Steven Spielberg’s Favorite Movies: 30 Films the Director Wants You to See

The highest grossing director of all time, Steven Spielberg enjoys high-brow classics as much as crowd-pleasing blockbusters. Known for “Jurassic Park,” “Indiana Jones,” “Jaws,” “West Side Story” (2021), and more favorites, the beloved American filmmaker premiered his semi-autobiographical “The Fabelmans” in theaters last November.

The movie, nominated for seven Oscars (winning none), tells the story of how Spielberg came to be Spielberg — chiefly through the lens of his parents’ traumatic divorce. Boasting a cast that includes not just Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as Spielberg’s mom and dad, but also David Lynch in a rare acting opportunity, “The Fabelmans” was described by IndieWire’s David Ehrlich as an epic rendering of “the breakup that launched a million blockbusters.

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Following the contemplative mood of two-ish years in COVID-19 lockdown, the 2022 fall film season was chockfull of projects meditating on the role — and, in the case of “TÁR,” responsibility — of artists. How these sorts of visionaries influence each other’s lives and works offers an endless source of fascination for fans. Like Quentin Tarantino after him (who, by the way, cites “Jaws” and “West Side Story” among his favorite films), Spielberg’s filmography is a treasure trove of tributes to and subversions of the great directors of the past.

Putting “The Fabelmans” shut-out aside, the box office titan is well accomplished in the awards circuit — having previously clinched three Academy Award wins: two for Best Director and one for 1993 Best Picture “Saving Private Ryan,” and 19 more nominations over the course of his career. He credits that success to his self-teaching through film.

He told NPR, “My film school was really the cultural heritage of Hollywood and international filmmaking, because there’s no better teacher than Lubitsch or Hitchcock or Kurosawa or Kubrick or Ford or William Wyler or Billy Wilder or Clarence Brown. I mean, Val Lewton. I mean, those are my teachers.”

Listed in no particular order — with a special emphasis on the black-and-white classics the filmmaker told AFI no one sees enough — here are 30 of Steven Spielberg’s favorite movies, including “The Thing from Another World,” “Citizen Kane,” “Fantasia,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and “Godzilla, King of the Monsters!” among others.

[Editor’s note: This list was published in November 2022 and has since been updated.]

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