A man-eating shark. A friendly alien. An adventurous archeologist. A ragtag WWII platoon. A heroic German businessman in the Holocaust. The eclectic career of director Steven Spielberg has virtually defined what a blockbuster could be in the past four decades, but he’s also been able to craft more personal films as well. His 31st directorial achievement, the upcoming “Ready Player One,” opens this Thursday, March 29. In recognition of this new movie, we are ranking Spielberg’s entire filmography from worst to best in a new photo gallery above of his 30 prior theatrical features (therefore, not including the TV movie “Duel”).
Based on Ernest Cline‘s bestselling book, “Ready Player One” imagines a future where the creator of a virtual reality world called OASIS challenges his users to find an Easter Egg which will give the recipient a vast fortune. It’s a return to the kind of rollicking entertainments that made Spielberg king of the box office.
The film comes a mere three months after the release of “The Post” (2017), a Pentagon Papers drama that Spielberg prepped, shot, and edited in just nine months. (The heavy visual effects work on “Ready Player One” gave the director some time to make something quickly.) That film reaped Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress (Meryl Streep), as well as Golden Globe bids for Best Film Drama, Best Film Director, Best Film Drama Actor (Tom Hanks), Best Film Drama Actress (Streep), Best Film Screenplay (Liz Hannah and Josh Singer), and Best Film Score (John Williams).
Spielberg’s reputation as a master entertainer came with the release of “Jaws,” his 1975 shark attack thriller. Made when he was just 29 years old, the film set box office records and made the summer safe for blockbusters again. Such following films as “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), and “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) cemented Spielberg’s ability to create spectacular amusements that brought in the big bucks.
He later moved into serious filmmaking with “The Color Purple” (1985), which paved the way for his 1993 Holocaust drama “Schindler’s List” (1993). That film swept the Academy Awards, bringing Spielberg Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture. He added another trophy to his shelf for helming the World War II epic “Saving Private Ryan” (1998).
Additionally, Spielberg competed at the Oscars for directing “Close Encounters,” “Raiders,” “E.T.,” “Munich” (2005), and “Lincoln,” while “Jaws,” “Raiders,” “E.T.,” “The Color Purple,” “Private Ryan,” “Munich,” War Horse,” “Lincoln,” “Bridge of Spies” (2015), and “The Post” all contended for Best Picture. Should he win a third for directing, he’ll join Frank Capra and William Wyler as the only three-time victors in the category (John Ford holds the record with four).
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