truly means to be an actor. Murray is loved as a human being worldwide (for the most part), who has reportedly shown his face at random bars and parties just for a kick, becoming the owner of four minor league baseball teams, spontaneously studying philosophy and history in Paris, and starting his own golf apparel line. These and many other reasons are why we are here today to celebrate his accomplishments on screen, so sit back and scroll through the 10 best Bill Murray movies ever.

11. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Read more