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. Interesting! I find it pretty hard to rate Spielberg’s films. There’s something in each of them that’s got his trademark magic, but at the same time, it’s so different and incomparable for me.

    Jurassic Park, ET, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Hook, Minority Report and Amistad are up there as my all time favourites from him. I just can’t put them in an order!

    //cop out.

    • LOL I wish I could use that //cop out. Like When I can only rank 8 comfortably out of 10? Just finish with the //cop out!! 😀

      I owe “Hook” a rewatch, I have it on my reader’s recommendations list. LOL I’ll get to it. My knee jerk reaction is that it would never crack this list though!

  2. My favorite director with a bullet!

    10 MUNICH
    4 JAWS

  3. Totally pegged you for Jaws at #1. Totally agree with your top three. I might slide Jurassic park up a notch, mainly cause I just watched it. I might slide catch me if you can up a couple as well… really enjoyed that one. I really need to see Lincoln and where that fits in my list.

    • Nice. Its good to hear some support for Catch Me If You Can. Its always those #10 slot picks that get hammered the most, because thats what people compare the omissions to. 😀 I expect people to hold that one up to AI and Amistad, Last Crusade etc.

      I love Jaws, but remember, these arent strictly personal (Fogs’ Favorite Spielberg films is a VERY different list) These are what I think are objectively his greatest!

  4. Fantastic list! These are all phenomenal movies. The only one I haven’t seen is Lincoln. From what I’ve heard about it, I’m surprised you ranked it before Saving Private Ryan!

    • Mmmmm… “Lincoln”‘s pretty good Courtney, its worthy of being ahead of Ryan. I’m not the hugest Ryan fan in the world. I have a lot of respect for the opening, but the rest of the movie is a little overrated I think. I owe it a rewatch, I’m going to do it for Memorial Day. 😀

    • Yeah, that’s a tough call. I love AI too – if this was strictly my favorites, AI ranks much higher. But a lot of people dont care for that film, especially the end. Personally, I love it. I’d probably swap it out with Pvt Ryan if it was just favorites…

      • Minority Report was a well-done sci-fi thriller (puts the Total Recall remake to shame), but A.I. took risks… and it paid off. Casting a young kid as the centerpiece of the movie (Haley Joel should have been Anakin!), making his main companion a male sexbot, and bringing childhood innocence to a landscape of depraved violence – these are what make A.I. transcendent. Yes, the ending was indulgent (though I love the irony that David goes from being not-quite-human enough for the world to not-quote-robot enough for the machines that have taken over), it is a Spielberg picture, after all.

        Anyway, always glad to find a fellow A.I. defender. It truly is underappreciated.

      • You have great points, it definitely is an awesome movie. But it didnt connect with people enough for me to bump any of these for it 😦

        Love Gigolo Joe, too. What a great character.

  5. This is nearly an impossible task, Fogs. I’d go with this as my Top 10:

    10. Lincoln
    9. Schindler’s List
    8. Saving Private Ryan
    7. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
    6. Minority Report
    5. Close Encounters
    4. E.T.
    3. Jaws
    2. Jurassic Park
    1. Raiders of the Lost Ark

      • I really like Schindler’s, but I’m partial to Spielberg’s commercial genre films, which is where he really shines. I’m just drawn to that part of his career. I still like his more prestige films and can’t argue with them being higher, but I’m unlikely to return to those nearly as often.

  6. Good list. Here’s my picks below.

    1. Jaws
    2. E. T.
    3. A. I.
    4. Schindler’s List
    5. Raiders of the Lost Ark
    6. Saving Private Ryan
    7. Close Encounters
    8. Minority Report
    9. Lincoln
    10. Empire of the Sun

  7. It’s almost easier with a list about Spielberg to just eliminate the ones you know wouldn’t be on a list like this- Always, Sugarland Express (which was cool… but very raw), Hook, A.I., Amistad…

    The way I see it, he’s made four films that either revolutionized film or were utter masterpieces- Jaws, Close Encounters, Schindler’s List, and Raiders. And then from there, there’s a huge expanse of good-to-great filmmaking. And then at the bottom is A.I. and Always.

