Jude: I like Close Encounters best, mostly because of Terri Garr and Francois Truffaut. I also enjoyed the first 2 Indy movies. Jaws is OK until you see the shark.
Everything else, meh.
Actually, his boy-as-hero films were an early career development (I blame Truffaut, who in CE3K said "you should work wid keeds. You are terrific with keeds"). His best films are when he uses the camera with all the exuberance of a child, the way he does with Jaws, CE3K, and (underrated masterpiece) 1941.
No, I'm not a fan of Color Purple and I know blacks who are embarrassed by it too. For a more honest telling of what blacks went through in the South, you could try Sounder, Roots, and Charles Burnett's wonderful, wonderful Nightjohn. And you should read Empire of the Sun the novel to see how much Spielberg missed Ballard's point.