Thursday, September 24, 2009

Top 10: Steven Spielberg

I make it no surprise that my favorite filmmaker of all-time is Steven Spielberg. While not everyone seems to be a fan, and while he has made a few films that I don't care that much for, when he's on top of his form I don't think there is any other filmmaker out there who is better. I've decided to compile a Top 10 List of my favorite Steven Spielberg films of all-time. Many might be shocked to find the exclusion of Schindler's List on here, but believe me it was hard enough narrowing it down to 10. The 10 included are all perfect A+ films. Without further ado:

10. Minority Report - Say what you want about Tom Cruise, but he excels here in this futuristic film noir about a detective who is accused of a crime before it's committed. This is Spielberg in top form, presenting a unique future where criminals are arrested before they have anything to be guilty for, echoing many political sentiments, which are there for anyone wishing for an extra layer of depth to this action-packed thrill ride.

9. Empire of the Sun - Christian Bale's first film, and still to this day his finest work. The story of a young British boy separated from his parents when the Japanese bomb Shanghai in World War 2. It is a beautiful film, highly intelligent, deeply symbolic. What I think to be Spielberg's most underrated film of his career.

8. Catch Me If You Can - A fun film featuring terrific performances from Leonardo Dicaprio and Tom Hanks. It's a true story that is so fantastical, it's hard to believe that it all actually happened. The story of 19-year old conman Frank Abagnale, Jr. is one for the ages, a feel good movie that will make you smile for days on end.

7. Close Encounters of the Third Kind - This is by far the best portrayal of contact between aliens and humans ever put to film, laced with spiritual undertones (the story of Saul who became Paul). What Spielberg did here was play down the science fiction aspects, and almost makes this science fiction film feel like a fantasy. The sequences with the alien spaceships and the aliens themselves are so fantastical, so spiritually affirming, that it's hard to classify this film as science fiction.

6. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - While not my favorite Indiana Jones film, there is no denying that Last Crusade is another terrific outing with Dr. Jones, and this time Sean Connery joins in the proceedings as Indy's father. With much added comedy, and an emotionally resonant ending, Last Crusade is worthy of the Indiana Jones title.

5. Jaws - It's hard to not like Jaws. It's a film that remains the same every time you see it. The story of a gigantic great white preying on the inhabitants of Amity Island is tense and exciting right to the very last frame.

4. Jurassic Park - The first film I ever remember seeing in a movie theater, and I still have a deep affection for it this very day. It's a terrific film. While it is suspenseful and action-packed, it has an emotional resonance that Jaws lacked, which gives it the higher spot. Plus, dinosaurs really are better than sharks.

3. Raiders of the Lost Ark - The film that started it all. When Dr. Jones first arrives on the scene, stealing the artifact and chased by the boulder, you're hooked before you even know his name. Harrison Ford is the man in the hat, and there is no other man alive that could have brought this character to life.

2. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - One of my favorite films of all-time. E.T. is an emotional roller coaster ride, playing off of every emotion known to mankind. It's got moments of frivolity, tenderness, sadness, and, most importantly, hope. E.T. is a story about unlikely friendship that never gets old, no matter how young in heart you remain to be.

1. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - The best of the Indiana Jones films. Say what you want about the character of Willie Scott, Short Round makes up for any of her shortcomings, and the final thirty minutes where Indy fights the Thuggee and frees the slave children is probably my favorite thirty minutes in any movie of all-time.

And that does it. Here's hoping Mr. Spielberg will continue to add to this list of great films.

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