Steven Spielberg’s top ten films, according to the internet

(STACKER) — American director Stephen Spielberg has made some of the most critically acclaimed and universally beloved works in cinema.

In his career of over four decades, Spielberg has made some films that are not as well-liked and some that have fallen somewhere in-between. Despite this, he is still regarded as one of the best directors in history.

To honor the work of the legendary filmmaker, Stacker determined his ten greatest by calculating a Stacker score for each, aggregating and weighting ratings between IMDb and Metacritic to create a score out of 100.

#10. Lincoln

Year released: 2012

Stacker score: 81
IMDb rating: 7.4
Metascore: 86
Tomatometer: 90%

“Lincoln” is a historical drama detailing President Abraham Lincoln’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) 1865 crusade to pass the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution in the last four months of his life. Loosely based on the biography “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, “Lincoln” was a success at the box office, amassing $275 million, and earned 12 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and two wins—for Best Actor and Best Production Design. The film’s 86 score on Metacritic is the highest of any Spielberg film since “Saving Private Ryan.”

#9. Bridge of Spies

Year released: 2015

Stacker score: 81
IMDb rating: 7.6
Metascore: 81
Tomatometer: 91%

“Bridge of Spies” tells the true story of lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks), who is tasked with negotiating the release of a captured U.S. Air Force pilot (Austin Stowell) in the Soviet Union in exchange for a convicted KGB spy named Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor (Rylance). The film grossed $165 million worldwide and received mostly positive critical acclaim, with critics praising Spielberg for the film’s fun, thrilling depiction of this tense moment in history. The A.V. Club said of the film that it’s “one of the most handsome movies of Spielberg’s latter-day phase, and possibly the most eloquent.”

#8. Minority Report

Year released: 2002

Stacker score: 81
IMDb rating: 7.7
Metascore: 80
Tomatometer: 90%

Set in Washington D.C. in 2054, the sci-fi thriller “Minority Report” details a special police department called “Precrime” that catches criminals before they commit crimes, based on the visions of psychics called “Precogs.” The chase begins when Tom Cruise’s character, Precrime Chief John Anderton, is accused of a crime he did not commit and has to clear his name. Many critics found that this 2002 dystopian film marked a turning point in the development of Spielberg’s career, a leap forward in more “adult movie-making.” Roger Ebert called “Minority Report” a masterpiece, and noted that, while “most directors were putting ‘their trust in technology,’ Spielberg had already mastered it, and was emphasizing ‘story and character’ while merely using technology as a ‘workman uses his tools.’”

#7. Catch Me If You Can

Year released: 2002

Stacker score: 83.5
IMDb rating: 8.1
Metascore: 76
Tomatometer: 96%

The 2002 biographical crime movie “Catch Me If You Can” stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale, a man who spent years posing as a PanAm pilot, Georgia doctor, and a Louisiana prosecutor, all while making millions with check fraud. He was so skilled that, after he was caught, the FBI hired him to help sniff out other forgers. Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, and Martin Sheen also starred in the film. The real Abagnale felt that Spielberg was the only one who could do the film justice, and the director himself conceded that his parents’ divorce brought him closer to the project. “Some of my films have had to do with broken homes and people on the run from their sad pasts,” Spielberg said. “But there are those strands that got me to say: you know, there’s something also about me that I can say through the telling of this kind of lighthearted story.”

#6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Year released: 1977

Stacker score: 85
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: 90
Tomatometer: 96%

Written as well as directed by Spielberg, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” tells the tale of Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), a man in Indiana whose encounter with a UFO alters the course of his life. In 2007, the Library of Congress added the film to its National Film Registry for its “cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance.” The movie surpassed expectations for critics and the box office (though its competition with “Star Wars”in 1978 made Oscars and other accolades hard to come by), but “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was mostly lauded for its ability to inspire more science-fiction films. The Chicago Reader called the film “the best expression of Spielberg’s benign, dreamy-eyed vision.”

#5. Jaws

Year released: 1975

Stacker score: 86
IMDb rating: 8
Metascore: 87
Tomatometer: 97%

Now widely regarded as the first example of the summer blockbuster, “Jaws” is the story of a giant man-eating great white shark that hunts and kills people in a resort town. This prompts the police chief (Roy Scheider), a marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss), and a shark hunter (Robert Shaw) to find and kill the terrorizing monster. A significant aspect of this film is also John Williams’ score, which won an Academy Award and whose alternating pattern of two notes is one of the prototypical examples of suspense music. “Jaws” was the highest-grossing film of all time until 1977’s “Star Wars” and received critical praise and 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

#4. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Year released: 1982

Stacker score: 86.75
IMDb rating: 7.9
Metascore: 91
Tomatometer: 98%

Based on an imaginary friend Spielberg created after his parents’ divorce, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is the fantastical, sci-fi story of Elliott (Henry Thomas), a boy who befriends a stranded extraterrestrial alien called E.T. The movie beat “Star Wars” for the title of the highest-grossing movie of all time (earning $619 million worldwide), a record it held for 11 years before Spielberg surpassed the feat in 1993 with “Jurassic Park.” Critics raved about the film: Richard Attenborough, whose movie “Gandhi”won Best Picture that year, said, “I was certain that not only would ‘E.T.’ win, but that it should win. It was inventive, powerful, [and] wonderful.”

#3. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Year released: 1981

Stacker score: 87.25
IMDb rating: 8.5
Metascore: 85
Tomatometer: 94%

“Raiders of the Lost Ark,” also known as “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark,” is the first and highest-rated of the Indiana Jones series. In this installment, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) tries to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis and Adolf Hitler, who want to use the ark to make the army invincible. When adjusted for inflation, the film remains one of the top 25 highest-grossing movies of all time and walked away with four of the nine Oscars for which it was nominated in 1982. The New York Times called the film“one of the most deliriously funny, ingenious and stylish American adventure movies ever made.”

#2. Saving Private Ryan

Year released: 1998

Stacker score: 88.5
IMDb rating: 8.6
Metascore: 90
Tomatometer: 92%

This 1998 war drama depicting the invasion of Omaha Beach in World War II is one of Spielberg’s very best, and was praised for its accurate and sincere depiction of the horrors of war. It follows U.S. Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and a team of servicemen as they fight to find Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon). “Saving Private Ryan” won five of 11 Academy Awards, including Spielberg’s second win for directing. The story’s audience and critical acclaim were apparent, but its effect hit veterans the hardest. Many found it to be the most accurate depiction of wartime violence they’d ever seen—so much that the Department of Veterans Affairs set up a hotline for veterans who were affected by the film.

#1. Schindler’s List

Year released: 1993

Stacker score: 91.75
IMDb rating: 8.9
Metascore: 93
Tomatometer: 96%

Based on Australian Thomas Keneally’s novel “Schindler’s Ark,” the historical drama “Schindler’s List” remains one of Spielberg’s crowning directorial achievements. Based on a true story, the film centers on German businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who, during World War II, saved the lives of thousands of Polish-Jewish refugees by employing them in his factory. Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley also star. The movie received seven of 12 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. The film, especially due to its international appeal, made a killing at the box office and delighted critics everywhere. Most importantly, however, it brought light to more of the inhumane atrocities of WWII—following the success of the film, Spielberg founded the Shoah Foundation, a nonprofit whose goal is to create an archive of filmed testimony of the remaining survivors of the Holocaust.

Stacker determined the “Stacker score” of each film by aggregating and weighting ratings between IMDb and Metacritic to create a score out of 100.


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