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Jurassic Park Anyone?

My policy is I don't see 3-D revivals of old movies. Don't encourage them !!!

Though it's been my lifelong dream that mainstream multiplex would be in the habit of devoting one screen to older films -- a way of giving something back to the art we love so much -- I didn't foresee it happening in this way and I'm not too happy about it since 3D is a cheap (okay, expensive) gimmick and not the way these films were originally shot and therefore impure (like colorizing black & white movies).

But you know, if they must do it, this one's maybe the best choice. Don'cha think? Maybe I should make an exception just this once.

Most people love Spielberg unreservedly. Alas not I. But I do love some of his pictures so I thought I'd do a top ten. But it turns out I only have five. They are...

  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)... aka the second best picture of 1981
  2. Jaws (1975) ...a member of maybe the best best picture lineup ever
  3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) ...the only one I've written about recently
  4. Schindler's List (1993) 
  5. Jurassic Park (1993)

All the others I have minor or major quibbles with. But those five? Pass the popcorn! Extra butter.

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Reader Comments (24)

I'm about 50-50 on Spielberg, but his early 00's 1-2-3 of A.I., Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can was a pretty wondrous accomplishment.

I'm not inclined to quibble with someone else's rankings, but I'm surprised you don't hold E.T. in the same regard as the 5 you named.

For me, he has 9 perfect or near-perfect films: Jaws, Close Encounters, Raiders, E.T., Schindler, the 1-2-3 above, and Munich, the criticisms of which I've never really understood.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I do love Spielberg unreservedly - his way of shooting, his recurrent themes, his crew, his temperament - but that does not mean I love all of his movies unreservedly...

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGustavo

Would you eat popcorn watching Schindler's List?!!!

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I've seen...17 the whole way through. If I were to rank those films, it'd go something like this:

1. Schindler's List (A+)
2. Close Encounters (A+)
3. E.T. (A)
4. Jaws (A)
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark (A)
6. Saving Private Ryan (A)
7. Jurassic Park (A-)
8. A.I. (A-)
9. The Last Crusade (A-)
10. The Colour Purple (B+)
11. Minority Report (B+)
12. The Temple of Doom (B+)
13. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (B)
14. War Horse (B-)
15. The Adventures of Tintin (B-)
16. Hook (C+)
17. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (C+)

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I am beyond thrilled that someone else other than me doesn't hold E.T. in high esteem. I have never liked that one.

Very hard to do a Best Of for Spielberg as I have mixed feelings about a lot of his movies, but I have OCLD (Obsessive Compulsive List Disorder), so do one I must.

1. Schindler's List
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
3. Minority Report
4. Catch Me If You Can
5. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
6. Duel
7. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
8. Jurassic Park
9.A.I. (would be higher if not for the last half-hour)
10. Saving Private Ryan

I always think I've seen Jaws but I've never actually seen it all the way through in one sitting, so I feel like I can't accurately rate how good it is. Among the biggies, I haven't seen Munich, War of the Worlds, or The Color Purple.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Sorry for that outburst! I recently saw The Impossilble surrounded by a bunch of people chewing all sorts of things and I'm still appalled.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Home video, cable, streaming, and physical media ownership is the revival house. I know you'll argue movies were intended for the big screen and therefore should have an opportunity to play there after their initial money (make or lose) run — but the cultural reverence isn't there except for hipsters.

Dismissive of The Color Purple, you refuse to seek The Master, you're practically begging to be spanked by someone who's not your lover. You gonna git yo ass whipped.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I'm in the minority of having Last Crusade as my favorite Indiana Jones movie, but Raiders is still a very respectable choice for being Spielberg's best film. If nothing else, it defines his style of adventure better than anything else he's made.

I would consider E.T. to be the quintessential Spielberg movie in that it incorporates most of the themes he's dealt with throughout his career, and it also represents his overall style the most completely, I think. It's no surprise to me, therefore, that someone who is not usually a fan of Spielberg wouldn't hold it in such high regard.

My ranking would be:
1. Jaws
2. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
3. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
4. Schindler's List
5. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
6. Munich
7. Raiders of the Lost Ark
8. Jurassic Park
9. Minority Report
10. The Color Purple

I've still never seen A.I.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

NO E.T.??? Wow! I want to hear your reasons. I love that movie, though I think his undisputed masterpiece is "Jaws"

