The only thing harder than ranking Steven Spielberg’s 12 greatest films, is choosing 12 of his 30-plus feature films (his list keeps growing), and boldly stating they’re better than the other 18-plus. But, that’s the whole point of the internet, isn’t it? Identifying things to debate? Creating subjective lists with as much objectivity as one can muster? Taking one on the jaw in the comments section if Jaws isn’t on this thing—but don’t worry, of course it is! Without further ado, let us honor the master filmmaker, Steven Spielberg, and his 12 greatest films.
12. Duel (1971)
It’s never good when you have to start off a list with a disclaimer, but in this case, it’s warranted. Duel is not a better film than several other of Steven Spielberg’s films that are not listed. In fact, it may be 27 or 28 on the overall list of “that was awesome.” However… Duel was such an achievement in filmmaking for a young, budding, soon-to-be master, that it can never be excluded from any list about Spielberg. Duel was gloriously 1970s, and made for TV. There were an enormous amount of vehicular stunts, and the film was rooted in visual storytelling. It didn’t rely on words. It relied on the fight or flight response from the audience, and that’s exactly what it achieves. For a first time feature filmmaker, it’s mind boggling that Spielberg pulled this off as well as he did, and with a $450,000 budget.