The Top 20 Steven Spielberg Films of All-Time

There are directors that are capable of creating a good movie that an audience can really enjoy and then there are directors that manage to deliver almost every time. The truth is, there are plenty of capable directors in Hollywood that can handle producing a movie of high-quality. With that being said, there are relatively few individuals that are capable of doing this almost every time, year in and year out. In reality, being a director is a lot like doing practically any other job. You have the individuals that are just starting out and even when they have a lot of raw talent, they obviously have a lot to learn. Next, you have people that seem to have some talent but they haven’t quite found their direction yet. The work they turn out isn’t terrible, but it’s not anything stellar, either. Of course, there are a few people in this group that will inevitably create something that becomes almost legendary at some point. However, they are only capable of doing this once or maybe twice. In other words, they’re more like a flash in the pan than anything else.

Eventually, you start to find directors that have a few really good credits to their name. There are obviously movies that you’re going to recognize, but they also have a lot of movies associated with their name that you’re not familiar with. These are the individuals that are solid directors, even if everything they’re associated with doesn’t become an instant success. You might associate them with someone in the office that shows up on a regular basis, comes to work on time, and always turns in consistent work. It might not be anything to write home about, but it’s good and more importantly, it remains consistent almost all the time.

Finally, you have a handful of directors that have a decades-long history of turning out one blockbuster after another. These are the people that are able to create stories that grab the attention of the audience no matter what challenges they might face. In some cases, the script may not be all that great, yet they manage to turn the movie into something that everyone seems to enjoy watching. These people are considered the best of the best. Technically, you can count their names on one hand and have a couple of fingers left over. If you were to compare them with someone in the world of the everyday public, they would be the employee of the month each and every month. Practically everything they are involved with becomes a classic. These are the people that know how to create and a weave a story out of practically nothing. More importantly, they know how to create a story that the audience can identify with, even when they’re speaking to people across all different walks of life. One such director is Steven Spielberg.

There probably isn’t a person alive that hasn’t seen a Steven Spielberg movie. The occasional exception might be an individual that simply doesn’t own a television, never goes to the movies, and doesn’t have anything to do with any form of entertainment. There are undoubtedly a few people out there that would fit that description. Everyone else has probably seen several movies that were directed by Steven Spielberg. As one of the best directors in Hollywood, he has put together a list of projects that is nothing short of amazing. The truth is, a lot of people go see movies that he has directed that they otherwise would completely ignore. When his name is attached to something, you know it’s going to be good even if you don’t think the story itself sounds all that interesting to begin with. He has reached that status where merely hearing his name is enough to convince people that they to need to see that movie.

Achieving this type of status is difficult, no matter what type of business you’re in. Imagine being able to achieve something like this in such a competitive world as Hollywood. Everyone is out for their own best interest and there is always somebody new knocking at your door, threatening to become bigger and even better. Despite that fact, Spielberg has managed to create movies that will stand the test of time from the 1970s all the way up until now. That is a feat that very few people can claim, and it is one that he definitely deserves.

Below is a list of 20 Steven Spielberg movies. Most people would consider these movies to be among the best projects he has ever been involved with. Chances are, you’ve seen most of the movies on this list. Even if you haven’t seen them all, you’re probably at least familiar with the titles. That in and of itself tells you how well-regarded he is as a director. If you want to know more about the movies, go ahead and read the rest of this list. It starts atd number 20 and works its way all the way down to number one. Of course, there has to be a disclaimer here. Everybody has their own opinion when it comes to movies. You may think that a different Steven Spielberg movie is better than the one that appears in the number one slot here. You might even have a different one in mind that doesn’t even show up on this list. That’s part of the beauty of being involved in any form of art. Everybody has their own chance to showcase the thing that means the most of them.

20. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

This wasn’t even regarded as one of his best works, not by a long shot. In fact, there are some people that honestly can’t stand the film. With that being said, there are probably just as many, if not more, that think it is nothing short of genius. As far as they’re concerned, the people that don’t really care for it simply aren’t getting to the root of the story.

19. Flags of Our Fathers (2006)

This is a poignant film, to say the least. If you study history or you’re old enough to remember some of the events of World War II, you will understand the raising of the American flag. This movie chronicles those efforts and it really drives the point home. It’s much more than a movie. It’s really about pride in one’s country, trust in other individuals and the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Of course, being told by Spielberg, it’s a movie that has the capability of touching virtually every person that sees it right at the core of their very soul.

