Spielberg’s name is synonymous with big Hollywood moviemaking, as he is the director whose greatest early hits first defined the summer blockbuster as we know it. We will, however, not hold either of those things against him, as the guy has made a good number of quality films. Steven Spielberg’s best films are still popular favorites today.
These are 15 of the best Steven Spielberg films.
15.) Empire of the Sun (1987)
An adaptation of World War 2 memoirs by J.G Ballard, this movie entails how the son of British diplomats in China who lives a life of luxury sees his life take a drastic change after the Japanese invade China.
Separated from his parents, he learns to live on his own, even taken as a prisoner of War before the war ended.
14.) Bridge of Spies (2015)
This movie is one where the bad and the good guys aren’t clearly defined as Steven explores the complexity of dealings in political circles.
This movie is one of Steven Spielberg’s best films featuring Tom Hanks. It centers on a US lawyer who is tasked to take over negotiations for the exchange of a Soviet spy for a downed Airforce pilot in 1962.
13.) Ready Player One (2018)
An adaptation of the book written by Ernest Cline, the story is about an online game competition where million of gamers compete to win. A massive amount of references to the 80s culture almost makes the movie complex.
The movie is still up for debate in many quarters as to what message Spielberg was trying to share.
12.) A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Set in the future, AI is about a robot who wants to be a real boy due to him feeling unloved by his parents.
He then goes in search of the blue fairy who will turn him into a human. The film is said to be the 83rd greatest film since the year 2000.
11.) Munich (2005)
This is Steven’s lowest-grossing domestic movie, but it received five Academy nominations, making it out of Steven Spielberg’s best films anyway.
It was based on the 1972 Olympics, which saw the assassination of 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.
10.) Minority Report (2002)
In the immediate future, crimes are detected before being committed by a group called the PreCog, but when the head of the department is said to be guilty of murder in 36 hours, he goes on the run and tries to prove his innocence.
The movie features Tom Cruise.
9.) Lincoln (2012)
Another blockbuster from Steven Spielberg, the movie focuses on the last four months of President Lincoln, his struggles, and how he lobbied to pass the 13th amendment before the end of the civil war.
This historical film is one of Steven Spielberg’s best films. Daniel Day-Lewis played Lincoln.
8.) Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Starring Leonardo Di Caprio, who is cast as Frank, and Tom Hanks as Carl an FBI agent, Catch Me If You Can is a biography of a con artist who made a fortune for himself at the age of 19 by forging checks.
After he was caught by the FBI, he is enlisted to work for them to find other criminals.
7.) E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
This movie is widely regarded as one of Steven Spielberg’s best films, which isn’t surprising as ET was mostly from his own discretion. He shared the moments he had with his imaginary friend after his parents divorced.
It was the highest grossing movie of all time before his own movie broke the record 11 years later.
6.) Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
This film was a personal project for Spielberg, and it is said to be one of Steven Spielberg’s best films to date. With a budget of 20 million dollars, the movie made $300 in earnings and won numerous awards.
It was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.
5.) Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Saving Private Ryan, a gritty, honest WWII film was somehow robbed for Best Picture by the likes of Shakespeare In Love, but it nevertheless stands as one of Steven Spielberg’s best films.
The film opens with an incredible recreation of D-Day, which, for those sorely in need of a history lesson, was the Allies storming of the beach at Normandy, France. From there it tells the story of a captain (Tom Hanks) charged with locating and sending home the young private of the title (Matt Damon), who is the last survivor of a group of four enlisted brothers.
The movie became the highest domestic grosser of the year and earned Spielberg his second Best Director win.
4.) The Color Purple (1985)
This adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel is a harrowing, funny, painful, lively and ultimately triumphant look at black female’s life in the early 20th century South.
This film is richly detailed in its period setting. It’s also packed with great performances. Whoopie Goldberg is the put upon main character/narrator Celie, and Oprah Winfrey is the headstrong Sofia. Danny Glover is the abusive husband Albert, Margaret Avery is Shug, and Desreta Jackson plays Young Celie, who is sold by her father (who previously impregnated her) into marriage with Glover as a teenage girl.
A film that shifts in tone smoothly and deftly touches upon as many issues as this one does is unmistakably the work of a master director.
3.) Schindler’s List (1993)
Spielberg released this appropriately heart-wrenching and epic Holocaust film to universal critical acclaim and tons of awards. Liam Neeson stars as German profiteer Oskar Schindler, who uses his position to save a thousand Polish Jews from extermination.
This film is primarily in black and white to echo the world of archival photos and footage so audiences can witness the full, moving, speaking horror of the events. This is a film unlike any other Spielberg had done up to that point, and it marked the beginning of his later career forays into darker, more realistic subjects. This film is as powerful as any film regarding this subject should be and more beautiful than it has a right to be.
2.) Jaws (1975)
This smash hit became the highest grossing film in history at the time of its release, and it’s not hard to see why even watching this taut tale of maritime horror today. Jaws is considered one of Steven Spielberg’s best films and greatest works to date.
Featuring some great dialogue that is spoken by some great performers inhabiting some great characters, Jaws tells the story of a New England resort town’s terrorizing at the hands of a great white shark. The police chief (Roy Scheider) goes out to sea to put the beast down along with a plucky marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a crusty master seaman (Robert Shaw).
The ultimate battle between the three men and their terrifying opponent is still a pulse-pounding and flawlessly realized spectacle, and Jaws, as a whole, shines as mainstream Hollywood at its best.
1.) Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
This boulder-fleeing, Nazi-punching, Wrath Of God-releasing, masterwork is why movies are made. Harrison Ford stars as everyone’s favorite ophidiophobic archeologist, who races Third Reich scoundrels for the Ark of the Covenant.
One expertly filmed action sequence follows another, as Ford makes cracks with both whip and wit and yet another iconic score by John William’s thunders along. This old-fashioned adventure was initially conceived by producer George Lucas, and like Star Wars, became a cultural phenomenon that bred a successful, beloved (and later tarnished) franchise.
This is one of Steven Spielberg’s best films and one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood.
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