One of the screen’s most accomplished artists, Akira Kurosawa delivered some of the strongest work cinema had to offer for an impressive amount of time — dipping in and out of innovation and invention along the way for both polished pieces few other directors can match, as well as engrossing experimental films like ‘Dreams’. There is little denying he is a master. But what are his greatest works…? Here is the list of top Akira Kurosawa movies.
10. Red Beard (1965)
‘Red Beard’ succeeds, for the most part, off the back of Toshiro Mifune. He’s one of this writer’s favorite actors given the strength and impressive variety of performances the man was able to pull off. Normally, however, those works were achieved in the presence of an ensemble cast. In ‘Red Beard’, Mifune’s powerful persona is very much the centerpiece of the drama and Kurosawa gives him as much room as he wants to flex his impressive acting method. It was the final piece the two would make together after heated arguments on set, but at the very least it serves as a triumphant swansong for one of the screen’s most rewarding actor + director partnerships.
9. The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
Sprawling in a similar way to ‘Seven Samurai’, Kurosawa’s 1960 ‘The Bad Sleep Well’ is a crime epic featuring off-beat performances from many of his regulars that takes a far darker tone than any of his previous works- worming away from the prevailing humor and hope we see in Kurosawa’s original canon and working towards a more misanthropic trend that would find its explosive culmination in 1985’s ‘Ran’. His direction is tight, writing complex and editing sprightly considering the meaty run-time his picture occupies. A classic piece of ‘60s crime cinema that looks ahead to the next decade’s genre renaissance in its grimmer themes and grimy characterizations.