Every Steven Spielberg Directed Film Ranked

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The ranking of every Steven Spielberg directed film was put together by Amblin Road creator, Adam Chris Better . 

The ranking is based on 3 factors:

1. The overall quality of the film. 

2. The cultural significance and impact of the film. 

3. Adam Chris Better‘s personal view/connection to the film.

 

32. The BFG (2016)

The BGF is a huge disappointment for Steven Spielberg fans. The characters are forgettable, the dialog is often embarrassing and the story as a whole offers nothing to get excited about. The film delivers visually, but fails to impress in any other way. The BFG is one of Steven Spielberg’s weakest films.

31. War Horse (2011)

War Horse is easily one of Spielberg’s least memorable films—despite featuring some well executed components. The film is guilty of some of the director’s most divisive impulses—including extremely syrupy moments. War Horse is a well made film, but it’s hard to overlook its manipulation.

30. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull isn’t a bad movie, but it definitely isn’t a good Indiana Jones film. The action isn’t handled nearly as well as it was in the earlier Indy installments. Harrison Ford is still excellent in the part, but the script gives him very little to do, which is shocking in an Indiana Jones film. Crystal Skull is a major disappointment for Indiana Jones fans and is by far the weakest entry in the series.

29. Amistad (1997)

Amistad is at its best when it focuses on the story of slavery. It becomes boring when the courtroom drama takes over. Hounsou is terrific in the film, while the rest of the cast isn’t given much to do. Amistad was an admirable attempt by Spielberg, but sadly it falls short of its potential.

28. The Terminal (2004)

The Terminal is a harmless picture that has a message that still resonates today. Its heart is in the right place, but the execution is pretty ordinary. The Terminal is one of Spielberg’s most forgettable films despite having its entertaining moments.

27. Always (1989)

Always offers a lot of fun moments, but those moments aren’t strong enough to make the film work. Spielberg tries hard to balance a lot of different ideas and some of those ideas do work. The story as a whole just never feels cohesive. Always is one of Spielberg’s most inconsistent directorial efforts.

26. The Post (2017)

The acting in The Post is some of the best I have seen in a Spielberg film. The script is far more tense and thrilling than a film about a newspaper has any right to be. The film however doesn’t leave much of an impact when it is over and it gets a little stale on repeat viewings. The Post is definitely one of Spielberg’s most unique projects, and also one of his best recent films.

25. Bridge of Spies (2015)

Bridge of Spies is definitely a worthy installment into the Spielberg library. The lead performances, story and execution are all impressive and well done. The film isn’t as tight and cohesive as Spielberg directed films usually are and that hurts the overall product. Less characters & subplots, and a shortened runtime, could have put this film in the upper echelon of Spielberg’s filmography. As it stands, Bridge of Spies is a solid spy drama that is carried by its director and stars.

24. 1941 (1979)

1941 is never boring and the bombastic visuals are a lot of fun sometimes. But, the comedy is at times cringe-worthy and surprisingly offensive. Spielberg would go on to do much better work in his career, but 1941 isn’t the complete the disaster many say it is.

23.The Sugarland Express (1974)

The Sugarland Express is an important part of cinema because of its significance to Spielberg’s career. It shows the great potential of the young director. The script has flaws—but the performance by Hawn and the direction of Spielberg makes it a must see film.

22. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

The biggest problem with The Lost World: Jurassic Park is that it isn’t Jurassic Park. It is an underrated sequel and that’s understandable since it isn’t anywhere close to Jurassic Park in quality. The dinosaur effects are well done, Spielberg crafts some thrilling moments and the performance by Goldblum is a lot of fun. The Lost World is a worthy follow up to Jurassic Park.

21. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

The idea of Steven Spielberg bringing to life Stanley Kubrick’s vision is really the main appeal of A.I. The film would of benefited from Spielberg’s influence, but you can understand why he wanted to stick to Kubrick’s concept. A.I. is one of those movies that stick with you for a long time and really makes you think about the questions it raises. It’s not a perfect movie, but it is a thought provoking one.

20. The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

The Adventures of Tintin is a well made family adventure. Steven Spielberg takes full advantage of the freedom the animation gives his imagination. The quality of the animation is inconsistent and the story isn’t special, but overall the fun of the film makes it worth watching.

19. Hook (1991)

Hook is one of Steven Spielberg’s most successful attempts at comedy and that is largely because of the great cast he assembled. The film offers an interesting and entertaining look at what it means to be an adult. It has enough emotion to appeal to adults and kids will love the spectacle of it all. Hook is one of the better family films of the 1990s.

18. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is not one of my favorite Spielberg films—despite it being considered a classic by so many. I can definitely recognize it’s achievements, but the story just doesn’t grab me. Roy Neary behaves in such a selfish matter throughout the film that I find him hard to root for. There are many things that I admire about Close Encounters of the Third Kind—but overall I find it to be one of Steven Spielberg’s lesser films.

17. Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln is an acting showcase for Daniel Day-Lewis and it shows why he is possibly our greatest living actor. Steven Spielberg brings his usual attention to detail and that allows Lincoln to feel like one of the more accurate period dramas to have ever been made. Like many historical films, at times Lincoln feels a little dry & dull. The performance of Daniel Day Lewis makes the film a must watch and allows you to overlook some of the project’s weaker components.

