This post is part of the SPIELBERG BLOGATHON hosted by Outspoken & Freckled, It Rains… You Get Wet, and Once Upon A Screen taking place August 23-24. Please visit these host blogs for a full list of participating blogs
I first learned about this blogathon from my pal Michael’s blog, and having grown up watching a bunch of Spielberg’s films, naturally I have to take part! Steven Spielberg is such a legend because so many of his films are not only entertaining but they have such strong emotional resonance and timeless quality about them. For this list, I’m focusing on the 50+ films that Spielberg has directed, as there are nearly 150 projects that he has produced for both TV and film. I didn’t realize this until I made the list but the scores of ALL of the films on my top 10 are done by John Williams! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as a lot of the scores also made my top 10 scores by the legendary composer.
So here they are ranked from bottom to top so #1 is my MOST favorite 😀
10. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Many great sci-fis dealing with artificial intelligence make us ponder what it means to be human, and this film definitely did so. The story about a robot boy who desires to be real and craves real love from his parents was poignant and emotional, it’s not a cold or distant type of sci-fi that’s more concerned about cool set pieces and futuristic designs. The moral dilemmas presented here are genuinely thought provoking, with compelling performances from Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law and Frances O’Connor.
9. The Terminal (2004)
It’s a story about an immigrant from an Eastern European country finds himself stranded in JFK airport. Though the story takes a lot of liberty from the real thing, I was quite engrossed and entertained by this. It’s perhaps one of my favorite Tom Hanks‘ performance in an underrated but endearing role. Hanks is an immensely and effortlessly likable actor, which makes him the perfect actor to portray Viktor Navorski. Even with an exaggerated Russian-sounding accent, the actor is at his most charming here as he befriends the airport staff and even took a chance at romance. This is also the first time I saw the then-unknown Zoë Saldana as a Trekkie Immigration Officer, which is interesting as she later plays Uhura in the J.J. Abrams movie!
8. Catch Me If You Can (2005)
Leo DiCaprio at his most charming and, with his Jack Dawson looks and that devil-may-care swagger. I guess this is like Wolf of Wall Street lite as both Jordan Belfort and Frank Abagnale Jr are both charming con artists. I love the retro look and feel of the movie and the sense of fun in the chase as the FBI are on to catch the teenage fraudster. The dynamic between Frank and the federal agent played by Tom Hanks is fun to watch, they definitely play off each other well. There are also great supporting cast and cameo throughout, including Christopher Walken, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Garner. The lighter tone somehow work nicely here, with the darker moments only sprinkled throughout which showcase Frank’s vulnerability to great effect.
7. Empire of the Sun (1987)
I saw this one fairly recently and I wish I had seen it sooner. Even at such a young age, it’s evident that Christian Bale had the chops to carry a film. I’m usually not into war films but I do like it when it focuses more on a certain character’s life being affected by war and this one shows that from the perspective of a young boy named Jim ‘Jamie’ Graham. There is an epic quality to the production, as one would expect from Spielberg, yet it feels personal and intimate at the same time. I love the unlikely relationship between Jamie and the soldiers in the camp, particularly Basie (John Malkovich). It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story and a survival tale that certainly lingers long after the end credits.
6. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
I was pretty young when I saw this movie and it’s one of those movies that one simply doesn’t forget. It might’ve been one of the earliest movies about alien that I saw [well apart from Superman which came out a few years before] and perhaps cemented my love for sci-fi movies. There’s a sense of wonderment in Spielberg movies that definitely appealed to this wide-eyed kid filled with curiosity. The fact that I was the same age as Drew Barrymore‘s character when I saw this made me identify with her even more. I remember wondering what it would be like if there were such an alien creature living in my grandma’s garage. E.T. is the kind of film that fuels the imagination and of course it’s got so much heart, who didn’t at least tear up watching the bicycle scene as it flies across the full moon? It’s also one of the most iconic cinematic scenes ever.
5. Minority Report (2002)
I regard this as one of my favorite sci-fi movies. I own the Blu-ray and on recent rewatch, I was amazed how this movie still holds up to this day. A lot of futuristic films often look dated even a few years after they’re released but somehow the concepts still feel fresh and modern. The whole *Precrime* notion doesn’t seem all that far-fetched now, not to mention having those annoying ads who know who we are. It’s interesting to see how some of the technology presented here have been realized, while some are still being dreamed up [wonder if we’d have flying cars by 2054? Wouldn’t that be nice?]. I find this movie immensely entertaining and intriguing, with Tom Cruise playing what he does best as a former cop on the run. Though I’ve seen this repeatedly, I’m still surprised by that twist towards the end, thanks to a great performance by Max von Sydow and Colin Farrell. Samantha Morton is also memorable here as one of the three Precogs who could predict the future.
