Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in a scene from "A Star Is Born"

25 of the best movie remakes of all time

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June 17, 2022
Warner Bros. Pictures

25 of the best movie remakes of all time

Nothing is more cringe-worthy as a superfan of a certain movie than to see a Hollywood reboot or remake it in an unsuccessful way—some superfans may even consider successful remakes of their favorite film questionable—but like many things, the film industry is cyclical. And reworking legendary movies is nothing new. In fact, the first cinematic remake happened in 1896, when early cinema pioneers Auguste and Louis Lumière’s “Partie d’écarté,” a simple one-minute film of two men playing cards while they are served wine, was remade by director Georges Méliès as “Une partie de cartes,” and filmed right in Méliès’ own backyard (literally).

Through the years, movie buffs have moaned and groaned through countless remakes. Though the majority of them deserve to be moaned and groaned over, they already have a built-in fanbase and thus are a surefire way for studios to make money. Case in point: Disney’s live-action “Lion King” remake raked in $1.656 billion at the global box office. But for every “Lion King,” there is a “Flatliners” or “The Fog”—though more often than not remakes, even if they do respectable box office, are simply forgettable compared to the original. Anyone remember 2008’s remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still?” (Look it up.)

Stacker surveyed the often-disastrous history of film remakes and found 25 diamonds in the rough. To qualify, the movie had to have at least a 7.5 IMDb user rating with 15,000 votes or a Metascore of 70 with at least seven reviews. Films are organized chronologically.

Read on to learn more about the 25 best movie remakes of all time. How do you think these stack up to the originals?

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Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, and Jack Haley in a scene from "The Wizard of Oz"
1 / 25
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

- Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog, Richard Thorpe, King Vidor
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Metascore: 92
- Runtime: 102 minutes

To many, the 1939 version of “The Wizard of Oz” is considered to be the original. And though buzz about a remake hit the internet in 2021, the iconic Judy Garland vehicle is actually the second film adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 fantasy novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” The first came in 1925. That silent film shares its name with its famous remake; the story, however, is drastically different—it focuses primarily on the Scarecrow character, who is a disguised farmhand from Dorothy’s family farm.

Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy, and Rosalind Russell in a scene from "His Girl Friday"
2 / 25
Columbia Pictures

His Girl Friday (1940)

- Director: Howard Hawks
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 92 minutes

It’s hard to believe a movie that came out in 1940 could be a remake, but “His Girl Friday” was the second film adaptation of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s play, “The Front Page.” The first was released in 1931 and retained the play’s original name. Both films have been added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, but they are significantly different. In the play and first adaptation, the story focuses on a pair of male reporters covering the police beat. In “His Girl Friday,” the character of Hildy Johnson is played by a woman (Rosalind Russell), and the dynamic is shifted to that of a husband (Cary Grant) trying to win back his ex-wife.

James Stewart in a scene from "The Man Who Knew Too Much"
3 / 25
Paramount Pictures

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 120 minutes

Not only is “The Man Who Knew Too Much” a remake but it’s also a remake made by the same director. Alfred Hitchcock decided to use the same title for two films; the first was released in 1934 and focused on a kidnapping plot. The 1956 version, starring Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day, features a significantly different plot and script, with its stars becoming embroiled in a murder scheme. When fellow filmmaker François Truffaut remarked that aspects of the remake were superior to the original in a 1967 interview, Hitchcock responded, “Let’s say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional.”

Sandra Dee and Lana Turner in a scene from "Imitation of Life"
4 / 25
Universal International Pictures (UI)

Imitation of Life (1959)

- Director: Douglas Sirk
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 87
- Runtime: 125 minutes

Douglas Sirk’s version of “Imitation of Life” came out 25 years after the original film. Both movies were based on a 1933 novel of the same name, but the 1959 remake features some major changes from the original. The biggest is main character Lora Meredith’s road to fame: In the original, she becomes famous by commercially producing her Black maid’s waffle recipe, but Sirk didn’t think that would sit right amidst the civil rights movement, and so opted for his Lora (Lana Turner) to become a Broadway star instead.

