Kirk Douglas remarkably celebrates his 102nd birthday on December 9, 2018. The three-time Oscar nominee appeared in dozens of movies in a career that spanned decades. But how many of those titles are classics? In honor of his birthday, let’s take a look back at 15 of his greatest films, ranked worst to best.
Born in 1916, Douglas kicked off his acting career after serving in the Navy during WWII. He made his film debut with a small role in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (1946). His first Oscar nomination as Best Actor came just three years later for Mark Robson‘s boxing drama “Champion” (1949). He earned two more Oscar bids working with director Vincent Minnelli, first for the Hollywood melodrama “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952) and again for the Vincent Van Gogh biopic “Lust for Life” (1956). The latter film brought him victories at the Golden Globes and New York Film Critics Circle.
Though he never won a competitive trophy, Douglas did receive an Honorary Oscar in 1996. He was given the Golden Globe’s Cecil B. DeMille award in 1968, the AFI Lifetime Achievement prize in 1991, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1994 and the Screen Actors Guild lifetime achievement award in 1999.
Douglas found success on the small screen as well, reaping Emmy bids for “Amos” (Best Movie/Mini Actor in 1986), “Tales from the Crypt” (Best Drama Actor in 1992) and “Touched by an Angel” (Best Drama Guest Actor in 2000).
Proving that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, Douglas’ son, Michael Douglas, is having a successful career as well, winning Oscars for producing “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) and starring in “Wall Street” (1987). Though they seldom worked together the two presented the Best Picture Oscar to “Chicago” in 2002 and appeared together in the film “It Runs in the Family” (2003).
Tour our photo gallery above of Douglas’ 15 greatest films, including all of the titles above plus “Spartacus” and “Paths of Glory.” Full disclosure, this was a tough one to whittle down, and an even tougher one to pick a “best of the best” for. Did your favorite top the list?
Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.