16. Munich (2005)

Munich is easily one of Spielberg’s darkest and most morally complex films. It brings up relevant questions about the nature of revenge and retaliation. Munich could of easily felt like a lesson in morality, but Spielberg does a masterful job of providing thrills that keep you invested during the entirety of the films long runtime. Munich is one of Spielberg’s most powerful films.

15. War of the Worlds (2005)

War of the Worlds is light on story and plot. It’s a roller coaster ride…a very, very good roller coaster ride. Tom Cruise reminds you why he is one of the biggest movie stars of all time in the thriller. Steven Spielberg delivers some of the best action scenes of his career in War of the Worlds. It is one of the director’s finest pieces of blockbuster filmmaking.

14. Ready Player One (2018)

Steven Spielberg returns to the kind of filmmaking that made him a legend with tremendous success with Ready Player One. It is packed with large-scale action, but Spielberg never lets the spectacle take away from the heart and emotion of the story. Ready Player One is easily one of Spielberg’s most ambitious and entertaining films in years.

13. The Color Purple (1985)

The Color Purple is a moving and unique film that explores characters and themes we rarely get to see in Hollywood productions. Steven Spielberg does an excellent job in his first real attempt and adult drama. The Color Purple is a significant film for its subject matter and for the career of Steven Spielberg.

12. Empire of the Sun (1987)

Empire of the Sun is one of Spielberg’s most underrated, and often forgotten, films. The film mixes drama, spectacle and humor in ways few other Spielberg films ever have. The tone never gets too serious and it never trivializes its subject matter either. Empire of the Sun is one of Steven Spielberg’s finest, and most balanced, achievements.

11. Duel (1971)

Steven Spielberg made Duel when he was in his early 20s, but you never get the sense that you are watching the work of a young director. Duel was made for television and what Spielberg was missing in resources he made up for in thrills and suspense. Duel isn’t just a must watch to see how the legendary director got his start…it is a legitimately well-crafted film that still holds up today. With Duel you see the early stages of the craft that would be fully on display a few years later with Jaws.

10. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a more than worthy entry into the franchise. The film has more character development and emotion than any other film in the series. The adventure moments are on par with the first two films, but sometimes the comedy undermines the impact of them. The Last Crusade won’t disappoint anyone that is a fan of the Indiana Jones franchise.

9. Minority Report (2002)

Minority Report is filled with interesting ideas and stunning visuals. It features one of Tom Cruise’s best and most layered performances. Minority Report is one of Spielberg’s boldest and most exciting films. 

8. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Catch Me If You Can is one of Spielberg’s most unique and underrated films. The performances by its two A-list leads are exceptional. Catch Me If You Can is a great example of the diversity of Spielberg’s filmography and it is one of his greatest achievements.

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

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom gets a lot of criticism for its darkness and over the top action. While some of those criticisms are valid, for me it’s the best Indiana Jones sequel we have gotten. It is a different movie than Raiders of the Lost Ark and I love that about it. The action scenes are incredibly inventive and grander than Raiders. Harrison Ford takes everything we loved about Indy in Raiders and takes it to another level. The Temple of Doom isn’t as well crafted as Raiders of theLost Ark, but it is still one of the best action/adventure movies of all time.

6. Jaws (1975)

Jaws changed the movie industry when it opened in 1975. It helped to create the summer blockbuster and it turned Steven Spielberg into the most famous director on the planet. The film itself is genuinely terrifying and has a brutality we have never really seen again from Spielberg. The performances, music and Spielberg’s mastery of building tension makes Jaws a classic piece of entertainment. 

 5. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan is one of the finest war films ever made. The battles feel real and authentic to WWII. The performances and script keep you interested in the film when its not focused on the warfare. Saving Private Ryan is one of Steven Spielberg’s best films.

4. Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic Park is one of the greatest cinematic triumphs of all-time. The CGI effects are groundbreaking, but the film never loses sight of the importance of story and characters. It features spectacular action scenes and truly pulse pounding moments.Jurassic Park is one of the most iconic films ever made and easily one of Steven Spielberg’s greatest achievements.

3. E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. the Extra Terrestrial is one of the most earnest and heartfelt films ever made. Steven Spielberg was able to get wonderful performances from his very young cast and the perfectly crafted special effect, E.T. It is the film that has defined Spielberg’s career and it is one of his greatest pieces of work. E.T. is a classic that will entertain for generations.

2. Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler’s List is a masterpiece that truly transcends the power of movie making. It’s not just one of the finest cinematic experiences ever crafted, it is one of the most important. Steven Spielberg may have made better films in his long career, but he probably has never made a more important one. Schindler’s List is one of the few movies that can change the way the audience looks at the world and the things they value.

 1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark is a perfect film in my mind. The action, characters and story blend together in a magical way. Steven Spielberg never lets the pace slow down and you are constantly moving from one iconic set piece to the next. This is arguably Ford’s best performance in his long career as a movie star. Raiders of the Lost Ark is Steven Spielberg’s greatest piece of popcorn filmmaking.