The Best Sidney Lumet Movies Ranked And Where to Watch them

If you're looking for the best Sidney Lumet movies of all time then here is a definitive list. We rank every movie directed by Sidney Lumet based on their popularity score from IMDB from best to worst. Click on the ‘see more’ button to find out where to watch them in Australia covering all streaming services. In August 2021 there are 21 films in this list.

List of the Best Movies Directed by Sidney Lumet In Order of Popularity

  1. 12 Angry Men
  2. Network
  3. Dog Day Afternoon
  4. Fail Safe
  5. The Verdict
  6. Serpico
  7. Running on Empty
  8. Prince of the City
  9. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
  10. The Fugitive Kind
  11. Deathtrap
  12. Night Falls on Manhattan
  13. Q & A
  14. The Anderson Tapes
  15. Garbo Talks
  16. Strip Search
  17. Critical Care
  18. Family Business
  19. Guilty as Sin
  20. The Wiz
  21. Just Tell Me What You Want

The top 21 Movies directed by Sidney Lumet

1. 12 Angry Men

Rated: Approved

9.0/10

The defense and the prosecution have rested and the jury is filing into the jury room to decide if a young man is guilty or innocent of murdering his father. What begins as an open-and-shut case of murder soon becomes a detective story that presents a succession of clues creating doubt, and a mini-drama of each of the jurors' prejudices and preconceptions about the trial, the accused, and each other. Based on the play, all of the action takes place on the stage of the jury room.

2. Network

Rated: R

8.1/10

In the 1970s, terrorist violence is the stuff of networks' nightly news programming and the corporate structure of the UBS Television Network is changing. Meanwhile, Howard Beale, the aging UBS news anchor, has lost his once strong ratings share and so the network fires him. Beale reacts in an unexpected way. We then see how this affects the fortunes of Beale, his coworkers (Max Schumacher and Diana Christensen), and the network.

3. Dog Day Afternoon

Rated: R

8.0/10

Based upon a real-life story that happened in the early seventies in which the Chase Manhattan Bank in Gravesend, Brooklyn, was held siege by a bank robber determined to steal enough money for his male lover to undergo a sex change operation. On a hot summer afternoon, the First Savings Bank of Brooklyn is held up by Sonny and Sal, two down-and-out characters. Although the bank manager and female tellers agree not to interfere with the robbery, Sonny finds that there's actually nothing much to steal, as most of the cash has been picked up for the day. Sonny then gets an unexpected phone call from Police Captain Moretti, who tells him the place is surrounded by the city's entire police force. Having few options under the circumstances, Sonny nervously bargains with Moretti, demanding safe escort to the airport and a plane out of the country in return for the bank employees' safety.

4. Fail Safe

Rated: Approved

8.0/10

A series of human and computer errors sends a squadron of American 'Vindicator' bombers to nuke Moscow. The President, in order to convince the Soviets that this is a mistake, orders the Strategic Air Command to help the Soviets stop them.

5. The Verdict

Rated: R

7.7/10

Frank Galvin was once a promising Boston lawyer with a bright future ahead. An incident early in his career in which he was trying to do the right thing led to him being fired from the prestigious law firm with which he was working, almost being disbarred, and his wife leaving him. Continually drowning his sorrows in booze, he is now an ambulance chasing lawyer, preying on the weak and vulnerable, and bending the truth whenever necessary to make what few dollars he has, as he has only had a few cases in the last few years, losing the last four. His only friend in the profession is his now retired ex-partner, Mickey Morrissey, who gets Frank a case, his fee solely a percentage of what his clients are awarded. The case should net Frank tens of thousands of dollars by settling out of court, that money which would at least get him back on his feet. It is a negligence suit brought on behalf of Deborah Ann Kaye by her sister and brother-in-law, Sally and Kevin Doneghy, against St. Catherine Labouré Hospital, operated by the Archdiocese of Boston, and Drs. Towler and Marks. Kaye was admitted to the hospital for what should have been a routine delivery, but something that happened while Kaye was on the operating room table led to her brain being deprived of oxygen, resulting in permanent brain damage, and Kaye now being in a totally vegetative state requiring hospitalization for the rest of her life. Frank eventually learns that the cause seems to be that Dr. Towler, the anesthesiologist and an expert in the field, used the incorrect anesthetic for the situation. However, all but one person that was in the operating room that day has provided depositions that nothing improper occurred in the operating room. The one holdout is the operating room head nurse, Maureen Rooney, who is not talking, period, to Frank or the other side. Upon seeing the state Kaye is in, Frank unilaterally decides to do what he believes is the right thing by declining the lucrative out of court settlement offered by the Archdiocese and take the case to court. In doing so, he hopes the truth that the hospital and the doctors truly were negligent comes to light. Feeling that this case may be a turning point in his life, Frank has a new spring in his step, enough that he attracts the attention of Laura Fischer, the two who begin a relationship. Despite having whatever the truth is on his side, that truth which he does not know, and having an expert witness of his own, Frank has an uphill battle in that the Archdiocese has retained the services of Ed Concannon, a high priced lawyer who has a large team of associates whose task is to help Concannon and the Archdiocese win at any cost. Concannon's task seems even easier as Judge Hoyle, the presiding judge, is already biased against Frank for taking the case to court.

