Best prison movies

by davidcaupers | created - 07 Nov 2013 | updated - 07 Nov 2013 | Public
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1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

R | 142 min | Crime, Drama

80 Metascore

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler

Votes: 1,953,957 | Gross: $28.34M

2. The Green Mile (1999)

R | 189 min | Crime, Drama, Fantasy

61 Metascore

The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift.

Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse, Bonnie Hunt

Votes: 931,389 | Gross: $136.80M

3. Papillon (1973)

R | 151 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

58 Metascore

A man befriends a fellow criminal as the two of them begin serving their sentence on a dreadful prison island, which inspires the man to plot his escape.

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner | Stars: Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Victor Jory, Don Gordon

Votes: 105,658 | Gross: $53.27M

4. The Experiment (2001)

R | 120 min | Drama, Thriller

60 Metascore

For two weeks, 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards in a prison. The "prisoners" have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the "guards" are told to retain order without using physical violence.

Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel | Stars: Moritz Bleibtreu, Christian Berkel, Oliver Stokowski, Wotan Wilke Möhring

Votes: 84,799 | Gross: $0.14M

5. Felon (2008)

R | 104 min | Crime, Drama

58 Metascore

A family man convicted of killing an intruder must cope with life afterward in the violent penal system.

Director: Ric Roman Waugh | Stars: Stephen Dorff, Marisol Nichols, Vincent Miller, Anne Archer

Votes: 70,740 | Gross: $0.04M

6. Celda 211 (2009)

113 min | Action, Crime, Drama

The story of two men on different sides of a prison riot -- the inmate leading the rebellion and the young guard trapped in the revolt, who poses as a prisoner in a desperate attempt to survive the ordeal.

Director: Daniel Monzón | Stars: Luis Tosar, Alberto Ammann, Antonio Resines, Manuel Morón

Votes: 56,606

7. Blood In, Blood Out (1993)

R | 180 min | Crime, Drama

Based on the true life experiences of poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, the film focuses on step-brothers Paco and Cruz, and their bi-racial cousin Miklo. It opens in 1972, as the three are members... See full summary »

Director: Taylor Hackford | Stars: Damian Chapa, Jesse Borrego, Benjamin Bratt, Enrique Castillo

Votes: 25,519 | Gross: $4.50M

8. Get the Gringo (2012)

R | 96 min | Action, Crime, Drama

60 Metascore

A career criminal nabbed by Mexican authorities is placed in a tough prison where he learns to survive with the help of a young boy.

Director: Adrian Grunberg | Stars: Mel Gibson, Kevin Balmore, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Jesús Ochoa

Votes: 94,753

9. A Prophet (2009)

R | 155 min | Crime, Drama

90 Metascore

A young Arab man is sent to a French prison.

Director: Jacques Audiard | Stars: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif, Reda Kateb

Votes: 85,223 | Gross: $2.08M

10. Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

PG | 112 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

76 Metascore

Alcatraz is the most secure prison of its time. It is believed that no one can ever escape from it, until three daring men make a possible successful attempt at escaping from one of the most infamous prisons in the world.

Director: Don Siegel | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, Jack Thibeau

Votes: 97,712 | Gross: $43.00M

11. Animal Factory (2000)

R | 94 min | Crime, Drama

65 Metascore

A young man goes to prison and a tough, older convict takes him under his wing as a mentor.

Director: Steve Buscemi | Stars: Willem Dafoe, Edward Furlong, Danny Trejo, Mark Boone Junior

Votes: 11,489 | Gross: $0.04M

12. The Great Escape (1963)

Approved | 172 min | Adventure, Drama, History

87 Metascore

Allied prisoners of war plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II.

Director: John Sturges | Stars: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson

Votes: 193,417 | Gross: $12.10M

13. Dog Pound (2010)

Not Rated | 91 min | Drama

57 Metascore

Three juvenile delinquents are sentenced to a correctional facility where they encounter gang violence, death, and harassment from staff and other inmates.

Director: Kim Chapiron | Stars: Adam Butcher, Shane Kippel, Matthew Morales, Slim Twig

Votes: 9,642

14. Hunger (2008)

Not Rated | 96 min | Biography, Drama

82 Metascore

Irish republican Bobby Sands leads the inmates of a Northern Irish prison in a hunger strike.

Director: Steve McQueen | Stars: Stuart Graham, Laine Megaw, Brian Milligan, Liam McMahon

Votes: 58,267 | Gross: $0.15M

15. Bronson (2008)

R | 92 min | Action, Biography, Crime

71 Metascore

A young man who was sentenced to seven years in prison for robbing a post office ends up spending three decades in solitary confinement. During this time, his own personality is supplanted by his alter-ego, Charles Bronson.

