My Top 20 Spy Movies

Compiling this list has made me realize how many excellent spy films are out there, and that I vastly prefer the ones with a comedic bent. Cause being honest with myself, there are thrillers that are so well done that watching them again is a bummer. A sad, depressing, too realistic view of our society and the horrible people in it. So, while a few of these more serious selections made it into my list, the rest may only have serious bits. Bits filled with clever and funny observations that make viewing them more than once a joy.

1. Spy

It does not often happen that I become so attached and deep in love with a newer film so quickly. Usually I need some time until they even have a chance of unseating my old favorites, but Spy is already my covert affairs one true love.

2. Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman impressed me with how funny it was, while updating the old school style of the british spy movie. I mean, they may have classic style, but the attitude and outlook of this film is refreshingly modern.

3. North by Northwest

Cary Grant is perfect for this Alfred Hitchcock spy kinda comedy. Beware James Mason, even when intoxicated Cary is a wily foe.

4. Despicable Me 2

Gru Goes Undercover should really be the caption for this film, as he tries his hand at being one of the good guys. I love the playout of his immediate suspicion of El Macho, with his handsy son, and evil chicken.

5. Skyfall

Best. Bond. Film. Ever. I grew up on Bond, and my favorites were On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Goldfinger. There are a lot of issues with the classic Bonds and how they treated their women though. The first two in the newer crop of movies were underwhelming for me, but Skyfall is the shit. Well written, with badass ladies, and beautifully acted, it is far and away my favorite 007 film as a grown lady.

6. The Manchurian Candidate

Chock full of conspiracies and send ups of the McCarthy era, this is classic political thriller. The material here is so dense and real that even the remake in 2004 was really good. (Liev Schreiber does a scary good Laurence Harvey, but then again he can do anything.)

7. Haywire

It is super cool that Steven Soderbergh built an action spy thriller around the awesome that is Gina Carano, except that not many people seem to know about it. Gina is Mallory Kane, a former military mercenary whom the guys in charge foolishly think is perfect to take the fall for their mistakes. She magnificently does not take that shit at all.

8. Archer

Of course I had to include Archer in here! Yeah, it’s a tv show, but damn does it parody the heck out of everything remotely spy.

9. Penguins of Madagascar


Everyone’s favorite penguin spy group come up against the perfect villain for their solo film. Dave the octopus, voiced by John Malkovich, and maniacal lover of film actor based puns. Do I need a sequel? Yes. Yes, I do.

10. The Three Musketeers (1973)

I did a re-watch of this recently, and I forgot how much I looove this movie. Richard Lester does what is the ultimate version of Dumas, faithful to the books and full of humour.

11. Get Smart

Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway have such cute chemistry together, and Steve’s talent for physical comedy has power over me.

12. This Means War

I can’t help it, cause this movie never fails to make me happy. It features two top agents falling for Reese Witherspoon in a very competitive manner. Reese’s character totally reminds me of how it is to navigate building your life while single, and eventually relearning how the heck to date. My favorite moment is when Chris Pine takes her to the club on a first date, all schmoozy and showing off, and then he turns around and she’s gone. Cause yeah, she’s too mature for that bullcrap, and I adore that she had the honest balls to do what I have wanted to on a number of occasions.

13. The Interview

I swear that I have a sensitive humour palate, but it seems to like to balance itself out with the less than refined let’s say. This movie made me laugh way too hard, and I have to give it props for some beautiful ridiculousness.

14. Red

Helen Mirren is a goddess.

15. Charade

Hepbern and Grant make some lovely covert investigations together.

16. The Lady Vanishes

There is something about a mystery on a train that gives me joy. I must say, there were more comic moments in this film than reviews make it seem, and it has held up well. As I did not see this Hitchcock til it was on Netflix, there was a thought distracting me the entire film. Does anyone else think that Michael Redgrave would have made a fabulous Doctor on Doctor Who?

17. The Man Who Knew Too Little

Who knew that a clueless Bill Murray would make one of the best spys that the world has ever known? A fun live experience while visiting his brother turns very real, and Murray really sells how dense this dolt character can be with his trademark charm.

17. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

There are way too many actors of renown here to note, and they all kill it. They kill it so dead and so good that this has become my favorite John le Carre.

19. Our Man Flint

Our Man Flint is from whence Austin Powers’ came. It is the granddaddy of spy parody, in all its’ 1960s glory.

20. Notorious

Ingrid Bergman is Nazi bait, and Cary Grant only allows her to be partially eaten before he rescues her. The noir is deep here.