The Greatest Trilogies of All Time – Part 2

Ken Jones

  • OnScreen Chief Film Critic

Here is the link to Part 1.  And we’re off and running with Part 2…

10. The Man With No Name Trilogy

Sergio Leone’s trilogy essentially created the spaghetti western.  Leone’s films feature “The Man With No Name” embodied by Clint Eastwood.  These three films established Eastwood as a movie star and is arguably his most memorable and iconic role, with the possible exception of Dirty Harry.  The first film, A Fistful of Dollars, is an unofficial remake of an Akira Kurosawa classic, Yojimbo.  It came out in 1964.  1965 saw the release of For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in 1966.  The films are widely considered among the best Westerns ever made.  They’re also famous for the iconic Ennio Morricone scores.  In addition to Eastwood, famous actors like Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach show up in memorable performances.  

9. Captain America Trilogy

It’s funny in 2017 to look back on the massive success of Marvel’s Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and recall that Captain America: The First Avenger was far from a sure thing when it was released in the summer 2011.  To that point, Marvel had planted seeds for The Avengers, which would become one of the biggest movies of all time, but to that point Marvel’s track record was a bit uneven, with Iron Man (great), The Incredible Hulk (less great), and Iron Man 2 (hurt by a writer’s strike), and Thor (surprisingly great) were released from 2008 to 2011.  The star, Chris Evans, was coming off being The Human Torch in the forgettable Fantastic Four movies.  And when Captain America: The First Avenger was released, it was pretty good.  However, things took a dramatic leap in 2014 with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which was a modern day riff on classic political thrillers of the 1970s.  And 2016’s Captain America: Civil War put Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice to shame in how to properly pit superheroes against one another.

8. The Before Trilogy

Director Richard Linklater, in collaboration with his stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, has crafted three beautiful films that chart the relationship of two characters, Hawke’s Jesse and Delpy’s Celine.  1995’s Before Sunrise shows their chance meeting on a train bound for Vienna and a day the two spend together there talking about life, love, and little bit of everything.  2004’s Before Sunset picks up with them nine years later, reconnecting over an afternoon in Paris walking about the city and talking about the time they’ve missed since their day in Vienna nine years ago.  Before Midnight, which came out in 2013, picks up with them again in Greece at a very different place in their lives.  This trilogy was recently released as part of the Criterion Collection and it is terrific and well worth the money.

7. The Dark Knight Trilogy

Christopher Nolan essentially restored the Batman brand with 2005’s Batman Begins.  He brought the series back from the brink after the Joel Schumacher Era and grounded the Caped Crusader in a more realistic, gritty, and dark Gotham City.  Christian Bale’s Batman wore the weight of the city on his shoulders through Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises.  The trilogy helped to cemented Nolan as one of the premiere directors of his generation.  Of course, of the three, The Dark Knight stands tallest on the shoulders of an unforgettable, Oscar-winning performance from the late Heath Ledger as the iconic Joker.  Many people praised this film for not just being the best superhero film ever, but also being a quality crime drama in its own right.  If you want to buy this on Blu-ray, make sure to get the “Special Edition” or the “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” Trilogy instead of just the basic.

6. Toy Story Trilogy

Toy Story was an amazing technical feat when it came out in 1995.  It was a shifting of tectonic plates in the world of animation, ushering in the arrival of the computer animation age, but everyone figured Toy Story itself was just a one-off.  So it was kind of a surprise when Toy Story 2 came out and was just as good and maybe even better.  Pixar hadn’t achieved the reputation it now has.  In fact, Toy Story 2 was one of the movies that helped to establish that reputation.  When Toy Story 3 came out in 2010, few people doubted that it would be good, but nobody expected it to pull on the heart strings so effectively as Andy growing up, as so many kids who had watched and loved the previous two movies did, put an added layer of heart and sentiment to the trilogy.  Word is that there will be a 4th movie in 2019, already putting a ticking clock on this list becoming obsolete.

See the epic conclusion… in Part 3!