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Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach. 
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Post Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
After seeing a discussion on another thread as to what's Spielberg's best film, I realized the best way to evaluate such a prolific filmmaker si with the tiers strategy. So here goes.

Classic Tier
Schindler's List: Spielberg's films usually tend to fall into three types: Blockbusters, more serious dramatic ones and some hybrids of the two. Schindler's List is definitely at the top of the serious dramatic films pyraimid. There's a reason why this one is regarded as a classic and not just because of the subject matter.
Minority Report: My personal favorite Spielberg film, this is the best of the hybrid ones I was referring to earlier. Plenty of action for the popcorn audience, yet plenty of depth. A story that draws you completely in. The only real drawback is the absolute last scene (when I watch it I tend to cut it off right before),
Jaws: The movie that brought us the blockbuster for better or worse. But dismissing it for what it spawned is like blaming Pearl Jam for Creed and Nickelback or Led Zeppelin for Warrant and Whitesnake. Many blockbusters hope to be as entertaining and well-made as Jaws.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark: The ultimate blockbuster.
Munich: Excellent dramatic film that looks at the pros and cons of revenge.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: If Jaws announced Spielberg's arrival, this confirmed it. ET was very good. But this is a full scale masterpiece.

The Good to Great Tier
ET: Overall I prefer Close Encounters. But this is still a worthy blockbuster.
Saving Private Ryan: More conventional in spots than we initially thought. But this is still a great film for its unmatched intensity, its realisitc portrayal of war and well-done battle scenes.
The Color Purple: uneven perhaps. But its one that's aged better than the one that beat it at the Academy Awards (that being Out Of Africa). While not my personal favorite of 1985 (Witness and Brazil are both ahead of it) and flawed in several regards, this is still worthwhile,
Empire Of The Sun: I have a certain level of affection for this as it was the first movie I really fell in love with. Maybe not quite a full fledged classic on the level of Schindler's List. But definitely Spielberg's most underrated film.
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade: Second in the Indiana Jones series, ahead of both Temple Of Doom and Crystal Skull. Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are a winning team.
AI Artificial Intelligence: Another one fo the hybrida I was referring to earlier, this one isn't as effective as Minority Report. But its still great.
Lincoln: Too soon to decide whether this is a full fledged classic (Minimum of 10 years must pass before that determination can be made). But as of right now it definitely belongs in the good to great ranking no question.

Worthwhile
Jurassic Park: Not quite the clasic I thought it was when I saw it at fifteen. But still enjoyable.
Catch Me If You Can: Lightweight. But fun as hell and fantastic performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, TOm Hanks and Christopher Walken.
Amistad: Good not great.
War Of The Worlds: Entertaining dark popcorn fare.
War Horse: Involvign while it's on yet doesn't leave much behind after it ends.
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom: Kate Capshaw is annoying. But this is still entertaining if more dark and mean spirited than many people initially expected.
The Sugarland Express:A lot of people tend to see this as an anomaly in Spielberg's filmography. But I like it.
The Adventures Of Tintin: Echoing my comments on War Horse.
Duel: Entertaining B movie.

Mediocrities
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull: Not quite the disaster a lot of people seem to think it is, not on the level of the three earlier Indiana Jones films. Still has some fun aspects. But I can understand why many people see it as a letdown.
The Terminal: Entertaining. But totally lightweight. Forgettable.
The Lost World: Lightweight sequel.

Bombs
1941: Failed attempt at a screwball comedy.
Always: Lends credence to anyone who dismisses Spielberg as a master of manipulation. An unnecessary remake of a film that didn't need to be remade.
Hook: Lika Always, it lends credence to the claim that Spielberg is a lightweight. In one sense, Spielberg waited too long to tackle Peter Pan. Using Peter Pan as a way to critique the emptiness of yuppie culture just didn't work. Schmaltzy and manipulative in an obvious way.

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Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:35 am
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
Using the same tiers...

CLASSICS
Schindler's List Probably one of the most accomplished films out there.
Raiders of the Lost Ark It is to adventure films what Die Hard is to action ones.
Saving Private Ryan Same as above, but with war films.
Jurassic Park Saw this in theaters and loved it ever since. Riveting and thrilling, non-stop fun.

