Every Spielberg Movie, Ranked By Rotten Tomatoes
Steven Speilberg is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, but not all of his films were perfect. Here is every Spielberg movie, ranked.
There are only a couple of filmmakers who are so iconic and widely known that even people with no interest in how movies are made have heard of them. Steven Spielberg is one of those directors and has been since his breakout movie Jaws defied all expectations to become the highest grossing movie ever made – and the first of many high-concept summer blockbusters.
From Schindler’s List to the Indiana Jones series, Spielberg has helmed all kinds of movies. While Spielberg’s movies are generally well-received by critics, there are some blind spots on his filmography that the reviews weren’t too kind to.
33 - Hook (29%)
The idea of casting Robin Williams as an adult Peter Pan was a doozy – and he does give a terrific performance, as does Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook – but Hook is let down by a weak script and inconsistent tone.
32 - 1941 (42%)
Spielberg has rarely attempted comedy, and the reason for this is the failure of his first foray into the genre, 1941, which falls flat despite featuring such greats as John Belushi, John Candy, and Dan Aykroyd.
31 - The Lost World: Jurassic Park (53%)
After breaking all kinds of new ground with Jurassic Park, Spielberg helmed a sequel that set the precedent for the franchise going forward: interminable follow-ups that can’t justify their own existence or come close to matching the greatness of the original.
30 - Twilight Zone: The Movie (58%)
John Landis, Joe Dante, George Miller, and Steven Spielberg all directed segments of Twilight Zone: The Movie, but Spielberg’s segment can be seen coming from a mile away, because it’s treacly and sentimental and doesn’t even try to be scary.
29 - The Terminal (61%)
Due to political tensions in his fictional Eastern European native land, Tom Hanks is stuck living in John F. Kennedy International Airport indefinitely in The Terminal. The premise is a juicy one, but the movie devolves into a corny love story as he falls for a flight attendant.
28 - Always (67%)
A forgettable WWII-era romance, Always is a prime example of Spielberg’s incessant sentimentality ruining a movie. Still, the cast includes such greats as Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, and Audrey Hepburn.
27 - Ready Player One (72%)
Adapted from Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name, Ready Player One is a CGI-laden spectacle about a kid traversing a virtual reality, featuring Easter eggs referencing as much of popular culture as possible.
It’s just as thematically empty and driven by nostalgia as its source material, but the trip into The Shining is a delight for Kubrick fans and horror fans alike.
26 - A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (74%)
Stanley Kubrick was working on a version of the Pinocchio story about a cyborg boy before he died, at which point Spielberg snapped up the project and finished it for him. A.I. is certainly a Spielberg movie, not a Kubrick movie directed by Spielberg, but it’s one of his best sci-fi works.
25 - The Adventures Of Tintin (74%)
With cutting-edge motion-capture technology, Spielberg brought Hergé’s iconic Tintin comics to life with gusto in The Adventures of Tintin, a vibrant, colorful big-screen adventure whose sequel is stuck in development hell.
24 - The BFG (74%)
Adapted from the Roald Dahl book of the same name, The BFG stars a CGI’d-up Mark Rylance as the titular big friendly giant who protects a young girl named Sophie from the other giants who have decided to hunt her down.
23 - War Horse (74%)
Much more lighthearted than Spielberg’s other war movies, War Horse follows a horse through the horrors of World War I as his former owner frantically tries to track him down.
22 - Empire Of The Sun (75%)
A young Christian Bale stars in Empire of the Sun as a wealthy British kid circa World War II who becomes a prisoner of war locked in a Japanese internment camp. It’s a unique take on a coming-of-age story – most kids don’t come of age as a P.O.W.
21 - War Of The Worlds (75%)
Spielberg drew on 9/11 imagery in constructing his modern-day adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. It’s far from a perfect movie, but it is interesting to view it through that lens.
20 - Amistad (77%)
After depicting the Holocaust, Spielberg took on one of history’s other harrowing chapters: American slavery. Amistad tells the story of a slave ship that was commandeered by the slaves aboard, and the Supreme Court case that followed.
The belated fourth Indiana Jones movie has a much higher Rotten Tomatoes score than might be expected by Indy fans who felt betrayed by its use of aliens, computer-generated monkeys, and nuked fridges as plot devices.
18 - Munich (78%)
One of Spielberg’s darkest and most underrated movies, Munich dramatizes Operation Wrath of God, the Israeli government’s covert retaliation for the Black September massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics.
