Top 5 Spielberg Films: Op-Ed

by Christy Lemire, SC Times

I humbly select my five favorite movies Spielberg has directed:

» “Jaws” (1975): One of Spielberg’s earliest films still might be his best. He defined the summer blockbuster with this movie. The tangible, substantive quality of the effects is striking, even quaint — especially after having seen so many soulless, CGI spectacles. And of course, his killer-shark tale was scary as hell; even then, Spielberg knew how to do a lot with a little, and that’s especially true of John Williams’ deeply haunting, minimalist score.

» “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982): Maybe it’s a nostalgia thing. Maybe it’s Spielberg’s uncanny knack for conveying the feelings of loneliness and fear that every kid experiences (his parents’ divorce is what inspired the movie). But I cry every time. I know E.T. is going to live, and I know the little alien is going to phone home, and I know the spaceship is going to swoop down to pick him up and take him back to his planet where he belongs. Doesn’t matter — it still gets me. The sweetness of the friendship between Elliott and E.T. and the iconography of the imagery endure almost three decades later. And of course, there is that sweeping, Oscar-winning Williams score.

» “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981): Spielberg was a big kid with an even bigger toy set here. “Raiders” has a rough-hewn look about it that seems utterly charming today. Plus, this first Indiana Jones movie is just a ton of fun, full of snappy banter, imaginative set pieces and breathless action. Ford is at the height of his swagger as the resourceful and fearless archaeologist, figuring a way out of every tricky situation with his trademark fedora intact. And I know I sound like a broken record mentioning Williams again, but just try getting that jaunty theme song out of your head.

» “Schindler’s List” (1993): An extremely personal film for Spielberg, it’s also his masterpiece. It was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won seven, including best picture and best director. Spielberg tells the tale of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman in Poland who turned his factory into a refuge for Jews during the Holocaust, in exquisite black and white. The approach is not only aesthetically striking, it also provides a startlingly intimate contrast with the epic nature of this true story. Harrowing, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful about the possibility of humanity, it features beautifully textured performances from Liam Neeson and Ben Kingsley.

» “Catch Me If You Can” (2002): After a series of heavy films, including “Schindler’s List,” “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” and, “Saving Private Ryan,” Spielberg allowed himself to have a good time again, and a giddy sense of adventure radiates from every frame. Leonardo DiCaprio is at his boyishly charismatic best as real-life con artist Frank Abagnale Jr., with Tom Hanks clearly having a blast playing a broad comic character as the FBI agent on his tail. It’s slick and sexy, and it grabs you from the first seconds with its retro-cool title sequence and Williams’ jazzy, catchy score.

Read entire article here: http://www.sctimes.com/article/20110616/ENT01/106160002/No-easy-task-summing-up-Spielberg-only-5-films

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