10 Best Peter Jackson Movies

10 best Peter Jackson movies

10 Best Peter Jackson Movies

It seems like no other director has been trusted with such massively ambitious (and massively budgeted) projects as Peter Jackson has. Getting the opportunity to direct three Lord of the Rings films and three Hobbit films seem like something that would’ve been split among six different directors, much like Star Wars or Star Trek has been treated, but that simply isn’t the case with Jackson. For better or for worse, Jackson is the man responsible for all six of these hugely recognizable films. Big-budget affairs aren’t the only thing Jackson’s good at, though — in fact, many of his low-budget, darkly comedic films might be better than the work he’s most well-known for. He’s really gone to show that just because something looks big and sounds big doesn’t mean it actually is big. Sometimes, as is the case with Jackson’s films, bigger is not actually better.

Dead Alive

10 best Peter Jackson movies

Peter Jackson’s 1992 gorefest — also known as Braindead — is one of the most gruesome and darkly comedic pieces of 20th-century filmmaking ever known to man. It’s a testament to the allure and the craft of practical special effects, something that Jackson would reiterate with his Lord of the Rings trilogy and squander with his Hobbit trilogy. It’s bloody, it’s gory, it’s Jackson’s best and most fully-realized vision yet.

Watch now on Amazon Prime.

Heavenly Creatures

10 best Peter Jackson movies

Going from zombie comedy to psychological thriller, Jackson’s 1994 film Heavenly Creatures tells the true story of a mysterious and shocking murder. It features the screen debut of Kate Winslet, just three years before she’d captivate audiences in James Cameron’s Titanic, as well as Melanie Lynskey in her first role, as well. It’s actually got a lot in common with Dead Alive, even if it might not seem like it at first. All in all, it’s one of the best components of Jackson’s early filmography.

Purchase now on Amazon for $44.99.

Bad Taste

10 best Peter Jackson movies

Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste is many things, but one thing is for sure: it’s one of the funniest and most outrageous movies of the 80s, and one that has a well-deserved cult following because of it. After a small town’s population is replaced by aliens in search of flesh for their out-of-this-world fast-food chain, a nobody named Derek (played by Jackson himself) must do what he can to put a stop to things. Don’t be fooled, though: it’s a movie that defies explanation and deserves your attention.

Purchase now on Amazon for $13.88.

The Frighteners

10 best Peter Jackson movies

Jackson’s last film before tackling J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic series of novels, 1996’s The Frighteners is another creepy cult classic from the New Zealander. Produced by Robert Zemeckis, the movie sees Michael J. Fox as a man who works with ghosts—he promises to rid houses of them, all while actually working for them behind-the-scenes. Of course, things start to go wrong and Fox must find a way to survive the mess he’s made. It’s kind of metaphorical if you think about it — Jackson made plenty of incredibly creative low-budget hits, only to succumb to the studio system and become the one responsible for churning out blockbuster after soulless blockbuster.

Purchase now on Amazon for $8.99.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

10 best Peter Jackson movies

The third of the first three Lord of the Rings films, Return of the King is the strongest Tolkien adaptation Jackson has made thus far. Jackson’s love of practical special effects and willingness to choose them over CGI is noble, if anything, and he uses them very successfully in this film, which some of the best battle sequences this franchise has to offer. It’s a culmination of everything great about the Lord of the Rings.

Purchase now on Amazon for $17.99.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

10 best Peter Jackson movies

Jackson’s first foray into Middle Earth is undeniably wonderful. Sure, it might be a little bit long at parts and sure, some of the acting could probably be a bit better, but it’s a charming and valiant effort (and a movie that will go on to define Jackson’s career for the rest of his life). Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, and the rest of the Middle Earth gang all owe a lot to Jackson, and he owes a lot to his early roots for helping him create sets and creatures that seem so tangible while remaining fantastical.

Purchase now on Amazon for $17.99.

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

10 best Peter Jackson movies

The second Lord of the Rings film, the second act of Frodo’s quest for the titular ring, is faster than the first and relies heavily on a few great battle sequences. It’s unclear whether this is actually a good thing or a bad thing, but one thing actually is certain: It’s a solid second installment of a relatively solid trilogy. There’s not much else a Lord of the Rings fan could ask for when it comes to Jackson’s hugely successful trilogy.

Purchase now on Amazon for $17.99.

King Kong

10 best Peter Jackson movies

Jackson’s first film after his Lord of the Rings trilogy makes no attempt to return to any sort of small-scale — like the titular ape, Jackson’s massive movie remake doesn’t hold back in any way, shape, or form. The visuals might not hold up as well as they did in 2005 — even then, his embrace of CGI over practical effects signaled an important change in the director’s filmmaking morals—but there’s no denying their scale even after all these years. It’s a valiant effort, but everyone knows the original King Kong from 1933 still exists and is available to stream online, right?

Purchase now on Amazon for $9.96.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

10 best Peter Jackson movies

Unlike the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the second of the three Hobbit movies proves to be the focal point of the entire series. It’s a strong and enjoyable entry in Jackson’s filmography, utilizing Martin Freeman to the best of his abilities and reuniting him with Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch as the elusive and terrifying Smaug. It’s a spectacle, to be sure, and one that is never matched by either of the other two Hobbit films.

Purchase now on Amazon for $17.99.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

10 best Peter Jackson movies

The first Hobbit film was a welcome return-to-form for Jackson, but the overuse of CGI and the familiarity of the world and the characters left many viewers longing for what made Jackson’s first trilogy so appealing in the first place: freshness and wonder. Like with the recent Star Wars trilogy, it’s nearly impossible to replicate the wonder of seeing a new and one-of-a-kind cinematic world for the first time, but The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey deserves plenty of credit for trying.

Purchase now on Amazon for $17.99.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.