There have been many great movie directors over the years. Names like Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Capra, Martin Scorsese, John Ford, Steven Spielberg, Roman Polanski, and John Huston come to mind. As great as these directors are, I can't think of anyone more versatile than Stanley Kubrick. Many of these directors have a trademark look or feel to their movies. Kubrick may have his preferences too but what it so amazing to me is that he was successful in directing great movies in a variety of genres.
The first film of his I saw was 2001: A Space Odyssey. I was just a little kid and was trying to make sense of the whole thing. The monkeys, the monolith, the conflict with Hal, the supernova, and the lead character aging in the end were hard for me to put together and make sense of. It is now one of my favorite movies. Maybe I'm like people who see abstract art in a museum that they don't understand and say it is remarkable just because that's what the experts say, but I doubt it.
He only directed 16 movies before his death in 1999, but each film addressed a variety of subject matter and were often controversial. I remember how surprised I was when I found out that Kubrick directed all of the films listed below. He has obviously done other works, but I think these stand out as his best.
Spartacus-Epic Historical Drama
Paths of Glory-World War 1
The Shining-Horror Movie
Dr. Strangelove-Dark Comedy
2001: A Space Odyssey-Science Fiction
Clockwork Orange-Controversial Movie
Barry Lindon-18th Century Period Film
Full Metal Jacket-Vietnam War
It's one thing to specialize in suspense movies (Hitchcock), or horror movies (Carpenter), fantasy (Del Torro), but it is amazing to me that Kubrick had so much success with such a wide variety of genres and subject matter.