Steven Spielberg is in the pantheon of cinema’s greatest directors. The three-time Best Director Oscar winner has helmed such modern classics as “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), “Schindler’s List” (1993), “Jurassic Park” (1993) “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), and “Lincoln” (2012). (See who has won the Oscar for best director every year since the Oscars began.)
He has demonstrated his versatility in directing science-fiction films, dramas, historical-themed movies, adventures, and fantasy. The motion picture industry has rewarded that versatility. Spielberg’s films have been nominated for Best Picture 11 times, and he won once, for “Schindler’s List.”
Though his first theatrical feature, the critically acclaimed anti-hero crime drama “Sugarland Express,” got the movie industry’s attention in 1974, it was the blockbuster thriller “Jaws” a year later that launched him into stardom — and incidentally introduced audience, and film producers, to the concept of summer blockbusters. (These 20 little-known facts about “Jaws” may surprise you.)
To determine Steven Spielberg’s best movies (as well as those that didn’t fare as well), 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on the number of audience ratings and popularity of a wide range of films from Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, and IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon. Movies with at least 5,000 audience votes on either IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes were ranked using a composite score based on RT’s audience score and IMDb’s average user ratings.
At least 10 of the films Spielberg has directed have topped more than 90% on the Rotten Tomatoes Freshness gauge. In addition to directing, he has had success as a producer, having had a hand in hits such as “Back to the Future” (1985), “Cape Fear” (1991), “Twister” (1996), and “Letters From Iwo Jima.” His imprint on the culture was officially validated in 2015 when Spielberg was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
As successful as his career has been, not all of Spielberg’s films are the stuff of immortality. The “Jurassic Park” sequel “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” managed a Rotten Tomatoes Freshness score of just 53%. The comedy “1941” registered a score of just 42% among Rotten Tomatoes critics, despite featuring “Saturday Night Live” stars John Belushi and Dan Akroyd. But those missteps have been few, and his place in motion picture history as among the greatest of film directors is assured.