With the release of West Side Story, Steven Spielberg has now directed a total of thirty-five movies. That is an insane number. And, while I haven't seen all of his films, not even close, I have enough to give you a top five. In case you didn't read my directors' ranking from a few days back, Spielberg is my favorite film director of all time. He's directed so many great movies, and I haven't even seen all of them. So, while reading this, keep in mind that I haven't seen Saving Private Ryan, the last two Indiana Jones movies, or Lincoln. I have seen E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Temple of Doom, but I barely remember them, so I didn't think it was fair to include them on this list. With that said, here are my favorite Steven Spielberg movies.
5. Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park starts off with this great world-building that's relatively slow. The dinosaurs aren't unleashed until about halfway through the movie, and that's when all the chaos begins. The production design for this movie is, in my opinion, the greatest of all time. The aesthetic and sets and special effects are just top-notch. Once again, Spielberg does a great job with directing this movie. He is able to tap into your wonders as you see real dinosaurs and then your terror when they are released. Not my favorite movie. It's definitely not as special in the age of big blockbuster CGI superhero movies. But it's still a very good film.
4. Schindler's List
I think that, alongside Pulp Fiction and my number one entry on this list, Schindler's List is a perfect quality movie. From top to bottom, this movie is made with utter perfection. It swept the Oscars, and for good reason. Spielberg captures the Holocaust in a way that no other film, TV show, or book will ever be able to capture. He strips away all of the padding that Hollywood sometimes puts on World War II and shows you the raw, unfiltered evil and terror that the Nazis created. What's amazing about this movie is that it's so disgusting and so horrible to watch, but it also has a hopeful message. It's about the Holocaust, but it's about a good man inside of the Holocaust. And that is why this movie is just so perfect in so many ways. Will I ever watch it again? God no. It's probably the least entertaining movie of all time. But it's something I'm glad I watched, and it is a movie that everybody needs to see at least once.
3. Minority Report
Minority Report takes a fun and intriguing sci-fi concept and spins it a million different ways: this is an action movie. It's an adventure movie. It's a mystery movie. It's a thriller movie. The genre-blending take on Phillip K. Dick's novella is just an edge-of-your-seat, entertaining ride from beginning to end. Tom Cruise's performance is as good as ever in this. He weaves in elements of both Ethan Hunt and Maverick in this character. The screenplay is wonderful. It has some nice twists and turns, but plays it's cards at the right time so you never really see what's coming. And, man. Spielberg displays his talent as a director again. He can nail everything from sci-fi to drama to thriller, and he shows you that in this movie. I love it.
2. West Side Story
I absolutely adored West Side Story. I have said time and time again that I do not like the 1961 original. I find it cheesy, dated, and I do not buy into the relationship between Tony and Maria. The opposite is true here. Steven Spielberg's modern take on West Side Story was amazing. His direction is the best it has been in years. The performances were stunning. The musical numbers were vibrant and exciting. This was fun, it was emotional, and it was great. And I was legitimately taken aback by how much I liked it.
What else is there to say? Jaws is one of my top five or six favorite movies, and there's so many reasons why. From the great and relatable characters to the iconic score to the haunting underwater shots, this movie is perfection served on a silver platter. Spielberg directs the absolute crap out of this film, and I love that, but his direction is not the only reason Jaws is incredible. The powerhouse performances from Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw make this movie even better. I love the scenes on the Orca when all three of them are sharing stories about battle scars and Quint tells the USS Indianapolis story. It shows signs of an all-around perfect movie. The first blockbuster remains one of the greatest movies of all time to this day. No shark movie will ever top it. And no director will ever top what Spielberg did with Jaws.