Here at StudioBinder, we’ve written extensively about auteurs in the field of film. We’ve discussed artists like Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, and David Fincher at length. And then, there’s Michael Bay.
Love him or hate him, his films have influenced the filmmaking world. His 360 shot and his unique editing strategies have impacted filmmakers young and old alike. For this list, we’re counting down the best Michael Bay films of all time, and yes, there are some pretty good ones. Let’s dive into it.
Michael Bay Movies List
14. Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
Age of Extinction is a Transformers film that promised Dinobots in all of the marketing, and then didn’t have them show up until the last 30 minutes. Promising one thing and delivering a film that spends as much time explaining why it’s okay for a guy to date an underage girl as it does explaining the villain’s motivations is entirely monstrous.
Movies Directed by Michael Bay
13. 6 Underground (2019)
One thing becomes abundantly clear watching 6 Underground. You can have all the cool set pieces and explosions you want, but without actual scenes stringing it all together, it just becomes meaningless noise. 6 Underground shows Bay indulging in his worst instincts, and the result is something destined to get lost on Netflix.
Michael Bay Films List
12. Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
World building is an incredibly important aspect of any fantasy film. For a primer in how not to world build, just look at The Last Knight. It’s implied that Earth was a giant Transformer all along and Merlin and Hitler get thrown in the mix. It’s messy. It’s convoluted. It’s a Transformers movie.
All Michael Bay Movies
11. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Revenge of the Fallen ran into some trouble due to the 2007-2008 Writers’ strike. Needing to crank out such a massive sequel in two years is no easy feat, and you can feel for the filmmakers trying to put something cohesive together in such a quick turnaround time. However, it’s ultimately no excuse for a film that just feels lazy. If you need more time to make your movie, then definitely use it.
Top 10 Michael Bay Movies
10. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Just one more and then we’ll stop talking about Transformers movies for a while. Cool?Timing is an important issue for any filmmaker. When studio heads spoke to Michael Bay about a release date for Dark of the Moon, he assumed they were talking about 2012. He agreed and later learned they meant 2011. An entire year off of production definitely shows itself in this film. Who knows if more time could’ve saved this franchise? At least we may have gotten something somewhat comprehensible.
Michael Bay Films
9. Pearl Harbor (2001)
Pearl Harbor wants to go down the Titanic route of being an epic romance set against the backdrop of a tragedy. Unfortunately, the film never finds its footing. It tries to give a romanticized ideal of a 1940s romance alongside a gritty depiction of war. The movie never strikes a balance and despite an impressive action sequence, the whole thing just falls flat.
The Complete Michael Bay Movies List
8. The Island (2005)
The Island wants to be two different films. It wants to be an intriguing sci-fi film, which it accomplishes decently well, but it also wants to be a mindless action flick. The result is a film that feels like it wants to be a Minority Report but gets too caught up in the action to properly deliver any kind of thesis.
All Movies Directed by Michael Bay
A lot of controversy surrounded 13 Hours with everyone from CIA officials to the Libyan people disputing some of the events portrayed in the film. While some historical revisioning happens with pretty much every true-life film, it’s important to consider viewpoints from multiple sources. Politics aside, which is kind of hard to do with this film, it’s a pretty engaging thriller that’s welcomingly restrained.
The Complete Michael Bay Films List
6. Bad Boys II (2003)
For an action-comedy, Bad Boys II gets half of the equation right. The chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence is great, a lesson the filmmakers clearly learned from the first film. However, the action is far too bloated to leave any kind of impression. You could cut out several car chases and shootouts and still have the same film albeit a lot more enjoyable than what we see.
All Michael Bay Movies He Directed
5. Armageddon (1998)
The best way to watch Armageddon is with Ben Affleck’s commentary because he pretty much talks crap about the movie the entire time. Through his commentary, you pretty much get a good sense of Michael Bay’s sensibilities. It doesn’t matter is a plot makes sense as long as it allows for cool set pieces, like car chases in space, then he’ll do whatever he can to put the characters in the right place at the right time to do something cool.
Good Michael Bay Films
4. Pain & Gain (2013)
Like 13 Hours, the biggest flaw with Pain & Gain is how it treats its real life source material. It’s clear Bay wanted to make a Scorsese-esque satirical crime thriller, but the tone doesn’t gel with the actions on-screen. Just looking at the film as a satirical indictment on capitalism, it’s actually not bad. But when looking at the real life events, it’s enough to make your stomach turn.
Michael Bay Movies List, Ranked
3. Transformers (2007)
There’s a genuine sense of awe and wonder present in Transformers that’s lost in the sequels. When cars transform into giant aliens for the first time, the camera takes its time. You see every component move into place. It feels like that moment in Jurassic Park when you see the brachiosaurus for the first time. There’s actual care present here, and it’s a shame it was lost in the sequels.
Great Michael Bay Films
2. Bad Boys (1995)
Michael Bay allowed Will Smith and Martin Lawrence to improvise often during filming because he was supposedly unhappy with the script. This decision led to some of the most memorable moments in the film. Yes, there are your typical Bay action scenes, but they’re anchored in a pair of strong performances, which is a winning combination Bay has tried to replicate at other points in his career to mixed results.
The Best Michael Bay Films
1. The Rock (1996)
Studio executives weren’t exactly thrilled with Michael Bay’s work during the production of The Rock. However, Sean Connery accompanied him to a meeting and stood up for him, and the rest is pure 90s action movie glory. The Rock is easily Bay’s greatest film, encapsulating everything people love about the director while delivering a quintessential 90s action flick. It’s zany. There’s chemistry between the leads. And explosions abound. The Rock showcases everything Michael Bay is about and really shows you what he’s capable of.
Tim Burton’s Best Movies
Michael Bay and Tim Burton couldn’t be more diametrically-opposed filmmakers. But now that we’ve counted down Bay’s best films, let’s look at how Tim Burton has fared throughout his career. After you watch The Rock, check out what you need to see next from the permanently gothic director of such classics as Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands.