Movie List

12 Best Movie Trilogies Ever Made

Updated August 4, 2019
11 min read

Sometimes movies are so enjoyable we can’t have just one. Or maybe the story is just so riveting that we need to have multiple installments. In certain instances, this results in full blown franchises, but sometimes these films are wrapped up perfectly with three small films. With that said, here is the list of top movie trilogies ever made. You can watch some of these best trilogies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

12. The Matrix Trilogy

Popularizing a new wave of CGI, The Wachowskis made one of the most influential action films of all time. Unfortunately, the other installments fall immensely shorter than the first, although they were pretty much enjoyable. The first flick not only kick-started the action career of Keanu Reeves, but also crafted some of the most enjoyable action sequences to have ever existed. Despite the Wachowskis’ career now having taken a steep dive, they still managed to craft one of the most iconic action film franchises of all time.

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11. Spiderman Trilogy

As one of the first superhero movies to come into existence, the Spiderman movies offered something we as an audience had yet to see. It was a stroke of fantasy and action all thrown into one movie and then eventually another two movies. With Toby Maguire putting his name on the world map, we really received something special with the first Spiderman film. The first film not only managed to create an iconic superhero but also fully immersed the audience into the cinematic universe that would soon become one of the largest and most popular franchises in movie history.

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10. Back to the Future Trilogy

After creating one of the most memorable film of the 80’s, Robert Zemeckis would go on to craft two more films in the series. With funny, quotable dialogue, to the hilarious hijinks that the story finds itself in, ‘Back to the Future’ was without a doubt destined to be a classic from the start. The hilarious equation between Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox makes for a truly unforgettable experience. With a classic set of films from the 80’s, it is no surprise that this trilogy lands on our list.

‘Back to the Future’ isn’t a great cinematic achievement by any means. But it’s pure fun. And that is exactly what Zemeckis was going for. It creates an entirely different world for you and once you just let yourself immerse in its world, there’s no returning. It’s almost like a dream you never want to wake up from. While some might argue that the films haven’t aged that well, I strongly believe that the trilogy deserves to be appreciated more, mainly because of the trend it set back in the 80s and how it managed to define that era. Robert Zemeckis has directed superior films in his career, but the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy remains among the most important movies of the 80s.

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9. Toy Story Trilogy

One of the most iconic animated films ever made, ‘Toy Story’, worked its way into the hearts of children and adults alike. So once we discovered that Disney would be making more than just one, we all met these films with such joy. Not only do they bring some humane elements for adults to enjoy, but they also have the adorable factor for kids to enjoy. With the hilarious equation between Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, the film brings not only a great amount of comedy but also an equal amount of adventure.

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8. Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Peter Jackson single handedly created one of the most epic and large scale film trilogies of all time. The Lord of the Rings trilogy towers over every other trilogy on this list. Not necessarily in content, but in the purely size and mass of the films. Each next installment in ‘Lord of the Rings’ seems to grow in scale. With intense, powerful battle sequences, and intimate performances, Jackson proves that fantasy films can also hold some substance, especially within the eyes of the academy.

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7. The Bourne Trilogy

With the series of films that put Paul Greengrass on the map as a director and skyrocketed Matt Damon even further, The Bourne trilogy recycles classic action tropes but still manages to create something unique. With a powerful and interesting story that surrounds us with the now iconic action hero Jason Bourne, the Bourne films mix excelling action with exciting storytelling. Without losing the substance over the course of the films, Jason Bourne does exactly what it set out to do and that is to entertain.

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6. The Dark Knight Trilogy

Christopher Nolan has always been a fantastic director, even from his first film; but it was the brilliance of the Dark Knight trilogy that turned him into a ”superstar”. Earlier, superhero films were funny and comical, but with Nolan’s new film series, the genre took a dark and devastating turn. From the difficult scenarios that Batman found himself in, to the powerful interactions between powerhouse characters, Nolan clearly took a turn that had not been taken before and he succeeded admirably with this.

While’ Batman Begins’ set the tone, the greatest film of the trilogy is, without a doubt, ‘The Dark Knight’. That movie gave a whole new meaning and dimension to the idea of a superhero, and superhero filmmaking in Hollywood, since then, has never been the same. Heath Ledger‘s iconic portrayal of The Joker continues to be rated by fans and critics as one of the greatest film performances of all time while Christian Bale gave us a completely different Batman, making the character much darker and more human. ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, however, couldn’t quite manage to live up to the brilliance of its predecessor but is still a very good film. It was filled with plot-holes, and more plot-holes, but its thematic and philosophical ambition just cannot be ignored. Tom Hardy does a terrific job as ‘Bane’ and his performance is, without a doubt, the highlight of the film.

