Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg
(tied for 17th with 7 titles in the top 1000, but 7th in overall points with 38,147 - just behind Bergman, just ahead of Chaplin)

Spielberg has become perhaps the most popular director of all time, certainly right up there in dollar gross terms (for what that’s worth). He once said “I made films like Jaws so I could then make films like Schindler’s List” – or, money-makers that gave him the freedom to then make stories that he felt important to share with the world, but which he didn’t expect would make any money. His work has shown amazing versatility, I’m just waiting for his first western. I usually find Jaws overrated, but Close Encounters and Minority Report grossly underrated, two of the best science fiction films ever made.

These are all the films of Spielberg’s that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Schindler's List (1993) bw #30
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) #33
3. Jaws (1975) #58 (based on a true story from the late 1800's)
4. E.T.: The Extraterrestrial (1982) #100
5. Saving Private Ryan (1998)) #109
6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) #285
7. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) #679

The beginning of Saving Private Ryan is some of the best war footage ever released, almost too realistic for many - I heard stories of moms quickly ushering their kids out of the theater (what did they expect? it's a war film!) I was amused but not entertained by the rubbery shark in Jaws, cheap thrills, too predictable.

Other Spielberg films just off the top 1000
8. Minority Report (2002) #1153
9. Catch Me If You Can (2002) #1388
10. Duel (1971) #1504 (mediocre tv movie, should not be mentioned)
11. Empire of the Sun (1987) #1942

Minority Report is one of my favorite science fiction films, and is Spielberg’s most underrated in my opinion. Catch Me If You Can is a near epic biopic of one of the biggest con-artists of all time, also underrated. Duel is a tv movie, a joke – a driver is menaced by a semi-truck on the highway with no driver (really this is high school level stuff). Empire of the Sun is another near epic war film that is also underrated – it’s British author J.G. Ballard’s autobio of his childhood years during WW2.

Where the heck is The Color Purple? and Munich? both were best picture Oscar® nominees..

My favorite Spielberg films:
1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind - this was mind-boggling, albeit with a weak ending
2. Schindler's List
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark (a 'gift' from friend George Lucas after 1941 bombed for Steven)
4. Munich (2005)) - vastly underrated story of Israeli agent given the task of hunting down the men who planned the 1972 Munich Olympics terrorism
5. Minority Report (from author Philip K. Dick's short story, who also wrote the novel behind Blade Runner and the story Adjustment Bureau was based upon; more of his work should be filmed - don't mention A Scanner Darkly, that was painful to watch and ruined a good novel)
6. E.T.: The Extraterrestrial - eerily similar story to Whistle Down the Wind, written by Hayley Mills' mother, while Hayley starred in the Bryan Forbes film
7. Saving Private Ryan
8. Catch Me If You Can
9. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
10. Empire of the Sun
11. The Color Purple
12. War of the Worlds (underrated remake)
13. Jurassic Park - not great but well made, a step up from Godzilla movies

I think he excels at science fiction and should concentrate on that genre - well, not totally but perhaps more. He also hasn't made a western yet (!). Probably Spielberg's only 'bomb' is 1941, a comedy with no laughs, and likely too much money and effort spent without a great screenplay. A.I. was also not up to par, but that was an unfilmed project of Stanley Kubrick's that Spielberg decided to film after Kubrick's death to honor the master of American cinema. Not a bad film, it just lacked passion and pace. It's likely that Spielberg also didn't want to change Kubrick's vision, it was already completely story boarded so he knew what Kubrick envisioned.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

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