OK, so, you know how people’s list of favorite movies usually just sort of sounds fake? Like, often times, you can tell they’ve curated the list to make them look cool and refined? It’s so phony, but we’ve all gotten pretty used to accepting that it’s how people make their lists. Well, it’s how most of us make our lists. Not Steven Spielberg.
Spielberg, who may well have directed a handful of movies on those lists, dropped his list of his favorite 20 movies and it’s very obviously devoid of pretense or any concerns about being cool. Instead, it’s just the right mix of timeless classics, hidden gems and gooey crowdpleasers to assure you that it’s the genuine article.
“Whether in success or in failure, I’m proud of every single movie I’ve directed,” he once said. “I’ve always been very hopeful which I guess isn’t strange coming from me. I don’t want to call myself an optimist. I want to say that I’ve always been full of hope. I’ve never lost that. I have a lot of hope for this country and for the entire world.”
Spielberg cut his teeth in the era known as “New Hollywood” or “American New Wave,” in which directors claimed far greater control over films. Movies like Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate and 2001: A Space Odyssey set a new, more idiosyncratic tone for American filmmaking, and directors like Spielberg, George Lucas and Martin Scorsese pushed those efforts into a new era of soaring success and, eventually, the modern blockbuster.
Spielberg has said that he watched a John Ford film before he starts a new feature, so no surprise to see Ford represented on this list. Likewise, Spielberg has been effusive in his praise of Stanley Kubrick, so 2001‘s inclusion makes sense too. The movies range in time period from 1937 t0 2014 — and at least of a few of the newer ones are very clearly indebted to Spielberg’s work. But, humble king that he is, the man didn’t even include any of his own movies, although Jaws or Jurassic Park are as worthy of this list as anything else on it. And as for his number one, all time favorite …who could argue?
Here are Spielberg’s 20 favorite movies.
- It’s a Wonderful Life – Frank Capra (1946)
- The Godfather – Francis Ford Coppola (1972)
- Fantasia -Walt Disney (1940)
- A Guy Named Joe – Victor Fleming (1943)
- Guardians of the Galaxy – James Gunn (2014)
- War of the Worlds – Byron Haskin (1953)
- Psycho – Alfred Hitchcock (1960)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick (1968)
- Lawrence of Arabia – David Lean (1962)
- Untouchable – Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano (2011)
- The Dark Knight – Christopher Nolan (2008)
- The 400 Blows – François Truffaut (1959)
- Day for Night – François Truffaut (1973)
- Citizen Kane – Orson Welles (1941)
- Captains Courageous – Victor Fleming (1937)
- The Best Years of Our Lives – William Wyler (1946)
- The Searchers – John Ford (1956)
- Tootsie – Sydney Pollack (1982)
- Seven Samurai – Akira Kurosawa (1954)
- Dumbo – Walt Disney (1941)
Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story releases next week (SPOILER: it’s great!).