The Top Ten Steven Spielberg Movies

Top-10We saw quite a bit of discussion last week here about Steven Spielberg, and that prompted me to focus this month’s “Top Ten” on officially ranking his ten best films.

It was quite a challenge, actually, because when you talk about Steven Spielberg films, you’re talking about several of the greatest films of all time. He’s one of the most popular directors of all time, due to the fact that he’s made so many of the most popular movies of Spielberg_filmsall time. His filmography also has a number of powerful, dramatic films as well. Certainly he has more than ten that could be considered great, so it was difficult to narrow down the field!

But that’s all part of the challenge, and I’m more than happy to take it on!

Click through to see how they shook out!


catch_me_if_you_can10) “Catch Me If You Can”

In 2002, Spielberg brought us the true story of con man Frank Abagnale. In the 1960s, Abagnale posed as an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer. He forged over $2 million worth of checks. Spielberg united with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks in order to provide a humorous, energetic romp. Often overlooked in the wake of his other films, “Catch Me If You Can” is solid, crowd pleasing entertainment!

minority_report9) “Minority Report”

Based on a story by legendary sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick and starring superstar Tom Cruise, “Minority Report” envisions a future where “pre-cogs” can prevent violent crime by envisioning the future. When the Captain of the PreCrime Unit is fingered for a future crime, however, everything gets turned upside down. Steeped in themes of free will vs determinism and packed with action, this Spielberg offering is a slick, thought-provoking sci-fi film.

saving_private_ryan_ver18) “Saving Private Ryan”

Spielberg’s war movie is famed for its half hour long opening scene, portraying the D-Day assault on Omaha Beach. It’s widely regarded as the greatest battle scene ever filmed. The rest of the film follows a mission to save a single soldier; the sole survivor of four serviceman siblings. “Saving Private Ryan” earned Spielberg his second Academy Award for Best Director, and many bemoan the fact that it lost Best Picture.

lincoln7) “Lincoln”

“Lincoln” revolves around the passage of the 13th amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery in America permanently. For what is essentially a Congressional showdown film, “Lincoln” is intense and infused with a surprising amount of humor. It’s also an excellent historical drama. It will most likely be best remembered for the spectacular performance of Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, which won him his record third Best Actor Oscar.

BT-Top-10-May-20126) “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”

“Close Encounters” portrays the wonder of contact with friendly extraterrestrials in awe-inspiring fashion. Its early chapters establish the characters, and just what kind of an impact such contact might have had on their families, while the finale gloriously imagines a musical exchange between human and aliens. Solid storytelling, great acting, and superb (practical) special effects make “Close Encounters” a timeless film.

jurassic_park_ver25) “Jurassic Park”

With “Jurassic Park”, Spielberg brought Dinosaurs back to life. Wondrous and fascinating, but also ferocious and dangerous. The resulting film turned out to be one of the most adventurous action movies ever made, as people ran for their lives from real dinosaurs in a wildlife preserve theme park. Of course, it was also a technologically revolutionary film. With its CGI Dinosaurs, “Jurassic Park” launched special effects into the computer age.

schindlers_list4) “Schindler’s List”

Undoubtedly Spielberg’s most important film, and his most highly decorated as well. It won him his first Best Director Oscar, it won Best Picture, and it’s been selected by the American Film Institute as one of the top ten American films ever made on both of their “100 Years” listings. At once a heartbreaking portrayal of the cruelty that humanity is capable of and an inspiring tale of the bravery and selflessness we have the potential for.


Jaws3) “Jaws”

The film that started the Summer Movie Season. “Jaws” was so frightening to people at the time of its release, that many forswore swimming in the ocean. It stands tall to this day because it’s built on the solid fundamentals of a good story and great acting, and the practical effects used for the shark will always hold up. Of course it also deserves special note for being the film that launched Spielberg’s career into the stratosphere!


raiders_of_the_lost_ark_ver12) “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

Inspired by the movie serials of the 1930s and 40s, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” reintroduced adventure movies and non-stop action into the theatres of the 1980s. With its whip cracking, iconic hero and its unforgettable action sequences, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” has become a film for the ages. It’s widely hailed as one of the greatest action movies ever made. Excitement, entertainment and adventure abound.


e_t_the_extra_terrestrial_ver21) “E.T.”

