Spielberg had made poor films before The Terminal, but each of them had a flash of the old magic: a dazzling shot, a winning character beat, a moment of grandeur. Not The Terminal. This vaguely-based-on-reality tale of a hapless, lovable foreigner (Tom Hanks, inevitably) marooned at JFK Airport following a visa mix-up is totally anonymous on every level. Still, if this drab, inoffensive piece of fluff is as bad as it gets for the director, that’s to his credit.—Tom Huddleston
Famously, Steven Spielberg grew up in the public eye, maturing from good-versus-Nazis blockbusters into a more nuanced engagement with human evil. His art found its apex in an extraordinary 1993, during which the director released two masterpieces: the highest-grossing Hollywood roller coaster up to that point (Jurassic Park) and a morally complex Oscar-winning triumph (Schindler’s List). It’s an achievement that will likely never be matched. We love all kinds of Steven Spielberg movies—ones about sharks and Abraham Lincoln alike. In honor of his latest effort, Ready Player One (admittedly, not that high on our list), we’ve ranked all 31 Steven Spielberg movies, from the thrilling peaks to the so-so valleys. He’s never made a truly terrible film, and that in itself is impressive.