Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies (NEW FEATURE)

Steven SpielbergA new feature here at Killing Time.  We’re going to look at directors, actors and actresses and assess the state of their career as it stands.  We’ll look back at the last 10 movies the artist has done, give it a grade and then average them out to see where they stand.  We’ll also rank their 10 best movies and give it the same treatment to see how an artist is doing now against their very best work.  If you have ideas for other kinds of artists to grade, let me know.  This is a bit of an experimental try for me so I’m totally open to tweaking suggestions.  (A quick side-note: if an artist is also a regular on a TV show we’ll grade the seasons as individuals if they fall within the last 10 projects).

I have a difficult relationship with Steven Spielberg.  Is he one of the greatest directors of all-time.  Yes.  Do I feel he should have stopped making movies about ten to fifteen years ago?  Absolutely.  Spielberg suffers from an inability to end his movies when they need to end and he’s lost his guts.  The Spielberg that had the T-Rex eat the lawyer off the toilet is gone.  He’s been replaced by the Spielberg who photoshopped walkie talkies into the hands of the cops chasing E.T. and Elliot because it was “too scary”.

His contributions to film are undeniable.  In my opinion, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the best action-adventure movie of all-time.  It’s flawless.  Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List are two of the most important and best motion pictures ever made.  I so wanted last year’s Lincoln to be of that caliber, but the truth is that Daniel Day-Lewis carried that film and saved Spielberg from an embarrassingly childish opening that would have been laughable in a third grade play, rabbit trails that took the focus off the 13th Amendment (which is the POINT of the film) and a perfect ending missed.  That shot of Lincoln walking down the hall on the way to the theater?  Fade to black.  That’s it.  That’s all you needed and something of that ilk happens every time.  He’s great, he’s legendary and he frustrates me more than any director still working.  Let’s look at KT ratings for the latest ten Spielberg-helmed projects:

SPIELBERG’S LATEST TEN:
1. Lincoln (2012)……………………………………8.50
2. War Horse (2011)…………………………….5.50
3. The Adventures of Tin Tin (2011)…6.25
4. Indiana Jones and the
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
(2008)..6.75
5. Munich (2005)*………………………………..2.50
6. War of the Worlds (2005)……………..5.75
7. The Terminal (2004)……………………….8.00
8. Catch Me If You Can (2002)………….9.50
9. Minority Report (2002)…………………9.00
10. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)..4.25
STEVEN SPIELBERG’S CURRENT WORKING AVERAGE: 6.60
* On Munich, I don’t think I’ve ever been more offended by a movie’s ending than Munich’s.  It’s inexplicable, obscene and four years after 9/11 in such bad taste that I don’t even know-to this day-why more people didn’t pitch a fit over its ham-handed opportunism.

SPIELBERG’S GREATEST TEN:
1. Shindler’s List (1993)……………………..10.0
2. Saving Private Ryan (1998)…………..10.0
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)……..10.0
4. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)…10.0
5. Jurassic Park (1993)……………………….10.0
6. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)……..9.75
7. Jaws (1975)……………………………………….9.50
8. The Color Purple (1985)…………………9.50
9. Catch Me If You Can (2002)…………..9.50
10. Amistad (1997)………………………………9.25
STEVEN SPIELBERG’S BEST WORK AVERAGE: 9.75
I personally don’t like Jaws or The Color Purple very much (yes yes, whatever, boo hiss to you), but I can’t knock the craft of the film making or their importance in the history of cinema.  The top four you can arrange pretty much any way you’d like.  I think Jurassic Park is just below Raiders in terms of summer blockbuster perfection and when you’re talking about movies of this caliber (especially the top of the list) you can make an argument for ranking them any way you’d like.

Spielberg was attached to direct Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, but has dropped that project and is not officially signed to anything at the moment.  His last ten shows wild swings in quality and is, arguably, the worst period of his career.  His best work is on par with any director’s in the history of the medium.  I hope he has one more great film left in him.  I’d love to see that.  I just don’t trust him anymore to deliver.

7 thoughts on “Steven Spielberg’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies (NEW FEATURE)”

  1. To be fair, he later apologized about the walkie-talkies and put the guns back. His movies do have a tendency to go on too long; I was SO disappointed by Minority Report, because up until the last 20 minutes I thought it was going to rival Raiders as one of the best action thrillers ever made. But I think I have a higher regard for his recent work than you do. War Horse, Catch Me if You Can, War of the Worlds, The Terminal and (sadly) Crystal Skull are lesser Speilberg, but I have to say I enjoyed them quite a bit. Tintin, on the other hand, made me feel like a kid again, Minority Report was absolutely wonderful (those last 20 minutes notwithstanding) and Lincoln should be mandatory viewing for anyone who wants to be a citizen of the US. Your criticisms are all valid, but Steve tends to make more complex and ambitious movies now, which means that there is a lot more room for flaws to fester and flourish. Part of me wishes that he would go back to making movies like Jurassic Park, but the other part accepts that, after several years of existing in an in-between place, he has finally left Neverland for good. The man is all grown up.
    As for AI, the mind-meld with Kubrick didn’t quite work, but it’s fascinating to watch, and I’m glad it exists. Steve showed SO much guts with the ending of that movie that it went over most people’s heads. They didn’t stop to consider that robots don’t go to sleep and dream, and that throughout the movie David didn’t close his eyes even once-until the very end. When you stop to think about it, you realize that the super-evolved mechas pretended to grant his wish, then shut him down. Those last fifteen minutes were vital, and the way that Speilberg played them was brilliant; he was able to stay true to Kubrick’s dark vision while retaining his own sentimental style. The movie is a lot more disturbing that way. It’s his darkest, strangest film by far, and that counts for a lot.

    1. I accept your Spielbergian retort, but for me he’s lost his way. Minority Report disappointed me a lot more the first time I saw it, but repeat viewings really improved it and it’s so prescient in its view of the future. If anything, it’s too far out because aside from the fact that we’ll never have anything but internal combustion engines thanks to OIL (bringing you war since….always), we’re very near to that future. I mean, I can do the computer interactions Tom Cruise does with a freaking Kinect now!

      1. Perhaps I’m rationalizing a little about the current state of Speilberg’s career, but criticizing him feels like criticizing my favorite uncle. The man gave me Jaws, Close Encounters, Raiders, Temple of Doom, Last Crusade, ET, Gremlins, Poltergeist, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. All my life I have gratefully accepted the gift of his benevolent and wide-eyed vision of the world, and the goodwill he has engendered forgives a lot.
        Minority Report was amazingly prescient, yet somehow also timeless. I just wish it had ended with Tom Cruise killing the guy in the hotel room.
        Continue with this feature, it’s a good one.

      2. I’m totally with you on revering the film maker he was and he has two films in my top 25 of all time (Jurassic Park isn’t far outside either). I want him to succeed. I genuinely want him to have a late career towering achievement like Schindler or Ryan (are there two more important films culturally than those in the last 25 years?). I was stoked to suss out a new column for Wednesdays (now I’ve committed four out of seven days lol) and I’ve got some future profiles in mind, but if you have someone to suggest, bring it on!

      3. I’m totally with you on revering the film maker he was and he has two films in my top 25 of all time (Jurassic Park isn’t far outside either). I want him to succeed. I genuinely want him to have a late career towering achievement like Schindler or Ryan (are there two more important films culturally than those in the last 25 years?). I was stoked to suss out a new column for Wednesdays (now I’ve committed four out of seven days lol) and I’ve got some future profiles in mind, but if you have someone to suggest, bring it on!

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