4. Schindler’s List (1993)
One of the most, if not THE most, essential holocaust film ever made, this film is as beautiful as it is heart-wrenching. I’ve only seen Schindler’s List once but it’s one I shall never forget, in fact, some of the scenes are forever etched in my mind. It’s one of the most powerful displays of the best AND worst of humanity, as well as a testament how a single person can make a difference even in the most dire circumstances. There are so many indelible performances here, Liam Neeson as the hero is as iconic as Ralph Fiennes‘ villainous turn as Amon Goeth. John Williams‘ evocative, soul-piercing score makes the whole experience even more unforgettable. It’s not a hyperbole to call this one Spielberg’s masterpiece.
3. Jurassic Park (1993)
I had just rewatched this recently and I was reminded by how wonderfully entertaining this is. Even the latest Godzilla still falls short as it lacks that sense of wonderment and sense of humor. Jurassic Park is such a thrilling ride from start to finish, filled with great, memorable characters courtesy of Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and Laura Dern. Of course those cloned dinosaurs are wildly entertaining, as terrifying as they are dazzling thanks to the special effects prowess of Stan Wilson & co. Too bad the sequels never measure up to this amazing original film.
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
I’m still mad at Spielberg for ruining his own awesome franchise with that godawful fourth movie! I grew up watching the Indiana Jones movies with my two older brothers and to this day I’m still a huge fan of the first and third movies. Infused with fun action, special effects and a dose of good humor, it’s the quintessential action adventure that never gets old with multiple rewatches. Plus you’ve got an awesome heroine who’s equally charming & fun to watch, Karen Allen‘s Marion. The chemistry between the two is perfect, absolutely perfect. Speaking of perfection, Harrison Ford made the role of the archaeologist adventurer so iconic. It’s crazy to think that George Lucas wasn’t keen on casting him initially [Tom Selleck was the first choice], I really can’t imagine anyone topping Ford as Indy in the inevitable remakes.
1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
This is one of my favorite movies of all time, not just from Spielberg but of ALL movies I’ve seen in my life. There are just so much to love here, even more so than the first one thanks to the inspired casting of Sean Connery as Indy’s father, Dr. Henry Jones Sr. They’ve become my favorite cinematic duo ever, apparently there was an inside joke to say that James Bond is the father of Indiana Jones, ha! There are quite a few actors here who’ve been in various Bond movies: John Rhys-Davies, Alison Doody & Julian Glover, they’re all great in their respective roles. This movie has everything I loved about the first movie, but on top of the sense of humor and rousing adventure, we’ve got that spiritual aspect going for it that fits perfectly with the familial theme of the film. That whole finale in the mysterious Holy Grail is so wonderfully-filmed and leaves a lasting impression for years to come.
Well that’s my top 10 faves from Spielberg. Which movie(s) would be on YOUR top 10 list?
57 thoughts on “The Spielberg Blogathon: My Top 10 Favorite Spielberg-Directed Films”
Of the films in that top 10 list, Schindler’s List is the only one I haven’t seen. I’ve been meaning to but there’s always something else. The rest in that list I do enjoy though I do have some issues w/ some of Spielberg’s recent work as I had problems with some of the parts in Munich over its climax and let us not talk about that one film that Harrison Ford did w/ Shia LaBeouf.
Hi Steven! Oh you must watch Schindler’s List at some point. It’s harrowing to be sure but also very beautiful, I think you’d appreciate it. I like Munich tho it’s not perfect, but yeah, Indy 4 is an abominable, I’m still mad that Spielberg destroyed his own franchise!
I blame George Lucas for that one.
Great list Ruth. Love, love, love your top 3! Jurassic Park is my number one though 🙂
Hi Natalie! Glad you’re a big fan of the 3 movies, but as much as I love JP, can’t beat Indy from the two top spots as I grew watching ’em and they still hold up to this day.
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Fantastic post, Ruth! I’m a HUGE fan of Jurassic Park. What an awesome movie.
Glad to hear! It is indeed awesome, not even Godzilla can top that one.
They’re not even in the same league!
I re-watched Jurassic Park a few short months ago and loved it a ton, I really need to find the time to revisit the Indiana Jones movies, even Temple of Doom which holds a spot in my heart for having been referenced in the short lived Clerks cartoon series. Very nice list and reminds me that I still have several Spielberg films to watch.
