BY DANITA STEINBERG
Year released: 1977
How it fared back then: Coming off the huge success of Jaws, Steven Spielberg had a lot to live up to with this film. He sure didn’t disappoint. It raked up over $300 million at the box office worldwide, with people flocking to the theater to see it more than once. Critics gave it positive reviews, including the always blunt Pauline Kael, who exclaimed it is “a kid’s film in the best sense.”
Why it’s lasted: For fans of the science fiction and horror genres, this is an ideal example of both. Equal parts chilling and otherworldly, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is always a safe bet if you want to please everyone in the room. Along with Star Wars, this film gave the science fiction genre a much needed reboot. Portraying aliens as benevolent was a new idea at the time, and it’s still a rare thought today. Winning an Oscar for Best Cinematography, getting nominated for countless others, being on many best of lists (including the rank of 64th greatest film of all time according to the American Film Institute), and inspiring dozens of spoofs, this is a classic that is here to stay.
Classic moment: The mashed potato mountain.
Does it still hold up? Yes, yes, yes. The visual effects and cinematography are stunning. Richard Dreyfuss gives a great performance. The scene near the beginning of the film when the aliens first make themselves known is one of the eeriest scenes of all time. It is atmospheric like no other. Spielberg captivates you from start to finish, creating a very human science fiction film that only his magic storytelling could deliver.
Danita loves musicals, Bette Midler, sandwiches, Real Housewives, great horror films, and The Golden Girls. She’s a barista, bookworm, cinephile, and celebrity stalker. If she’s at home, she’s in her pajamas. Follow her on Twitter @danita_35.