With 'War Horse' and 'Tintin' in theaters, we rank the director's best
5. "Empire of the Sun" (1987)
One of Spielberg's most underrated endeavors, if not THE most underrated film of his career, is the J.G. Ballard adaptation "Empire of the Sun." Christian Bale gives one of the finest child actor performances ever in this most powerful of coming-of-age tales. And yet Spielberg couldn't escape his own signature, as the film offered the first of two deceptively treacly endings that is actually quite disturbing (the other coming in the next film on my list). To this day it's misread as sentimental. It's also one of the few films that feels absolutely complete thematically and narratively, even if it suffers from what many Spielberg films suffer from: 150 minute-itis.