Close up of Clint Eastwood in a scene from "A Fistful of Dollars""
5 / 25
Jolly Film

A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

- Director: Sergio Leone
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 99 minutes

“A Fistful of Dollars” is famous for a lot of reasons. It’s Clint Eastwood’s first leading role and was so successful that it birthed the immortal “Dollars Trilogy.” But the spaghetti Western is also infamously known for being an unofficial and unlicensed remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 samurai film “Yojimbo.” Kurusawa’s studio, Toho, sued director Sergio Leone with a letter that read, “I’ve seen your movie. It’s a very good movie. Unfortunately, it’s my movie.”

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El Hedi ben Salem and Brigitte Mira in a scene from "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul"
6 / 25
Filmverlag der Autoren

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

- Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 92 minutes

“Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” is an homage to another film on this list, “Imitation of Life,” as well as Douglas Sirk’s other movies, namely “All That Heaven Allows.” The German film’s most overt nod in that regard is a scene where main character Emmi Kurowski’s son kicks in the television after finding out his mother married a North African. Not only is the television a major symbol in “All That Heaven Allows,” but the theme of children opposing their parents’ relationship rings true in both.

Roy Scheider, Amidou, Ramon Bieri, Bruno Cremer, and Karl John in "Sorcerer"
7 / 25
Film Properties International N.V.

Sorcerer (1977)

- Director: William Friedkin
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 121 minutes

“Sorcerer” is a remake of the 1953 film “The Wages of Fear,” but the nuances of William Friedkin’s thriller are much different than its French counterpart. Both stories focus on a group of outcasts tasked with transporting nitroglycerin through a formidable jungle landscape, but while “Wages” was heralded as a success upon release, “Sorcerer” was a flop. It has since, however, been considered something of an overlooked masterpiece.

Donald Sutherland in a scene from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"
8 / 25
Solofilm

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

- Director: Philip Kaufman
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 115 minutes

Director Philip Kaufman was such a fan of 1956’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” that he wanted to make his own version of it. Movie buffs love to debate which version of the sci-fi horror film is better. The original is a chilling exploration of conformity and free will set in a sleepy town, while Kaufman’s explores what would happen if aliens invaded a bustling city like San Francisco. The story was subsequently remade as “Body Snatchers” in 1993 and “The Invasion” in 2007 with Nicole Kidman and a pre-007 Daniel Craig.

Isabelle Adjani and Bruno Ganz in a scene from "Nosferatu the Vampyre"
9 / 25
Werner Herzog Filmproduktion

Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

- Director: Werner Herzog
- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 107 minutes

Werner Herzog’s “Nosferatu the Vampyre” pays tribute to two stories at once. The basic plot is based on Brom Stoker’s novel “Dracula,” but the director intentionally set out to make an homage remake of F. W. Murnau’s famous 1922 silent film “Nosferatu.” Herzog, who’s of German descent, considered the original to be the best film to ever come out of his home country and couldn’t wait to make his own version.

Kurt Russell and Charles Hallahan in a scene from "The Thing"
10 / 25
Universal Pictures

The Thing (1982)

- Director: John Carpenter
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 57
- Runtime: 109 minutes

“The Thing” is technically a remake of 1951’s “The Thing from Another World.” But where the original is only a loose adaptation of John W. Campbell’s 1938 novella “Who Goes There?” John Carpenter sought to make a film that more closely followed the source material. The movie didn’t exactly burn up the box office upon its initial release in 1982; however, in subsequent years, it became revered as one of the best sci-fi and horror flicks of all time. In fact, its popularity grew so much that a prequel of the same name was released in 2011.

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Al Pacino in a scene from "Scarface"
11 / 25
Universal Pictures

Scarface (1983)

- Director: Brian De Palma
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 170 minutes

The 1983 version of “Scarface” is one of the most well-known gangster movies of all time, but so is the 1932 original, which was directed by legend Howard Hawks and proved a star-making role for Paul Muni. The films are remarkably similar given the fact that they take place 50 years apart; however, Al Pacino’s Tony Montana is notably more aggressive than the 1932 character. Fun fact: “Scarface” is the only remake to appear on the American Film Institute’s 10 Top 10 list as the original.

