steven spielberg

Top 10 Steven Spielberg movies

By Andrea Miller and Emma Badame on January 21, 2013
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The prolific writer, director, producer and studio executive is, of course, the grandfather of the blockbuster, his bloodthirsty shark flick Jaws earning the term after it smashed box office records and made the Cincinnati native a household name. It would catapult Steven Spielberg into a long-term deal with Universal Studios and forever change the landscape of cinema – and all this from a guy who couldn't get into USC's School of Theater, Film and Television.

The Great Digital Film Festival, running from February 1 to 7, features a handful of everyone's cinematic favourites, in digital on the big screen, and Spielberg is represented more than any other director, with five of his movies part of the stacked list that includes work by Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick amongst others. Since we're giving you the chance to check out some Spielberg classics in-theatre, we're taking a look at the best of his impressive body of work.

Check out our Top 10 Steven Spielberg movies below.



munich 10. Munich (2005)

Often overlooked when reflecting back on the Hollywood icon's legacy, Munich also happens to be the newest film to make the Top 10. The tense thriller about the Israeli government's secret retaliation attacks after the massacre of Israeli athletes by the Black September terrorist group during the 1972 Summer Olympics hit big with critics but didn't fare quite as well with audiences. With a powerhouse performance by star Eric Bana and a fabulous supporting cast that features a pre-Bond Daniel Craig, this one's worth a second look. It went on to be nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Original Score (for longtime Spielberg collaborator John Williams).




minority report 9. Minority Report (2002)

Based on a Philip K. Dick short story, Minority Report was a super-slick futuristic look at a world without crime thanks to "Pre-Cogs" who can see people commit crimes before they actually happen. The system seems perfect until one day Pre-crime's own chief John Anderton (pre-Katie Tom Cruise) is accused of a future crime and tries to seize the "minority report" to find out why it seems he's going to murder someone he doesn't even know. Introducing Colin Farrell to the masses, not to mention offering a super-cool predecessor to Apple's touch technology, the film was a darker ride for Spielberg but just as successful.




saving private ryan 8. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Oh, that opening. The Invasion of Normandy, 1944, is the place and time and Spielberg wastes not a minute getting into the brutal and bloody reality of war, offering audiences a heart-stopping cavalcade of violence and death that sets the tone for the unflinching film. Diving into one of his pet themes - war - Spielberg told the story of a team of US soldiers who head behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers were killed in combat, to spare their mother from losing all her boys, and the result was gripping, intense and featured exceptional performances by the A-list ensemble, including Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Barry Pepper, Edward Burns, Adam Goldberg, Giovanni Ribisi and Tom Sizemore.




catch me if you can 7. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Ideal casting made this light crime dramedy  fly with Leonardo DiCaprio portraying real-life huckster Frank Abagnale Jr. and Tom Hanks as driven FBI agent Carl Hanratty who engages the young con artist in an increasingly tense game of cat and mouse. In a bid to impress his father and have the kind of money that eluded his parents, Frank finds different, more ingenious ways to defraud companies and pass himself off as someone else and it's plenty of fun to watch DiCaprio charm and lie as a young faux-millionaire.



jurassic park 6. Jurassic Park (1993)

Leave it to Spielberg to turn a glass of water shaking ever-so-slightly into an omen of bad things to come for an entire generation of movie-goers. Based on Michael Crichton's book about a theme park where the attractions are living dinosaur clones - you remember the amber and all that, right? - the awe-inspiring visuals represented the latest in FX and properly scared audiences, who rightly couldn't believe their eyes. While impressive, the realistic visuals still left room for a story about playing God, greed, family and the fight for freedom. Also, Jeff Goldblum!




Raiders of the Ark 5. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Many would argue that Last Crusade is actually the highest quality of the Indiana Jones saga but Raiders is where it all began. The brown Fedora, the ever-present whip, the giant boulder bearing down on our hero – in one opening scene, Spielberg laid the groundwork for a character that would go on to become one of Hollywood's greatest. There's a distinct air of nostalgia that comes along with the original Indy adventure that may cloud our judgment but we'd also argue that this one's got Harrison Ford at his very best. Whether he's in the midst of a deadpan delivery, running from danger, sharing his deep fear of snakes or getting the girl, he embodies the adventurous archaeologist so completely that even 30 years later, audiences are still shouting for more.




schindler's list 4. Schindler's List (1993)

This harrowing tale or personal courage and sacrifice in an almost uncomprehendingly tragic time in modern history is no easier to watch today than it was in 1993. It focuses in on Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson – in a star-making turn), a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. It garnered Spielberg his first Best Picture Oscar and his first nod as Best Director, while Supporting Actor Ralph Fiennes received a nomination for his intense performance as SS officer and camp commandant Amon Goeth. It may not be his very best film when measured against his entire filmography, but Spielberg himself considers it to be his most important.



close encounters of the third kind 3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

This is a Spielberg movie that'll stay with you long after you see it. At its heart, Close Encounters is intellectual science fiction, engendering a curiosity in viewers about the world and universe around us and encouraging young and old to embrace the inner imaginative child in all of us. It’s a masterpiece of film-making and has the distinction of being the first mainstream feature film to portray extra terrestrials as something other than angry beings bent on universal domination – a theme Spielberg would revisit in another of our top picks, E.T. Often overlooked by sci-fi fans who head straight for Star Wars (which was released the same year), this one is essential film viewing for any film fan.




E.T. 2. E.T.: The Extraterrestrial (1982)

Elliott has a secret and as far as they go, it's pretty big. He's decided to keep the little alien dude (E.T., we'll call him) who's landed on Earth and not tell anyone because he fears what will happen to his new friend. This story of youthful hope, imagination and learning to let go of the ones you love set the bar for heartwarming coming-of-age stories that mattered to adults almost as much as kids. Starring a cute-as-a-button Henry Thomas and pre-rehab Drew Barrymore, this sci-fi adventure still holds up today as the work of a powerful director with an inimitable vision.




Jaws 1. Jaws (1975)

Could any other film have topped this list? We've already gone over the big money machine aspects of its success, so let's take the time to go over a few other reasons why this is Spielberg’s very best. The superb cast for one (from Roy Scheider to Richard Dreyfuss to the sublime Robert Shaw), the now-familiar score by Spielberg stalwart John Williams and, despite legendary off-screen mechanical problems, one giant great white menace. And if that weren't enough, Jaws just happens to contain one of Spielberg’s very best scenes – Shaw’s spellbinding soliloquy (as Quint) on the fate of the USS Indianapolis. But what ultimately makes this one our list-topper? It is still every bit as good (and as scary) now as it was when it first hit theatres in 1975. We don't know about you, but we're still afraid to go in the water.


Agree, disagree? What movies to you consider Spielberg's best? Share in the comments below!

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