Top 5 Steven Spielberg Films
Steven Spielberg is not only one of our greatest living filmmakers, he’s one of the greatest filmmakers ever. Even if you don’t agree with that statement, you’d still have to accept that there’s never been a more prolific director in the history of cinema – he is the most financially successful director of all time, just to illustrate the point.
Today marks his 69th birthday, so we thought we’d celebrate in the only way we know how – by making a list of his best! We’ll concede this is one of the hardest Top 5’s we’ve ever done – purely because there’s so many to choose from. But without further ado, here’s our attempt at the Top 5 Steven Spielberg films.
5) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The first Spielberg classic on our list is the first instalment in the Indiana Jones franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The film follows Harrison Ford as he attempts to stop the Third Reich from acquiring ‘the Covenenant’, whose supernatural powers can wipe out entire armies. If that doesn’t say hit blockbuster, we don’t know what does!
Indiana Jones appeals to everyone. He’s the lonesome whiskey-infused rogue detective we’ve rooted for so often in cinematic classics but he’s also James Bond with a whip. The action-packed adventure does what all good Spielberg films do – and that’s offer a real sense of wonder. Not only that, Raiders does what all Hollywood action films wish they could do – and that’s provide some real peril. Raiders is the roller-coaster which feels as fun as it does dangerous.
4) Schindler’s List (1993)
Schindler’s List is arguably the most un-Spielberg film in the director’s portfolio. At the time, Spielberg had established himself as the guy who created the summer blockbuster and there was still considerable doubt as to whether he could pull off something as challenging as a Holocaust drama. But Schindler’s List shows off the versatility Spielberg possesses quite like nothing else he’s ever made.
But it’s not only the subject matter which is surprising about Spielberg’s choice to take on Schindler’s List, it’s also his approach to filming. As well as being shot in black-and-white, he also uses a lot handheld photography, utilising some cinéma-vérité. The result is an honest and compelling masterpiece which chronicles the horrifying events in a delicate but ambitious manner.
3) E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982)
E.T. the Extra Terrestrial will always be seen on any Spielberg ‘Best Of’ lists and it was always going to make ours. But it is easy to forget just how good it is. The film is filled with all the Spielberg traits of wonder, imagination, and adventure, but it’s also fairly dark and doesn’t shy away from depicting the realities of a broken home.
Spielberg has always been a master at tapping into the hopes and fears of adolescents in small-town America, but it’s his ability to draw up genuinely iconic images that E.T. shows off so well. The fact an alien in the basket of a boy’s bike flying across the moon is one of the defining moments of modern cinema tells you all you need to know.
2) Jaws (1975)
While Spielberg’s breakout film about a giant shark may have pretty much invented the summer blockbuster, Jaws is also probably the director’s most intimate and personal film. Again about a the small community on the island of Amity, Jaws essentially follows three men – a police chief, a marine scientist and a grizzled fisherman – as they set out to stop a gigantic great white shark from eating everyone.
That fact that Spielberg’s shark didn’t work well enough in production is one of the film’s greatest strengths – instead of seeing the strings, the tension and horror are only magnified by an unseen presence. As humorous as it is tense, Jaw packs inventiveness and grandeur, even if the film is really about simple storytelling.
1) Jurassic Park (1993)
But our favourite ever Steven Spielberg film has to be Jurassic Park. We accept the sequels have tarnished the original somewhat, but here’s the thing that those films don’t understand (or probably chose to ignore): if dinosaurs were somehow bought back to life and were allowed to run around a jungle island, it would be INCREDIBLE! Jurassic Park is a love letter to that notion, not so much a cautionary tale.
Wonder and awe are the obvious tones taken from Jurassic Park, but really the film has it all with elements borrowed from every genre going. Family dramas, horrors, comedies, action films… everything is there. When Spielberg leaves us, most will remember him for the childlike wonder only he can provide, and he’s never done it better than Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park is pure cinema and pure Spielberg.