Steven Spielberg’s Top Ten Movies
With ‘The Fabelmans’ currently in theaters, we look back at the movies that have made Steven Spielberg the greatest filmmaker of his generation.
Without a doubt, Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest film directors of his generation. With seven Academy Awards nominations for Best Director, winning for both ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ and over thirty movies to his name, Spielberg’s work is now part of the fabric of our lives.
Spielberg’s latest film, ‘The Fabelmans’ is a semi-autobiographical story loosely based on the director's own adolescence and first years as a filmmaker. The movie is one of Spielberg's most personal films and is currently a frontrunner in the Oscar race. In fact, every dramatic movie that he has directed since 2005's 'Munich' has been nominated by the Academy Awards for Best Picture.
In celebration of his recent nominations, Moviefone looks back at the acclaimed career of Steven Spielberg and counts down his ten greatest films of all-time.
NOTE: We are only including feature films directed by Mr. Spielberg, so movies he produced like ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Back to the Future’ are not eligible.
10. ‘Ready Player One’ (2018)
Released in 2018, ‘Ready Player One’ is one of Spielberg’s most recent films and acts as a love letter to popular 80s culture, a lot of which the filmmaker helped to create. Set in a digital world known as the OASIS, the film follows Parzival (Tye Sheridan) as he navigates the game to find its hidden Easter eggs before evil CEO Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) is able to recover them for himself.
The movie itself has hundreds of Easter Eggs, from cameos by DC Comics’ Joker and Harley Quinn, to Chucky from ‘Child’s Play' and King Kong. But Spielberg also puts in a few Easter Eggs of his own as both the DeLorean from ‘Back to the Future’ and a T-Rex from ‘Jurassic Park’ make appearances. The film culminates in one of the best battle scenes in modern movie history.
Ready Player One
9. 'Catch Me If You Can' (2002)
2002’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks is one of Spielberg’s smartest and most stylish films. Based on a true story, DiCaprio plays Frank Abagnale, a conman on the run from FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Hanks).
The two actors both shine in their roles, while co-star Christopher Walken received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for playing Frank’s dad. The film marks a turning point for Spielberg as a filmmaker and is one of his funniest and most entertaining movies.
Catch Me If You Can
8. 'Minority Report' (2002)
Spielberg’s first collaboration with superstar Tom Cruise resulted in the brilliant and ahead of its time science fiction action film, ‘Minority Report.’ Set in the year 2054, officer John Anderton (Cruise) works for the Precrime division of the Washington D.C. police department stopping crimes before they happen.
But when he is accused of committing a crime he has no intention of committing, he is forced to go on the run from his own department. The film is a dark and gritty sci-fi epic and has earned its own cult following.
7. 'Jaws' (1975)
This is the film that put Steven Spielberg on the map as a director, created the summer blockbuster, and caused millions of people to be afraid to go in the water. Based on the book by Peter Benchley, 1975’s ‘Jaws’ tells the story of a man-eating great white shark, and the police chief (Roy Schneider), marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss), and the shark hunter (Robert Shaw) that set out to kill the beast. The movie was a cultural phenomenon and has grossed over $450 million to date.
6. 'The Post' (2018)
Another recent addition to Spielberg’s resume is 2017’s ‘The Post,’ which stars Oscar winners Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. Hanks plays The Washington Post’s editor Ben Bradley, who must work with the paper’s owner Kathrine Graham (Streep) to decide if they should print the Pentagon Papers, a classified document that proves the government had been lying about Vietnam.
While the film was nominated for Academy Awards for both the film and Streep’s performance it was widely overlooked, which is unfortunate because it is some of Spielberg’s finest work as a director and features incredible performances from both Hanks and Streep. It also works as a great double feature with ‘All the President’s Men,’ as the events depicted in the two films unfolded simultaneously in real life.
5. 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial' (1982)
Spielberg’s 1982’s blockbuster ‘E.T. the Extra Terrestrial,’ was the highest grossing movie of all-time, surpassing even ‘Star Wars,’ until the filmmaker broke his own record with Jurassic Park eleven years later. The movie tells the story of Elliot (Henry Thomas), a young boy who befriends a small alien and with the help of his friends and family, must protect him and help him find a way home before the government captures him. The film’s bicycle sequence is one of the most iconic scenes in cinema history, and the movie is still a beloved family classic, which also features Drew Barrymore’s acting debut.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
4. 'Jurassic Park' (1993)
1993’s ‘Jurassic Park’ has earned over a billion dollars at the box office and spawned five sequels. Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, the movie takes place at an amusement park that features real dinosaurs that have been brought back to life through genetic cloning.
Featuring an iconic performance by Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, Spielberg really pushed the boundaries of computer-generated effects to create the amazing dinosaurs and truly changed the way movies are made to this day. It’s also with noting that the film was released the same year as his Oscar winning picture, ‘Schindler’s List.’
3. 'Schindler's List' (1994)
No list of Steven Spielberg’s greatest films would be complete without mentioning his 1993 masterpiece ‘Schindler’s List,’ which won Best Picture and earned the director his first Academy Award. Shot in Black-and-white, the film follows Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a German businessman who saved more than a thousand Jewish refugees from the Holocaust during World War II. The movie marked a true milestone in the director’s career as Hollywood no longer considered him just the “blockbuster guy,” but rather a true artist.
2. 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (1981)
Another one of Spielberg’s strongest franchises, ‘Raiders of the Lost Arc’ has had three sequels, with a forth currently in production. Produced by George Lucas, with a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan, the film introduces audiences to Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), archaeology professor by day and adventurer by night.
The film sees Jones fight Nazi’s in 1936 as he tries to recover the long-lost Arc of the Covenant before the Germans do. The movie not only cemented Spielberg as a blockbuster director after ‘Jaws’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ but it introduced the world to one of the most beloved characters in cinema history.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
1. 'Saving Private Ryan' (1998)
The greatest war movie of all-time, 1998’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’ earned Spielberg his second Best Director Oscar and has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. The film stars Tom Hanks as Rangers Captain John H. Miller who leads his squad during World War II to find Private first-class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), who is the last survivor of four brothers and is being sent home.
The film features a career high performance from Hanks, and early performances from Damon, Vin Diesel, Paul Giamatti, and Bryan Cranston. But the movie will be best remembered for its outstanding and extremely realistic opening sequence of the Omaha Beach assault during the Normandy landings of World War II.