For me, Kubrick may be the finest director who ever lived and I include Kurosawa, Lean, Hitchcock, Ford, Michael Bay and Ed Wood in this list. I use the word may
carefully because I'm not yet sure.
When we talk about minor Kubrick it's a film that most directors would kill to have made. I own several books on Kubrick and have seen every film he made, watched documentaries and even attended a film in his presence (FMJ).
I don't think many Kubrick fans believe hat Eyes Wide Shut was prime Kubrick. It's a great movie for sure, but in comparison with what he considered to be his masterworks, it's not quite there.
There is no film by Kubrick that I do not now love. Strangely I hated 2001 upon first viewing as I did with Strangelove. I was underwhelmed by Paths of Glory and bored to death by Barry Lyndon. I remember falling asleep at the late night show when I was the projectionist! I persevered.
I am now so biased that when I first saw Eyes Wide Shut i was in a state of giddy excitement. After all, it was the first Kubrick film for years and it turned out to be his last. I was fascinated that he had cast Tom & Nicole.
I have discussed Kubrick with friends and fellow film lovers for 30 years and the general concensus is that your viewpoint changes over your years. It did for me. The following is a generalization that will be different for individuals but is recognized to be generally true:
2001, Paths of Glory, Lolita and Barry Lyndon are hard to love upon first viewing
Whereas Clockwork Orange, Spartacus, The Shining, Killers Kiss and Full Metal Jacket are easier
Stangelove is a love or hate for most people - if they are honest
The conventional view from what I have read is that his easier films have simpler narrative structures and a more linear exposition. I believe that in the case of Barry Lyndon you just need patience
In a way, the problem with classic movies is that unlike Transformers they are harder to instantly like. They challenge us and make us think more before we really love them. However, once we are in bed with them the feeling is - well- rather nice!