Hi Nathan! JP just never gets old, the original one I mean. It just looks spectacular on the big screen, tho I missed the 3D re-release from last year. I like parts of Temple of Doom but generally it’s a bit too gross for my liking. Btw which of the movies here you still need to see?
From your list & honorable mentions I haven’t seen the Terminal, Empire of the Sun, War Horse, and Munich.
Great list! He’s got so many great ones that a top ten is hard to do! Love that A.I. made it. One of my favorite movies period, not just Spielberg.
Hello Will! I missed some of Spielberg’s earlier films like Duel but yeah if I had seen more of his films it’d be even tougher. A.I. is truly one of the best films about robots in general.
Very pleased to see ‘Catch Me If You Can’ make the cut. With Mr. Spielberg taking a crack at a 1960s Blake Edwards kind of film and succeeding so well.
And who doesn’t quietly laugh and cheer inside when the lawyer becomes a late night snack of opportunity in ‘Jurassic Park’?
Hi Kevin! Shame on me for not knowing who Blake Edwards is [sheepish smile] But yeah, ‘Catch Me’ is wildly enjoyable but there are some poignant moments as well. Ahah yeah, that poor lawyer being the T-Rex late night snack is a hoot, snatched right from on top of the toilet no less! 😀
Great list.Hate that I just heard about this Blogathon. Still might make a Spielberg list of my own, though. And I’ll definitely be giving some love to Saving Private Ryan.Happy to see A.I. make your list, as it will likely make mine.
Hey Wendell, you still should do your own top 10 list! I actually haven’t seen Saving Private Ryan simply because I’m not into war films, and I’ve been warned that it’s too violent & graphic for my feeble nerves.
Nice top pick there, Ruth. That was always my favorite Indy flick myself. As far as Spielberg flicks go, not entirely sure how I’d rank ’em, but you’ve certainly gone with quite a few good ones. I’d personally promote War of the Worlds from HM to making the list, however, but cool that it still got a mention from you nonetheless. 😉
Thanks Chris! War of the Worlds was good but I feel that there are other films more deserving to be on the top 10. Interesting that Cruise has worked in two of Spielberg’s best sci-fis.
Nice list, ruth. Probably the only thing I disagree with is Jaws not making the list. 🙂 Although I guess it was maybe a tough decision for you to leave it out.
Well I debated whether I should put Jaws instead of A.I. but I felt that the themes in A.I. resonates w/ me more. I’m more of a sci-fi gal and Jaws is something I’m not really keen on watching over and over. One can’t refute that it’s a stellar film tho.
Great list. I thought I was the only one who liked Last Crusade better than Raiders. I’m still hesitant to put a sequel ahead of the original film, especially a film as good as Raiders. For Last Crusade, I always thought River Phoenix was a standout as the teenage Indy.
Hi Chris, welcome to FC! I actually never thought of putting a sequel ahead of the original as an issue. I think Last Crusade surpasses the already fantastic ‘Raiders’ and since this is a favorite list, I definitely love watching the 3rd movie more than the first. I agree Phoenix was indeed wonderful as the young Indy, he’s handpicked by Ford as he’s actually played his son before in The Mosquito Coast, talk about spot-on casting!
You can’t go wrong with any of those films on your list there Ruth but I prefer Raiders over Last Crusade, both are great but I just thought it’s just a repeat of the first film. For a long time, studios would sell Spielberg’s films by just mentioning his name during marketing, not too many directors has that kind of cred.
Thanks Ted! Hmmm, I wouldn’t say Last Crusade is a repeat of Raiders, if anything it expanded the story and made it even more meaningful w/ the father/son story.
Oh I meant as far as the action sequences and set up goes, it’s just a repeat of the first film. Heck even the main villain died similar way as the first film. But I really the father and son adventure storyline too.
Great list! I really like Minority Report, both the film and the short story upon which it’s based.
Hi Irene! I haven’t read the short story but glad you love the film too!
Good stuff, Ruth. Nice to see Indiana Jones at 1 & 2. Great to hear Minority Report still holds up — I have been wanting to give that another watch, too.
Hi Eric! I’m a huge Indy fan, what a great iconic character! Minority Report is excellent even by today’s standards and somehow it still looks fresh which is rare for a futuristic sci-fi movie.
Ruth- what a humdinger of a list! Reminds me of what a diverse array of fabulous films Spielberg is able to produce as a mega talented filmmaker. I love Last Crusade too! Thanks so much for joining our Blogathon!
Hello Kellee!! Thank YOU, Aurora & Michael for hosting such a fantastic blogathon. Spielberg is a living legend and he seems like a nice guy too! Glad you love Last Crusade too, that movie just never gets old for me.
