15 Best 3D Movies of All Time

One of the most prominent topics for debate among cinephiles is the need and use of technology in cinema. Most people have dismissed the use of CGI and 3D in cinema and while some of them have strong reasons, it’s unfair to overlook the staggering evolution of technology in cinema. Sure, there are films being churned out in 3D purely for the purpose of multiplying investments but let’s not forget that many filmmakers have explored and exploited the visual and emotional possibilities of the medium with the use of 3D. This article takes a look at such films that masterfully make use of the technology to tell stories that are visually ambitious and thematically profound. Here is the list of top 3D movies ever. If you are interested in watching these movies on UHD, some of them are available on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime.

15. A Christmas Carol (2009)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film focuses on an old man who meets three spirits on Christmas Eve and change his life forever. An adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel of the same name, the film stars Jim Carrey in many roles and has a supporting cast that includes Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Rob Wright Penn and Cary Elwes. While the film was criticized for its writing and tone but it’s hard to ignore its dazzling ambition and visual imagination that make for an enthralling experience despite giving the impression of being style over substance at places. It’s flawed, beautiful and endearingly imaginative and that’s what makes it an exciting endeavor.

14. Hugo (2011)

‘Hugo’ isn’t quite the masterpiece you’d expect from Scorsese but seems more like a film that means so much to the master on a personal level. Scorsese displays his true love and passion for cinema here and whilst at certain places it feels like he is more hesitant to pour himself on to the film, it still features numerous endearingly charming and personal moments that make for a truly memorable experience. It’s a film that delves into the magical reality of cinema and Scorsese knows that there’s no better way to celebrate the beauty of this art than in 3D which beautifully captures the essence of the story.

13. The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

Of course, A Steven Spielberg film had to be there. ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ is one of his more acclaimed works of this century and critics rated it as his best adventure film since ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. Gorgeously filmed in 3D, the film crafts a magical world for you to escape into as Spielberg weaves a beautiful adventure tale that wakes up the little kid in all of us, dying to break free from reality and escape into this gorgeous world of dreams and fantasies. A must watch for all adventure lovers.

12. Tangled (2010)

This beautiful Disney flick tells the story of a gorgeous princess who ventures out on an adventure with a handsome young man against her mother’s wishes. The film was noted for its unique aesthetics and visual style, blending CGI and traditional animation while using non-photorealistic rendering which gives the visuals a more distinctive style, almost like a painting. It’s an exhilarating experience that brings out the art in technology and expands the visual scope of cinema in a way that very few other 3D movies have done in recent times. ‘Tangled’ is undoubtedly one of the most important 3-D movies ever made.

11. The Walk (2015)

Robert Zemeckis is one of the greatest visual storytellers in cinema. He is a filmmaker who has always been fascinated by the sheer magical beauty of images and how effectively they can be used to tell a story. His recent endeavor, ‘The Walk’ follows a man who tries to walk between the iconic Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on a tightrope. It’s truly an experience that would make you fall in love with movies again and whilst there have been numerous films churned out in the name of entertainment using 3D, this film masterfully uses technology to breathtaking effects and redefines the purpose of 3D, crafting such a mesmerizing cinematic experience.

10. Life of Pi (2012)

‘Life of Pi’ is one of the most memorable cinema experiences I’ve ever had. It’s a film that reminds us of the possibilities and scope of images and how they can be used to not just tell stories but also craft spectacular experiences that transcend the medium. ‘Life of Pi’ tells the story of a boy who is stranded in a lifeboat with animals after a shipwreck which took the lives of his parents. He is all alone and needs to find a way to survive in the midst of these wild animals. It’s an emotionally gripping survival drama that enlightens you about the philosophy of survival and man’s mysteriously complex relationship with animals. Lee’s masterful use of 3D enhances both the emotional and visual possibilities of the story.

9. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

One of those rare animation films that uses the technology to craft a more emotionally satisfying and visually enthralling experiences. The film depicts the relationships between a teenager and a dragon whom he set out to kill initially but ends up befriending it. ‘How to Train You Dragon’ is incredibly clever and brilliantly written and has such high emotional energy that you invest yourself completely into the story and characters. Many anime flicks have been criticized for being mere visual exercises and in most cases, rightly so. But this is one film that explores the possibilities of the genre and the 3D technology in a way that leaves you in awe of its ambition and staggering technicalities.

