In a blatantly plageristic move, cloaked as an “inspired by” moment, I thought I’d pay homage to RC of Strange Culture and make my own top 10 list of Steven Spielberg directed movies (you can view RC’s Top 10 here). Unquestionably one of the most successful directors of all time, both in terms of commercial popularity and critical acclaim, Mr. Spielberg has made some of the most recognizable and, in my mind, important movies over the past 35 years or so. He is sometimes criticized for being a manipulative filmmaker and for helping, along with George Lucas, to usher in the blockbuster era, which art house snooties feel has destroyed American cinema. (Cry me a river, but tell me how we’re not better off with Willow in the cinimatic record. Ok, bad example.) While I can see the arguments, I don’t always agree. He has made some of my very favorite movies and in fact I actually own seven of the top 10 I’m going to list. There are a few of his well regarded films that either I haven’t seen or need to see again, like The Color Purple, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, so that should explain why they are missing from the list, if in fact you think they should be present. I’ll also say that this isn’t a list in order of which his best in terms of cinematic achievement are, but rather what I like best. The first five are pretty much in order of how I like them; the second 5 are in no particular order. I give you Ando’s Spielberg Top 10:
- Saving Private Ryan -Best war movie ever…period. Gritty, realistic without being gratuitous, revived public interest in WWII, robbed of Best Picture Oscar by Shakespeare in Love. Hmmm, I wonder which one of those two movies will be remembered in 50 years? Quote: “Our objective is to win the war.”
- Raiders of the Lost Ark – The perfect action movie. Our intro to Indy starts out with a bang and never stops. Karen Allen is perfect female foil for the rogue archeologist. Quote: “Asps. Very dangerous. You go first.”
- Jaws – Sure maybe the shark looks a fake, but it doesn’t matter. So many great scenes and Robert Shaw is unforgettable as the been-out-at-sea-too-long Qunit. Quote: “Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain. For we’ve received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so nevermore shall we see you again.”
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Sean Connery was the perfect addition to the cast. Who else could play Indy’s dad besides James Bond. Quote: “It tells me that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them.”
- Schindler’s List – Heart wrenching holocaust epic never fails to move, upset, disturb, and yet offer hope. Quote: “I pardon you.”
- Jurassic Park – Dinosaur adventure was a breakthrough in special effects. Plus, how can you not love Sir Richard Attenborough? Quote: “But if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – Maybe the weakest of all four Indys but I grew up with it so I’ve got a warm spot in my heart for it. Get it? Heart? Warm spot? Cuz that one guy had his heart ripped out and it caught on fire? No good? Quote: “You call him Dr. Jones, doll!”
- Minority Report – A futuristic mystery with the thought provoking premise of pre-crime. An interesting vision of the not-too-distant future. Quote: “Everybody runs.”
- Munich – I only saw this once but thought it worked on a couple different levels. It tackles some interesting questions about the ethics of terrorism and counter-terrorism but it’s also just a flat out great spy thriller. You can actually read my review of it here. Quote: “We can locate almost anyone for anyone anywhere, and we are ideologically promiscuous. We love everybody; we hate everybody. I get my feelings confused.”
- Catch Me If You Can – Not a big Leo fan, but since he was playing a teenager for most of the movie, it worked for me. Good caper flick. Quote: “Dear Dad, you told me an honest man has no fear, so I’m trying hard not to be afraid.”
Honorable mention for Empire of the Sun. I just saw it all the way through for the first time last week. I really liked it, but need to see it again to know where, if at all, it places in this top ten. It’s unmistakably Spielberg, but at the same time a bit of a departure. It’s artier than most of his stuff, even his serious films. Its one of maybe two or three movies I can think of that is convincingly carried by a child actor. A pre-teen Christian Bale is excellent in this roll.
So there you have it. Agree, disagree?