In the late 1970s, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were buddies. And both were embarking on huge, game-changing science fiction epics. Believe it or not it was Lucas who was worried about the success of his film, Star Wars, and believed Spielberg was the one with the huge hit on his hands with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Some time later, Spielberg entertained Lucas’ idea to give each other a 2.5% royalty of their own movie’s earnings. Close Encounters make some nice money of course, but we all know how successful Star Wars was, and the deficit of such an agreement between friends fell heavily in Spielberg’s favor. And Lucas honored that. They would work together on the birth of the Indiana Jones films. One those notes, let’s begin the Top Ten:
10. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
So the third chapter of thee Indiana Jones saga sneaks into the top 10. Spielberg manages to be true to is adventure spine throughout those three films, Crusade makes good use of the parental bond without losing the humor of the franchise (were Raiders was darker, Doom was sprinkled with fun). Sean Connery and Harrison Ford have a terrific chemistry on-screen, in hindsight a far greater alliance than that attempted in Crystal Skull some twenty years later. Like the title and the tone imply, this was for that time, the perfect close to the series.
9. Munich (2005)
Following the Munich Massacre at the Olympic games in 1972, the Prime Minister of Israel sets in motion an assassination mission of those Palestinians responsible. Based on the true events, Spielberg treads thin ice with such a controversial re-telling, but somehow executes a wondrous thriller. Violent, tense, grim, the director pulls out all of his maturity and eye for social tyranny – perhaps like never before. Munich is one of his most under-discussed works, yet certainly one of his finest. And proving at that time that Eric Bana was more than capable in a leading role.
8. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Good old-fashioned movie-making, for sure, director Spielberg shifts the waves of satire, a flair for story-telling, as well as bold, but never over-the-top, characters. A proper cat and mouse chase, Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio make a great team in their respective roles. Based on the fraudulent, yet super-cunning. events of Frank Abagnale’s chain of dodgy checks, plane-hopping, and a multitude of fake personas, Catch Me If You Can matched the pace and skill of its protagonists own journey. And landing a lucrative role with the FBI after all that. Well, then.
7. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind was Spielberg’s dream directing job for many years, even before Jaws. It just happened that when he finally got it made, the beginning of an astronomically successful Star Wars franchise was also born the same year. Spielberg managed to craft, though, a thoroughly human science fiction film, with most of his now popular story-telling elements and styles thrown in. And in many of the scenes depicting the relationships between the characters, it is no secret that once again the filmmaker managed to affectionately imprint something autobiographical into them.
6. Jurassic Park (1993)
I remember seeing Jurassic Park in a preview screening, straight after school. I could not wait. Two hours or so later I was strolling to get my bus, letting the monster movie digest. When a huge lorry chugged on by I jumped out of my skin, somehow fearing for a split second I was under attack, still very much enveloped in the world of huge dinosaurs. Once again, Spielberg had broken down doors of filmmaking, bringing prehistoric creatures to life before our very eyes – and yet again breaking the box office records all around the world.