ScreenAge Wasteland Ranks the Films of Steven Spielberg

As part of our Spielberg theme month, ScreenAge Wasteland is proud to present our community’s ranking of Steven Spielberg’s filmography.

Eight people (whether is was staff, commenters, or social media followers) took part in sending us their personal rankings of the 32 films Steven Spielberg has directed. We then assigned them points (top spot got 32, last spot got 1) and tallied the scores. In the event that someone hadn’t seen a Spielberg film, a multiplier was added to bump that film’s score up to what it would have been if all eight people had seen it.

However, we are only going to focus on the Top 25 films. As for the bottom 7? Here’s how they ranked:

32. The Sugarland Express (0 points), 31. War Horse (9 points), 30. The BFG (12 points), 29. Always (14 points), 28. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (21 points), 27. 1941 (26 points), 26. The Post (33 points)

With that out of the way, it’s time to go back to your childhood and experience the awe and wonder of the films of Steven Spielberg. And feel free to agree or disagree with where a film ranked in the comments below!


25. Ready Player One (2018) | 35 points

  • Mildly entertaining and highly forgettable. – Tarek
  • My god Steven. I won’t forgive you for this one. Not even remotely like the book or even changed for the better. Blech. Horribly disappointing. I know the book isn’t a masterpiece but it puts its movie adaptation to shame. Hiring Spielberg for it was too meta in my opinion. It would’ve been MUCH better served by Phil Lord and Chris Miller for example. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • I just watched it recently and it somehow just flattened all the joy and fun I got out of the book. All the special effects in the world couldn’t give it heart, and in-jokes and references are not replacements for good characters and story. – Bob Cram
  • Not one of his best, but it is really cool to see all the nostalgia crossover even in short busts that are hard to catch. – K. Alvarez
  • I really love the book. I know it’s not Shakespeare, but I could relate with Wade Watts and wanting to experience what made the ’80s and ’90s so memorable. Spielberg does his best to improve the source material and I appreciate how he tries to tell us that we should not live in the past or be glued to our tech. Instead, we should appreciate what we have in our real life and embrace the present despite its flaws. Also, Wade drives the Back to the Future DeLorean, so c’mon, that’s pretty cool! – Marmaduke Karlston

In this image released by Disney, Mark Rylance, left, and Tom Hanks appear in a scene from "Bridge of Spies." (Jaap Buitendijk/DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 PIctures via AP)

24. Bridge of Spies (2015) | 41 points

  • Generic and forgettable. – Tarek
  • A slow political drama inspired by true events with some truly great performances by Mark Rylance and Tom Hanks. – K. Alvarez
  • Even if you don’t like this movie because you think it’s boring or made for dads, you should still be grateful it exists because it introduced us to Mark Rylance. He’d been around for a long time but this was his first big role and his performance justifies this film’s existence. The script (by the Coen Bros) is great and Hanks is predictably amazing but Rylance steals the show. Still kinda wish Stallone won the Oscar though. – Sailor Monsoon

T21. Empire of the Sun (1987) | 54 points

  • A great movie that revealed Christian Bale’s talent. – Tarek
  • I’ve always had a soft spot for Empire of the Sun. It’s slightly less slick than other Spielberg films of the 80’s and Christian Bale is magnificent in it. – Bob Cram
  • Empire of the Sun doesn’t even manage to take off at any given point over the course of its runtime. Quite a chore to sit through, this coming-of-age war drama from Steven Spielberg is completely devoid of his usual flair, remains monotonous in tone from start to finish, and is rather unsure of what it wants to be. – Vincent Kane

T21. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) | 54 points

  • A very decent sequel, but can’t match the uniqueness of the first one. – Tarek
  • Meh. After the first one it’s resoundingly meh. Meh meh meh. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • Spielberg rushed to make this sequel to the fantastic Jurassic Park, but man is it just not good as a whole. The gymnastics sequence is AWFUL. – K. Alvarez
  • I like it. It never gets anywhere close to matching the thrills of Jurassic Park, but I still think it’s the second best film in the franchise. I admire how it goes darker with the horror elements and kills. I also like how the events of the first film have hardened Ian Malcolm. It’s not without its flaws, but the scene involving the two T-rexes attacking the Fleetwood RV Mobile Lab is one of the best scenes in the franchise. – Marmaduke Karlston

