Top 10 Michael Mann Films

vice 1

Michael Mann’s Miami Vice was a better film than you might remember

List compiled by Eddie on 17/03/2017

Currently credited with directing 20 titles, American director Michael Mann has only made 11 feature films (discounting made for TV productions) in a career that has now spanned almost 50 years, showcasing his well-known attention to detail and willingness to wait for the right project to come along.

While Mann’s last film was the terrible box office failure Blackhat, his feature films have always been filled with intrigue and more than enough tension/action to counter many other films cut from the same cloth and Mann’s influence over mainstream cinema can’t be underestimated when it comes to his direction of certain films and in particular scenes, the shootout from Heat is still studied and mimicked today (The Dark Knight a perfect example).

Far from a household name Mann is one of the modern era’s most interesting filmmakers and despite not being even half as prolific as many of his peers, these below 10 films represent a career that has had far more ups than it has had downs.

Happy reading and happy watching!

The Keep

The Keep is one of Mann’s least well known films

10. The Keep (1983)

A film to watch more from a curiosity point of view rather than quality (at least it’s better than Blackhat), The Keep sees Mann delve into the horror genre with his odd mixture of Nazi’s and demons that sees well-known actors such as Sir Ian McKellen hamming it up to the extreme.

9. Thief (1981)

Showcasing the to the world for the first time his ability to craft a gritty and often night time soaked crime flick, Thief is a largely forgotten about James Caan headliner that still holds its own today. With a supporting cast that includes Willie Nelson (yep that Willie), Tuesday Weld and James Belushi, Thief is a must see for crime film aficionados and Mann fans.

8. Ali (2001)

At present time the quintessential big screen Mohamad Ali biography, Ali allowed Will Smith to show off his acting chops as the boxing champion and while the film is slightly misguided in its pace and tone, Ali has its fair share of knockout punches.

7. Miami Vice (2006)

Ridiculed by many and disowned by fans of the original TV show (that Mann worked on), Miami Vice is actually a far better film than many give it credit for even though its script and set ups veer to often into the melodramatic and the Creed infused soundtrack isn’t exactly great for the ears. For an easy to digest thriller with great action set ups however, Miami Vice is a cut above.

6. Public Enemies (2009)

The hype was real surrounding Public Enemies initial release in 2009 with the then hot property Johnny Depp leading an all-star cast through the life and times of bank robbing master John Dillinger and while it didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations placed upon it, Public Enemies is an above average true life crime yarn with some edge of your seat shootouts and an intriguing visual production.


Manhunter is one of the best Hannibal Lector films around

5. Manhunter (1986)

Dare we say that this is the best Hannibal Lector movie available? Yeh maybe not, but Manhunter certainly comes close to its much more beloved and well known follower The Silence of the Lambs. Manhunter is a downright creepy crime tale with a sadly ignored Brian Cox turn as lector and a skin crawling Tom Noonan as Francis Dollarhyde.

4. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

With Daniel Day Lewis leading the charge, The Last of the Mohicans is one of Mann’s most readily accessible tales even though its dealing with some of the dark history of America’s treatments of the Native Indians. Filled with heart, drama and ample action, The Last of the Mohicans is quality big budget filmmaking.

3. Collateral (2004)

For some reason Collateral remains largely forgotten about these 12 or so years on from its initial release, despite an early career turn from A-lister Jamie Foxx and one of Hollywood heavyweight Tom Cruise’s best turns. It’s a shame, as Collateral is a white knuckle thriller of the highest order and perfectly proclaims Mann’s best talents as a filmmaker, with stunning night time captures of Los Angeles an added bonus.

2. The Insider (1999)

Nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Film, The Insider is one of Mann’s most successful films and the Al Pacino/Russell Crowe thriller is an explosive expose of the true life 60 minutes expose on tobacco companies. A must see.

1. Heat (1995)

Little needs to be said of Heat (a film I count amongst my Top 30 Films of All-Time), a stunning crime epic that heralded in a whole new level of realism when it came to films of the genre, Heat is all at once a great character study, an edge of your seat heist thriller and an opportunity to see the greatest pairing up of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino ever committed to celluloid. Anyone that counts themselves a lover of film should make sure Heat has been ticked off their to-watch list.


Heat will always remain one of the great crime films

What’s your favourite Michael Mann film? Perhaps you’re a fan of Blackhat? Either way let us know in the comments below!

For The Movie Guy’s other director lists see below

Steven Spielberg

Dario Argento

Terrence Malick

Ridley Scott

The Coen Brothers

Martin Scorsese

John Carpenter

Tim Burton

David Fincher

Quentin Tarantino

Robert Zemeckis

25 responses to “Top 10 Michael Mann Films

  1. Great article. I’m positive DVD was only invented in the 90s so people could watch Heat properly at home. My son only knows of De Niro as a grumpy old man (eg. Meet the Parents) so I can’t wait ’til he’s old enough to watch it.

  2. Great list. Collateral would be my personal #1. It’s a movie that exceeds on every level: cinematography, direction, dialogue, and two stellar performances from Jamie Foxx, and especially Tom Cruise.

  3. Really a big fan of Michael Mann. Heat is in my personal top 3 of best films I have ever seen. I totally agree with everybody here, that Collateral is also a fantastic film, with an amazing role by Tom Cruise. I know I am in the minority, but I actually quite liked Blackhat too. It was ofcourse not in the same league as these films, but I really did not find it as terrible as it was made out to be. Great post this one 😀

    • I love Mann’s work but Blackhat to me was just such a terrible film, especially from a director like Mann. So glad to hear about the love for Heat though, what a classic!

  4. I love The Insider. I feel Crowe & Pacino were at their best. Personally, I feel Russell should have won the Oscar for this film & not Gladiator. The script & the direction were top notch.

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