3. 'Schindler's List' (1993)
What's left to say about Spielberg's most acclaimed film and one of Hollywood's few genuine attempts to confront the Holocaust? It's a haunting work, to be sure – but also a haunted one, ostensibly a tale of survival regarding the thousand-plus Jews who were effectively saved by the efforts of German industrialist Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson). But it can't shake the ghosts of those who didn't survive, and keeps showing us their fates as well. The brief glimpse of Auschwitz, not to mention the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, are some of the most unbearable sequences Spielberg has ever put to film. And other than a few concessions to stylistics (that red coat), the director tempered the usual sensationalism of his usual historical drama aesthethic, shooting in black and white and consciously forgoing some of his cherished cinematic techniques. It's a stark work, and a deeply humanistic one as well.