T21. Hook (1991) | 54 points

  • I hate this movie, but I love the score. – Tarek
  • I understand this is not necessarily a “good” movie but Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman are awesome in this. It’s also very nostalgic for me. Ru-fi-o Ru-fi-o RU-FI-OOOOOOO. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • I know it’s not the best Pan adaptation, but I don’t care. It’s super fun. RU-FI-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! – Bob Cram
  • Until recently I had never seen Hook from beginning to end. I had always caught it on TV growing up in pieces… and HATED it. I love Robin Williams, but I couldn’t stand Julia Roberts’ Tinkerbell or Dante Basco’s Rufio. However, now that I’ve finally watched it properly I have to say that I enjoyed it. It could have dug deeper in certain places and strayed from the source material in others, but Williams and Hoffman are great in their roles and the set pieces are glorious. It’s a film that I will definitely be revisiting again. – Marmaduke Karlston

20. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) | 64 points

  • Too dark for its audience. I liked it. This is the movie that marked the change in Spielberg’s filmmaking style. – Tarek
  • Interesting but weird. Hella grim-dark bro. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • This one is probably a film I need to see again. It was just cold and distant in a way I couldn’t enjoy, and full of one-dimensional characters. I remember being annoyed when the film ended, and that’s the only thing (other than liking Jude Law) that I do remember. – Bob Cram
  • I really wish Stanley Kubrick got to direct this like originally planned, but Spielberg took it over after Kubrick passed away in 1999. It’s just an uneven mess throughout. – K. Alvarez

19. War of the Worlds (2005) | 65 points

  • As a big fan of the original 1953 film I really didn’t like this version much when I first saw it. A second viewing made me realize just how great it is, especially if you view it as a horror film (and the scene at the river as well as the basement scenes are some of the most horrifying things ever). It’s an excellent big-budget spectacle, with some great performances and makes me wish Spielberg would just make a damn horror movie already. – Bob Cram
  • I wanted to love this one, but it’s just fails at the end having the son come home out of nowhere. The opening in Bayonne, NJ is cool since I lived there as a kid and it all seemed so familiar and real to me. – K. Alvarez
  • I don’t remember if it was in the eighth, ninth, or tenth grade where my English teacher tasked my class to create our own radio broadcast that would then be intercepted by a strange phenomena. We listened to Orson Welles’ version of The War of the Worlds and off we went. A decade or so after that assignment, I finally watched a film adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells’ novel. Spielberg’s film may not be perfect, but I can admire what he is going for. The aliens are ruthless. There is really no hope for humanity. Heck, Tom Cruise cannot even save his family let along the rest of us. So let’s be thankful the aliens were not immune to the common cold. I know people who love the ending and some who hate it, but I think we can all agree that the basement scene is pure excellence. – Marmaduke Karlston

Daniel Day-Lewis takes on one of America's most famous presidents in <em>Lincoln</em>.

T17. Lincoln (2012) | 66 points

  • Boring Oscar bait. – Tarek
  • Daniel-Day Lewis is great as the president. What can I say? – K. Alvarez
  • I only saw this because I made a deal with my dad. In exchange for going to see Lincoln with him, he would go see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with me. I’m not sure who lost out on that deal more, but I’m pretty sure he never lived up to his end of the deal, so it was probably me. Daniel-Day Lewis was great as Abe though. – Marmaduke Karlston

T17. The Terminal (2004) | 66 points

  • A very touching and enjoyable drama. Shows that Spielberg can make small budget movies too. – Tarek
  • I’ve only seen it the once, but Tom Hanks. Stephen Spielberg. It drags in spots, and is overlong, but there are still moments to enjoy. – Bob Cram
  • The first in his unofficial post-9/11 America trilogy was a pretty solid effort with a great performance by Hanks. I actually forgot it was a Spielberg film. – K. Alvarez

16. Amistad (1997) | 67 points

  • I confess to not having seen it in a while, but I remember its tragic story and compelling courtroom scenes. I need to revisit. Djimon Honsou exploded in the ’90s. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • I loved Amistad when it first came out, but I can’t seem to find my way back into it now. The parts that focus on the rebellion are still fantastic, but the court room drama just doesn’t seem to work for me anymore. – Bob Cram
  • Powered by sincere performances, told with unflinching determination and strongly resonating the voice of freedom, Amistad finds director Steven Spielberg trying to expand his creative horizons. This historical drama adapts one of American history’s most disgraceful acts and although the few artistic licenses taken are up for dispute, the film is engaging for the most part. – Vincent Kane