Jeff Goldblum in a scene from "The Fly"
12 / 25
20th Century-Fox // Getty Images

The Fly (1986)

- Director: David Cronenberg
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 96 minutes

The 1958 version of “The Fly” closely follows the plot of the 1957 short story of the same name, but its remake is quite different than the source material. Though the basic premise is similar (a scientific experiment gone wrong), visually, Jeff Goldblum’s Seth Brundle undergoes a gradual metamorphosis, whereas the original’s main character André Delambre instantly turns into a fly-like creature. The original also focuses on the trial of Delambre’s wife, who is accused of murdering her husband, and in the 1986 version, Brundle is not married.

A scene from "Little Shop of Horrors"
13 / 25
The Geffen Company

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

- Director: Frank Oz
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 94 minutes

“Little Shop of Horrors” is an adaptation of a 1982 off-Broadway musical of the same name, which is itself an adaptation of a 1960 film called “The Little Shop of Horrors” directed by schlockmeister Roger Corman. While the 1986 version stays true to the musical, it’s important to note the original movie is not a musical. A second remake has been in the works for years but remains on hold indefinitely.

Gregory Peck and Robert De Niro in a scene from "Cape Fear"
14 / 25
Amblin Entertainment

Cape Fear (1991)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 128 minutes

Both the 1962 original and 1991 remake of “Cape Fear” were based on John D. MacDonald’s 1957 novel “The Executioners.” Both movies follow the same basic storyline of ex-convict Max Cady out to exact revenge on lawyer Sam Bowden, but Robert De Niro’s portrayal of Cady in the 1991 remake is much more violent. Another notable difference is the strong Christian symbolism director Martin Scorcese and writer Wesley Strick add to Cady’s character.

Al Pacino and Gabrielle Anwar in a scene from "Scent of a Woman"
15 / 25
Universal Pictures

Scent of a Woman (1992)

- Director: Martin Brest
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 59
- Runtime: 156 minutes

“Scent of a Woman” is a remake of the 1974 Italian film “Profumo di donna.” Al Pacino famously stars as Lt. Col. Frank Slade, a blind, irritable war vet who forces the young man hired to look after him (Chris O’Donnell) to accompany him on what he sees as a final hurrah in New York City. Pacino did extensive research for the part, including observing behaviors at a school for the blind. His performance earned him his only Oscar for Best Actor.

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Brad Pitt and George Clooney in a scene from "Ocean's Eleven"
16 / 25
Warner Bros. Pictures

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

- Director: Steven Soderbergh
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 116 minutes

This all-star remake—boasting a cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts—was so popular that it spawned a trilogy, as well as a female-led reboot, 2018’s “Ocean’s Eight.” The 1960 original featured the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop). Though both are heist movies, the conceit of the original is that former Army buddies collaborate to rob five casinos in one night, whereas Soderbergh took his version into a more straightforward crime-from-crime territory—all 11 principles are career thieves of one sort or another.

Al Pacino and Robin Williams in a scene from "Insomnia"
17 / 25
Alcon Entertainment

Insomnia (2002)

- Director: Christopher Nolan
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 118 minutes

This remake came very quickly on the heels of the original 1997 Norwegian psychological thriller, starring Stellan Skarsgård. Al Pacino stars alongside Robin Williams and Hilary Swank in this version, which sets the action in remote Alaska. The film was generally well-received, though at least one critic saw a good Nolan film but a less-than-stellar adaptation.

