14. Duel (1971)
> IMDb user rating: 7.6/10 (72,182 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 84% (25,000 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 89% (45 reviews)
> Starring: Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone
This TV movie first aired on ABC and quickly distinguished Spielberg as a major directorial talent. While driving through the desert on his way to an appointment, a businessman becomes the target of a maniacal truck driver. It went on to inspire popular thrillers such as 1997’s “Breakdown” and 2001’s “Joy Ride.”
13. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
> IMDb user rating: 7.8/10 (387,268 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 72% (32,314,349 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 99% (133 reviews)
> Starring: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote
An imaginary friend from Spielberg’s youth inspired this timeless classic, in which a friendly alien and young boy (Henry Thomas) forge a symbiotic bond. The story unfolds against a suburban backdrop and uses clever shots to impart a child’s point of view. When adjusted for inflation, this is one of the highest-grossing movies of all time.
12. The Color Purple (1985)
> IMDb user rating: 7.8/10 (82,334 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (180,943 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 77% (31 reviews)
> Starring: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey
Based on Alice Walker’s award-winning novel, this adult period drama introduced the mature side of Spielberg’s direction. It opens in the early 1900s and spends decades in the life of a Southern Black woman (Whoopi Goldberg) as she struggles against poverty and racism. A talented ensemble cast delivers top-notch performances.
11. The Fabelmans (2022)
> IMDb user rating: 7.7/10 (29,228 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 82% (1,000 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 92% (296 reviews)
> Starring: Michelle Williams, Gabriel LaBelle, Paul Dano
Spielberg’s latest offering tells his own semi-autobiographical story, with Gabriel LaBelle starring as the director’s alter-ego. A coming-of-age period drama, it’s also a love letter to the magic of cinema itself. Writing for The Australian, critic David Stratton called it “an affectionate and insightful peep into the inspiration and obsessions of a young filmmaker.”
10. Bridge of Spies (2015)
> IMDb user rating: 7.6/10 (298,941 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 87% (65,587 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 91% (312 reviews)
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda
The Coen Brothers co-wrote the script for this atmospheric thriller, based on the true story of lawyer James Donovan (played by Tom Hanks). Amidst fraught Cold War tensions, Donovan must oversee a prisoner exchange between America and the Soviet Union. Co-star Mark Rylance won an Academy Award for the supporting role of KGB spy Rudolf Abel.
9. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
> IMDb user rating: 7.6/10 (192,000 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 85% (142,184 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (64 reviews)
> Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr
Spielberg drew upon his own previous short film and previous short story when crafting this blockbuster passion project. It stars Richard Dreyfuss as an electric lineman, whose life is changed by a series of UFO sightings and alien encounters. Legendary cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond won the film’s sole Academy Award.
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