Steven Spielberg’s most beloved film. A boy meets a stranded alien botanist, and an incredible friendship is born. Comedy and adventure ensue as the boy tries to hide E.T within his house, but we soon learn he can’t stay forever. Will he be able to call for rescue before he’s captured by the government? Heartwarming and endearing, “E.T.” tells a beautiful story about the possibilities of the universe, and the joy of being a child.


Well, there you have it folks. The Top Ten Steven Spielberg Movies.

What do you think? Are there any omissions which upset you? How about the rankings? Which ones do I have too high or too low?

Let us hear it!

Daniel Fogarty

119 thoughts on “The Top Ten Steven Spielberg Movies

  1. The thing about making a Steven Spielberg Top 10 list is that it’s almost impossible to go wrong with it. Yeah, he has some lesser movies under his belt, but there’s also so many good.

    This particular one looks really good. I keep forgetting that “Catch Me If You Can” was a Spielberg movie, but I really enjoyed it. And also, I still need to see Minority Report, I dunno how I’ve gone so long without seeing it. The rest are all classics, so good run down overall. 🙂

    Also, really loved that “HOOK us up” at the end, lol. And yet another awesome Spielberg movie at that! XP

    • LOL. Ive had that one sitting around for awhile. When I first started doing those, they were all about Hooks as opposed to whatever movie I was reviewing. 😀 Time to break it out again I figured!

      Minority Report is a really solid movie man. Not one of his greatest (its low on the list), but its really good.

      Glad to see so many people so happy I included Catch Me if you Can, that’s a great flick, but I wasnt sure how people would take to it!

  2. Really surprised to see all this AI love in the comments. I remember hating it to the point of vowing never to watch it again.

    I haven’t seen Catch Me if You Can, or Lincoln, and I’ve only ever caught 2/3rds or less of Close Encounters at a time on TV. I felt like Minority Report was just O.K. So I guess I’m hitting 60% agreement here? I feel like Jurassic Park should be higher, but I can’t see how it could climb over any of the other titles.

    Great stuff, as usual.

    • Thanks Spike. Youre only hitting 60% agreement though because you havent seen a third of these! LOL Close Encounters is awesome, you should check that puppy out start to finish!

      Meanwhile, AI is a really awesome film. A little… bleak, but at the end of the day, that’s some good sci-fi right there. I really like that one!

      • If I remember right, the fact that it was good Sci-Fi was about the only thing I gave it credit for. That and Jude Law giving his all trying to save a sinking ship.

        I remember saying when I left the theatre that I wished Spielberg had scrapped more of Kubrick’s influence, and made it his own, instead of (I felt) trying to make a pale imitation of a Kubrick film.

        Maybe I should revisit it. Can’t see it happening, though, since there’s still so much I want to see, and see again, that forming a new opinion on a 2 1/2 hour movie I hated is pretty low on the priority list.

  3. Good list. I could quibble a little with the order, but I think you have the right movies. So here’s my Top 10 Worst Spielburg movies (worst on top).

    1. Lost World
    2. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
    3. The Terminal
    4. Always
    5. Sugarland Express
    6. 1941
    7. Hook
    8. Temple Of Doom
    9. War Of The Worlds
    10. Amistad

    Note: I haven’t seen War Horse, Tintin, or Lincoln yet. I suspect that at least one of the would push Amistad off this list, as it’s not even close to being a bad movie.

    • HAHAHA!!!! LOL

      Nice contribution, brother, nice conrtribution.

      The one that you’re looking for to push Amistad off of that list is “War Horse” LOL. I have that placing above Temple of Doom, easily 😀 TinTin and Lincoln are both excellent. I just rewatched TinTin a little while ago and my estimation of it rose considerably!

      Good list! I think #1 and #2 are debatable… very very close call there. 😀

      Good times man, good times…

      • Yeah, they’re kind of 1A and 1B. I gave Lost World the nod because it seemed more like Spielburg was just phoning it in. Crystal Skull looks like a game effort on everyone’s part that just fell very, very flat.