Adrien Brody, Jack Black, and Naomi Watts in a scene from "King Kong"
18 / 25
King Kong (2005)

King Kong (2005)

- Director: Peter Jackson
- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 187 minutes

King Kong is the original movie monster. The giant ape first appeared on film in 1933 and has since been immortalized in everything from comics to video games. The first “King Kong” remake, starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange, came in 1976, on the heels of Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” which enlivened Hollywood’s appetite for the big tentpole picture. Then, in 2005, Peter Jackson tried his hand at rebooting the classic monster flick. His version became the fifth highest-grossing film of the year globally, and has since renewed interest in the creative property, spawning 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island” and 2021’s “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon in a scene from "The Departed"
19 / 25
The Departed (2006)

The Departed (2006)

- Director: Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 151 minutes

“The Departed” may be one of the most critically acclaimed remakes of all time. Martin Scorsese’s crime thriller is loosely based on the real-life Boston Winter Hill Gang and is also a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film “Infernal Affairs.” The movie took home four Oscars at the 79th Annual Academy Awards, including Best Picture and—finally, after five previous nominations—Best Director for Scorsese.

Russell Crowe and Peter Fonda in a scene from "3:10 to Yuma"
20 / 25
Lionsgate

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

- Director: James Mangold
- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 122 minutes

“3:10 to Yuma” is a remake of the 1957 movie of the same name. Both Westerns were based on the 1953 short story “Three-Ten to Yuma” by crime writer Elmore Leonard. James Mangold’s 2007 version stays pretty true to the story, aside from Russell Crowe’s depiction of outlaw Ben Wade being much more psychopathic and chaotic than Glenn Ford’s in the original.

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Chloë Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee in a scene from "Let Me In"
21 / 25
Overture Films

Let Me In (2010)

- Director: Matt Reeves
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 116 minutes

“Let Me In” is an English-language adaptation of the 2008 Swedish romantic horror film “Let the Right One In.” John Nordling and Carl Molinder, who produced the original movie, also produced the remake. Hammer Films asked original director Tomas Alfredson to helm the remake, but he rejected the offer, stating, “I am too old to make the same film twice and I have other stories that I want to tell.”

Rooney Mara in a scene from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
22 / 25
Columbia Pictures

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

- Director: David Fincher
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 158 minutes

Another remake that came swiftly on the heels of the original bases itself on Stieg Larsson’s book “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” published posthumously in 2005 to outstanding acclaim. So much so that a Swedish film called “Män som hatar kvinnor” (literal translation “Men Who Hate Women”) was released in 2009. Two years later, this English-language adaptation was released, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. Its modest box office returns quashed plans for a direct sequel, though a soft reboot/sequel was released in 2018 called “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” which recast Claire Foy as the film’s main character, Lisbeth Salander.

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in a scene from "A Star Is Born"
23 / 25
Warner Bros. Pictures

A Star Is Born (2018)

- Director: Bradley Cooper
- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 136 minutes

Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” is the fourth time this tale has been brought to the silver screen. The 1937 original won an Oscar for Best Original Story (a category since discontinued by the Academy) and spawned remakes in 1954 (a comeback vehicle for Judy Garland) and 1976 (a smash hit for Barbra Streisand, which put the story in the world of rock ’n’ roll) before 2018’s iteration. The film received several Oscar nods, but it was the music that really got people talking. Cooper and Lady Gaga’s duet, “Shallow,” won Best Original Song at the 91st Annual Academy Awards.

Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen in a scene from "Little Women"
24 / 25
Columbia Pictures

Little Women (2019)

- Director: Greta Gerwig
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Metascore: 91
- Runtime: 135 minutes

Louisa May Alcott’s 19th-century novel has received a great number of adaptations in film, on stage, and on television. The first film adaptation came out in 1917. The 1933 version, starring Katharine Hepburn, was perhaps the first widespread success; the story was set to see the silver screen again in 1949—and yet again in 1994, as a vehicle for Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon. Despite the story being told so many times, there is seemingly no lack of appetite for new interpretations—Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation garnered six Academy Award nominations.

Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in a scene from "Dune"
25 / 25
Dune (2021)

Dune (2021)

- Director: Denis Villeneuve
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 155 minutes

David Lynch’s 1984 interpretation of “Dune” may have bombed upon initial release, but it became, in the intervening years, a cult classic. Interest in Frank Herbert’s desert-scape epic never really waned, and director Denis Villeneuve’s remake, which is actually just the first part of a two-part series, not only found box office success despite the COVID-19 pandemic, it also scored big with the Academy, garnering six of the 10 Oscars for which it was nominated.

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