8. Toy Story 3 (2010)

The whole ‘Toy Story’ series was pure gold but this one takes the cake for its gorgeous blend of humor, drama and adventure in a way that floors you with its emotional energy and heartwarming honesty. It’s pure cinematic bliss and how it manages to draw out such profoundly delicate human emotions out of artificially constructed objects is nothing short of absolute miracle. Like its predecessors, it’s visually breathtaking and the use of 3D enhances the excitement of the whole experience. Many critics placed it number one on their lists of the best films of 2010 and it continues to garner praise for its tone, ambition and astounding emotional impact.

7. Up (2009)

‘Up’ could well make a case for being the greatest animation film ever made. It’s hard to describe the kind of emotions it evokes in you and what’s truly astonishing here is the kind of depth and complexity it provides to the characters and their relationships, which is something not very common for an animation flick. The basic story revolves around an old widower who ventures out for an epic adventure in order to complete a promise he made to his deceased wife. The magic of 3D elevates the visual and emotional beauty of the film as it virtually transports you into the dream like world, crafting an experience that would stay with you for a lifetime.

6. Kiss Me Kate (1953)

One of the most important 3-D movies ever made, ‘Kiss Me Kate’ was noted for its flawless technicalities and use of advanced visual techniques that were far ahead of its time. The film tells the story of a divorced couple who are now set to perform alongside each other in a musical version of “The Taming of the Shrew”, a famous William Shakespeare play. It’s a charming musical comedy, replete with memorably hilarious moments but what’s truly mesmerizing here is the film’s strong use of 3-D. While most of the early 3-D flicks may not hold up well today, this film surprisingly does and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it’s a film that does not look six decades old when you watch it today. An absolute visual feast.

5. Man in the Dark (1953)

One of the more underrated 3D flicks of the 50s, ‘Man in the Dark’ was the first Columbia Pictures film released in 3D and was an important achievement that would later go on to have a significant impact on the technology in cinema. It’s a noir flick that tells the story of a criminal who undergoes a brain surgery in which his criminal traits are removed and past memories erased. While the film is not without its flaws, the way it explores the visuality of the medium using 3D technology is an absolute treat to watch.

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4. Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

Horror and 3D can be a lethal combination. ‘Creature From the Black Lagoon’ was, along with Hitchock’s ‘Dial M For Murder’, one of the earliest 3D experiments in cinema. The film is about a creepy ancient creature lurking around the Amazonian jungles, discovered by a group of scientists who bring it back to civilization for in-depth exploration and study. It’s astonishingly brilliant on a technical level and the way the creature has been created using the available technology at the time is truly stunning. This is the right place to start to experience the evolution of this marvelous technology.

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3. Gravity (2013)

‘Gravity’ is a rare film that uses the visuality of cinema to such astounding effects that by the time the film is over, you’re mesmerized at having been emotionally moved by the sheer power of images. Most people have often critcised ‘Gravity’ for lacking an impressive or more original storyline but that’s missing the point of the film. Cinema is primarily a visual medium and ‘Gravity’ is visual storytelling at its very best. The film uses the 3D to such masterful effects that it transports you to its world and makes you feel what it truly feels like to be stranded in the middle of nowhere, millions of miles apart from your home and loved ones. What keeps us going? What drives humanity to survive? ‘Gravity’ raises these profound questions and leaves us with a lot to chew on despite giving the impression of being a simplistic space survival drama.

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2. Goodbye to Langauge (2014)

No one, and I repeat, no one understood the scope and limitations of 3D like Jean-Luc Godard did. 3D has often been used to enhance the visual quality of cinema but the master French auteur sees it in a radically different way than most filmmakers do. “It’s still an area where there are no rules”, says Godard. And this is something Godard has always striven to attain in his vision; the complete abandonment of cinematic language and rules. ‘Goodbye to Language’ does exactly that. Lack of communication and the intricacies of marital relationships have always fascinated Godard and this film is probably the most profoundly intellectual exploration of all the quintessential Godard-ian themes. These are fragments of ideas, feelings and Godard uses the visuality of cinema to craft a new language for itself. One could interpret it as an introduction to a new language or bidding goodbye to the existing language.

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1. Dial M For Murder (1954)

This Alfred Hitchcock classic is one of the earliest 3D films that got made with the very limited technology that was available at the time. Hitchcock was a very passionate film lover and was always interested in looking out for new areas, new ways to tell stories and explore the visuality of cinema in ways that had never been before. ‘Dial M For Murder’ tells the story of a man who wants to kill his wife after discovering that she once had an affair with someone. He asks his old friend to execute the crime but things don’t go in a manner you’d expect as the story unfolds in the classic Hitchcockian manner with complex twists and turns.

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