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5. The Dollars Trilogy

Brazenly bizarre, absurdly violent but wholeheartedly enjoyable, The Dollars Trilogy, directed by Sergio Leone, remains the series that established the Spaghetti Western genre, and inspiring the creation of many more Spaghetti Western films. The three films of the trilogy (especially ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’) are consistently listed among the best rated Western films of all time. Although it was not Leone’s intention, the three movies came to be considered a trilogy following the exploits of the same so-called “Man with No Name” (portrayed by Clint Eastwood).

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4. The Godfather Trilogy

Renowned as some of the greatest films to have ever been made, ‘The Godfather’ trilogy is masterful filmmaking at its finest. With an unstoppable vision from legendary director Francis Ford Coppola and some career defining performances from Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, The Godfather trilogy holds everything that makes for a masterpiece. And to top it all off with some inspiring cinematography from the “Prince of Darkness” Gordon Willis, it is no doubt that the trilogy lands incredibly high on our list.

Both ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Godfather Part II’ are among the greatest films ever made in history. And looking back now, that is perhaps the reason why ‘The Godfather Part III’ received some unfair criticism. Of course, it is inferior to its previous installments, but ‘The Godfather Part: III’ is still, in my opinion, an incredibly well made film, which makes the trilogy one of the finest ever. Michael Corleone‘s transition from a naive young man to a ruthless gangster is perhaps the darkest and the most tragic portrait of a man ever put on screen. And Al Pacino’s performance in the lead role continues to be regarded as one of the greatest performances in cinema history.

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3. The Apu Trilogy

Universally applauded, ‘The Apu Trilogy’ established Satyajit Ray as the most potent force of Indian cinema. It firmly stands as a cinematic landmark in its own right – a work of art that changed the Indian cinemascape forever. What is the trilogy all about? To put it in a nutshell, it is about the trivialities of daily life. Never before had an auteur delved so deep into the dynamics and redundancies of daily life and in such a profoundly humane fashion. While ‘Pather Panchali’ establishes the narrative and portrays the childhood of Apu, ‘Aparajito’ follows him till his adolescence. ‘Apur Sansar’ showcases the adulthood of Apu and his plunge into family life. The trilogy is based on a couple of books by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, one of the most acclaimed Bengali litterateurs of all time.

Many people continue to question what’s so great about the trilogy. In my opinion, it’s the raw humanity that Ray portrays in the trilogy that makes it stand out from the rest. In several scenes, the emotion translates so quickly that you do not even need to understand the language the characters are speaking. And that, to me, is the highest accomplishment for any filmmaker. Martin Scorsese has often said that ‘Pather Panchali’ is one of his favourite films and holds Ray in high regard. That alone must be enough reason for you to watch the series.

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2. The Three Colors Trilogy

Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours films are some of the most poetic pieces of art ever made. Telling the stories that hold much deeper meanings hidden within the apparent cracks, the Three Colours trilogy creates something incredibly magical with its films that evoke a strange sense of nostalgic emotion from the viewers. From the gorgeous cinematography style to the incredibly intimate and powerful performances, there is no doubt that these movies will never be forgotten.

Kieslowski’s movies seem pretty simple and straightforward on the surface, but they can be emotionally draining, at times. ‘Blue’ is probably one of the saddest films I have ever seen. Juliette Binoche’s character in the film has to be one of the most complex, interesting portraits of a female on screen. Another one of the most intriguing aspects of the trilogy is Irene Jacob’s character’s relationship with the old judge in ‘Red’. They seem connected in strange ways; as if they were meant to meet many many years ago. You feel sad for them, but couldn’t possibly explain why. And somethings are best left unexplained. While I absolutely adore both ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’, ‘White’, despite its ambition, goes slightly off-key and that is the main reason why the trilogy couldn’t top this list. The trilogy also, as is evident from the title, makes some great use of color.

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1. The Before Trilogy

Richard Linklater is remembered mostly for his comedic pieces. With ‘Dazed and Confused’, ‘School of Rock’, and ‘Bad News Bears’, he has clearly made a name for himself and has a very distinctive approach to filmmaking. But he still has kept his auteur-ish style, and this continues in his trilogy of romance films — The Before Trilogy. Revolving around the romance between a couple, The Before trilogy delivers passion with simplicity. Creating an almost mesmerizing romantic experience with the audience, this series deserves more recognition and absolutely deserves the number one spot.

The simplicity of the plots of all three movies will certainly deceive you, and after watching the films, you may not immediately feel that you’ve witnessed a cinematic masterpiece. But that’s exactly the beauty of the films. They’re simple, hilarious, charming, and a tad bit sad, just like life. Linklater uses a walk and talk approach here to chronicle the couple’s relationship across 18 years; from the time they first met to when they’ve gotten married. Both Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy deliver memorable performances in all three films, as they literally lived the lives of their characters, which brings the required realism. Some would argue that ‘The Before’ series is too convenient to be true in real life, but for me, no other trilogy has managed to capture the essence of life in such an astonishingly simple way.

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