18. Always (1989)

Everybody has a tendency to like a movie that has some heartfelt meaning. On the surface, this is a movie about a man that flies an air tanker in order to put out fires from above. However, if that is the only thing you get out of it, you’re not really getting the deeper meaning. It’s actually about the relationship between this individual and another person very close to him. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s important that this description doesn’t really go any further because it will spoil the whole thing for you. All you really need to know is that this is one that’s worth watching, even if you think you’re not someone that goes for this type of movie.

17. Munich (2005)

Spielberg has a tendency to make movies about major world events and this is no exception. That’s one of the things that makes him such a versatile director. He can make a movie about an alternate universe that doesn’t even exist in the real world and make it believable. By the same token, he might turn around and create another movie that is based on historic events. Each one is equally effective. Most directors have a tendency to specialize in one type of movie or another, but for Spielberg, anything is fair game. That is just one of the things that makes him so popular.

16. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Most people really love a good story, even if the whole thing is made up from beginning to end. This is evidenced by many of the movies that have become such huge blockbusters. A lot of people like to watch movies because they want to get away from everything that’s going on in real life. Watching a movie like Indiana Jones gives them an opportunity to do exactly that. The truth is, this is one of the movies that Spielberg will forever be linked with.

15. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

This is a heartwarming film, but it is also a very complicated one. The story deals with a young boy who is not really a boy at all. In fact, he is a robot designed to look like a human being. The problem is, he doesn’t know this, at least not at first. He starts out thinking that he is actually human and it is only after he’s been informed that this is not the case that his struggle begins. He deeply wants to be human and he’s terrified of the consequences of being anything less than that. Before the movie is over, you start to learn that being human involves a lot more than simply being a human being in the physical sense. It is much more about the way you treat others and the way you look at the world, as well as how deeply you feel things. In reality, this boy that wasn’t human was far more of a human being than a lot of the people that he came into contact with.

14. Minority Report (2002)

This is another movie that Spielberg did that a lot of audiences didn’t initially think they would be interested in seeing. It’s one that most people went to see because his name was attached to it. When it was all said and done, he ended up telling this wonderful, fantastic tale that was frightening at the same time. If you’re looking for some type of horror movie, you’re not going to find it here but you will find a movie of great substance.

13. E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial

This movie seems to make practically every list for one reason or another. Even among Spielberg’s most notable works, it easily ranks each and every time. It’s an interesting story that is told from an angle far different than most stories about aliens. No one is out to conquer the world, nor does anyone want to assimilate all of human kind. In fact, the only one that is really in danger is the alien, thanks to the hands of humans who fail to understand him. This movie has enough action to keep your interest and it’s funny all at the same time. There are also scenes that are so touching you can’t help but get tears in your eyes. It really does have everything all rolled into one. The real hallmark of his success is that it manages to do all of this effectively, seamlessly weaving all of these different emotions into a single piece. That is something that just doesn’t happen very often.

12. Amistad (1997)

Here is another work of Spielberg’s that deals with points of time in history. Without a doubt, some people will probably roll their eyes and think that the last thing they want to see is a movie about history. Nevertheless, he tells his story in the same great detail that he tells virtually every other one. The end result is a movie that is worth watching, whether you are interested in that particular point in history or not.

11. Duel (1971)

It might be hard to believe that you can make such a suspenseful movie out of nothing more than a couple of automobiles being filmed driving along the road. The truth is, this was so successful that there have been numerous movies that have attempted to do the same thing since then, all with a lesser degree of success. The movie involves a traveling salesman and a trucker. You never even see the trucker, only his vehicle. Somewhere along the way, the salesman does something on the road to irritate the trucker and that individual spends the rest of the movie terrorizing this man. Despite its simplicity, it is easily one of the most hair-raising movies that was ever made.

10. Lincoln (2012)

It only stands to reason that a director like Steven Spielberg would end up directing a movie about a president like Abraham Lincoln. It almost seems as though it was meant to be. It’s actually hard to imagine anyone else effectively being able to handle this type of material and tell the story the way it needed to be told. As is usually the case, he told it in a way that mesmerizes audiences and does justice to the story, all at the same time.

