Perhaps the most well-known producer, director and screenwriter of all time, Steven Spielberg is one of the wealthiest filmmakers in Hollywood, has won 3 Oscar awards and never stops bringing genius and magic to the industry. With an astounding filmography to date it is difficult to whittle Spielberg’s best movies down to just 10. However, here is a list of ten of his essential movies.
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
A touching and nostalgic movie for many, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982)is a classic story about the innocence of friendship and the difficulties of growing up. With an iconic score by the musical mastermind, John Williams, the movie not only won an Oscar for the best music original score category but it also won three more awards, including best visual effects. Although visual effects used in contemporary cinema have advanced greatly, E.T. retains the charm of its fantastic depiction of other worldly enchantment.
An imaginative sequel to J.M. Barry’s beloved Peter Pan, Hook (1991) is filled with adventure, an inspiring zest for life and the talents of Robin Williams, Maggie Smith, Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts. Set in an English mansion at Christmastime and a Never Never Land so perfect anyone would want to escape there, Hook preserves the beauty of Barry’s classic making good reference to the story’s morals and evoking its celebration of youth. Spielberg emphasizes the fact that, although we all grow up at some stage, we should never forget to enjoy life, because ‘to live will be an awfully big adventure.’
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Inspired by the fairy tale Pinocchio, Artificial Intelligence (2001) tells a very moving story about a robot who wishes to be a real boy. Treating aspects of vulnerability and grit, and tackling questions regarding Artificial Intelligence quite advanced for its release date, this movie is hugely emotional and well executed. With just the right amount of humanity and approaching questions that will haunt the viewer after watching, Spielberg presents a beautiful exploration of issues surrounding ‘the ghost in the machine.’
Raiders of the Lost Ark
A pleasingly more rugged version of James Bond, Harrison Ford plays the ideal history lecturer come thrill-seeking, life-saving archaeologist. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) is comprised of just the right amount of exploration, legend, booby traps and evil Nazis. With a developed enough plot, a convincing romantic relationship and an unforgettable face-melting incident, Raiders of the Lost Ark sets up the Indiana Jones series perfectly.
Another one of Spielberg’s award-spangled movies, Schindler’s List (1993)has remained a poignant and important movie in the history of cinema since its release in 1993. The movie is based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a businessman turned humanitarian who saved hundreds of Jews from extermination in Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Filmed in Krakow, Poland, this tragic story is told with respect and it is a great reminder of our potential to care for each other in times of need.
Catch Me If You Can
Based on true events involving Frank Abagnale Jr., who successfully conned millions of dollars before his 19th birthday, Catch Me If You Can (2002) presents a thrilling chase. An intelligent and witty movie, it displays the great acting talents of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, who share great screen chemistry. Catch Me If You Can paved the way for DiCaprio’s convincing future performances, including that as another great conman in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
Made back in 1971, Duel was originally intended for ABC’s Television channel, however, it was considered so good it ended up being released theatrically. With elements of paranoia and sadism, Duel is sometimes considered like the Jaws of the highway, involving a truck instead of a shark. This is a fun and original movie bursting with suspense and retro charm.
Empire of the Sun
Another of Spielberg’s adaptations of real-life events, Empire of the Sun (1987) tells the story of a boy separated from his parents after the Japanese invasion of Shanghai in 1941. Surrounded by wartime grief, the protagonist is taken to a Chinese confinement camp. He attempts to rebuild his torn-apart life there and brings a lease of life to others during his stay.
A portrayal of an island full of cloned dinosaurs running wild, Jurassic Park (1993) is a classic Spielberg movie. With convincingly real dinosaurs and action-packed terror resulting from the dinosaurs roaming free, Jurassic Park lacks the emotionally charged effects of some of Spielberg’s other work, yet it managed to become an absolute must-see.