Best Steven Spielberg Films
Here are our picks for the best Spielberg movies!
10. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
This is the closer to Steven Spielberg's trilogy of Indiana Jones films and it's also one of the best finales to any trilogy ever. It's got Harrison Ford and Sean Connery delivering some excellent performances as the titular adventurous archaeologist and his studious father. Their relationship is both hysterical and heartfelt as they learn valuable lessons and grow closer than ever before once they gain a deeper understanding of one another. This movie also has some of the best action sequences ever put to film with the fun train chase which acts as an origin story for the titular character, the dangerous aerial dogfight, intense tank battle, and the thrilling traipse through an ancient temple. The supporting cast does their best work here, especially John Rhys-Davies and Denholm Elliott as Sallah and Marcus Brody. It's got the funniest moments of the series and stands out as the most personal and emotional too.
9. War of the Worlds
When Spielberg remade this 1950s classic of the sci-fi alien invasion genre, he (in typical Spielberg fashion) turned it into a family drama. Here we have Tom Cruise as a distant father who is forced to take responsibility and fight for the survival of his family in a war-torn world after a devastating alien invasion. It's an expertly crafted film from it's suspenseful moments to it's epic action scenes and it's more intimate character moments. There's a great score here from John Williams which supports everything we see onscreen. This is an underrated movie from a director and actor who are at the top of their game.
8. Jurassic Park
A leap forward in digital effects, Jurassic Park is also an amazing story of the dangers of human hubris featuring many enjoyable characters. Spielberg's childhood interest in dinosaurs manifested itself in this blockbuster from 1993. He magnificently blended practical and digital effects to create photo-realistic ancient creatures alongside flesh-and-blood human actors in a believable way. It's got plenty of thrills and chills along with the majesty and wonder of seeing God's most fantastic creatures face-to-face. The cast is phenomenal in each of their distinct roles and all of them have important arcs which teach us all valuable lessons.
7. Minority Report
This take on Phillip K. Dick's short story, Minority Report is a shockingly emotional and dark tale from the usually joyful director. It's a beautifully realized future world the filmmakers created here with real-world technology helping them make this setting credible. It's one of the best performances Tom Cruise has ever given as a broken man who's on a personal mission to unravel a deeply disturbing mystery. This film is a neo-noir at it's core and features excellent chase sequences and some creepy characters. There's still the director's signature humor here, but it's got a much darker tone overall which helps set it apart from his other work and shows us that he's willing to take risks.
6. Saving Private Ryan
The most harrowing tale Spielberg has ever told onscreen is Saving Private Ryan which is loosely based on actual events during the most important days of World War II. The opening scene which puts audiences in the middle of the invasion of Normandy is a visceral and horrifying depiction of the reality of war. This film shows us all that war is hell, but also gives us a glimpse at the hope amidst the evil. The characters are all portrayed by an impeccable cast of actors and each of them bring something unique to their parts. Here we have a grown-up film from Spielberg which brilliantly tells an emotionally gripping story.
5. Catch Me If You Can
Steven's most personal film is also one of his best because Catch Me If You Can is a story which somewhat mirrors the director's own. The story is about life of Frank Abagnale who, after his parents divorce, runs away from home to live the rest of his life as one of the most brilliant con-men in history. It's an incredible character journey and Leonardo DiCaprio does some of his best work on screen as the likable criminal. Also, Tom Hanks delivers a striking counterbalance as the lonely FBI agent tasked with bringing Frank down. Their relationship is at the core of the movie as the two of them have much in common, although they may be constantly at odds and on different sides of the law. The film has terrific pacing, is flawlessly edited, and the musical score is a jazzy and emotional touchstone.
4. Schindler's List
The most gut-wrenching and heartbreaking film from the director is a sobering look at the horrors of the Holocaust. This is a film everyone has to see but one that's difficult to watch as the sinful nature of man is put on full display. However, at the same time this is also one of the most heroic tales ever told. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes give it their all as the two leads of the story delivering, hands-down, the best performances of their respective careers. Shooting the movie in black-and-white was an important choice as the issue the film is dealing with is very stark. It's an unforgettable movie from the director who put his heart and soul into this superbly important production.
Creating the blockbuster with this cinematic classic from 1975, Spielberg barely got Jaws made. The production of the film was filled with turmoil as the mechanical shark didn't work properly, shooting on the water proved much more difficult than he thought, and the weather didn't cooperate as well as he would have liked. This is the trial by fire that Steven had to go through to become one of the best filmmakers in history. It's impact can't be overstated since after it's release audiences were actually scared to go into the water. The word blockbuster wasn't used until after this movie arrived in theaters and people were literally busting blocks lined up to go see it. The cast, writing, cinematography, and musical theme all work together perfectly to bring us the best horror film ever because of it's memorable characters and palpable suspense.
2. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
One of the most wonderful films ever made is Spielberg's emotional tale of discovery, E.T. This is an example of an expert at the top of his craft. Spielberg has been able to get more amazing acting performances out of children than any other director because he's a big kid at heart and he can relate and communicate with them on their level. Never has this been more evident than in E.T. where Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, and Robert MacNaughton give totally naturalistic performances. Showing only the kids faces (other than their mother played very well by Dee Wallace) is a stroke of genius as we connect with them and later see the other grown-ups as the bad guys just like the children. E.T. himself is brought to joyous life by Pat Welsh, Ben Burt, and the excellent puppeteers who incredibly make him the object of our affections. Also, this one has another instantly recognizable theme from the great John Williams.
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
The best film by Steven Spielberg is Raiders of the Lost Ark. In his first outing, professor of archaeology Indiana Jones seeks out a powerful biblical artifact in a race against the Nazis who seek to use it for their own destructive ends. The opening scene introduces us to a hero who barely makes it out of scraps alive and gets his prize stolen before running for his life. It's an awesome opening sequence which sets up the hero's hatred of snakes, his unlucky streak, and our main villain. There's the best action of any movie ever here from the bar room brawl and shootout, to the thrilling truck chase, to the rough airplane runway fist fight, and the surprisingly short battle with a certain swordsman. It's also got some of the best characters in film history with Karen Allen's tough and take-charge Marion Ravenwood, the sly Paul Freeman as Rene Belloq, John Rhys-Davies as the loyal and enthusiastic Sallah, Ronald Lacey as the creepy Toht, and Denholm Elliott as the wise Marcus Brody. Of course, there's another brilliant score from John Williams here which is one of his best and most romantic. This is the best script ever directed by Spielberg from the clever team of Lawrence Kasdan, Philip Kaufman, and George Lucas as the story is totally original and the dialogue is extremely dynamic. Raiders is pitch perfect with it's blend of drama, comedy, romance, horror, and action, and it represents what going to the movies is all about: pure escapism.