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Ranking Every M. Night Shyamalan Movie (that I’ve seen)

(Warning: If you’re concerned about spoilers, you may not want to read on. I’m not discussing his newer movies, though. The most recent one here is from 2008.)

I still remember being blown away by The Sixth Sense. So many of us were. I’ve been known to comment that Shyamalan hit his high note early, and most people I’ve talked to about it agree. Maybe the expectation of blow-you-away twists set us up for disappointment. I’m certainly not the first person to say this.

Still, his early works remain favorites of mine. So I decided it would be fun to take the ones I’ve seen and rank them, because ranking things is fun. Rather than re-watch the films, I decided to do this based on my memories of how I felt at the time.

Before I reveal my list, I do want to say that I think he’s extremely talented. This isn’t intended to put down his work. It’s just that I liked some of his films much better than others. Here’s my list, from least to most favorite.

The Happening

6. The Happening (2008) – This movie was the biggest let-down for me. I enjoyed it up until I found out that plants were behind everything. It just didn’t work for me.  Except for The Last Airbender (which I decided not to include in this list) it was the last of his movies I went to see.

Lady in the Water

5. Lady in the Water (2006) – I remember being disappointed at the time that this one didn’t really have a twist. It was enjoyable, but not what I had come to expect from Shyamalan. (That was probably unfair of me, but it’s the truth.)

The Village

4. The Village (2005) – I really liked this one, but I thought it had some flaws. This was where I began to feel that he wasn’t quite living up to my (very high) expectations. The twist was good, but the journey there felt a little forced or stilted at times.


3. Unbreakable (2001) – I’ve talked to some people who didn’t care for this one, but I loved it. The twist made me look back at hints from earlier in the film in a way that made me go “Ohhh!” That’s what a good twist should do.


2. Signs (2003) – Like Unbreakable, I think I enjoyed this one more than some other people did.  I thought the set-up with the glasses of water worked very well, and I found it satisfying to see it play out.

The Sixth Sense

1. The Sixth Sense (2000) – This movie is so well thought-out, so perfectly set up. And I didn’t see the twist coming, because I didn’t know to expect one. That’s because this movie came out earlier than the others on this list. He threw us all for a loop, and sadly, it was difficult for his later films to live up to this.

Which were your favorites? Have you seen his newer films, and what did you think of them? Tell us in the comments.

Megan is a Children’s Library Assistant at CLP – East Liberty. When she isn’t reading fantasy, magical realism and/or pretty much any children’s book, she enjoys gaming, watching movies, and writing fiction and poetry, some of which has been published.

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