HitFix ranks the legend's greatest films to date
25. 'Amistad' (1997)
This is another case where I'm not sure the whole film works, but there are things about this movie that Spielberg really nailed. For one thing, he cast Djimon Hounsou, who is remarkable in the film. And say what you will about the courtroom stuff, but the staging of the mutiny on the slave ship and in particular Spielberg's staging of the Middle Passage is just harrowing. Considering how rarely Hollywood has been willing to tackle America's difficult history with slavery, you would think people would celebrate how much of "Amistad" actually works instead of tearing it down for its more on-the-nose elements. Few directors have ever wanted to make you feel what life on those boats was like, and fewer still have the skills to make it as painfully tactile as Spielberg did here.
- Drew McWeeny