6. Serpico

Rated: R

7.7/10

Serpico is a cop in the 1960s-early 1970s. Unlike all his colleagues, he refuses a share of the money that the cops routinely extort from local criminals. Nobody wants to work with Serpico, and he's in constant danger of being placed in life threatening positions by his "partners". Nothing seems to get done even when he goes to the highest of authorities. Despite the dangers he finds himself in, he still refuses to 'go with the flow', in the hope that one day, the truth will be known.

7. Running on Empty

Rated: PG-13

7.7/10

The Popes are a family who haven't been able to use their real identity for years. In the late sixties, the parents set a weapons lab afire in an effort to hinder the government's Vietnam war campaign. Ever since then, the Popes have been on the run with the authorities never far behind. Today, their eldest son wants a life of his own although he is aware that would mean that his parents would either get caught or he will never see them again.

8. Prince of the City

Rated: R

7.5/10

New York City cop Daniel Ciello is involved in some questionable police practices. He is approached by internal affairs and in exchange for him potentially being let off the hook, he is instructed to begin to expose the inner workings of police corruption. Danny agrees as long as he does not have to turn in his partners but he soon learns that he cannot trust anyone and he must decide whose side he is on and who is on his.

9. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Rated: R

7.3/10

Needing extra cash, two brothers conspire to pull off the perfect, victimless crime. No guns, no violence, no problem. But when an accomplice ignores the rules and crosses the line, his actions trigger a series of events in which no one is left unscathed.

10. The Fugitive Kind

Rated: Not Rated

7.2/10

Having fled New Orleans to avoid arrest, the undeniably alluring Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier (Val), a trouble-prone guitar-playing drifter, wanders into a small Mississippi town aiming to go straight and lead a quiet, simple life. He gets a job in the dry goods store owned by a sexually-frustrated middle-aged woman named Lady Torrence, whose sadistic elderly husband, Jabe, is dying. With an obscure past and passions of her own, Lady finds herself attracted to Val, pulsating with passion anew, as he presents an arousing antidote to her bitter marriage and small-town hum-drum life, but also vying for Val's attention are the alcoholic, sex-crazed Carol Cutrere and the unhappily-married Vee Talbot. Each bring their share of problems into Val's plans, himself equally tempted by these women though he succumbs to the charms of Lady. But the jealous Jabe is friends with Sheriff Talbot, who's also Vee's wife - things can't possibly end well for Val and Lady. The screenplay by Meade Roberts and Tennessee Williams is based on Williams' own 1957 play "Orpheus Descending".

11. Deathtrap

Rated: PG

7.0/10

To make Sidney's slump all the more painful, Clifford Anderson, a student of one of Sidney's writing seminars, has recently sent his mentor a copy of his first attempt at playwrighting for Sidney's review and advice. The play, "Deathtrap," is a five character, two act thriller so perfect in its construction that, as Sidney says, "A gifted director couldn't even hurt it." Using his penchant for plot, and out of his desperate desire to once again be the toast of Broadway, Sidney, along with Myra, cook up an almost unthinkable scheme: They'll lure the would-be playwright to the Bruhl home, kill him, and market the sure-fire script as Sidney's own. But shortly after Clifford arrives, it's clear that things are not what they seem! Indeed, even Helga Ten Dorp, a nosey psychic from next door, and Porter Milgram, Sidney's observant attorney, can only speculate where the line between truth and deception lies.