15. The Adventures of Tintin (2011) | 72 points

  • I am a big fan of Hergé’s Tintin. So that’s it. – Tarek
  • Such a fun movie and Spielberg is giving off proper Indy vibes here. Nice palate cleanser after Crystal Skull. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • Spielberg’s only fully animated feature bored me to tears. I really expected more from it and I’m glad they bailed on the sequels. – K. Alvarez
  • Tintin does not get enough love. This is easily the best film Spielberg has made in the last fifteen years. It feels like an unofficial Indiana Jones companion piece. It has the heart and adventure of an ’80s action-adventure with pitch perfect casting and solid animation to boot. If you haven’t seen Tintin for some reason, it is time to rectify that immediately. – Marmaduke Karlston

14. The Color Purple (1985) | 76 points

  • Too long and not my cup of tea. – Tarek
  • Another film I’ve only seen once, but I remember thinking that Spielberg might just be more than a director of blockbusters after watching it. And that Whoopi Goldberg was a much better actress than Jumping Jack Flash had led me to believe. (Yeah, I saw it after.) – Bob Cram
  • Another one I’ve only seen once and never wanted to see when I was younger. It’s a damn good looking film and has great performances. – K. Alvarez
  • Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is perfect, so any half decent director could’ve made a good enough movie by just filming what’s already on the page. But because it’s perfect, it intimidated anyone who read it. You can’t improve upon perfection but as Spielberg shows, you don’t have to. He doesn’t adapt it, so much as have it speak for itself. All he did was get the right cast and have them highlight what was already brilliant on the page. And in doing so, made one of the best films of his career. – Sailor Monsoon

13. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) | 77 points

  • So underrated and hated. This is the second-best Indy movie in my book. – Tarek
  • The heart scene scared the crap out of me as a kid. KA-LI-MA! (lol.) It’s silly and campy and totally like the old radio serials Indy is based on. I mean the bridge fight over the crocodile gorge is so classically adventure serial it’s awesome. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • I know people who love this film, but it always grates on me. I mean, even things that other people love like the mine cart scene or the human sacrifice. I honestly only like Short Round. It’s still an Indiana Jones film, so there’s some fun to be had, but I remember being annoyed seeing it in the theater and that feeling has not gone away. – Bob Cram
  • Sure this movie was responsible for the MPAA’s decision to invent the PG-13 rating. But man, is it just a giant disappointment after Raiders. I don’t care what you say. – K. Alvarez

12. Munich (2005) | 99 points

  • This is Spielberg embracing his existential crisis. A very solid movie with solid thematic. – Tarek
  • A very intense spy thriller and incredible true story. Eric Bana (what happened to him?) steals the show the whole movie but the entire cast is great. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • The third film in Spielberg’s unofficial post-9/11 trilogy under performed at the box office, but, damn is it an intense and well-made drama. – K. Alvarez

T10. Duel (1971) | 102 points

  • It all started for me with this low budget movie. Still effective as of today. – Tarek
  • It is maybe the best made-for-television movie ever, and still a great thriller even now. – Bob Cram
  • Steven Spielberg’s feature film debut is a highly underrated horror TV movie which presents the new filmmaker making remarkable use of his talent, creativity, and passion for storytelling to craft a mystery-thriller that remains nail-bitingly tense from start to finish. – Vincent Kane
  • An unseen truck driver pursues a man down a long stretch of road for seemingly no other reason than because he can. That’s the perfect premise for a TV movie because it allows for just enough action to fill out 70 minutes and since the only set is a road, the desert and a single diner for one scene, the budget can be astronomically low. But since Spielberg is behind the camera, he doesn’t make a TV movie. He makes an amazing thriller that just happened to debut on television. A TV movie so good that theaters decided to release it while everyone was waiting for the next big Spielberg movie. He made a truck menacing, a close up of a sweaty face suspenseful and made everyone driving cross country start to worry whenever a vehicle got a little too close behind them. He did for driving what he did for swimming in the ocean with Jaws.– Sailor Monsoon

T10. Minority Report (2002) | 102 points

  • Not his best work, but it introduced many innovative techniques. – Tarek
  • A very solid and inventive sci-fi thriller and my favorite of Spielberg’s grim future movies (A.I. and Minority Report). – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • I never disliked this film, though I do remember being tired of Tom Cruise at the time it came out. Subsequent viewings have revealed it as a much better film than I gave it credit for, and there’s a lot more going on than it at first appears. It keeps moving up my ranking and I think it’s one I’ll keep reassessing. – Bob Cram
  • A highly underrated sci-fi noir that doesn’t get enough credit for its cutting-edge FX that still hold up pretty damn well after all these years. – K. Alvarez

9. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) | 112 points

  • The perfect sequel to Raiders. I, myself, enjoy the campy b-movie-ness of Temple of Doom but you could easily skip that and just consider Raiders and Last Crusade the heart of the Indy movies. Sean Connery and Harrison Ford are excellent and it’s just fun all the way around. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • I originally had this film a little lower in my personal ranking, but then I realized I was just kidding myself. “We named the dog Indiana.” It’s goofier than the original, but it’s still full of the action, wonder and character I associate with the best of the series, and there’s nothing better than Harrison Ford and Sean Connery hamming it up on screen together. – Bob Cram
  • The second best Indy movie hands down. Sean Connery was a great addition as Henry Jones, Sr. and plays well with Harrison Ford. – K. Alvarez

8. Catch Me If You Can (2002) | 113 points

  • Great comedy. I mean great drama. I mean… Oh well. – Tarek
  • Speaking of romantic escapism, how fun is this movie? One of the most rewatchable Spielberg films in my opinion and just a fun romp through the sixties. Also the only time DiCaprio has teamed with Steven I believe. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • This is a bit of a surprise for me, coming in as high as it does. I just really had a good time with it, and it works as a caper flick and a character study. – Bob Cram
  • I try and rewatch this film every three years. That way, I remember the basic plot of the movie, but have forgotten all the small details that make me appreciate this film every time I watch it. DiCaprio and Hanks are great in this, and it’s the sort of fun drama that I wish DiCaprio would do more of these days. – Marmaduke Karlston

T6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) | 134 points

  • This is Spielberg at his highest peak of creativity. It was shot in the spirit of the ’50s sci-fi era. Score is outstanding. – Tarek
  • Great movie, but not among my favorites. Still love Richard Dreyfuss in it. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • I know for some folks this isn’t even a top 10 Spielberg film, but I’ve always loved it. Maybe it was just the way it encapsulated a whole slew of 70s’ In Search of… tropes (a show I loved as a kid), or the special effects, or the mashed potato mountain. I dunno, but it’s always been in my top 5 and there it remains. – Bob Cram
  • Personally, I think this is the best sci-fi film he’s made.  It’s as realistic as it gets. – K. Alvarez

T6. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) | 134 points

  • A very tender tale about friendship and innocence. It didn’t have a big impact on me, as I was a teen back then. But the score is a favorite of mine. – Tarek
  • Possibly the best live-action kids movie ever made. I’ll wax poetic all day about how Steven chose to film the perspective of the kids and keep the audience “small” like Elliot. Very few adults are shown o ncamera except the Mom and the sense of wonder that emanates from simple scenes is tangible. When you talk about Spielberg/Amblin magic, most people use this as the poster-child. (Trivia: I named my son Elliot.) – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • Ah, E.T. If you’d polled me as a kid this would have been top 3 easy. I just saw it too often, and it’s syrupy sweet storyline doesn’t hold my attention as much now. I know it’s a classic, but I just don’t like it as much as I do others. – Bob Cram
  • This movie’s opening sequence terrified me as a child. I was in the theater and I wanted to leave so badly. I actually think we did. But, we went back another time and I made it through. – K. Alvarez

5. Saving Private Ryan (1998) | 144 points

  • Save the opening sequence, the rest is meh. – Tarek
  • Veterans were having breakdowns in the theaters when this came out. Especially during the D-Day scene. It hit audiences EXTREMELY hard back in 1998. The instant you’re on the beach in Saving Private Ryan you don’t breathe for a couple minutes. This movie changed the way I perceived war when I was 10 years old. As a kid, I used to love the old WWII movies (John Wayne etc.) but Saving Private Ryan put me right where I thought I wanted to be and showed me that nobody should ever be there. Powerful and enduring. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • A classic war film with maybe the best opening of ANY war film. Tom Hanks is perfect and the whole film is full of great scenes and characters. – Bob Cram
  • The opening sequence of this film alone is the greatest scene ever. So gritty and realistic. I just don’t buy the whole concept of this squad going to save one guy. But hey, what do I know? – K. Alvarez

