7. 'Empire of the Sun' (1987)
Spielberg's epic adaptation of J.G. Ballard's WWII memoir didn't get nearly enough love when it came out, but its reputation has steadily (and rightfully) grown over the years. As Jim Graham, a boy whose opulent life with his expat parents in Shanghai is upended when the Japanese invade, a very young Christian Bale is equal parts fresh-faced charm and snooty privilege; he's an adorably irritating Spielberg boy protagonist. It's a stark portrait of shattered illusions, showing how youthful wonder transforms into terror and paralysis. And as the American mercenary and opportunist who befriends Jim, and then fails to live up to the boy's expectations, John Malkovich gives one of his finest performances.