By Ari Dassa
Steven Spielberg, arguably the most celebrated filmmaker of all-time, has won 126 awards during his illustrious career. That includes 4 Academy Award Oscars with Two for Best Director. On the verge of winning another Academy Award for his work on the excellent movie Lincoln, many film fans are listing their favorite Steven Spielberg movies of all-time. Not one to turn down a chance to examine the works of one of my all-time favorite directors, I’ve decided to add to the conversation and share my list of the Top 10 films directed by Steven Spielberg.
Incredible movie. Not much more to say here about this film, except to say go see it when one gets the chance.
Steven Spielberg directs two-time Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln,” a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come.
This one, over time has just eventually won me over completely.
The second of the George Lucas/Steven Spielberg Indiana Jones epics is set a year or so before the events in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1984). After a brief brouhaha involving a precious vial and a wild ride down a raging Himalyan river, Indy (Harrison Ford) gets down to the problem at hand: retrieving a precious gem and several kidnapped young boys on behalf of a remote East Indian village. His companions this time around include a dimbulbed, easily frightened nightclub chanteuse (Kate Capshaw), and a feisty 12-year-old kid named Short Round (Quan Ke Huy). Throughout, the plot takes second place to the thrills, which include a harrowing rollercoaster ride in an abandoned mineshaft and Indy’s rescue of the heroine from a ritual sacrifice. There are also a couple of cute references to Raiders of the Lost Ark, notably a funny variation of Indy’s shooting of the Sherpa warrior.
Munich is a masterwork… until the ridiculous sex scene, which is inter-cut with the killings. That scene is so tonally unbalanced and the wailing middle-eastern woman on the soundtrack and slo-mo sweat is so overdone, that it completely ruins the final 10 minutes of the film and the horror of the massacre.
Inspired by real events, Munich reveals the intense story of the secret Israeli squad assigned to track down and assassinate the 11 Palestinians believed to have planned the 1972 Munich massacre of 11 Israeli athletes – and the personal toll this mission of revenge takes on the team and the man who led it. Hailed as “tremendously exciting” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone), Steven Spielberg’s explosive suspense thriller garnered five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Saving Private Ryan has some astonishing set-pieces, but I’m not really too crazy about the film.
Steven Spielberg directed this powerful, realistic re-creation of WWII’s D-day invasion and the immediate aftermath. The story opens with a prologue in which a veteran brings his family to the American cemetery at Normandy, and a flashback then joins Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) and GIs in a landing craft making the June 6, 1944, approach to Omaha Beach to face devastating German artillery fire. This mass slaughter of American soldiers is depicted in a compelling, unforgettable 24-minute sequence. Miller’s men slowly move forward to finally take a concrete pillbox. On the beach littered with bodies is one with the name “Ryan” stenciled on his backpack. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall (Harve Presnell), learning that three Ryan brothers from the same family have all been killed in a single week, requests that the surviving brother, Pvt. James Ryan (Matt Damon), be located and brought back to the United States. Capt. Miller gets the assignment, and he chooses a translator, Cpl. Upham (Jeremy Davis), skilled in language but not in combat, to join his squad of right-hand man Sgt. Horvath (Tom Sizemore), plus privates Mellish (Adam Goldberg), Medic Wade (Giovanni Ribisi), cynical Reiben (Edward Burns) from Brooklyn, Italian-American Caparzo (Vin Diesel), and religious Southerner Jackson (Barry Pepper), an ace sharpshooter who calls on the Lord while taking aim. Having previously experienced action in Italy and North Africa, the close-knit squad sets out through areas still thick with Nazis. After they lose one man in a skirmish at a bombed village, some in the group begin to question the logic of losing more lives to save a single soldier. The film’s historical consultant is Stephen E. Ambrose, and the incident is based on a true occurrence in Ambrose’s 1994 bestseller D-Day: June 6, 1944.
My list of the Top 10 Spielberg Films:
“A.I.” is an ambitious effort that doesn’t always work, but it’s fascinating to watch Spielberg work with Kubrick’s treatment and take himself into darker and more challenging places thematically.
In a future world of runaway global warming and awe-inspiring scientific advances, humans share every aspect of their lives with sophisticated companion robots called Mechas. But when an advanced prototype robot child named David (Haley Joel Osment) is programmed to show unconditional love, his human family isn’t prepared for the consequences. Suddenly, David is on his own in a strange and dangerous world. Befriended by a streetwise Mecha (Jude Law), David embarks on a spectacular quest to discover the startling secret of his own identity.
Based on a short story by the late Philip K. Dick, this science fiction-thriller reflects the writer’s familiar preoccupation with themes of concealed identity and mind control. Tom Cruise stars as John Anderton, a Washington, D.C. detective in the year 2054. Anderton works for “Precrime,” a special unit of the police department that arrests murderers before they have committed the actual crime. Precrime bases its work on the visions of three psychics or “precogs” whose prophecies of future events are never in error. When Anderton discovers that he has been identified as the future killer of a man he’s never met, he is forced to become a fugitive from his own colleagues as he tries to uncover the mystery of the victim-to-be’s identity. When he kidnaps Agatha (Samantha Morton), one of the precogs, he begins to formulate a theory about a possible frame-up from within his own department. Directed by Steven Spielberg, who hired a team of futurists to devise the film’s numerous technologically advanced gadgets, Minority Report co-stars Colin Farrell, Max von Sydow, and Neal McDonough.