4. Jurassic Park (1993) | 145 points

  • So innovative. Still effective as of today. – Tarek
  • This movie will never ever age. Seriously, why does it look better than every single sequel that’s followed including the massive CGI fests of recent years? Because it IS better. It is cinematic magic perfectly executed. All the tricks on display. And let’s be clear JP would not exist as it is without Steven doing Jaws first. The animatronics, creature work, suspense, everything culminated in probably the best blockbuster of the ’90s. Also, special mention for an incredible ensemble cast. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • Dinosaurs! F*cking Dinosaurs! The first film I ever stood in line for. I mean, I loved classic stop motion movies, but seeing my beloved childhood terrors on screen was worth every penny or fallen arch. I watched it in the theater in 3D a few years ago and it was still amazing. The franchise never quite reached this level again, but god help me. Dinosaurs. – Bob Cram
  • What a film! I caught this in theaters back in 2013 when they re-released it in 3D, and it was amazing! Fun story: There were a couple young males sitting in front of me and they roasted poor Tim Murphy throughout the whole film. It was pretty funny and just made the experience that much more enjoyable. You have to love the theatrical experience! – Marmaduke Karlston

3. Jaws (1975) | 157 points

  • A masterclass in filmmaking and in how you turn a disaster into a masterpiece. John Williams should share the success of this movie at 60/40. – Tarek
  • It’s not summer unless I watch Jaws. It’s not summer unless YOU watch Jaws. Watch Jaws. P.S. Robert Shaw wins best monologue in cinema history. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • I’m STILL a little afraid of the water. And sharks. And Quint. Nearly perfect in every way, it’s one of a handful of Spielberg’s films that I’ll drop whatever I’m doing and watch if it’s on. After this, Hollywood would need a bigger box office… – Bob Cram
  • This is easily Spielberg’s greatest film. It changed the movie business as we now know it forever. – K. Alvarez

2. Schindler’s List (1993) | 161 points

  • Heavy thematic, light impact. Except for the sublime score. – Tarek
  • It’s extremely important and extremely depressing. I preferromantic escapism in my movies but this is one of those must-watch films. It was shown in my high school and should be shown in every high school. The holocaust must never be forgotten or denied. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • I’ve seen this movie twice, and it wrecks me every time. I don’t think I could handle watching it a third time. – Bob Cram
  • It took me years to actually see this one. I was just never really interested in it, but damn is it one of Spielberg’s best efforts. – K. Alvarez

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) | 169 points

  • A perfect movie with a perfect cast and a perfect score. – Tarek
  • There is a reason this won the ’80s movie challenge. It is the perfect adventure movie. Some people might have more fun watching Last Crusade’s antics, but Raiders is the real deal. Cinematic nirvana. See it on a big screen someday if you can. Even if you’ve seen it a hundred times it will be worth every penny and every second. – MichaelAndTheArgonauts
  • We wore out at least two VHS copies of this, that’s how much we watched it. Never a dull moment, but always a fantastic experience and a joy to watch. I drew a comic when I was a kid that was basically a ripoff of this movie. I think I still have it somewhere… – Bob Cram
  • Indiana Jones is the best character Spielberg has ever created. Hands down. – K. Alvarez
  • There’s not a moment in Raiders that isn’t perfect. From the very first opening scene, Spielberg transported us back to the 1930s and introduced us to one of cinema’s greatest heroes. I don’t care if you can remove Indiana Jones and the ending will still unfold the same way. Indiana Jones is what makes the film enjoyable. He is the embodiment of what every man wishes he could be at some point in his life. The tall, handsome, muscular, yet educated hero who saves a priceless artifact, treks across the world, and falls in love with the one who got away. Thank you Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford for giving us someone we can all aspire to become. P.S. Who else thought owning a whip as a weapon would be super cool after watching this film? Asking for a friend. – Marmaduke Karlston

What a top five! If any of these films had taken the #1 spot I don’t think anyone would have had a problem with it. These are all classics. This proves what a dominating force Spielberg was from the mid-seventies to late-nineties.

The Adventures of Tintin at #15 is the highest spot a Spielberg film released in the 2010s achieved. The last decade was not kind to Spielberg, but hopefully his upcoming projects like West Side Story and The Fabelmans can bring back some of his earlier magic.

Thank you to everyone who participated in SAW’s fifth community ranking!

Do you agree with our ranking? How does your ranking of the Spielberg films look? Share your thoughts down in the comments!

Author: SAW Community

A group effort by the entire gang.