Kathleen Kennedy Masterpieces, Ranked

Kathleen Kennedy Masterpieces, Ranked

We’ll never understand how certain pockets of the internet vilify Kathleen Kennedy. Since Kennedy became the president of Lucasfilm in 2012, she’s been instrumental in bringing one of the most famous franchises in the world back to prominence on the big screen and beyond. Under Kennedy we finally got to see what happens after Return of the Jedi, the first Star Wars TV show, what Obi-Wan Kenobi was up to before A New Hope, that Boba Fett was still alive, a Han Solo movie, and so, so much more.

Has every Star Wars thing been a classic? Nope. But all of that comes after a producing career that rivals any other person on the planet. Working alongside filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, M. Night Shyamalan, Joe Dante, and others, Kennedy has played a major role in dozens and dozens of iconic films. Some of which, undoubtedly, are among your all-time favorites.

And so, as some Star Wars fans continue to get up in arms about Kennedy’s choices in a galaxy far, far, away we thought it would be fun to remind you of the long list of stone-cold masterpieces she’s been a part of. We narrowed it down to 15 films/franchises—which was a chore considering some of the films we didn’t include are batteries not included, Young Sherlock Holmes, An American Tail, Arachnophobia, Innerspace, Hook, The Land Before Time, Signs, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Those aren’t on the list. Here’s what is…

15. Twister

Image: Warner Bros.

Maybe we’re the only ones who consider Twister a masterpiece, but we don’t care. Few films in our lifetimes have so beautifully balanced the line between pulp and drama than this big-budget action extravaganza.

14. The Gremlins films

Image: Warner Bros.

…of which there are only two, but nevertheless, the Gremlins movies are basically the perfect entry point into horror. They mix the scary and the gross with humor and heart, and in just the right proportions.

13. A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Image: Warner Bros.

Steven Spielberg’s realization of Stanley Kubrick’s vision is a fascinating rumination on science fiction and family, through the prism of a coming-of-age adventure. Maybe not fully appreciated in its time, it’s a film that gets better with age.

12. The Goonies

Image: Warner Bros.

Perfectly of its time, The Goonies has become rather polarizing depending on when you saw it growing up. But whether you love it with all your heart (as we do) or think it’s super kiddy and dumb, there’s no denying its epic sense of wonder and almost superhuman feats of casting, showcasing Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Ke Huy Kwan, Martha Plimpton, and so many others, so early in their careers.

11. Persepolis

Image: Sony Classics

Among their many achievements, Kennedy’s company (which she runs with her husband, fellow producing legend Frank Marshall) helps bring foreign animated films to U.S. audiences. One example is this stunner of a biopic set against the Iranian Revolution.

10. Ponyo

Image: Studio Ghibli

Working with legendary director Hayao Miyazaki and his team at Studio Ghibli, Kennedy was among the producers who brought this seaworthy adventure to the United States with an English-speaking cast.

9. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Image: Lucasfilm

We had to put one of Kennedy’s Star Wars films on here—and, if you have to pick just one, there’s really only a single choice. It’s The Last Jedi, a misunderstood Star Wars tour-de-force that did so many things no one expected, it’s hilariously hated by some and rightfully adored by others.

8. The Sixth Sense

Image: Disney

There had been twist endings before The Sixth Sense and there have been twist endings since The Sixth Sense. But M. Night Shyamalan’s 1999 smash was such a surprise in so many ways, it established its director as an instant star and began a wide-ranging career that’s still going to this day.

7. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Image: Miramax

Without Kennedy and Marshall, there’s a chance this unforgettable French film about a man who struggles to live without the ability to communicate wouldn’t exist. But it does and the world is better off for it. A stunning piece of work.

6. Poltergeist

Image: MGM

Stories have been spun about everything that went on behind the scenes of Tobe Hooper’s horror film Poltergeist, and though few will ever know the full truth, Kennedy surely does. And the result, no matter what actually happened, is one of the most exciting, entertaining, and scary horror films ever.

5. The Jurassic Park films

Image: Universal

It’s hard to imagine a world in which the Jurassic Park films don’t exist. The series, especially the original, has become such a part of not just popular culture, but culture as a whole, that thinking about the process of making them and seeing that reception is awe-inspiring.

4. Schindler’s List

Image: Universal

While io9 usually covers only genre films, for this list we had to make a few exceptions. We just had to. Diving Bell and the Butterfly is one and the other is the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List. How can you make a list of Kennedy’s masterpieces without it? Especially since she, Spielberg, and others were working on this and Jurassic Park at the same time?

3. The Back to the Future films

Image: Universal

The first Back to the Future is just, full stop, a perfect movie. We’ve covered that in the past. And while its sequels aren’t quite that, we love them anyway. Much like Jurassic Park, these are films that have simply become a part of life as we know it and redefined how people thought of time-travel tales in the process.

2. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Image: Universal

If this is in any way a surprise to you, you should go and watch E.T. again.

1. The Indiana Jones films

Image: Lucasfilm

We’re putting the Indiana Jones films at the top of this list for a few reasons. The first three are unforgettable masterpieces in their own right. Second, because Raiders is where Kathleen Kennedy first worked directly with Steven Spielberg and Frank Marshall, forging friendships and relationships that would change Hollywood forever. And third, it’s because, whether you loved it or hated it, Indy is so important to Kennedy that she is still shepherding it today, having just released the fifth film, Dial of Destiny. Indiana Jones and Kathleen Kennedy are forever linked, and so the series as a whole takes this top spot.