Since his directorial debut in 1971, Steven Spielberg has become an American film icon.
Sometimes, his work is thoughtfully artistic and sometimes it’s lightning paced action from start to finish.
Never a man to put himself in a box, all 32 of Spielberg’s movies have distinctly different characters and settings. But like all directors, some of his movies shine more brightly than others. We’ve selected and ranked his 10-best works.
Here are the Top 10 Steven Spielberg Movies:
10. Munich (2005)
Spielberg’s 2005 film Munich is based on the Israeli response of the terrorist attacks that took place during the 1972 summer Olympics. As a Jewish man himself, Spielberg places himself right in the middle of the ongoing conflict between Israeli’s and Palestinians with Munich.
What is most impressive about this film is that despite the opportunity to make one side or the other seem like the ‘good guys’, Spielberg manages to tell the story objectively without taking sides.
9. Ready Player One (2018)
Set in a futuristic cyber-dystopia, Ready Player One does a wondrous job at capturing the potential of both technology and humanity. Based on the novel by Ernest Cline, the movie tells the story of a global search through cyberspace to find riches on earth.
Before you watch it, you might assume that this will be another cautionary tale about the rise of technology. But Spielberg expertly crafts a narrative that shows the benefits of electronic entertainment and how crucial the element of humanity is to the application of that technology.
8. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
This high stakes thriller depicts a cat and mouse game that goes around the world. Based on a true story, Catch Me If You Can tells the story of American con man Frank Abagnale, a man who conned his way to becoming a lawyer, a doctor and an international pilot. The star-studded cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen.
Furthermore, thanks to brilliant camera work and a fantastic script, you’re unsure who you’re cheering for throughout the entire movie.
7. Schindler’s List (1993)
Schindler’s List shines a bright ray of humanity through one of history’s darkest moments: The Holocaust. The movie is centered around the actions of Oskar Schindler, a German factory owner who rescued just under 1200 Jews from the gas chamber by having them work for him.
Shot entirely in black and white, the movie never attempts to glorify the violence of the era, and instead serves as a stark visual reminder of how truly horrific this period in German history was.
6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Perhaps the greatest movie about the Second World War ever made, Saving Private Ryan depicts both the humanity and the barbarity of the conflict. The opening scene shows the deadly landing at Omaha beach during D-Day and has been cited as one of the most brutally accurate depictions of the battle ever created.
Aside from the brutal depiction of violence, Saving Private Ryan did everything it could to show the brotherhood formed by men who serve. By finding a way to show the humanity of this historic and bloody conflict, Spielberg did wonders to bridge the gap between those who saw these horrors firsthand.
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5. Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park is equal parts cautionary tale and childlike wonder. Many of us have wondered what it would be like to live during the age of dinosaurs, and Jurassic Park does exactly that. Seeing these reptilian beasts come alive on the screen is one of the greatest moments of wonder that Spielberg has ever provided to audiences.
Yet, it also shows us the consequences of humanity playing god when the resurrected dinosaurs break free and remove humans from the top of the food chain. Masterfully scored by John Williams and full of stunning visual effects, Jurassic Park has never stopped being entertaining despite being nearly 30 years old.
4. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982)
Throughout his films, one of Spielberg’s most common themes is finding humanity in situations where you might not expect it. E.T. is perhaps the director’s best example of this phenomenon.
Despite playing host to a number of relatable moments within a middle-class family, E.T.’s greatest moments show that no matter how different two people (or, in this case, two different life forms) may be, it is the things that we all enjoy that bind us.
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial ranks at number two on our Top 10 Greatest Movies Of The ’80s.
3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind is Spielberg’s follow-up to Jaws and would not be the director’s last foray into science fiction. While the film’s subject matter gave it the ability to capture the attention of space-crazed Americans, it was also able to capture everyday life in middle America at every opportunity.
Wonderful shots of the American landscape, close ups that immediately convey the sense of wonder that fills the characters and ground-breaking special effects have helped Close Encounters of the Third Kind become a classic, and it’s still worth a watch today.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind ranks at number three on our Top 10 Greatest Movies Of The ’70s.
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
When Indiana Jones first hit the screen in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg set a genre-defining standard for action movies. From instantly recognizable sequences such as the boulder rolling through an ancient cave to Indiana Jones himself, Raiders remains one of Spielberg’s most beloved works and soars high above most of the work in his catalogue of classics.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark ranks at number two on our Top 10 Action Movies Of The ’80s.
1. Jaws (1975)
If you were a kid in the 70’s, there’s a good chance you have a story about refusing to go swimming thanks to a fear that there was a shark in the water. Considering just how impactful Jaws was for audiences and Spielberg himself, it’s a clear choice for number one on our list.
While Jaws wasn’t Spielberg’s first movie, it was certainly the film that launched him to the top of show business and allowed him to find consistent work on the best projects in Hollywood. When Jaws was released, the visual effects were among the most realistic examples of movie magic that the world had ever seen.
Jaws ranks at number two on our Top 10 Greatest Movies Of The ’70s.