GOOD TO GREAT
Jaws I think it's great, but I've never been a hardcore fan. Still own it and love it though.
The Color Purple This is one I should rewatch, but I remember loving it a lot.
Empire of the Sun This has been a childhood favorite since years ago. Haven't seen it recently, but I remember being very moved by everything as a teen. Needs a rewatch as well.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence Another one I probably need to rewatch, but I still remember loving it.
Catch Me If You Can Perfectly acted and very rewatchable.
War of the Worlds I know it sorta derails in the end, but I still think the first half is classic, and Tom Cruise was great. Every time it's on TV, I have to see it.
Munich I included it here, even though I don't remember much about it. I do remember liking it, but needs a rewatch.

WORTHWHILE
Close Encounters of the Third Kind I kinda like things about it, but I still have some problems script-wise with Dreyfuss' character.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Far from the greatness of Raiders, but still the best of the sequels. I've always loved the final tests.
Minority Report Meh, this is borderline mediocre for me. I'm not a huge fan, but I do recognize there are a couple of good things here to make it worthwhile.

MEDIOCRITIES
Amistad This one was bordering the "upper tier" for me, but I decided to leave it here. Spielberg had the potential to make a great film here, and it works from time to time. But the film ends up being dragged by lots of flaws in acting, script, and focus.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull I don't hate it. I kinda liked it, but I do recognize it has a lot of flaws, and it feels a bit detached from the rest of the films. Plus, most of the CGI is distractingly awful.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Yeah, I like it less than the above.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park The first part on the island isn't great, but solid. Still, the film is dragged by its awful last act.

BOMBS
None that I've seen

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Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:33 pm
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
Top tier -

Saving Private Ryan
Schindler's List
Munich
Jaws
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Catch Me If You Can


Upper-mid -

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Jurrasic Park (yes really)
Empire of the Sun


Mid tier -

War of the Worlds
AI
Minority Report
ET


Not too many in the lower tiers as such. There are no doubt a fair number I've forgot to mention.

Edit: re-reading Jeff's post reminded me of the pretty woeful Hook - lower tier! Didn't like it at 10. Didn't like it at 30!

Put into the shade by PJ Hogan's more exciting (if distubingly sexualised) 2003 version.

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Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:03 pm
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
TOP
Schindler's List
Jaws
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (any version)
Munich

Very Solid
Minority Report
AI
ET
Catch me if You Can
Saving Private Ryan (if the mid section was better, I'd rank it top)
Empire of the Sun
Jurassic Park
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Duel (extended theatrical version)

Kinda worthwhile
War of the worlds
The Color Purple
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The Terminal
The Sugarland Express
1941 (come on it's still Spielberg with with even the miniature FX shots done by the first unit!)

Poor
Hook
Always


Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:58 pm
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
Top-Rank Spielberg:
"Jaws"
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind"
"Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark"
"E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial"
"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"
"A.I.: Artificial Intelligence"
"Munich"

Second-Tier Spielberg:
"Duel"
"Poltergeist" (if we're counting it)
"The Color Purple"
"Jurassic Park"
"Schindler's List"
"Catch Me If You Can"
"The Terminal"
"The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn"
"War Horse"

Middle-of-the-Road Spielberg:
"The Sugarland Express"
"Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"
"Empire of the Sun"
"Amistad"
"Saving Private Ryan"
"Minority Report"
"Lincoln"

Lower-Rank-But-Still-Decent Spielberg:
"1941"
"The Lost World: Jurassic Park"
"War of the Worlds"
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

Bottom-of-the-Barrel Spielberg:
"Always"
"Hook"


Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:58 pm
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
So much "Hook Hate." What's up with that?

Anyway, I haven`t seen all of Spielbergs films, but I love tier rankings and am curious to see peoples opinions on more than just big Steve. What do you guys think of starting another thread to rank any directors films you`d like...that would allow a lot of room for others to participate under the same directors name, and I`m sure it would make for some interesting discussion.

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Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:09 pm
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
Gedmud wrote:
So much "Hook Hate." What's up with that?

Anyway, I haven`t seen all of Spielbergs films, but I love tier rankings and am curious to see peoples opinions on more than just big Steve. What do you guys think of starting another thread to rank any directors films you`d like...that would allow a lot of room for others to participate under the same directors name, and I`m sure it would make for some interesting discussion.


Good idea, let's do it.

TOP
Jaws
ET
Catch Me if You Can
Munich

UPPER
Close Encounters
Amistad
Saving Private Ryan
AI
Minority Report
War of the Worlds
Tintin
War Horse
Schindler

LITTLE LOWER
Raiders
Color Purple
Jurassic Park
Lincoln


Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:40 pm
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
Gedmud wrote:
So much "Hook Hate." What's up with that?