12. Night Falls on Manhattan

Rated: R

6.6/10

Sean Casey is the newest member of the district attorneys office and he is close to uncovering a police scandal that might involve his father Liam, who works for the NYPD. Then his father is critically wounded in a stake-out, Sean is chosen to prosecute the case.

13. Q & A

Rated: R

6.6/10

A young district attorney seeking to prove a case against a corrupt police detective encounters a former lover and her new protector, a crime boss who refuses to help him in this gritty crime film.

14. The Anderson Tapes

Rated: GP

6.4/10

A thief (Duke Anderson) just released from ten years in jail, takes up with his old girlfriend (Ingrid) in her posh apartment. He makes plans to rob the entire building. What he doesn't know is that his every move is recorded on audio and video tape, although he is not the subject of any surveillance.

15. Garbo Talks

Rated: PG-13

6.4/10

Estelle is a one-person protest army: she goes to jail over grocery prices, shames construction workers for catcalls to passing women, and won't cross a picket line for her son's wedding. She also loves Garbo films: when she learns she has a brain tumor and six months to live, she decides she must meet Garbo. Her dutiful son Gilbert, a Manhattan accountant named for Garbo's co-star, hires a paparazzo to show him Garbo's flat, stakes it out, gets a job delivering food there, seeks her on Fire Island, and tracks her to a Sixth Avenue flea market. As his obsession distances him from his wife, he's drawn to a struggling actress he meets at work. Can he find Garbo; if so, will she talk?

16. Strip Search

Rated: Not Rated

6.3/10

In the aftermath of the September, 11th, in China, the American student Linda Sykes is interrogated by the military Liu Tsung-Yuan. In New York, the Arab student Sharif Bin Said is interrogated by the FBI agent Karen Moore. The psychological methods of interrogation are the same, amicable in the beginning and brutal in the end; but there is no evidence that the students are terrorists. Must security and safety of the State come at the price of freedom?

17. Critical Care

Rated: R

5.9/10

Werner Ernst is a young hospital resident who becomes embroiled in a legal battle between two half-sisters who are fighting over the care of their comatose father. But are they really fighting over their father's care, or over his $10 million estate? Meanwhile, Werner must contend with his nutty supervisor, who insists that he only care for patients with full insurance. Can Werner sidestep the hospital's legal team and do what's best for the patient?

18. Family Business

Rated: R

5.8/10

Jessie is an aging career criminal who has been in more jails, fights, schemes, and lineups than just about anyone else. His son Vito, while currently on the straight and narrow, has had a fairly shady past and is indeed no stranger to illegal activity. They both have great hope for Adam, Vito's son and Jessie's grandson, who is bright, good-looking, and without a criminal past. So when Adam approaches Jessie with a scheme for a burglary he's shocked, but not necessarily uninterested.

19. Guilty as Sin

Rated: R

5.7/10

A man accused of murdering his wife approaches a hotshot female criminal attorney to take his case. The man is a self-professed womaniser, and his alleged motive would be the large sum of money his wife left him. The attorney begins to have second thoughts about representing him when he starts making it look like they're having an affair and tells her things she can't reveal because of lawyer/client privilege, so she starts her own investigation of him, which threatens her career and the safety of her friends and herself.

20. The Wiz

Rated: G

5.5/10

Dorothy, a twenty-four-year-old kindergarten teacher, born; raised; and still working in Harlem, is celebrating Thanksgiving with her extended family, but she doesn't seem to be thankful for much in life. She lives a self-imposed sheltered life; she is shy and unfulfilled. Things change for her when she is caught in a snowstorm while chasing after her dog, Toto. They are transported to the mysterious Land of Oz, where she is informed that the only possible way to find her way back home is through the assistance of the powerful wizard in Emerald City. As she goes searching for him, she befriends some creatures who are facing problems in life just as she is. In their quest to find and get help from the wizard, they also face Evillene, the equally evil sister of Evermean, the wicked witch, whom Dorothy inadvertently killed when she arrived in Oz, and who may be their biggest obstacle in achieving their goals.

21. Just Tell Me What You Want

Rated: R

5.5/10

A TV producer who is the mistress of her boss, tries to have him make their relationship more permanent, and begins a relationship with a younger man. When her boss hears of this, he tries to stop it, and win her heart again.