Experts and others are invited to a theme-park site featuring dinosaurs man-made from DNA. Starring Sam Neil, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Attenborogh. Based on Michael Crichton’s novel.
A British boy living in Shanghai after getting separated from his family eventually arrives at a prison camp when Japan invades China at the outset of WWII.
The most underrated film on this list, The film features what I believe is Leonardo DiCaprio’s best performance in his career so far. It’s a beautifully made film which shows Spielberg’s gift for entertaining and moving an audience at the same time. Give this one another chance. It rewards the viewer on subsequent viewing.
From three-time Oscar winning director Steven Spielberg, Catch Me If You Can follows Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. as he successfully passes himself off as a pilot, a lawyer and a doctor – all before his 21st birthday!
Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is no ordinary archeologist. When we first see him, he is somewhere in the Peruvian jungle in 1936, running a booby-trapped gauntlet (complete with an over-sized rolling boulder) to fetch a solid-gold idol. He loses this artifact to his chief rival, a French archeologist named Belloq (Paul Freeman), who then prepares to kill our hero. In the first of many serial-like escapes, Indy eludes Belloq by hopping into a convenient plane. So, then: is Indiana Jones afraid of anything? Yes, snakes. The next time we see Jones, he’s a soft-spoken, bespectacled professor. He is then summoned from his ivy-covered environs by Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) to find the long-lost Ark of the Covenant. The Nazis, it seems, are already searching for the Ark, which the mystical-minded Hitler hopes to use to make his stormtroopers invincible. But to find the Ark, Indy must first secure a medallion kept under the protection of Indy’s old friend Abner Ravenwood, whose daughter, Marion (Karen Allen), evidently has a “history” with Jones. Whatever their personal differences, Indy and Marion become partners in one action-packed adventure after another, ranging from wandering the snake pits of the Well of Souls to surviving the pyrotechnic unearthing of the sacred Ark. A joint project of Hollywood prodigies George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, with a script co-written by Lawrence Kasdan and Philip Kaufman, among others, Raiders of the Lost Ark is not so much a movie as a 115-minute thrill ride. Costing 22 million dollars (nearly three times the original estimate), Raiders of the Lost Ark reaped 200 million dollars during its first run. It was followed by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1985) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), as well as a short-lived TV-series “prequel.”
Director Steven Spielberg’s heartwarming masterpiece is one of the brightest stars in motion picture history. Filled with unparalleled magic and imagination, E.T. follows the moving story of a lost little alien who befriends 10-year-old, Elliot. Experience all the mystery and fun of their unforgettable adventure in the beloved movie that captivated audiences around the world.
In the night skies near his Muncie Indiana home power repairman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) experiences something out of this world. His close encounter sets into action an amazing chain of events that leads to contact with benevolent aliens and their Mothership. Spectacular special effects John Williams’ outstanding score and winning performances from Dreyfuss Teri Garr Melinda Dillon and legendary director Francois Truffaut in the role of Lacombe make CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND movie magic of the best kind.
Schindler’s List, a Steven Spielberg film, is a cinematic masterpiece that has become one of the most honored films of all time.
Winner of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, it also won every major Best Picture award and an exceptional number of additional honors. Among them were seven British Academy Awards; the Best Picture Awards from the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, the National Board of Review, the Producers Guild, the Los Angeles Film Critics, the Chicago, Boston and Dallas Film Critics; a Christopher Award; and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Golden Globe Awards. Steven Spielberg was further honored with the Directors Guild of America Award.
The film presents the indelible true story of the enigmatic Oskar Schindler, a member of the Nazi party, womanizer, and war profiteer who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust. It is the triumph of one man who made a difference, and the drama of those who survived one of the darkest chapters in human history because of what he did.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film, which also won Academy Awards for Screenplay, Cinematography, Music, Editing and Art Direction, stars an acclaimed cast headed by Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagalle and Embeth Davidtz.
And the #1 film from Steven Spielberg is…
Was their any doubt? “Jaws” is quite simply one of the best films of the ’70s.
Directed by Academy Award® winner Steven Spielberg, Jaws set the standard for edge-of-your-seat suspense quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon and forever changing the movie industry. When the seaside community of Amity finds itself under attack by a dangerous great white shark, the town’s chief of police (Roy Scheider), a young marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a grizzled shark hunter (Robert Shaw) embark on a desperate quest to destroy the beast before it strikes again. Featuring an unforgettable score that evokes pure terror, Jaws remains one of the most influential and gripping adventures in motion picture history.
Or if you don’t like that classic film one could always watch…
Hook is hilarious. I’ll give it that.
A high-flying adventure from the magic of Steven Spielberg, Hook stars Robin Williams as a grown-up Peter Pan and Dustin Hoffman as the infamous Captain Hook. Joining the fun is Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, Bob Hoskins as the pirate Smee, and Maggie Smith as Granny Wendy Darling, who must convince the middle-aged lawyer, Peter Banning, that he was once the legendary Peter Pan. And so the adventure begins anew, with Peter off to Neverland to save his two children from Captain Hook. Along the way, he rediscovers the power of imagination, of friendship, and of magic. A classic tale updated for children of all ages, Hook was nominated for five 1991 Academy Awards(r) including best visual effects.