I think what Spielberg went for with Hook was to make the Never Never Land set resemble that of a school play to evoke feelings of childhood in the viewer. But it doesn't work. It looks cheap, amature and claustrophobic. With some films the chemistry is just wrong, and Hook fits the criterea. I like Williams in some projects, but find him annoying in this. Perhaps oddly, he is far better in drama than this kind of thing.

Spielberg has the most wonderful gift for speaking to adults through the eyes of children, but something goes badly awry with Hook. I find the scorn poured over it kind of reassuring. It means that people won't salivate over anything Spielberg does just because it's Spielberg.

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Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:30 am
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
Gedmud wrote:
So much "Hook Hate." What's up with that?


"Hook" is simply one bad idea after another. Spielberg, of all directors, messed it up. First of all he made "Peter Pan II" instead of simply re-telling the story. The 2003 "Peter Pan" (I don't mind the sexuality in it - it is more obvious perhaps because we compare it to the squeaky-clean 50s Disney version) is worlds better.

Almost the entire casting is bad. Julia Roberts as Tinker Bell? That's the very definition of bad casting. Dustin Hoffman was the single good casting idea - he pulled off Hook, a very unusual role for him, brillaintly. Bob Hoskins was the second great casting choice - and that's where it ends.
The set piece (as mentioned before by many) and the "second rate Oliver Twist - ish stage play" feel of the lost boys are devoid of any magic. This is supposed to be Neverland, filled with magic (Peter Jackson, where were you?)
And then all that cheezy rambling and preaching about being a good parent..... Nah!


Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:38 am
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
Very well said, Threeper.

I revisited it over Christmas and was very dissapointed. As you say, Hoffman does give us a good turn as Hook. But the whole project is just a naff excuse to inflict a pious moral message on the audience through the uber-annoying Williams.

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Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:17 am
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
NotHughGrant wrote:
Very well said, Threeper.

I revisited it over Christmas and was very dissapointed. As you say, Hoffman does give us a good turn as Hook. But the whole project is just a naff excuse to inflict a pious moral message on the audience through the uber-annoying Williams.


Well I am drifting off topic now, so I'll leave it at that. I second your opinion about Robin Williams. He can be very annoying, especially when he gets all misty and melodramatic. Not many comedians are successful going all serious. Williams was surprisingly good in "One Hour Photo", "Insomnia" and "The Final Cut" though. I guess Hook was in a time frame where Williams still didn't find his footing in melodrama (Patch Adams, Mrs. Doubtfire, Dead Poet's Society, anyone?). BUT a director such as Spielberg should have known that.


Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:35 am
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
tier 1
Jaws
Close Encounters
Raiders
ET
Schindler's
Saving Private Ryan

tier 2
Duel
Empire of the Sun
Last Crusade
Jurassic Park
AI
Minority Report
War of the Worlds
Lincoln

tier 3
Sugarland Express
Temple of Doom
Always
Catch Me if You Can
War Horse
Tintin

tier 4
1941
Lost World
Hook
Amistad
The Terminal
Crystal Skull

Quote:
What do you guys think of starting another thread to rank any directors films you`d like...that would allow a lot of room for others to participate under the same directors name, and I`m sure it would make for some interesting discussion.


There's probably not many directors that most of the forum has seen a lot of like Spielberg.


Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:17 pm
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
Well I recenty watched The Adventures of Tintin. Having read all of the brilliant original comics long ago - and seen the awful cinema and tv cartoon adaptations - it seems close to impossible to really capture the spirit of the comcs. They are also very mid 20th Century European in spirit and point of view - you will look in vain for any trace of americana as seen by Americans. Still: Spielberg seems to deeply understand that "old world" look and feel. IMHO he made the very best adaptation so far. And: he knew the strong possibility that the movie wouldn't be such a hit in the domestic market. So I'll rank it rather high.

Here is my complete list (of Spielberg movies I have seen):

TOP
Schindler's List
Jaws
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (any version)
Munich

Very Solid
The Adventures of Tintin
Minority Report
AI
ET
Catch me if You Can
Saving Private Ryan (if the mid section was better, I'd rank it top)
Empire of the Sun
Jurassic Park
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Duel (extended theatrical version)

Kinda worthwhile
War of the worlds
The Color Purple
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The Terminal
The Sugarland Express
1941 (come on it's still Spielberg with even the miniature FX shots done by the first unit!)