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Too bad its in 3D, but I am definitely there for this. JP is one of my favorite popcorn movies of all time. I watched it over and over and over again when it first came out on VHS (not to mention seeing it a half dozen times in theaters) and it still stops me dead in my tracks if I come across it while channel surfing. I was 12 when it came out - its one of those movies that is not only perfect for a 12 year old boy, but makes me feel like that 12 year old again every time I see it. Which is kind of magical. I think its also a sorely underrated movie - by modern blockbuster standards its practically Shakespeare. Just consider how revolutionary it would be in a modern blockbuster to pause the action to allow characters to sit around a table and debate the ethics of cloning? It would never happen (outside of maybe a Nolan movie or something - but a Nolan movie would have none of the joy that Spielberg delivers here). That would be the first thing cut from the script. And that's leaving aside the genius of Spielberg's casting, the great work all the actors too, the precision of the writing, the incredible technical control Spielberg demonstrates in every single moment. Its a masterpiece of its genre.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

peggy sue -- i didn't want to cancel my popcorn order just for schindler's list but I'd try to be done with the bag before the trailers ended.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Oh, I can do more than 10, even though my passion for them is less than most. I do find A.I. and now Lincoln to be his best films of the past 15 years.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Empire of the Sun
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Jurassic Park

I think that's about it for me.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlejandro

No E.T.? You disappoint me.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEli

Spielberg top ten:

1. E.T
2. Jaws
3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
4. Jurassic Park
5. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
6. Munich
7. Catch Me If You Can
8. Schindler's List
9. Minority Report
10. Empire of the Sun

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I just watched War of the Worlds. Pretty awful. I probably would have loved it if I was 7. I think it's the only truly bad movie I've ever seen from Spielberg. You can see his terrible choices from frame to frame. Most of the time I think his instincts are right on the mark.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

No E.T.?

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Am I the only one here excited about "Lincoln"? Where is the talk about that? Daniel Day-Lewis, people! I know how the aversion to biopics around here goes, but with him, Spielberg, Kushner, his tech staples (Kaminski, Williams, Kahn, etc.). and this cast, I know I'll be in a seat opening night. And I loved "War Horse" too when everyone seemed to hate it collectively. I'll have to think about a top 10 Spielberg list, but I have a good idea which ones would be on it. "Schindler's List" would top that list for sure.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYancey

Glad to see no E.T. on the list. Very overrated.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

The Chicago Reader has given four stars to Lincoln, and this pub is a tough sell. So I'm cautiously optimistic.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I like your list, but quibbles with The Color Purple and Saving Private Ryan? You lost me.

What's wrong with eating popcorn during Schindler's List? It's a 3 hour movie. You gotta eat.

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

Even if sometimes I have felt so disappointed with some of his films of the last 10 years, I still think of Spielberg as one of my favorite filmmakers. I have seen almost every film but The Color Purple, Amistad and Lincoln. My favorite films of him are easily between my favorite films in my whole lifetime, and Jurassic Park is one of those films, I lwill always remember the great experience that it was seeing it in the cinema, it was truly amazing! And of course next year I will go to see it again, even if now it's in 3D and I don't like when they make that to the classic films, because usually the difference it's not so big and you have to pay more money; For example, I saw The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lion King in 3D, and at least for me it was almost the same that the original versions. By the way, like Nat I always have though that it would be so great that mainstream multiplex would have at least one screen to older films... it would be like heaven!!!

My Spielberg list of favorite films:

-Raiders of the Lost Ark
-Schindler's List
-Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
-Jurassic Park
-Empire of the Sun
-Minority Report
-Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
-Saving Private Ryan

Special Mentions: The Sugarland Express, Catch me if you can, War of the Worlds, War Horse, The Adventures of Tintin

Films that I don't think are totally good but I still like them a lot: Always and The Lost World.

His only film that left me perplexed even until today: Munich. Even if I recognize that is very well directed, some of the actors are really good, and the art direction and cinematography were great, I don't know if finally I liked it or not (and I hate when I remember that awful orgasm at the end, WTF?).

His films that I disliked the most: The Terminal, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoel

If this is the only way we can see these movies back on the big screen were they belong I'm all for it- I did go see "Raiders of the Lost Ark " in IMAX and the film still works- even though I wish Lucas had persuaded Spielberg for some minor digital twiking- a couple of effect shots looked terrible in IMAX.

November 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Mike in Canada - Joel, above, just named the main criticism Munich usually gets dogged for and with good reason: that god-awful sex scene/climax. Way to let people forget about the excellent direction, story and editing of the first 110 minutes, Spielberg, and leave them queasy with an intense and totally unneeded sex scene intercut between a flashback of the tragedy of the event your whole movie is about. Sorta how people say De Palma's Blow Out is still a great, tight movie despite its wretched last 15 mins. HELLO IT'S STILL PART OF THE MOVIE. Random comparison, yes, but I just saw it recently and EW - I hate bad endings to otherwise good movies.

As for my favorite Spielberg? Jurassic Park is definitely up there but A.I. holds a special place in my heart.

November 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

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