Steven Spielberg films ranked from worst to first
Among the greats of American movies, Steven Spielberg shines as one of the most celebrated directors in Hollywood. With a career spanning over four decades and 31 feature films, Spielberg is not only known as a prolific filmmaker, but was also a pioneer in modern filmmaking. After seeing his 1975 breakout hit "Jaws," Alfred Hitchcock said that Spielberg “is the first one of us who doesn't see the proscenium arch,” praising his willingness to take risks and defy classical filmmaking conventions.
And as the young director grew and made more box office hits, his trailblazing certainly paid off. "Jaws," "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," (1982) and "Jurassic Park" (1993) broke box office records, helping him become the highest-grossing director in history. Spielberg won the Academy Award for best director for "Schindler's List" (1993) and "Saving Private Ryan" (1998), on top of many other nominations for his films throughout the years. His credits also span many different genres, from the action-packed "Indiana Jones" series to sci-fi classic "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," (1977) to humanistic films such as "The Color Purple" (1985)—Spielberg is clearly a man of many talents.
To honor his work, Stacker ranked each of Spielberg’s films by calculating a Stacker score for each, aggregating and weighting ratings from IMDb (50%), Metascore (25%), and Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer (25%) to create a score out of 100. See which of the Spielberg cannon couldn’t beat the pack, all the way to his chef-d'oeuvre.
Year released: 1979
Stacker score: 45.75
IMBD rating: 5.8
If you just considered the stacked cast, this 1979 comedy film featuring Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and John Candy had everything going for it. Unfortunately, its comedic treatment of The Great Los Angeles Air Raid as well as the bombardment of the Santa Barbara, California’s Ellwood Oil Refinery fell short of its critically and financially successful contemporaries.
Year released: 1991
Stacker score: 53.75
IMDb rating: 6.7
This updated take on the story of Peter Pan did much better with audiences than with critics, resulting in a measly 29% on the Tomatometer. While "Hook"—starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Julia Roberts—was one of the top-grossing films in 1991, critics of the film found it to be too cookie-cutter. Roger Ebert said of the film, “The failure in "Hook" was its inability to re-imagine the material, to find something new, fresh, or urgent to do with the Peter Pan myth.”
#29. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Year released: 1997
Stacker score: 60.5
IMDb rating: 6.5
This sequel to the 1993 blockbuster "Jurassic Park," "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" fell short of critics’ expectations (as sequels often do) and only recast Jeff Goldblum in a major role (the eccentric brainiac Dr. Ian Malcolm). A darker film than its predecessor, this chapter of the story revolves around two teams, one led by Dr. Malcolm and another made of John Hammond’s nephew at InGen, who face the cloned dinosaurs inhabiting an island off of Costa Rica. The film received an Academy Award nomination for best visual effects, thanks to the CGI rendering of the dinosaurs.
Year released: 1989
Stacker score: 60.75
IMDb rating: 6.4
A remake of the 1943 drama "A Guy Named Joe, Always" (1989) tells the story of a dead firefighter pilot who mentors another budding pilot and watches as he and the woman he left behind fall in love. Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman star in the film, as well as the late Audrey Hepburn in her final performance before her death. Though "Always" wasn’t a smash itself, some critics credit the film for inspiring the next year’s megahit romance "Ghost" (1990).
#27. The Terminal
Year released: 2004
Stacker score: 65.5
IMDb rating: 7.3
"The Terminal" (2004), marked one of Spielberg’s more successful forays into the romantic comedy genre, though the film arguably featured a whole lot of drama. Tom Hanks plays an immigrant who finds himself stuck in New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport when he is both simultaneously denied entry into the United States and a military coup breaks out in his home country. The film, partially inspired by an Iranian refugee who was stranded in Paris’ Charles De Gaulle airport for 18 years, received an acceptable 61% on Rotten Tomatoes.
#26. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Year released: 2008
Stacker score: 66.5
IMDb rating: 6.2
The fourth and most recent installment of the Indiana Jones film franchise, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (2008) stars Harrison Ford in the title role, who, with a young mentee Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) competes with Soviet agents (Cate Blanchett) to get hold of a telepathic crystal skull. Nineteen years after the last film in the series, this installment fell short of expectations for audiences (53%), but was more popular with critics (77%). Many felt like the lazy dialogue and overuse of CGI overwhelmed the thrill of the action.
#25. The BFG
Year released: 2016
Stacker score: 67.25
IMDb rating: 6.4
Based on Roald Dahl’s 1982 novel of the same name, "The BFG" (2016) is a fantasy-adventure animated film starring Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill about a human girl and a “Big Friendly Giant” who come together to stop man-eating giants from threatening humankind. The film grossed about $55 million in North America, one of Spielberg’s lowest figures yet. The Hollywood Reporter compared the film to the more successful "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," saying "The BFG" was “conspicuously less captivating, magical and transporting experience than its classic forebear.”
#24. War of the Worlds
Year released: 2005
Stacker score: 69.25
IMDb rating: 6.5
Science fiction thriller "War of the Worlds" (2005), based on the novel of the same name from H.G. Wells, follows a man in his desperate struggle to reunite his family under the threat of an alien invasion. The Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning-manned film was nominated for three Academy Awards for visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing, but fell short in many critics’ and audiences eyes with its, as The New York Post called it, “lamest ending yet to a Steven Spielberg movie.”
#23. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Year released: 2001
Stacker score: 70
IMDb rating: 7.1
"A.I. Artificial Intelligence" (2001) is a film that follows a childlike android, played by Haley Joel Osment, in a post-climate change society who has the ability to have compassion. Jude Law also stars in the film, which was handed to Spielberg by late director Stanley Kubrick after the latter felt that using a human actor couldn’t adequately bring Brian Aldiss’ 1969 short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" to life. Though its 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes reflected the critics’ split views on the film, it ultimately was regarded as an interesting convergence of two brilliant directors’ minds.
Year released: 1997
Stacker score: 71.25
IMDb rating: 7.3
Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins (who was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor), Djimon Hounsou, and Matthew McConaughey. Overall, "Amistad" received decent critical reception as a film that gave a voice and face to the slave trade, although others argue that it’s just another example of a film that touts the “white savior narrative.”2018 All rights reserved.