There are so many classic films, but to deliver the goods three times over? That’s impressive.
These are my picks for the top 10 best film trilogies of all time.
10. John Wick (2014-19)
John Wick (2014), Chapter 2 (2017), Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)
A modern gem, the John Wick trilogy has been one of the biggest surprises of recent years, reinventing action with its thrilling fight sequences and simple, exhilarating stories.
Sleek, exciting and immensely stylish, John Wick revolves around an effortlessly charismatic Keanu Reeves as he wreaks havoc on baddies around the world, taking them out with insanely entertaining martial arts skills.
Each film stands perfectly on its own, with the trilogy’s committment to action-first storytelling. It’s no-frills, high-entertainment action thrills like no other in modern Hollywood.
9. The Lord of the Rings (2001-03)
The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), The Return of the King (2003)
In terms of sheer success, there are few film trilogies that can beat The Lord Of The Rings.
A multi-billion dollar franchise that won plaudits from general audiences, critics and even the Oscars, this enormous fantasy trilogy is difficult to look past as one of cinema’s all-time classics.
For such a high-budget Hollywood franchise, it is a slow-moving trilogy, patiently building towards a stunning climax in its final film. But with legendary special effects, intricate fantasy and acclaimed performances, it will always be known as one of the best film trilogies ever made.
8. Three Colours Trilogy (1993-94)
Blue (1993), White (1994), Red (1994)
Director Krzysztof Kieślowski’s classic French-language trilogy is arguably the epitome of his career, and a memorable example of the power of a film trilogy.
Its three films are named after the colours of the French flag, and centre respectively on themes of liberty, equality and fraternity (the motto of France). On the surface, the three films may seem entirely unconnected, but Kieślowski’s small details and consistent themes tie them together beautifully.
From visual motifs to thematic details, Blue, White and Red are all subtly interconnected, bringing a greater gravitas and universality to their individual stories. That allows you to relate the main ideas of each story with another, thereby deepening your connection in every film – an ingenious use of trilogy.
7. Toy Story (1995-2010)
Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010)
Not just a groundbreaking landmark in the history of cinema, Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy is beloved by all, and for very good reason.
Its gorgeous animation and wonderful humour make it a delight for viewers of all ages, but there lies real emotional depth in every one of the trilogy’s three fantastic instalments, telling stories of friendship, loss and growing up in powerfully moving fashion.
Individually, all of the Toy Story films (including Toy Story 4) are a joy. But as a trilogy, the films come together beautifully, allowing you to grow up alongside its characters to the point they become a deeply ingrained part of your life too. And that makes the trilogy’s ending hurt so, so much.
6. Planet Of The Apes (2011-17)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
Remakes very rarely improve on the original, but The Planet of the Apes reboot surpassed all expectations, proving to be one of the most masterful film trilogies ever made.
A striking reimagination of the classic sci-fi, the trilogy follows the story from the moment that apes begin to take over the Earth and their ensuing conflict with humans.
Not only is it a visual masterpiece (especially War), but the Planet of the Apes trilogy is loaded with thrilling action, as well as powerful emotional drama, riveting character development and gritty, harsh intensity that lends a striking gravitas to this sci-fi franchise.
5. Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (2004-13)
Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), The World’s End (2013)
Edgar Wright’s effortlessly lovable comedy trilogy has won fans all over the world for its hilarious humour, film-loving detail and innovative style.
A loose collection of action-comedies that are tied together by different flavours of Cornetto ice cream, it’s fair to say that this is the funniest, most entertaining trilogy ever made: immensely rewatchable and gut-bustingly hilarious.
With brilliant performances from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and other regulars throughout, there’s never a dull moment in the Cornetto trilogy, while Wright directs all three films in inimitable style, injecting thrilling energy into every second of these three legendary comedies.
4. The Godfather (1974-90)
The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974), The Godfather Part III (1990)
This one trilogy features two of the best films ever made. And its third edition, though maligned by some, is still amazing, and a far more satisfying conclusion than many suggest.
Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather is a mafia film of epic proportions, complete with immense style, gritty violence, complex intrigue and heartbreaking emotion. Its story is furthered by the equally masterful Part II, and then the bittersweet Part III.
This trilogy is required viewing for any film lover, as it tells the story of a crime dynasty in masterful fashion, with enthralling depth and unforgettable drama over every minute of its nine hours.
3. Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (1977-83)
Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983)
Perhaps the most famous trilogy ever made, the original trilogy of George Lucas’ legendary Star Wars saga is the very definition of Hollywood excitement and wonder.
A majestic space opera that tells the story of an unlikely hero rising to save the galaxy from tyranny, Star Wars’ original trilogy is composed of three fantastic sci-fi adventures, all coming together to tell one of the modern world’s most well-known stories.
Complete with thrilling action, boundless imagination, classic twists and lore deep beneath the surface, everybody knows Star Wars as the trilogy of all trilogies – not better than the sequels and the prequels, but better than almost every other trilogy ever made.
2. Indiana Jones (1981-89)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), The Temple of Doom (1984), The Last Crusade (1989)
Regularly compared with Star Wars for its ties to George Lucas, the original Indiana Jones trilogy just pips the classic space opera as one of the best film trilogies of all time.
Three classic adventure serials following the eternally charismatic Indiana Jones as he uncovers secrets around the world while fighting baddies, this trilogy is both an enormously entertaining series of blockbusters, as well as a priceless look back to the classic days of cinema.
Reinventing the classic adventure serial with modern sensibilities, the Indiana Jones movies are spectacular, with eye-catching action, beautiful style, great characters and delightful humour. Each film stands out in its own way, telling similar but individually memorable stories in a way that few other trilogies can ever match.
1. The Before Trilogy (1995-2013)
Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), Before Midnight (2013)
A trilogy that is so much more than just the sum of its parts, Richard Linklater’s Before series is unlike any other trilogy ever made.
The story of a man and woman who fall in love one night in Vienna, the trilogy tells their story through three films interspersed by nine-year gaps. Linklater uses that time to ingenious effect, developing their story from naive, passionate young love to a fleeting reunion, and then a complex relationship.
As a collection of films, the Before trilogy is an utter joy to watch, featuring three gorgeous romantic dramas with riveting dialogue and beautiful performances by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.
But the trilogy works even better as one coherent story. Despite the nine-year gaps between films, each film fills in those gaps in subtle yet moving fashion, allowing you to understand the pair’s lives as one consistent thread, even though you only experience them in episodes.
It’s a masterful piece of work that stands out in a way that no other film trilogy has ever done. That’s why the Before series is certainly best film trilogy of all time.