17 - The Color Purple (81%)
Anchored by phenomenal performances by Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover, The Color Purple explores much more serious themes than the average Spielberg movie, including racism, incest, and domestic violence.
16 - Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (84%)
Technically a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a lot darker than its predecessor and its racist overtones are pretty uncomfortable, but it’s still much better than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
15 - The Sugarland Express (85%)
Spielberg’s first feature film to debut in theaters, The Sugarland Express is a crime thriller about a married couple going on the run from the law. It marked Spielberg’s first of many collaborations with composer John Williams.
14 - Duel (88%)
Before Spielberg landed the gig directing Jaws, he helmed Duel, a made-for-TV movie about a man being terrorized by an old tanker truck whose driver wants to kill him for overtaking him.
13 - Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (88%)
Although he ended up reopening the series with a fourth installment (and a fifth one on the way), Spielberg gave the Indiana Jones trilogy a perfect conclusion with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which sees Indy reconnecting with his father on the way to the Holy Grail.
12 - The Post (88%)
Much like he shot Schindler’s List during the long post-production process of Jurassic Park, Spielberg shot The Post while he was waiting for the VFX to be created for Ready Player One. Despite having a timely message about the importance of the free press, The Post is a decidedly by-the-numbers effort.
11 - Lincoln (89%)
Daniel Day-Lewis earned one of his many Oscars for playing Honest Abe in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, a biopic that focuses specifically on his efforts to abolish slavery. Lincoln isn’t perfect, but it’s a beautifully shot, brilliantly acted historical drama.
10 - Bridge Of Spies (90%)
Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance give powerhouse performances in Bridge of Spies, which tells the Cold War-era true story of an American lawyer who becomes a pariah when he’s hired to represent a Soviet spy as a formality and actually tries to give him a fair trial.
9 - Minority Report (90%)
Philip K. Dick’s story of cops who can predict future crimes before they take place formed the basis for Spielberg’s sci-fi thriller Minority Report, which stars Tom Cruise as a PreCrime officer who’s accused of murdering a man he’s never met in a couple of days’ time.
8 - Jurassic Park (91%)
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park was his third movie after Jaws and E.T. to become the highest grossing film ever made during its box office run. It’s also one of the most technically innovative movies ever made, owing to its groundbreaking CGI effects.
With thought-provoking themes buried in thrilling action sequences and well-developed characters being thrust into high-stakes situations, Jurassic Park is a perfect blockbuster.
7 - Saving Private Ryan (93%)
Opening with a recreation of the D-Day landings so visceral that it triggered PTSD attacks in veterans and closing with a WWII-era riff on the Seven Samurai formula, Saving Private Ryan is one of the greatest war movies ever made.
6 - Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (94%)
Almost every filmmaker hailing from the New Hollywood movement offered their cinematic take on the Watergate scandal. Francis Ford Coppola made The Conversation, John Carpenter made Escape from New York, and Steven Spielberg made Close Encounters of the Third Kind, about alien contact being covered up by the government.
5 - Raiders Of The Lost Ark (96%)
Indiana Jones was introduced in Raiders of the Lost Ark and became one of cinema’s most recognizable icons right out of the gate. With breathtaking sequences like the boulder roll and the truck chase, Raiders is one of the greatest action movies ever made.
4 - Catch Me If You Can (96%)
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as conman Frank Abagnale, Jr. and Tom Hanks plays the FBI agent on his tail in Catch Me If You Can, possibly Spielberg’s funniest movie. Unlike another conman DiCaprio would go on to play, Jordan Belfort, who scammed regular working people, Abagnale took money from banks and airlines, so he’s easier to root for.
3 - Schindler’s List (97%)
Arguably the definitive on-screen portrait of the horrors of the Holocaust (although Son of Saul’s intimate storytelling and documentary-like approach make it a strong competitor), Schindler’s List tells the story of an industrialist who used his business connections to save 1,200 Jews from the Nazis’ concentration camps.
2 - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (98%)
In most movies about alien visitors, the visitors want to invade our planet or kill as many people as possible. In E.T., an adorable little alien wants to get home after he’s left behind when the cops scare off peaceful otherworldly visitors.
One of the most heartwarming movies ever made, E.T. is really a story about a boy coping with being an outsider by befriending the extra-terrestrial he finds in his backyard.
1 - Jaws (98%)
Spielberg’s breakout movie is still his most popular, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Following a nightmarish production that went overbudget and broke the mechanical shark, Jaws emerged as a masterpiece of Hitchcockian suspense. Its high-concept premise and summer release made it a game-changer – studios have been trying to emulate Jaws’ success every summer since 1975.