    • LOL. Youre right about just eliminating the ones that you know WOULDNT make the cut. The Terminal? See you later!

      I definitely wouldnt have AI at the bottom.. in fact thats probably the movie I feel worst about leaving off this list. It did battle with Catch Me and Minority Report for inclusion, but at the end of the day, its just not popular enough. 😦

      Im a big fan though!

  8. I never read a list of Spielberg’s movies without thinking, “oh yeah, he did that one too!”. I’d move Raiders Jaws down the list a couple spots, Pvt. Ryan up to 3 or 4, and Minority report off. But really, it’s Spielberg… hard to go wrong. Good list.

  9. Glad you had my favorite Speilberg films Minority Report on there and my second Saving Private Ryan I thought could be up aa couple notches. But none the less great list.

    • Thanks Issy. Two surprising favorites, but I’m glad I didnt leave either of them off then. I owe Private Ryan a rewatch, my recollection is that after the opening battle scene, it dropped off. 😦

  10. Hi, Fogs and company:

    I’ve never seen ‘E.T.’. I was raised on 1950s “Red Scare” Sci-Fi. Where the monster or alien kicks in the backsides of the Army or Marines while leveling any major city, here or abroad. And have use for friendly, benevolent aliens.

    ‘Jaws’ is a hugely budgeted, superbly executed update on any Roger Corman ‘Monster on the beach’ or ‘Under the sea’ B-Movie when all is said and done.

    ‘Raiders’ Rules!!!

    • LOL. Yeah, I had to do it. I think “E.T.” personifies what people think of when they think of him, you know? That’s going to be his signature film, I think, when all is said and done. 😉

  11. The one thing that comes to mind while reading this and all the comments is that Spielberg made a lot of great movies. I guess I didn’t realize how many of his movies I liked till I saw the “list”. As far as I’m concerned, it’s tough to put his movies in a good to best criteria.

    • There’s a solid handful I left off, too. The two GOOD Indiana Jones Sequels, AI, Amistad, Munich, TinTin… he’s got SO many awesome films, man.

      Oh. And tell me about it. LOL 😉

  12. Blasphemy!!! E.T. and Raiders before the greatest film ever made? What beverage were you consuming when you made such a choice?

    It is not just my love of JAWS that puts it at the top of the list, it is the influence it had on everything that has come since. E.T. is the most emotionally satisfying film in his vita, and Raiders is the most entertaining. JAWS invented the blockbuster, reinvented the action film, replaced Hitchcock with Spielberg for suspense and inspired a thousand writers/filmmakers/dreamers to try to match the achievement.

    All the films on the list I would agree with, it is only this obvious typo that you need to fix. I’m sure all the readers will understand that you made a simple mistake, you were tired, drunk, distracted for a moment.

    • Nah.

      LOL. I have it ahead of all the others on my personal favorites list, actually. But in terms of objective ranking? Gotta be like this.

      Actually AFI is kind of split. I went to them for a tiebreaker.

      Original List: ET #25, Jaws #48 Raiders #60
      Tenth anniversary ET #24, Jaws #56 Raiders #66

      Kind of holds steady… I still think Raiders trumps Jaws though

      • Documentaries on the influence of Raiders on the Movie Industry 0
        Documentaries on the influence of E.T. on the culture 0

        Documentaries on the influence of Jaws on the industry and culture 1 at least:

  13. Super happy to see that Catch Me If You Can made this list. It’s such a great, yet underrated, movie! Great list! Now excuse me while I go watch Raiders of the Lost Ark again since this is now the second week talking about Indiana Jones and now I’m craving it =P

    • Yup! Had to put that one on there. Great flick, like you say, underrated! Very entertaining.

      Meanwhile, you could do a lot worse than have to go watch Raiders, Nicole! LOL You’re Welcome! 😀

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