Top 10 Robert Zemeckis Films

Zemeckis and his Back to the Future star Michael J Fox captured on set

Zemeckis and his Back to the Future star Michael J Fox captured on set

List compiled by Eddie on 02/12/2016

A director very much cut from the same cloth as his fellow director and close friend Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis (the man who gave us Marty McFly and Doc Brown) has found great success over a large number of years by delivering crowd pleasing cinematic spectacles that are sometimes nothing but pure fun and sometimes emotionally powerful.

A winner the 1995 Best Director award at the Academy Awards and a recipient of swag of other plaudits, Zemeckis has since the 2000’s started struggled to reach the film heights he reached in the mid 80’s through the 90’s and his attempt to herald in a new age of film making with motion capture events The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol were a lacklustre period for the director who also disappointed last year with his live action venture The Walk, perhaps the most unnecessary film of his career.

It’s hoped that Zemeckis will one day soon return to his roots of big budgeted and character heavy pieces that made him such a force in his early career and with his World War 2 set thriller Allied on the horizon that stars Brad Pitt, it’s highly likely that the director we came to love all those years ago will once more deliver products worthy of his name.

Happy reading and happy watching!

Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer in the creepy What Lies Beneath

Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer in the creepy What Lies Beneath

10. What Lies Beneath (2000)

An over the top yet never-the-less entertaining thriller, Zemeckis ramps up the jump scares in this Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer led tale of ghosts, murder and all things sinister. A decent performer at the Box Office upon initial release, What Lies Beneath shows off a side to Zemeckis the director we’re unlikely to ever see again.

9. Back to the Future: Part 3 (1990)

A fun and breezy conclusion to the Back to the Future trilogy, Part 3 sees our team of time traveling buddies hit up the dusty plains of the Wild West and in turn have a great time in the surrounds of the lawless beginnings of modern day America. Good movie fun for the whole family.

8. Flight (2012)

One of Zemeckis most intimate and character centred films, Flight is notable for both an incredibly staged plane crash that is perhaps one of Zemeckis most impressive ever singular scenes and an award worthy turn from its lead actor in the form of Denzel Washington. Arguably Zemeckis darkest films in tone and subject matter, Flight may not be perfect but when it takes off it really soars.

7. Romancing the Stone (1984)

A rip roaring romance that moonlights as both an action adventure and a thriller, Romancing the Stone took the Box Office by storm upon release, thanks to both Zemeckis fun turn behind camera and the on screen pairing up of Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, this is slight no doubt, but there’s also little point in trying to deny the entertainment factor that fills many of Stone’s scenes.

6. Contact (1997)

A contemplative Sci-Fi that features great turns from Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey, Contact is one of Zemeckis most divisive films but also one of his most emotionally powerful when audiences are drawn into this tale of the possibility of other life inhabiting our great big universe.

Contact is a thinking man's Sci-Fi and one of Zemeckis underrated gems

Contact is a thinking man’s Sci-Fi and one of Zemeckis underrated gems

5. Back to the Future: Part 2 (1989)

While it’s not up the standard of its highly touted original, Part 2 of the Back to the Future series is still a lot of fun despite its sometimes glaring missteps. With Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd still having a blast with their roles and with some intriguing ideas of what the future might look like, this is still in many ways, great blockbuster movie making.

4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

A quirky and witty mix of then ground-breaking animation and live action, Roger Rabbit is a blast of filmmaking genius that was much loved upon release and stands the test of time as both a love letter to detective stories of old and the art of animation that has now been transformed by the onset of CGI.

3. Back to the Future (1985)

A staple of many a childhood and the launching off of the career of the coolest kid on the block Michael J. Fox, Back to the Future saw Zemeckis and his close friend Steven Spielberg team up to create one of the most beloved film franchises of all time. An infectiously entertaining Sci-Fi that’s also laugh out loud funny, Back to the Future is well deserving of its renowned place in pop culture.

2. Cast Away (2000)

You wouldn’t think a movie about a bearded man stuck on an island with a Wilson volleyball would make for thrilling and heartfelt entertainment but thanks to a standout Tom Hanks performance and assured, inventive direction from Zemeckis, Cast Away is an all-time cinematic favourite that audiences continue to love to this day.

1. Forrest Gump (1994)

Adapting the beloved story created by Winston Groom to the big screen, Zemeckis alongside his lead actor Tom Hanks and a perfectly casted group of performers struck gold with this epic tale of one man’s journey through life, love and boxes and chocolate. Winner of 6 Oscars (including Best Picture) at the 1995 Academy Awards and one of the biggest Box Office hits of all time, Forrest Gump is a loveable and unique movie that can be enjoyed by all those both young and old and is the ultimate showcase for the way in which Zemeckis can please the crowd.

Who could forget this iconic image of Tom Hanks Forrest Gump?

Who could forget this iconic image of Tom Hanks Forrest Gump?

What are your favourite Robert Zemeckis films? If you’ve got thoughts we’d love to hear them! Drop us a line in the comments below!

Back to the Future poster

For other J and E director lists see below

Steven Spielberg

Dario Argento

Terrence Malick

Ridley Scott

The Coen Brothers

Martin Scorsese

John Carpenter

Quentin Tarantino

Tim Burton

David Fincher

37 responses to “Top 10 Robert Zemeckis Films

  1. Robert Zemeckis has produced or written films that I have fun watching (e.g., House on Haunted Hill and Gothika), and I have seen every film you’ve mentioned in your top ten, plus Beowulf and The Polar Express. But my favorite Robert Zemeckis film is Death Becomes Her, which he directed. I’ve seen that film countless times, and I never tire of it.

  2. Nice list. Definitely agree with you on #1. Forrest Gump is a very timeless and unique movie and probably one of Hank’s best roles.

  3. As far as Zemeckis films go, I did enjoy Roger Rabbit very much. The blending of the Toon world with the real world was very inventive at the time. The film that I was most disappointed with was Contact. I have always liked Carl Sagan. Naturally, I was excited when I found out this was being made into a movie. I was doubly excited when I heard one of my favorite leading ladies, Jodie Foster was cast. Then I found out Matthew “Alright, alright” McConaughey was playing opposite her. They had zero screen chemistry. I did not believe that they were in love with one another at all. That being said, the special effects particularly the Machine and the wormhole scenes were flat out amazing.
    What Lies Beneath was a pleasant departure for Harrison Ford. I would like to see him try more roles like this before he retires. I don’t want to give any spoilers away in case your readers haven’t seen this little gem.
    Flight was another bang on performance from Denzel. I really felt like I was living his character’s life. That is when you know an actor is good at his craft.
    Terrific list guys!

  4. Nice overview and a very impressive list! Have seen each and every one of these films, and they are all gems. I don’t think I can count the number of times that I have seen the back to the future trilogy anymore 😂 As for Forrest Gump…really one of the best movies ever made. Thanks for sharing this great list, and trip down memory lane 😀

  5. Back to the Future Part 2 was my least favourite of the trilogy so I would have ranked Part 3 above it. And I love Roger Rabbit so much I would have put it at number 2. But a great list Eddie.

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