Steven Soderbergh is widely regarded as one of our greatest living directors. He's an artist who seems equally comfortable crafting crowd-pleasing blockbusters and more artsy fare. Here are his very best films.
'Sex, Lies and Videotape' (1989)
There are many veteran directors who would be hard-pressed to deliver a drama as strong as this debut effort from Soderbergh. The film -- and its frank, intelligent exploration of human sexuality -- immediately established Soderbergh as a talent to watch.
This worldwide epidemic thriller is even more relevant (and scary) now, years after Soderbergh unleashed his uneven but intense take on disaster movies.
With two halves comprising a total of four hours, "Che" requires a significant commitment from viewers. But it's certainly worth the effort, as Soderbergh and Benicio del Toro reunite to build a masterful (and nicely focused) biopic about famed revolutionary figure Ernesto Guevara.
'The Limey' (1999)
"The Limey" is easily one of the most underrated films in the Soderbergh canon. In a sea of cookie-cutter crime thrillers, this one stood out on the strength of Soderbergh's stylistic, time-fractured vision and Terence Stamp's intense portrayal of a vengeful British ex-con.
'Erin Brockovich' (2000)
With this and "Traffic" in 2000, the filmmaker had one hell of a run at the Oscars that year. "Erin Brockovich" earned Julia Roberts a much-deserved Best Actress award for her fiery portrayal of a fierce underdog trying to provide for her family and give justice to other families suffering from chemicals in their drinking water.
Don't pay attention to its poor box office. This sci-fi drama is one of the director's most underrated and effective films; a slow-burn adaptation of the epic Russian novel about how the memory of someone you love isn't the same as loving that person. A sentient planet literally manifests this theme, as Soderbergh teams up with producer James Cameron and frequent collaborator George Clooney to tell a tragic and resonate love story in the coldest depths of space.
'Logan Lucky' (2017)
Daniel Craig steals the show as an eccentric (and skilled) redneck explosives expert/bank robber in this clever heist film set in NASCAR country. Channing Tatum and Adam Driver, playing two brothers with years of bad luck and worse karma, break Craig's Joe Bang out of jail to steal a fortune from the speedway on race day. Lots of LOL moments, and scary-good heist plot-mechanics, ensue. One of the director's most fun and effortless films (and the first that he helped distribute himself).
'Out of Sight' (1998)
One of the best adaptations of an Elmore Leonard novel, this slick, funny caper centers on a fugitive bank robber who falls for the U.S. Marshal tracking him. The film kicked off a fruitful partnership between Soderbergh and star George Clooney.
'Magic Mike' (2012)
In the hands of a lesser director, "Magic Mike" might have simply been the movie many moviegoers assumed it would be: a straightforward comedy with plenty of hunky eye candy. Instead, Soderbergh brought his usual brand of thoughtfulness and delivered a memorable tale of a stripper chasing his dreams (it also sharply critiques the 2008 financial crisis), heralding the McConaissance in the process.
'Ocean's Eleven' (2001)
"Ocean's Eleven" is hardly the deepest or most intellectual movie Soderbergh ever filmed, but it's certainly one of the most entertaining. This pure-polish heist movie shows what happens when you pair a great director with a large cast of some of the most handsome and charismatic actors in Hollywood (led, of course, by Clooney). As remakes go, this one is an all-timer.
'Behind the Candelabra' (2013)
If this TV movie got a theatrical release, it would have been a serious awards contender. Soderbergh's best and most emotional film in years tells the complicated, funny, and almost tragic story of Vegas icon Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his doomed romance with aid-turned-lover Scott (a scary-good Matt Damon). This is leading man Douglas' most daring and vulnerable role; a career-best tour de force that he waited years to perform.
You can probably blame "Traffic" for kicking off a wave of like-minded ensemble dramas like "Crash" and "Babel." But at least Soderbergh set a high standard with this gritty, gripping drama that explores the illegal drug trade. It justly won a number of awards, including Oscars for both Soderbergh (Best Director) and Best Supporting Actor (Benicio del Toro) and remains the director's most sprawling, technically awe-inspiring film.