  4. I might have mixed the order around but I can’t say my list for this would look any different 🙂 I’d say Saving Private Ryan would be tops for me

  5. Didn’t he also direct The Color Purple? I would have added that and AI to the list. I know I’m in the minority everywhere when I say that I thought E.T. was just okay and prefer both AI and Minority report to that one. The only two on the list I have NOT seen are Lincoln and Saving Private Ryan. Mostly because they are not really the types of films I like. I would watch Lincoln long before I would ever watch Saving Private Ryan. So, how would I rank these films?

    1. Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind. This film is, in one way, more important than Starwars to the Science Fiction movie genre. Star Wars popularized science fiction in a way that hadn’t really happened before. But Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind legitimized the Science Fiction movie as a genre that could produce a serious film that was more than just an adventure story.

    2. Schindler’s List. This was a serious movie, dificult to tell, difficult to watch, and LONG. But it proved that people are willing to sit still for longer than roughly 90 minute (starting a trend towards 120 minute movies) and that people were willing to watch a long, drama, in black and white. Entire college classes went to this movie willingly. It painted the horrors of WWII in a more personal way because it was a war movie that was not a ‘war’ movie.

    3. Jurassic Park. In trying to make better looking dinosaurs, this film remade special effect, they even had to redo a rather large portion of this film that had been finished using older effects. An entertaining, adveture film that managed to market itself without giving away the ‘new’ special effects resulted in an audience who experienced far more awe than would have normally happened with a film of this type.

    4. The Color Purple. This might have been Spielberg’s first ‘serious’ movie. While the movie dramatically toned down the relationship between Celie and Shug, this movie dealt with physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, incest, oppression of women, oppression of blacks, racism, poverty, and injustice. I watched the movie several years after it was released. I read the book a number of years later. I thought the movie was very good and the performances were outstanding. It turns out that Spielberg played it safe when comparing the movie and book. But he still did a great movie and wrung some great performances ot of an outstanding cast.

    5. Raiders of the Lost Ark. This was just a fun movie. It would say that it is this movie, rather than Star Wars, that made Harrison Ford’s career. If he hadn’t done this film, would he ever have made it as big? Look at Mark Hamil and Carrie Fisher….

    6. AI – This is a movie about Humanity’s Lost Innocence. But that is an idealized concept. I don’t think humanity was ever that innocent.

    7. Minority Report. Not a perfect movie, but an interesting one, in a genre I like, that also seemed pertinent and timely in the wave of security measures that were being passes after 9/11 where people seemed to be racing to give up freedom in trade for a questionable and false sense of security.

    8. Catch me if you can. The first movie I actually liked DiCaprio in and the first time I realized he may have some acting talent after all. Speilberg did an excelent job directing him.

    9. Jaws. Actually, I was too young to really understand why it stood out as a beanchmark of the movie industry. But Speilberg manage to make a two note ‘melody’ and a simple triangle seem like the scarriest things on earth.

    10. Lincoln. No doubt an excellent film. Acting must have been outstand from the caliber of the cast and Speilberg’s ability to the best out of almost anyone. But it just didn’t capture my attention.

    • Holy Lists, Batman!

      AI is awesome, and I’m a big fan. However, it didnt register well with a lot of people, and is definitely more on the cult side of things, which is a strike against it. And, things being as close as they are, it wound up a deciding factor. I think I’d call Color Purple maybe his first “Heavy Drama” as opposed to first serious, but I know what you mean. A lot of people point to Raiders and Fords career like that, and obviously, you’re right. Definitely the game breaker for him! Glad youre on board the Catch me if you Can bandwagon, apparently I was wrong in thinking that that pick would catch some flak today!

  6. Awesome list. I’d agree with the majority of it, except the ones I haven’t seen of course. I mean, you have Indy, Jaws, ET, Jurassic Park. Although I’m not a huge fan of Saving Private Ryan..but its nothing to do with the the movie itself just I’m not big on war flicks. I guess it wouldn’t be good since it was a TV movie but I always praise Duel. Its just pure awesomeness!! 🙂

    • Wowwww. Points to Kim for being the first to name drop Duel! 😀 Thats a good flick though, isnt it? I dont know if itd crack my list here, but it ranks about The Lost World and Indy and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull! LOL 😀

      Nice one!

