From "Jaws" and "The Color Purple" to Indiana Jones, 25 of Steven Spielberg's Best Movies
Whether you're a seasoned movie buff or a novice, chances are you've heard of the name Steven Spielberg. Though you may not realize it, the famed director is potentially the brains behind the scenes of some of your favorite movies, both past and present. For instance, his 1993 blockbuster film "Jurassic Park" is still so beloved today, as is his work on "Jaws," "The Color Purple," "Saving Private Ryan," and so much more.
Some fans may recall Drew Barrymore's breakout role of Gertie in Spielberg's 1982 movie "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," while others were just blown away by 2022's "The Fabelmans." No matter what your movie genre preference is, there's one thing that's for sure — Spielberg is one of the greatest film directors of all time.
While it's hard to pick which of Spielberg's films is the greatest, here's a list of 25 of his best works.
"E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982)
This sci-fi/adventure film is all about a sweet alien who finds himself on Earth. While there, he finds friendship in a little boy named Elliot and his siblings who welcome him into their suburban California home. E.T. — as the alien was named — remains a secret between the siblings until he gets sick and the government gets involved. The kids work hard to get E.T. back to his home to reunite with his family.
"The Color Purple" (1985)
This historical drama follows the story of a southern, African American woman who struggles to find her true self after enduring over 40 years of abuse and bigotry from multiple people, including her own father. The film was based on the novel by Alice Walker.
Arguably one of his most famous films, "Jaws" follows a local police chief who teams up with a scientist and a professional shark-hunting ship captain to track down and stop a man-eating, killer shark that's terrorizing a small New England beach town.
"Schindler's List" (1993)
Based on a true story, "Schindler's List" follows Czech-born businessman Oskar Schindler, whose mission was to exploit cheap Jewish labor during World War II. As the movie progresses, viewers will see Schindler go from a greedy, opportunistic member of the Nazi party to one who saves over 1,000 Polish Jews during the Holocaust.
"Saving Private Ryan" (1998)
The war film "Saving Private Ryan" follows a group of U.S. Army Rangers during World War II as they embark on a mission to find and bring home a soldier whose three brothers have been killed in action. Captain John H. Miller (played by Tom Hanks) leads the team on a perilous journey through enemy territory to complete their mission in this effecting depiction of the horrors of war and the sacrifices made by soldiers.
"The Fablemans" (2022)
"The Fablemans" is loosely based on Spielberg's early life and follows the story of a young aspiring filmmaker, Sammy Fabelman, who falls in love with making movies after his parents took him to see "The Greatest Show on Earth." Spielberg directed the movie and also wrote it along with Tony Kushner.
"Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981)
Indiana Jones, an archaeology professor, attempts to take possession of the Ark of the Covenant, but is faced with a fight against Renee and a troop of Nazis. Along the way, he must navigate treacherous landscapes using his wits and physical strength if he hopes to emerge victorious.
"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989)
This film revisits professor Henry "Indiana" Jones, who must now go up against Adolf Hitler's Nazis after his father, Professor Henry Jones Sr., goes missing.
"Jurassic Park" (1993)
Perhaps one of the most famous dinosaur movies of all time, "Jurassic Park" tells the story of paleontologists Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, and mathematician Ian Malcolm, who are given the opportunity to visit a theme park that is populated by dinosaurs made from prehistoric DNA. The group is assured that the island park is safe, just to find themselves in harm's way when the dinosaurs break free.
"Catch Me If You Can" (2002)
"Catch Me If You Can" is a biographical crime film based on the true story of the con artist Frank Abagnale. FBI agent Carl becomes obsessed with catching Frank, the master con who passed as a doctor, lawyer, and a pilot throughout the '60s.
"West Side Story" (2021)
Spielberg this remake of 1957's "West Side Story," which tells the story of forbidden love in New York City's Upper West Side. It also explores the street gang rivalries between teens of different ethnic backgrounds.
"Hook" is a spinoff of "Peter Pan," which follows a now-grown Peter who struggles to remember his childhood. While working as a lawyer with a family, Peter returns to Neverland after his nemesis Captain James Hook kidnaps his children. Peter — trying to remember his Peter Pan ways — works with Tinkerbell and The Lost Boys to fight Captain Hook and get his children back.
"The Post" (2017)
Based on a true story, this film follows Katharine Graham, the first-ever female publisher of a major American newspaper, the Washington Post. It also follows editor Ben Bradlee as they worked to beat the New York Times to expose decades of government secrets that had previously been covered up.
"A.I. Artificial Intelligence" (2001)
The sci-fi/drama "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" follows David, a robotic boy adopted by a Cybertronics employee and his wife as a test case after their son, Martin, falls ill. The film will take you on an emotional rollercoaster as David tries to figure out his life and fill the void for his new parents. David endures bullying by "real" kids and fights to be like Martin so badly that he ends up damaging his robotic wiring.
This biographical, historical drama film is based on President Abraham Lincoln's work toward passing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which would outlaw slavery in the United States.
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977)
An Indiana man's life is thrown into chaos after he has a close encounter with a UFO. The incident leads him to set off on an obsessive, cross-country pursuit for answers.
"Something Evil" (1972)
After a young couple moves into a new home in rural Pennsylvania, they are thrown a curveball when they discover there is an unseen presence hoping to take possession of the wife.
"Empire of the Sun" (1987)
"Empire of the Sun" follows the story of James Graham, whose privileged life is thrown for a loop when he gets separated from his parents after the December 1941 invasion of Shanghai by the Japanese.
"The Terminal" (2004)
Eastern European tourist Viktor Navorski must take up temporary residence at JFK airport after finding himself stranded there when war breaks out in his country in "The Terminal," starring Spielberg's frequent collaborator Tom Hanks and Zoe Saldana.
"War Horse" (2011)
In "War Horse," after Albert's horse is sold to the cavalry, he enlists to serve in World War I. His journey finds him on the front lines as the war rages on.
"The BFG" (2016)
An orphaned girl finds friendship with a benevolent giant in "The BFG." Together, they go to his Giant Country, and try to stop man-eating giants from taking over the human world.
"The Sugarland Express" (1974)
One of Spielberg's earliest works, this film is about a couple on the run who are trying to regain custody of their child from her foster parents.
After seasoned pilot Pete dies, he comes back in spirit to mentor his successor, who finds himself falling in love with the girlfriend he left behind.
"Minority Report" (2002)
An officer on a futuristic police force -- which can arrest murderers before they commit their crimes -- is accused of murder in "Minority Report."
"The Adventures of Tintin" (2011)
This 3D motion-capture movie follows the story of Tintin and Captain Haddock, who go on an adventure to seek out a sunken ship commanded by Haddock's ancestor.