The List: The definitive ranking of Steven Spielberg movies

Brad Keefe
Steven Spielberg

When Steven Spielberg introduced “Ready Player One” at its SXSW premiere, he told the audience, “This is not a film that we've made, this is — I promise you — a movie.” From “Schindler's List” to “Lincoln,” Spielberg has made some truly great films, but knows the difference between that and a movie. Here's a ranking of his movies.

11. “Hook” (1991)

Spielberg does “Peter Pan.” What could go wrong? OK, a fair amount, as the sense of wonder wears off as the story plods on (although casting Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell was an inspired choice at the time). I'd say this is the only bad movie Spielberg ever made.

10. “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008)

While the next-gen “Indiana Jones” reboot didn't take hold, it's also unfairly maligned as being bad rather than merely unable to live up to expectations. There are some solid thrills, and the ending isn't much sillier than any of the others.

9. “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (1997)

It was impossible to top the wonder of the original. This sequel had less heart, but it was able to teach some old dinosaurs new tricks.

8. “War of the Worlds” (2005)

Spielberg's take on a true large-scale disaster movie offered great moments that tapped into real paranoia, but I have to reduce the score for the constantly screaming Dakota Fanning.

7. “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)

It was inspired to make this a father-son epic, with Sean Connery making Indy seem even more of the imperfect hero he was. “We named the dog Indiana.”

6. “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)

This sequel was less cohesive, but Spielberg really ramped up the “movie as theme park ride” experience in ways that few directors can even imitate.

5. “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977)

He would later explore alien life through the eyes of a child, but here, augmented by a great performance from Richard Dreyfuss, Spielberg made us stop worrying and learn to love alien contact.

4. “Jurassic Park” (1993)

It was a sense of wonder we hadn't had at the cinema in decades. We didn't wonder how they made the dinosaurs. We wondered how they trained the dinosaurs to do that.

3. “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)

The story of a boy and his alien. It's funny and thrilling and ultimately heartbreaking, Spielberg's greatest emotional feat among these. I cried a little inside when “Titanic” passed it on the all-time box-office records.

2. “Jaws” (1975)

The shark looks fake. Four decades later, we're still afraid to go in the water. This is one of the all-time great monster movies.

1. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

This is obviously a personal pick. I didn't want to be E.T. or the shark from “Jaws” when I grew up. But I sure did want to be Indy, a hero as memorable for his weaknesses as his strengths.