1. 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (1981)
Spielberg's thrills-spills-and-chills masterpiece is both an homage to classic movie serials and also something totally of its early Eighties' moment. It's a film of beautifully conceived and precisely executed action – each scene more surprising, ornate, and eye-popping than the last – yet archeologist and man of adventure Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is never just a figure inside a big, SFX machine; the set pieces work because the film is so firmly invested in character. Watch how our hero and his duplicitous guide go back and forth in the film's breathtaking opening sequence; or Indy's interactions with Marion (Karen Allen) in the Well of Souls; or his weirdly jokey exchanges with the various Nazi foot-soldiers and drivers throughout the film's incredible desert truck chase scene. Its effects and technique are dazzling; it's a perfect blend of jaw-dropping spectacle and the sort of actor-driven movie-movie moments that are redolent of Golden-Age-of-Hollywood classics; and it's as perfect a piece of pure, uncut entertainment as anyone has produced in the last few decades.