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn | Stars: Tom Hardy, Kelly Adams, Luing Andrews, Katy Barker

Votes: 102,936 | Gross: $0.10M

16. Forbrydelser (2004)

101 min | Drama

Anna is a recent graduate theologian who are in search of a job. When she is offered a temporary job as a priest at a women's prison, she sees no reason to say no. There she meets Kate, a ... See full summary »

Director: Annette K. Olesen | Stars: Ann Eleonora Jørgensen, Trine Dyrholm, Nicolaj Kopernikus, Sonja Richter

Votes: 1,025

17. Carandiru (2003)

R | 145 min | Drama, Crime

71 Metascore

Brazilian MD Drauzio Varella starts AIDS prevention in Brazil's largest prison, Carandiru, in São Paulo, where the population is nearly double its 4,000 maximum. Doc learns from experience ... See full summary »

Director: Hector Babenco | Stars: Enrique Diaz, Wagner Moura, Caio Blat, Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos

Votes: 15,598 | Gross: $0.21M

18. Zendan-e zanan (2002)

106 min | Drama

Spanning 18 years in an Iranian women's prison, this follows two women: the new prison warden, a tough as nails devout Muslim who has served in the army on the Iraqi front, and a young ... See full summary »

Director: Manijeh Hekmat | Stars: Roya Nonahali, Roya Taymourian, Pegah Ahangarani, Golab Adineh

Votes: 791

19. Stir (1980)

101 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

Filmed in the Clare Valley, Gladstone and the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, this prison movie was inspired by the true life prison riot at Bathurst Jail in 1974 and its subsequent Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons.

Director: Stephen Wallace | Stars: Bryan Brown, Max Phipps, Dennis Miller, Gary Waddell

Votes: 184

20. Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

R | 120 min | Drama

80 Metascore

A gay man and a political prisoner are together in a prison. The gay man narrates the stories of two fake movies and his own life.

Director: Hector Babenco | Stars: William Hurt, Raul Julia, Sônia Braga, José Lewgoy

Votes: 12,248 | Gross: $17.04M

21. Kongen av Bastøy (2010)

Not Rated | 116 min | Action, Drama

Norwegian winter, early 20th century. On the boys home Bastoy, a new inmate leads the boys to a violent uprising against a brutal regime. How far is he willing to go to attain freedom?

Director: Marius Holst | Stars: Benjamin Helstad, Trond Nilssen, Stellan Skarsgård, Kristoffer Joner

Votes: 15,535 | Gross: $0.01M

22. Keimusho no naka (2002)

93 min | Comedy, Drama

A man serving a sentence in a minimum-security prison. Life in the jail is rigid and organized, eventually leading all of the cell-mates to abandon their individuality.

Director: Yôichi Sai | Stars: Tsutomu Yamazaki, Teruyuki Kagawa, Tomorô Taguchi, Yutaka Matsushige

Votes: 283

23. Jailbait (2004)

R | 90 min | Drama

41 Metascore

Randy commits a crime that would normally get him probation and a hefty fine, but in the "three-strikes" world of justice, he finds himself locked up for 25 years. His cellmate Jake is a ... See full summary »

Director: Brett C. Leonard | Stars: Stephen Adly Guirgis, Michael Pitt, Laila Robins, David Zayas

Votes: 376 | Gross: $0.01M

24. Dame sobh (2005)

Not Rated | 82 min | Drama

Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran, capital punishment is carried out according to Islamic law, which gives the family of the victim ownership of the offender's life. Day Break - based on... See full summary »

Director: Hamid Rahmanian | Stars: Hosein Yari, Zabi Afshar, Hoda Nasseh, Atash Taghipour

Votes: 236

25. Une part du ciel (2002)

85 min | Drama

The story of two women, one a prisoner and the other a corporate representative, who discover that their lives are defined by compromise.

Director: Bénédicte Liénard | Stars: Séverine Caneele, Sophia Leboutte, Josiane Stoléru, Naïma Hirèche

Votes: 91

26. De hel van Tanger (2006)

105 min | Drama

In August 1996, bus drivers Marcel Van Loock and Wim Moreels are apprehended by the Moroccan Customs for drug trafficking. Inside their bus, hidden behind a false compartment, they have ... See full summary »

Director: Frank van Mechelen | Stars: Nadia Abdelouafi, Mohamed Bari, Rachid Benbouchta, Mostafa Benkerroum

Votes: 1,412

27. Dead Man Walking (1995)

R | 122 min | Crime, Drama

80 Metascore

A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim's families.

Director: Tim Robbins | Stars: Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Robert Prosky, Raymond J. Barry

Votes: 79,426 | Gross: $39.39M

28. Kyûka (2008)

115 min | Drama

The prison guards working in penitentiaries where death row inmates are locked up are forced to spend their daily lives constantly facing death.

Director: Hajime Kadoi | Stars: Kaoru Kobayashi, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Nene Ohtsuka, Ren Osugi

Votes: 137