It is kind of obvious that Steven Spielberg is one of the most successful, history-making directors in cinematic history. He has created countless classics, box office hits, memorable characters and more in his noteworthy career. He has tackled genres such as drama, action/adventure, science fiction and historical pieces.
With Spielberg’s latest film, Bridge of Spies, opening in theaters this weekend, we decided to look back at and rank the filmmaker’s five greatest movies.
Disclaimer: The following ranking is based on my own personal opinion.
#5 – Amistad
One of Spielberg’s many historical dramas was Amistad, which tells the story of the slave mutiny on the ship La Amistad in 1839. However, the slaves are then captured for their revolt, leading to an international legal battle. The film boasts an all-star cast consisting of Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, and Djimon Hounsou.
While it may not be the most historically accurate film, Amistad is still a riveting take on the event. It offers a compelling look at the then-ongoing debate over slavery and its place in the world. The movie boasts strong acting, particularly from Hounsou. Out of Spielberg’s many historical sagas, Amistad is surely one of the most memorable ones.
#4 – E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
Moving on to Spielberg’s sci-fi credentials, E.T. is a heartfelt family adventure that revolves around an alien who finds himself on Earth and befriends a young boy. The movie went on to become a huge box office success, grossing $793M worldwide, and it received nearly unanimous acclaim from critics upon release.
E.T. featured many of Spielberg’s most iconic moments, from “E.T. Phone Home” to the flying bicycles scene. John Williams’ score, as always, makes the movie even better, proving that he and Spielberg are a perfect combo. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial teaches valuable things such as friendship and love, making it a truly memorable film.
#3 – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Raiders of the Lost Ark made Indiana Jones a cultural icon, while Temple of Doom received extremely polarizing reception. However, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade does a phenomenal job bringing the whip-slinging archaeologist back into the spotlight. In this installment, Indy teams up with his father to search for the Holy Grail, before the Nazis find it themselves.
Indiana Jones has always been one of Spielberg’s best franchises, and Last Crusade proves that. Harrison Ford is just perfect casting for Dr. Jones, and his chemistry with Sean Connery is flawless. I always loved the religious and historical references in the movie as well. Last Crusade is an extremely fun and even thought-provoking adventure film, bringing the Indiana Jones franchise back on track…even if Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was an incredibly disappointing follow-up.
#2 – Raiders of the Lost Ark
Speaking of Indiana Jones, how can you rank Spielberg’s greatest films and not include Raiders of the Lost Ark? Like Last Crusade, Raiders of the Lost Ark revolved around Indy competing with the Nazis to recover a Biblical artifact. This time, it is the Ark of the Covenant. Of course, Raiders of the Lost Ark was what made Jones an iconic figure, giving Harrison Ford another franchise to have under his belt after Star Wars.
Again, Raiders of the Lost Ark is a lot of fun, with many memorable action pieces and characters. This was fueled by Spielberg’s stellar direction and John Williams’ outstanding theme. From the face-melting scene to the brawl with the Nazi mechanic to the Well of Souls, this is easily one of the greatest action/adventure films of all time…if not THE greatest.
#1 – Jurassic Park
Finally, we have Jurassic Park, an adaptation of the acclaimed novel of the same name. In this movie, scientists on an island called Isla Nublar learn how to create dinosaurs, leading billionaire and InGen CEO John Hammond to create a theme park called “Jurassic Park.” Of course, things don’t exactly go according to plan. Dinosaurs break lose, wreak havoc, and kill a lot of people. The film has went on to spawn three sequels, including this year’s Jurassic World, which is now the third highest grossing movie of all time.
I can go on and on all day about how much I love Jurassic Park. It has an engaging and intense story, strong characters, a masterful score and breathtaking visual effects. In fact, the effects in this movie (released in 1993) hold up remarkably better than most other movies nowadays. The movie also fueled my love for dinosaurs as a kid, and I particularly loved the T-Rex and the Dilophosaurus. And how about the “Welcome to Jurassic Park” scene? For all these reasons and others, this is why my favorite Steven Spielberg movie is Jurassic Park.