Interesting Blogathon. I wish I can join in but I am too busy to think right now.
Spielberg is actually my first favorite director. I never really care about directors before I saw his movies. I agree with your list but I would have put Saving Private Ryan somewhere in 2 or 3. I love that movie a lot, my favorite war movie so far.
Hi Nov! I didn’t put SPR on here as I haven’t seen it. Not a fan of war films and people have told me it’s really too graphic for me. I trust that it’s an excellent film tho.
Hi Ruth. I did a Top 10 list last year, and there are some similarities. Here’s what I picked:
9. Saving Private Ryan
8. Schindler’s List
7. Last Crusade
5. Close Encounters
4. Jurassic Park
3. Minority Report
So we do share 7/10 of the same movies. Catch Me If You Can just missed my list too. I liked Empire of the Sun, and The Terminal was fun until the last half hour for me.
I’m surprised you don’t have Close Encounters on your list. Still, it’s tough to fit everything. I also really liked Lincoln and Munich but couldn’t find spots for them.
Hello Dan! Yeah it’s tough to fit ’em all but y’know, I actually have never seen Close Encounters, I don’t know why but that one seems to have escaped me but I probably love it too as I love E.T. Haven’t seen Saving Private Ryan nor Lincoln. But hey, glad we agree on quite a few movies!
Amazing list Ruth. Spielberg’s back catalogue is nothing short of incredible.
Hi Adam! Spielberg’s a living legend with a wide reach in both TV AND movies!
No Jaws or Close Encounters? That’s the nature of these lists; always a source of debate. Lots of great picks in there Ruth 🙂
Jaws is on my Honorable Mention 🙂 But as I just mentioned to Dan, Close Encounters somehow escaped me so I’d have to catch that one of these days.
Great list! Schindler’s list would definitely be my number 1, but I love that you included Terminal and Catch me If You Can, they are both such charming movies with lovely, memorable performances, especially from Tucci and Hanks in the former and Walken in the latter.
Thanks Sati! Oh yeah, the supporting cast of both The Terminal and Catch me If You Can are awesome. I should’ve mentioned Tucci and Walken as both are so memorable, as they always are in any movie.
Happy to see both The Terminal and Catch Me If You Can on this list. I feel like The Terminal is such an underrated film! Great list!
Hi Kris! Boy pardon me for the tardy reply. Glad you enjoyed The Terminal too, yes it is massively underrated. I think ppl dismiss it as it’s more of a comedy.
Haha, hey, no problem, I understand!
Totally agree – glad someone else thinks so too! Yeah, I can see that.
I LOVE Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!!! Wasn’t expecting to see that on your top 10, but it definitely deserves to be there 🙂
Hi Courtney! Not only in my top 10, Last Crusade is #1 on my list. LOVE that movie!
Great list Ruth! I love almost except for Terminal, I just didn’t like that one. My number one would have to be Schindler’s List. You are completely right it is a masterpiece of a movie. Call me a masochist, I have seen it several times, and each time I ask myself why did I put myself through this?! But it is a great movie, just so good. That one and Jurassic Park would be my faves.
Oh no, not a fan of The Terminal? Not even w/ Hank being his hilarious self? 😉 Schindler’s List is definitely a masterpiece. Ahah, no you’re not a masochist. I think if you said you like to watch slasher gore flicks like Saw or Hostel repeatedly then maybe, but Schindler’s List is such a beautiful film, albeit heartbreaking.
Brilliant list, Ruth! I love that you included The Terminal, which is a very enjoyable film.
My top 10 would look something like this: (can’t decide where to place Temple of Doom and Last Crusade)
10. Saving Private Ryan
9. Empire of the Sun
8. Catch Me If You Can
7. Minority Report
5. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
4. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
2. Schindler’s List
1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Hi Josh! Pardon the tardy reply. Y’know, for the life of me, I don’t remember seeing Close Encounters of the Third Kind though growing up w/ two brothers I’m pretty sure they have seen it! Now I feel inclined to give that a watch!
Wonderful list and contribution for the blogathon, Ruth. Probably the highest I’ve seen ‘The Terminal’ get. I probably need to rewatch that one. Many thanks! 😀
Hi Michael! I think The Terminal is quite underrated so I can see why people left that off their list. For me I like that kind of whimsical drama and this one happens to have a lot of heart!
Nice to see Last Crusade on number one. It probably would end up high for me as well, together with E.T. Really would have to check out the movies he has directed to see which ones would end up in a top 10.
Hi Nostra! Some of these movies have a nostalgia value to me and they still holds up to this day. The Indiana Jones 1 & 3 are always so much fun to watch!