Poor
Hook
Always


Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:14 pm
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
Classic
Saving Private Ryan: I've never come close to souring on this one. Even the middle sections. Spielberg was given a solid script, and completely knocked every set piece, dialogue scene, and quiet moment out of the park. Even the sentimental ending feels of a piece and completely earned.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark: A perfect adventure movie.
Jaws: A perfect adventure movie. He did it twice, and neither is his best movie. That's... pretty good.
Jurassic Park: Has aged marvelously. I just saw it on the big screen a couple months ago and pretty much everything (other than the herd effects) completely held up. Nearly perfectly paced, in a very modern way. Compare to The Fugitive, the other great 1993 adventure movie. The Fugitive is still a great movie, but its pacing doesn't quite hold up as well as Jurassic Park's.

Classic in Waiting
Lincoln: I agree that more time has to pass before it definitely gets in the Classic tier. Or at I'll need a second viewing. For what it's worth, I am anticipating this DVD release more than other 2012 movie. If I had to guess, I'd slot it in just below Jaws.

Very Very Good
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade: Lot of fun. A pretty impressive job of recreating the tone of the first one, with some good comedy thrown in.
Minority Report: I think I feel about this one like a lot of people feel about Jurassic Park. The ending isn't quite earned, the plot holes grate on me a little, and some of the action scenes feel oddly antiseptic.

Solid Movies
Hook: I was born in 1983, so I think I'm genetically wired to love Hook. Which I still mostly do.
Catch Me If You Can: Worth it entirely for Chris Walken's scene with his son in the restaurant. Should have been the first Spielberg film to win an acting Oscar. Rest of the movie is good, too.
War Of The Worlds: One of his better directed movies. He loses his way a bit at the very end, but for the first 9/10, Spielberg carries a mediocre script with one fantasticly staged set-piece after another.
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom: Definitely seems better after Crystal Skull. It's a real "Indiana Jones" movie. So, yay.

Some Cracks are Showing
The Lost World: Lightweight sequel.
War Horse: A couple scenes toward the end are pretty tough to sit through, but the first two thirds are very solid.
AI Artificial Intelligence: Am I still allowed to think the ending fell apart completely if I didn't realize until years later that they were advanced robots and not aliens?
The Adventures Of Tintin: Just felt... off to me, somehow. More like Sahara than Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The Terminal: OK, I suppose, but that's about it.
Duel: Maybe I just didn't get it. Seemed like a mid-tier Twilight Zone episode stretched way out.

Bombs
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull: Very similar to Revenge of the Sith for me. Convinced myself it was pretty good in theaters. But every time I rewatch it--it gets fantastically worse every time.
Always: Yikes.

Shameful
That I still haven't seen Schindler's List.


Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:52 pm
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
Classic Tier
Jaws
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Schindler's List
Saving Private Ryan
Catch Me If You Can
Munich

The Good to Great Tier
Duel
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Minority Report
War Of The Worlds

Worthwhile
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
E.T.
Empire Of The Sun
Jurassic Park
Lincoln
The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn
War Horse

Mediocrities
Hook (I actually have a soft spot for this one, but I will admit it's not up to Spielberg's usual standard)
Amistad (Haven't seen this one in a long while though)
The Terminal

Bombs
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (I think this has more to do with Lucas' clear influence over the material)

I haven't seen The Sugarland Express, 1941, Always, The Color Purple, and The Lost World.

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Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:29 am
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
anyone seeing Jurassic Park 3D?


Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:50 pm
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
calvero wrote:
anyone seeing Jurassic Park 3D?

No, I think people are getting pretty sick of older films being re-released in 3-D(the middling reception of Phantom Menace's conversion led to the cancellation of the other prequels getting the same treatment), it's like "What's the point"?


Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:23 pm
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
Phantom Menace's reception isn't helped by the fact it's a distinctly 3rd rate film. 3D or not.

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Mon Apr 08, 2013 3:54 am
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
NotHughGrant wrote:
Phantom Menace's reception isn't helped by the fact it's a distinctly 3rd rate film. 3D or not.

I think it has more to do with the fact that most people don't see a point in paying to see a 3-D re-release of an older film.


Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:00 am
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Post Re: Ranking Spielberg films with the Tiers approach.
People will pay to see older films if they are good.. whether in 3D or not.

If the film is poor, it will just remind everyone how poor it was first time around.

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Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:06 am
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