      • The Lost World was pretty alright..but I’m kicking Crystal Skull to the last spot on my list 😛 Duel was so fun and good entertainment. All those 3 on my scale is in diff levels on my scale 😛

  7. I’ve never seen Schindler’s List, so that’s why it isn’t on my top ten:
    10) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
    9) Minority Report
    8) Jurassic Park
    7) Catch Me If You Can
    6) Saving Private Ryan
    5) Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    4) A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
    3) Jaws
    2) E.T.
    1) Raiders of the Lost Ark

    • You should definitely check out Schindlers if you get a chance Garrett… it IS a great movie. Very serious, and a little heart breaking, but great movie.

      Meanwhile, I think this is the first top ten Ive ever done where everyone wants to dethrone the #1!! LOL 😀

  8. Great list, Fogs. Nothing I’ve seen there that I object to making the cut. A.I. would have raised an objection from me since the ending tanks it so badly, so I’m glad it didn’t make it on there.

    I don’t think I’m quite ready to put together a top 10 on my own though.

    • I disagree on the AI ending… I like it quite a bit.

      However, youre in the majority I believe. Which is why I left it off of here. Great flick, but it didnt connect with people like so many of the others did. 😦

  9. Lincoln wouldn’t make my Top 10 but all the rest would and I even like the way you’ve numbered them. I don’t think it’s a popular choice but I personally love War of the Worlds.

    • Not a fan of Lincoln, huh? Hm.

      Yeah, with War of the Worlds, like you say, its not that popular. It has its moments, but I think its pretty front loaded… the second half of that movie is kind of a let down. 😦

    • Duel would be higher on your list than every other Spielberg movie except Jaws, Dave? Cmon…. CMON, man…

      😀 I liked it, but… at the end of the day, its just a truck hassling a car. LOL

  10. E.T.??? What is wrong with you humans? Those types of aliens don’t even exist! Humans made them up, and we real aliens are so mad you like them over us! We Xenomorphs are so much cooler!

  11. Nice picks, especially the top 3. Though I’d personally order them differently. For me, Raiders will always be #1. ET and Jaws would be a practical tie for second.

    I absolutely loved Tintin and would be tempted to put it in the top 5.

    • I liked TinTin a lot more on second viewing, but I dont think it would be able to crack the list for me. It suffers from that animated movie downgrade (fairly or not), you know, the reason why they created Best Animated picture… people dont tend to see them on the same level as regular films.

      It was really good though. Very adventurous, and action packed, almost to a fault!

  12. I knew this thread and its comments was gonna be fun to read! I agree with most of your list Fogs, but I would put JP much higher because DINOSAURS!!
    Haven’t seen Lincoln tho…man I have lots of movies to catch up on 😐

  13. Nice list. I know it’s not top 10 or anything but I dig Twister occassionally. 😉

    Jo: [in the truck, discussing Bill’s current life changes] Hey, as long as you’re happy…
    Bill: I AM. I AM happy. I’m a happy person. I’m happy with my life. I’m happy with the way things are going in my life. I’m happy with… with…
    Jo: Melissa?
    Bill: I know her name! YES. I’m happy… with… Melissa!

  14. Does the Hall of Fame take a batter’s last years’ stats or his life time average? Only two or three directors equal Spielberg’s greatness. I’ve seen every one of his feature films. How many big time directors can you say that about.
    In reference to “AI”, there is a lot of Kubrick’s work in it. Not pure Spielberg.

  15. Great list. I would debate a little on the order but those are solid choices there. I couldn’t believe you didn’t have Jaws as number 1 though. I was going through the list saying to myself “Fogs will put Jaws at #1, Fogs will put Jaws at #1” and BAM! there it was at number 3! lol. Shows what I know about you, right?

    Anyway, my order:

    1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
    2. Jaws
    3. Schindler’s List
    4. Saving Private Ryan
    5. Lincoln
    6. Munich
    7. Jurrasic Park
    8. E.T.
    9. Close Encounters
    10. Catch Me if You Can.

    E.T. was never one of my faves. *shrug* I think I was a little bit too old for it when it came out. It was too cutesy for me.

    • Psyched you out! LOL. Not purely a favorites list. Kind of try to be objective with these and weigh a lot of factors. Jaws is my personal favorite though, without a doubt. So…. you werent that far off.

      Munich is a great flick. I wish more people had seen it! I think, as much as there can be such a thing, that’s one of his most underrated movies.

      Its ok on the ET thing. Pretty comfortable with my stance on that one 😉

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