9. War Horse (2011)

As you might have guessed by the title, this is a movie about war. In fact, it’s about a horse that was used in order to allow human beings to fight. The movie is frequently told from the point of view of a person that had befriended this horse years earlier. It isn’t like the movie Black Beauty where you hear a narrator talking, speaking with thoughts of the horse. Instead, you merely see the action and that allows you to see what this poor animal has to go through in order to survive. Ultimately, you see the bond that never ends between him and his special person, even though the two are physically separated for a very long time.

8. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

This is another movie about war. In fact, it’s a movie about trying to find a single soldier during World War II. Much of it is based on fact, although the details have been creatively altered during certain scenes. This is a movie that people will enjoy watching even if they don’t usually tend to watch war movies. There’s so much more substance to this one. It isn’t all about fighting, not by a long shot. It’s really about learning to come to terms with fears in order to do what is right, no matter what the cost might eventually be.

7. Schindler’s List (1993)

This is a movie about the concentration camps that existed during World War II. It would be a mistake to divulge too much about the plot because any person that hasn’t already seen this movie would be doing themselves a tremendous favor if they took the time to sit down and watch it. If you really want to see something that will make you think, not to mention moving you to tears, this should be at the top of your list.

6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

This is a movie that many people still consider to be among the best when it comes to movies about aliens. The fact that it was made in 1977 is astonishing to many because the movie is still something that people enjoy watching today. As is typically the case with most Spielberg movies, the thing that you think it is about only exists at the very surface. You have to pay attention and allow your emotions to take you to a much deeper place in order to experience everything the movie has to offer.

5. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

This is where it all got started. If you ask most people to name the movie that Steven Spielberg is best known for, they will name one of the Indiana Jones movies. Almost every time, it will be one of the first three that was made. These movies dominated the 1980s, with Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, a second one in 1984 and a third in 1989. It really depends on who you ask if you want to know which of the three is the best, but most people debate between Raiders of the Lost Ark and the third installment. There is no doubt about it, even among all of the outstanding works that Spielberg has created, this is usually the trilogy that everybody thinks about when they hear his name.

4. Jaws (1975)

Most people that were actually on the set of Jaws thought the movie was going to be a dismal failure. The movie was behind schedule and it was over budget. The props that were made for the movie didn’t usually work. This forced Spielberg and others to come up with a plan B, almost on a daily basis. At the time, he was a relatively young director that wasn’t quite proven and his entire career rested on the success or failure of this movie. Needless to say, the end result was indeed a resounding success. This record-setting movie made a lot of people afraid to swim in the ocean, even to this day. It also set the stage for many of his other successes that were later to come.

3. The Color Purple (1985)

A lot of people have a tendency to forget that Spielberg directed this movie. It’s a very important movie, especially when you look at it in the context of race relations. It isn’t one that should be overlooked. In fact, a lot of schools even incorporate this movie, at least in some part, into their curriculum. Most people that are younger haven’t seen it because it was made so many years ago. With that being said, it’s definitely worth watching.

2. Poltergeist (1982)

Some people still debate whether or not Steven Spielberg was actually responsible for all of the directing or if another person that was working with him did the majority of it. It wasn’t until years later that people realized that he was actually letting another individual take a lot of the credit for work that he did, but none of it was ever meant in a malicious way on either side. This movie proves that Steven Spielberg is capable of telling a good ghost story and making it one that people want to watch again and again. When compared to the remake that was done several years later, this movie is still considered by most people to be far superior.

1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

As previously mentioned, almost everyone agrees that either this movie or its earlier installment, Raiders of the Lost Ark, should be in the number one spot. Both movies are great but this particular installment moves at a little faster pace than its predecessor. For that reason, it landed in the number one slot. The truth is, Steven Spielberg is known just as much for the Indiana Jones movies as Harrison Ford is. In reality, the two go hand-in-hand because people are so familiar with this particular trilogy. It became much more than just a movie for most people. It actually inspired some to become archaeologists in their own right, although reality is far different from the one portrayed in these films. Nevertheless, fans still love to watch all three of these movies and they’ve probably already worn out their favorite DVD several times over.


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  1. Firga March 20, 2018

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