Posted in:

Steven Soderbergh: Reviewing His Best Movies To Date

© by Jake Blucker on Unsplash

Meta Description: Steven Soderbergh is one of the best directors and screenwriters of all time. From Ocean’s Eleven to Full Frontal, Soderbergh knows no bounds.

Steven Soderbergh’s Best Movies 

Steven Soderbergh is an American director, screenwriter, and producer who has worked in independent film and Hollywood studio movies. 

His most famous work is the witty action movie Ocean’s Eleven (2001), but he has made some remarkable micro-budget films like Behind the Candelabra (2012) that seem to be equally loved by the audience. He also makes a few commercial projects like Full Frontal (2002) which push cinematographic boundaries. 

Despite these stylistic differences, several common threads are running through the various types of movies Soderbergh has made throughout his career.

Big-Budget Hollywood films

Soderbergh’s films are frequently about common themes in big-budget Hollywood films, but he takes an avant-garde arthouse approach to them. They’re about fluctuating personal identities, retribution, sexuality, morality, and the human condition, among other things. 

Because of his avant-garde cinema influences and his usage of unconventional film and camera formats, his feature films are generally distinct in the world of cinematography. 

In Soderbergh’s films, there are many multi-dimensional stories with plot twists, nonlinear storytelling, experimental sequencing, tense soundscapes, and third-person viewpoints. 

It is essential to review his career as a whole to understand Soderbergh’s best movies, both as an independent and big-budget director. 

The discussion above provides a backdrop for discussing his most noteworthy films. It also shows how he has evolved over the years from a filmmaking student at USC through to his career today.

There’s no particular ranking in the movies chosen. However, the list includes all of Soderbergh’s better-known works to date from both commercial and art-house distribution, as well as some less notable credits that critics have generally acclaimed. 

It is necessary to say a little about each film individually to clarify why they have been chosen for this list .


Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Ocean’s Eleven (2001) is a clever, witty action movie that spoofs the American crime drama genre. It stars George Clooney as Danny Ocean, who is recently released from prison and is plotting to stage one of the most daring rip-offs in history. He has eleven accomplices on his side, including Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle. Other actors include Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts.

The film features an all-star cast with many well-known actors playing more minor roles. It also includes cameos by director David Fincher and actor Elliott Gould who appeared in the original Rat Pack version of this movie back in 1960.

For example, Gould’s Frankie character from the first movie returns in this one as the ghostly voice of Reuben Tishkoff, while a Frank Sinatra song plays during a critical scene. Also, many lines from the original appear in Soderbergh’s version, such as “that job sucked!” and “I lost $130 million last night playing roulette — what did you do?”

The script is full of little jokes like this that make it delightful to watch as a comedy even though it has other dramatic twists and turns. It also helps that the editing and direction are very skillful; Soderbergh exhibits an impressive ability to bring together all the separate parts and create a better whole than in each scene alone.

As a result, Ocean’s Eleven can be seen as an entertaining action movie with lots of comedic moments, or film fans can appreciate it at a deeper level as one of Soderbergh’s best movies.

Full Frontal (2002)

Full Frontal is an experimental movie marketed as a romantic comedy but falls closer to the realm of introspective drama than traditional rom-com does.

It stars David Duchovny as Sam, who just got dumped by his girlfriend and impulsively arrived in Los Angeles to attend the annual film festival there. He meets up with his old friend Lila (Julianne Moore), who is now married to another somewhat naive man named Fritz (David Hyde Pierce). From there, the story unfolds over three different timelines where Sam has relationships with these two women while trying to find himself along the way.

Initially, this unusual narrative might be off-putting for some viewers due to the way it is edited together. Each timeline occurs in a separate “room” where the action unfolds, but after Sam leaves each room, no edits join the timelines together again. This means that every time he encounters either Lila or Fritz, it begins exactly where it left off previously.

However, once one gets used to this unusual style of editing, things become more interesting. For instance, the three timelines are eventually brought together rather cleverly at the end, and they all revolve around Sam’s love life within these relationships.

As it turns out, his needs seem to be better served by friendships than romantic attachments with either woman, according to how he acts in each timeline.

Full Frontal is not a typical rom-com, and it isn’t easy to describe what genre this movie owns. It has elements of all sorts: drama, romance, comedy, and even features Soderbergh playing drums with Elvis Costello at the end. As such, Full Frontal may be memorable for some viewers, but ultimately it seems like a vanity project that didn’t work out as well as intended (although there are still some original moments here).

The Girlfriend Experience (2009) 

The Girlfriend Experience was made for television and can be considered another one of Soderbergh’s experimental movies. He tries out new ideas and styles of filmmaking within a particular context that contains many restrictions on how the project should look and feel.

In this case, it is a TV show about an escort who tries to understand her clients and help them; Sasha Grey plays the main character. Grey had made over 500 adult movies before acting in The Girlfriend Experience (This fact was unknown until after the director completed the movie).

This movie required that Soderbergh deliver sexually explicit scenes and dialogue, which he tried to do as tastefully as possible — even though some mainstream critics still complained about it. 

Otherwise, there isn’t much else here than the show’s premise suggests: just people talking and having relations with each other on-screen while displaying little emotion besides boredom or a sense of playfulness.

Viewers might find this show entertaining, but it’s not exactly a story that one can connect to on an emotional level – the main character is just going through the motions, doing her job, and minding her own business as she does so. 

All those who think they know Steven Soderbergh’s movies will probably still be surprised by them after watching Behind the Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra (2012)

In 2012, HBO bought the rights to broadcast this TV movie about Liberace while Soderbergh was still editing the material together. This meant it would be pushed back significantly in favor of more popular shows aired on the network (e.g. Boardwalk Empire) which were getting better ratings than Candelabra would ever achieve if released then.

Despite this movie’s tendency towards melodrama (and even kitsch in some instances), Soderbergh does manage to make Behind the Candelabra stand out by using various cinematic techniques such as split screens and changing aspect ratios to suit the mood he wants for this project. 

The Informant! (2009)

The Informant! might not be one of Steven Soderbergh’s most famous films, but there’s no denying that it’s undoubtedly one of his most interesting ones. It is also probably one of Matt Damon’s best performances ever because he manages to convince viewers somehow that he’s a great liar who doesn’t care about other people’s feelings. 

Viewers will be happy to see Soderbergh mostly use handheld cameras to get them up-close and personal with Damon while moving from one interview set-up to the next, thus creating an entertaining experience that certainly isn’t for everyone. Viewers might need some time to figure out what genre they’re watching here because it mixes thriller elements with aspects of a mockumentary.


In conclusion, it’s safe to say that Steven Soderbergh is a director with a unique style because his movies have been inspiring filmmakers from around the world for decades now. 

He can also surprise audiences time after time with bold choices that not only pay off but also create an environment where viewers can appreciate how great filmmaking works as long as they’re willing to give it a try.