5. E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial
When it comes to iconic images in film history, few can compare with Elliot's silhouette against the lunar background in the climax of E.T.. I was only about 4 when E.T. was released in theaters, but I will forever remember it as the film that stuck with me throughout my entire childhood. Only Spielberg could make you care for a puppet, (which was mad lifelike long before CGI) to such a degree that you were crying at the end of the movie when E.T departed for his home planet. While E.T. has been pushed aside in the past two decades, it remains one of the most remarkably heartwarming science fiction stories of all time.
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Since there has been so much Indiana Jones talk lately, let's revisit the film that started it all. Notice kiddies, there's no "Indiana Jones and the..." in the title. This film made archaeology seem so cool, except when you're getting chased by pissed off Yanomamo Indians who want their golden idol back. I've seen "Ongka's big moka" (third world documentary on New Guinea fat man) and Spielberg makes the third world seem so much cooler than those stuffy documentaries. While it may not be historically accurate, I'll take my ancient history via Dr. Jones any day.
3. Saving Private Ryan
Spielberg's World War II epic has redefined in an entire genre of filmmaking. While SPR is certainly not the first film to show the gruesome reality of warfare, it was however one of the first films to accurate capture the "look of warfare" exactly right. Watching Private Ryan is akin to a deep religious experience. While there have been many copy-cat attempts to gank Spielberg's mojo, nothing can compare with Private Ryan. Saving Private Ryan has inspired countless other films and video games, and reminded us all why we owe so much to those who have come to be known as the "Greatest Generation".
One tagline from this film was, "You'll never go in the water again!" It's the truth because I hate swimming in the ocean, and it's all because of this damn movie. Everything about this movie is perfect. If you want to truly appreciate how difficult is was to accomplish these cinematic feats in 1975, watch the documentaries on the making of Jaws. It will give you a whole new appreciation for what Spielberg was able to do. While this film spawned a series of garbage sequels the original Jaws starring Rob Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss remains a timeless classic.
1. Schindler's List
Jerry Seinfeld made out during this movie, so he'll never fully appreciate how incredible it was. I could discuss this movie for hours and dissect its brilliant casting, script, and artistic qualities, yet what keeps me coming back to this film is its basis in truth. Schindler's List recounts one man's campaign to save nearly 1200 Jews during the Holocaust. Perhaps the greatest aspect of this film is the way in which Spielberg paints his hero, Schindler. Liam Neeson portrays Schindler as a womanizer, a drunkard, and a salacious man who rises above his human faults in search of a higher calling. One cannot proclaim himself a "movie buff" without viewing this movie. While there are numerous historically based films in Spielberg's library, Schindler's List is the premier choice in a list of countless others. Lest we forget, 'The list is absolute good. The list is life.' Quite the mantra to live by.
Think I got it all wrong? Yell at me in a comment...