Ranking Steven Spielberg's films from worst to first

Thanks to the unmatched record-keeping of the internet, there exists a video of a then-29-year-old Steven Spielberg watching as the nominees for the 48th Academy Awards are announced. The year is 1976 — just after the release of 1975’s “Jaws” — and a brash Spielberg predicts “Jaws” will be nominated in 11 categories. Alas, the film does not get 11 nominations, instead receiving only four — none of which are for best director.


There’s a lot to unpack in this three-and-a-half minute gem — the quintessential ’70s garb worn by Spielberg and his friends, the group’s dismay when Spielberg is snubbed for best director and the subdued celebration that follows the announcement of “Jaws”‘ best picture nomination. But as devastated as Spielberg was that day, perhaps he’d be less disappointed if he knew just how much success was in store for him in the years to come.

Few directors can match the commercial and critical success Spielberg has amassed over his nearly 50-year career. Three of his next four directing credits after “Jaws” cemented his status as one of the film industry’s heavy hitters: “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982). To date, Spielberg has earned 16 Academy Award nominations with three wins — two for “Schindler’s List” for best picture and a best director win for “Saving Private Ryan.” He’s made box office smashes across various genres — from period pieces “Lincoln” and “The Color Purple” to action films like “Jurassic Park” to…

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