This weekend, Steven Spielberg releases his 30th film as director in the form of The BFG
The legendary director has been behind some of the most incredible films of the last 50 years, but which of them is the very best?
30. Hook (1991)
Any 90s kids out there will no doubt have a soft spot for Spielberg’s take on Peter Pan, but we’ve grown up now, and it’s definitely the director’s weakest effort.
29. 1941 (1979)
There’s little chance you’ve heard of 1941, and Spielberg himself would probably rather it stayed that way. This ill-fated attempt at comedy fell flat in every way.
28. The Lost World – Jurassic Park (1997)
The Jurassic Park sequel was Spielberg’s last for the dino dealing series, but aside from some deftly directed action sequences, it couldn’t live up to the classic original.
27. The Terminal (2004)
Trapping Tom Hanks in an airport terminal also trapped Spielberg’s usually grand directing style. It’s not awful, but not one of his finest.
26. Always (1989)
“Steven Spielberg” and “rom-com” are two words that don’t go together. Always is why.
25. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
This tale of morally ambiguous robotics and creepy, non-blinking Haley Joel Osment isn’t Spielberg’s strongest sci-fi, even if it does raise some interesting questions.
24. The BFG (2016)
Spielberg’s take on Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant is the his 30th film as director, and early reviews suggest a return to the family friendly magic of films like E.T.. Whether it can beat that classic though remains to be seen.
23. War of the Worlds (2005)
This Tom Cruise starring take on H.G. Wells’ alien invasion tale is one of Spielberg’s most underrated; amazing special effects and tense action carry the film.
22. The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
The Adventures of Tintin proved that it wasn’t just live action where Spielberg was a directorial king, but animation too, using motion capture technology to bring the Belgian detective to life.
21. Amistad (1997)
Shocking many a Year 8 history class into stunned silence with its unflinching historical accuracy, Amistad‘s heart-breaking account of the era of slavery leaves an impression on all who see it.
20. War Horse (2011)
After the success of both Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel and the subsequent stage play, it was only right War Horse got a big screen version, and Spielberg was the man for the job.
19. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
We’re going to go out on a limb and say …Crystal Skull wasn’t THAT bad. Sure, it had aliens, the titular Crystal Skulls and Shia LaBeouf, but the thought of an Indy 5 shouldn’t have you shuddering with fear.
18. Munich (2005)
Spielberg’s true-life story of Operation Wrath of God – the secret retaliation against the Palestine Liberation Organization after the Munich massacre – is another of the director’s underrated gems.
17. Empire of the Sun (1987)
Spielberg’s taken on a number of adaptations of classic books, and his movie of J.G. Ballard’s war-time saga, following a young English boy (an early role for Christian Bale) captured by the Japanese, is one of his best.
16. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
The second instalment of Indy’s original trilogy is probably the weakest, but the adventuring and movie matinee feel is still strong with this one.
15. Duel (1972)
Spielberg’s debut feature film – about a terrified motorist stalked on a remote and lonely road by the mostly unseen driver of a mysterious tanker truck – immediately cemeted the director as one to watch in Hollywood.
14. The Color Purple (1985)
The Color Purple marked a moment when Spielberg slowed it down from the big summer blockbusters he was becoming known for, and tackled the heartfelt story of Celie Harris – who experiences the horrors of racism in the early 20th century.
13. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
It’s not the best Indy film, but thrilling set pieces and classic characters make the final entry in the original trilogy well worth the watch.
12. Lincoln (2012)
Spielberg’s political thriller may not have been the most exciting film to sit through, but you can’t deny the director’s craft, and the acting masterclass from powerhouse Daniel Day-Lewis.
11. Minority Report (2002)
Spielberg’s mind-bending sci-fi introduced us to the idea of “pre-crime” prevention, which (along with various other aspects of the movie) is becoming – in some ways – scarily prevalent in real life in recent years. And we all wanted a pair of those amazing, screen controlling gloves, didn’t we?
10. The Sugarland Express (1974)
Why this early Spielberg classic is not more well known is beyond us, but The Sugarland Express is a top-notch crime thriller about a husband and wife trying to outrun the law. It also marks the start of the long Spielberg/John Williams working relationship.
9. Bridge of Spies (2015)
Bridge of Spies was rightly up there in the Best Picture stakes at this year’s Oscars. Brilliantly written and filmed; even the lengthy dialogues are engrossing to watch.
8. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Now we’re into the realm of true Spielberg classics. One of the best war films ever made, Saving Private Ryan‘s iconic opening re-enactment of the D-Day landings was as technically marvellous as it was harrowing.
7. Jurassic Park (1993)
An instant classic back in 1993, Jurassic Park reinvented special effects and made us all infatuated with dinosaurs. Over 20-years on, it still stands up visually.
6. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The first Indiana Jones film captured the spirit of Saturday matinee movies; all amazing stunts and old school adventuring. It’s the intrepid explorer’s finest onscreen outing.
5. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
The true story of Frank Abagnale, who, before his 19th birthday, had successfully performed cons worth millions of dollars by posing as a pilot. Full of ingenious scams, the film’s cat and mouse chase between Di Caprio and Tom Hanks is must see stuff.
4. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
It may look a little dated, and it may have been overshadowed by a certain other space based movie released in 1977, but Close Encounters‘ eerie tales of extraterrestrial life remain poignant to this day.
3. Schindler’s List (1993)
Years before he was hamming it up in the Taken films, Liam Neeson was putting in a star turn in one of the most critically acclaimed historical dramas ever in holocaust horror Schindler’s List. Amazingly powerful, this is historical Spielberg at his very best.
2. Jaws (1975)
THAT music is enough to send shudders down your spine every time you hear it. The movie is timeless in part due to John Williams’ score, but mostly down to Spielberg’s amazing direction, which turned a shoot mired with technical difficulties into an all time classic, and basically invented the summer blockbuster.
1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
And our number one pick goes to family spellbinder E.T. Anyone who’s seen it will remember the first time they did so, and if you had that privilege as a child, warm nostalgia will flood over you as soon as you think about it.
Films since have tried to emulate its charm (Super 8), and recent Netflix sensation Stranger Things drips in Spielbergian nods, but none can match the majesty of the original family classic.