To find the best work of Steven Spielberg’s career, look no further than the island of Amity (which, as you know, means friendship).
At least that’s the collective opinion of the nearly 90 members of the Criticwire Network who voted in our poll of the best films of the legendary director’s career. “Jaws” finished first in five different categories, including Best Film, Best Scene and Best Score/Soundtrack. With the impending release of “Jurassic Park 3D,” we asked critics to rank the best Spielberg films in eleven different areas, spanning from best direction, performances and moments.
We also asked for responses in two different acting categories, both lead and supporting. Among the casts with the best total representation include the aforementioned “Jaws” (Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw), “Schindler’s List” (Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes), “Lincoln” (Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones) and “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” (Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law).
Even though Spielberg has had three different films hit theaters in the past 16 months, the results were spread across his multiple decades of work. While Day-Lewis and Jones placed well in the performance category, and Tony Kushner’s script took first in the Best Screenplay, “Lincoln” finished a surprising twelfth in the overall Best Film tally.
While most of the categories focused on the director’s accomplishments, we also gave critics the opportunity to single out a few films that don’t quite measure up to Spielbergian standards. His alternate version of the Peter Pan story, “Hook,” found disfavor with a few of our respondents, as did a pair of sequels: “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”
Critics also submitted votes for two types of favorite moments: Best Scene and Best Shot. Although the responses in these categories were grouped by film (“Jaws” topped both), individual ballots have explanations for why a certain sequence or image made their picks. Similarly, to highlight some of the iconic characters in Spielberg’s films, we have results for Best Hero (led, of course, by Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones) and Best Villain (Ralph Fiennes’ Amon Goeth from “Schindler’s List).
Curious to see how your favorite Spielberg film fared in all eleven categories? Check out the results here.