To commemorate this weekend’s release of J.J. Abrams highly anticipated Super 8, we are counting down our Top 5 Steven Spielberg directed films seeing as Spielberg produced Super 8 and Abrams was attempting to capture an early Spielberg feel throughout-which he apparently succeeded in doing (a review will be posted on the site here .) So here we go as we count down our top five films from one of the most famous filmmakers of all time; it’s gonna be tough.
Alec’s Top 5 Steven Spielberg Films
5. Munich (2005)- This might be an odd choice to start it off, but when I saw Munich in 2005 (I haven’t seen it since) I remember it completely blowing me away. I realize that it is probably not my 5th favorite Spielberg, seeing as he has made so many classics and redefined practically every genre there is, but Munich is an incredibly rich yet forgotten film that I felt the need to include. Definitely check it out if you haven’t seen it; the film will surprise you with how great it can be. And if any of us get laid tonight, it’s because of Eric Bana in Munich!
4. Jurassic Park (1993)- This should probably be higher on the list, seeing as it is one of my favorite movies and a film that I watched constantly as a kid (it’s just that the next 3 are way too good, and could not be dethroned.) All I have to do to remember my love for this movie is to play the classic John Williams score on youtube- sends shivers down my spine every time. Everyone has seen it, everyone loves it- it is simply one of the best.
3. Saving Private Ryan (1998)- I don’t think that any war film sinc e Full Metal Jacket comes close to being as realistic, epic, or engrossing as this film. It completely changed the genre forever (along with the Spielberg/Tom Hanks produced HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers”) and it has become one of Spielberg’s crowning achievements, even earning him his second Oscar back at the ’99 awards. There is a reason it is called one of the best war films ever made.
2. Schindler’s List (1993)- The above shot has become one of my favorite Spielberg shots and one of my favorite shots in film. I finally got up the courage of watching this film last summer (after it traumatized me as a young teenager) and it completely and utterly blew me away. It is one of those cinema experiences that everyone must endure once in their lifetime just to see it. It is not only one of Spielberg’s best, but in my honest opinion one of the best films ever made. The fact that he made this and Jurassic Park in the same year still dumbfounds me. It also garnered Spielberg his first Academy Award win, along with six other awards.
1. Jaws (1975)- I recently rediscovered the amazingness of Jaws, and when I realized it I had the exact same expression on my face as Roy Scheider does in the image above. I have watched this film at least twenty-five times in the past year and I could watch it twenty-five more. It did so much for the world of cinema (and the blockbuster in particular) and is one of the most astounding films by a young filmmaker in film history. This is the film that launched Spielberg’s extensive career for a reason, because it is truly that amazing.
Michael’s Top 5 Steven Spielberg Films
5. Minority Report (2002)- Normally I am not a Tom Cruise fan but for Minority Report I have to make an exception. The story was original (at the time), the acting was great, and the twist ending was a huge surprise. This is definitely not one of Spielberg’s “Masterpieces” but it is a very enjoyable movie that had me entertained the whole way through (That scene where the eye is rolling down the hallway…awesome).
4. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)- Like I said in a previous list (which can be read here), this is my favorite Indiana Jones film. The only reason this is not higher is because this isn’t the best Indiana Jones movie, just my favorite. This film gets a lot of hate because it doesn’t take itself as seriously as the other Jones films do but, you know what, that’s not a bad thing. It’s a funny, ridiculous take on an already ridiculous premise. I’ll admit, it does have the most annoying female love interests of all time but it also has one of the funniest sidekicks in film history (“Dr. Jones, Dr. Jones!”). This might not be the best Indiana Jones film ever made but somehow became my favorite.
3. E.T. (1982)- All you need to see is that picture above and you’ll know how influential this movie was on the film industry. Every single scene in this movie has an iconic line or image that always brings back nostalgic memories. The fact that a movie about a little boy who’s best friend becomes an alien can make the viewer go through so many emotions while watching it is amazing. There’s not one part of this movie that isn’t great in it’s own way. It also solidified Reese’s Pieces as the candy of choice for aliens.
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)- Ok I’m going to go ahead and say it, this is the best adventure movie ever made. All of the action is great, and the soundtrack is so iconic that even if you haven’t seen the movie I can almost guarantee that you have heard the soundtrack. This film also has one of the most iconic villains in film history. Honestly, who doesn’t want to see the greatest adventurer of all time fighting a bunch of Nazi’s to get the Ark of the Covenant?
1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)- This is by far my favorite Spielberg film of all time. This film captures everything that makes Steven Spielberg a great director and puts it all into one movie. The acting is superb, the directing is exceptional (of course) and above all, the film is just fun to watch. There is a feeling of mystery and excitement all throughout the movie and the ending delivers on everything you want to see happen. Seriously if you haven’t seen this movie yet, pick it up, then you’ll know why it is my number one favorite Spielberg movie.
Katie’s Top 5 Steven Spielberg Films
5. Jurassic Park (1993)- I originally had Jaws as my fifth choice, but then I decided that the animatronics are much better nearly twenty years later and when in dinosaur form. While the shark flick may be the quintessential don’t-go-in-the-water movie, Jurassic Park is the best don’t-mess-with-nature movie around (it puts The Island to shame). Who needs a bigger boat when all you really need is for Samuel L. Jackson to figure out the security code? Plus, I just really like dinosaurs. Lots and lots of dinosaurs of every shape, size and species.
4. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)- Close Encounters is the first of two alien movies that make my list of Spielberg classics. It ranks lower only because it’s not quite as heartwarming as a movie soon to be mentioned and the aliens aren’t quite as cuddly. The tune the aliens play is unforgettable, as are some of the effects. Added bonus: Francois Truffaut plays a scientist and Spielberg once again teams with Richard Dreyfuss (with significantly less blood, though).
3. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)- It’s a shame Ghandi beat this movie to win Best Picture, but what can you do thirty years after the fact? To this day, this movie makes me cry more than anything. Despite the changes made during re-releases (guns to walkie-talkies? Really?), the troubles that followed its young stars (Drew Barrymore went into rehab at age thirteen after her troubles began at the age of nine) and the ridiculous scenarios (who ever heard of an alien getting drunk and watching The Quiet Man?), the film is a childhood classic that I can watch over and over and over again. It also boasts one of the more memorable John Williams scores in a Spielberg film (which is saying something because he did uh…all of them).
2. The Indiana Jones Trilogy (1981-1989)- There is absolutely no way I can choose between the three of these films (yes, three. Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls never happened, ok?) because each one has its pros and cons. Raiders of the Lost Ark is the original and probably has the best plot out of all of them but Alfred Molina gets killed too early on, Temple of Doom has Short Round (or Data, if you want to talk The Goonies) and is just plain creepy but Kate Capshaw is the most annoying mistress (hands down) and The Last Crusade has Sean Connery (chasing birds with an umbrella, no less), Arthurian legends, an origin story and that cool face-aging effect at the end but…well, it doesn’t really have any cons. While I claim that my opinion changes frequently as to which is my favorite, I think I can safely say that The Last Crusade may be the one that I find most enjoyable every single time I watch it (and yes, I marathon these movies really frequently).
1. Empire of the Sun (1987)- When discussing Spielberg canon, this is the film most frequently overlooked, which is a shame. It’s poignant, it’s depressing, it’s beautifully shot and it stars a baby Christian Bale. It takes place during World War II (like many other Spielberg epics), but it takes place somewhere that’s not often portrayed cinematically (Shanghai under Japanese occupation) and is really when Spielberg makes the jump from big blockbusters to movies that say something about the human spirit and the horrors of war.
Keelin’s Top 5 Steven Spielberg Films
5. Duel (1971)- This is technically cheating because Duel was one of those made-for-TV movies, but it is a film that is highly responsible for the director’s early success and opened a lot of doors for him (including one that would later allow him the chance to direct Jaws). One of the tag lines for Duel, which was an adaptation of a short story by Richard Matheson, was “When the headlights of a truck become the eyes of a psychopath” – and oh how very true this rings. Duel is a ninety minute long car chase that will leave you on the edge of your seat and convince you (against your better knowledge) that eighteen-wheelers are inherently evil. It was also young Speilberg’s first ever feature film and was completed in only twelve days of filming. The phrase “like a boss” comes to mind.
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)- Somehow I managed to make it through childhood and adolescence without seeing this giant of a motion picture. I sat down to finally watch it recently, fully expecting that it wouldn’t have the same magical effect on me it would have had I been of a more innocent age – and was I ever wrong. It only took a few cords of John Williams’ unforgettable score and Indie himself lassoing his way out of trouble to reduce me to a giddy mess of child-like elation. What more can be said? It really is one of the greatest adventure films of all time.
3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)- The problem that often befalls films that are heavy in the special effects department, especially when it comes to depicting alien-life, is that they rarely can stand the test of time. Close Encounters blows that notion out of the water. There’s a reason it stands as the apex of UFO flicks, and it’s the same reason those eerie piano notes still send chills down our spines: it’s one hell of a story and a visually awe-striking film. Now if only I could get the theme music out of my head…
2. Jaws (1975)- Yes yes, big surprised, very original I know. But you can’t knock the classics; they have earned their titles for a reason. There are three reasons I love Jaws, mainly. Jaws was one of the films that put horror/thrillers on the blockbuster map, while reminding everyone that a movie that is scary and thrilling can also be a legitimate work of cinematic greatness. In short: the movie that you are sure to study in film class is the very same that made you afraid to use the toilet at the tender age of nine for fear of shark attack. Secondly, Quint’s now infamous “Indianapolis” speech, delivered chillingly by Robert Shaw. Like a doll’s eyes chief, like a doll’s eyes.
Thirdly, the greatest thing about Speilberg movies is that they get people excited. A great story should awaken exhilarating emotions within the audience. My Father used to tell me the story of when he went to see Jaws in theaters with friends, and by the end of the film many members of the audience had literally climbed atop of their theater seats screaming “KILL IT! KILL THE SHARK!!” I have waited my entire film-going life to experience a similar moment and while some have come close, nothing has yet to hold a candle to the awesomeness that is Jaws.
1. Jurassic Park (1993)- If you were a child in the 90’s, or if you have a pulse, you probably love this movie as much as I do. If not, what is wrong with you, you cold-hearted bastard? Jurassic Park encompasses every reason old-school Speilberg movies capture our hearts to begin with; there’s action, adventure, thrilling sequences, the spectacle of dinosaurs brought to reality, and a consistent sense of child-like wonder throughout. More then being an enjoyable trip from beginning to end, more then Jeff Golblum’s insanely amusing science speeches (“Life, uh, life uh finds…uh…a way”) Jurassic Park to me captures the sense of “Speilberg” in a bottle with the character of John Hammond, especially in his flea-circus monologue. “I just wanted to show them something real”. And did he ever.