Born: 1946, United States
Perhaps the most popular and well-known filmmaker in contemporary
American film, Steven Spielberg is also one of the most acclaimed.
He's certainly the most powerful filmmaker in today's Hollywood
and just about every film he has made has reached box office success.
Spielberg is a master of Blockbuster filmmaking. He is responsible
for some of the most memorable and creative box office films in
history, and you can say he is (along with George Lucas) responsible
for changing the face of American entertainment in the film industry.
However, Spielberg is above all a great storyteller and he easily
connects with filmgoing audiences. He has a very traditional and
knowledgeable sense of filmmaking (with influences ranging worldwide
from John Ford to David Lean to Akira Kurosawa). Spielberg is
masterful at the technical aspects of film and has successfully
evolved his career with new technology, but his great strength
is his ability to never abandon the story or the emotional impact
of the story. Even in his most dazzlingly technical films lies
a deeply human story- which generally involve family. Spielberg
is also a producer and works with large budgets and teams of collaborators
and as a result his films are extravagant. He has such a skill
with controlling the grand and sweeping effects within the narrative
structure of the story. Since his earliest films, Spielberg has
always been (and still is) a master of storytelling and creative
technical achievement. Some of his more recent films have proven
his creativity as a visual master as well. Spielberg's skill framing
and visual trademarks have become a staple of American filmmaking
(notably the gaze of his characters looking at an almost majestical
world in the front of them with a beautiful awe and wonder). His
compositions and of the sun, moon, and mirrored reflections of
objects left behind have become essential pieces of his visual
mastery, as has his classic collaborations with composer John
Williams who is responsible for many of the most memorable scores
in American film history.
and Steven Spielberg deserve equal praise for the collaboration.
In some ways these two filmmakers have contrasting styles which,
when combined, seem to really work within the themes of this film.
I think A.I. was a very personal and important film to Kubrick,
and he even thought much of it was more suitable for Spielberg.
I believe Spielberg was very respectful of Kubrick's idea, and
yet he still managed to express his own personal vision into the
film. What results is an achievement that will stand the test
of time and be recognized among the great films of American cinema.
Spielberg handles the subject matter perfectly from opening shot
to its powerful and heartbreaking conclusion.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
might be the essential Spielberg film in that it seems to most
embody every aspect of his filmmaking trademarks (both from a
storytelling and technical perspective). So much to remember and
embrace about this undeniably sweet and touching film.
I have seen
this many times, but it really never gets old. Jaws is a landmark
of American film. It was Spielbergs third feature film and
really the film that gave him creative freedom and control throughout
the rest of his career. It may be formula, but it is top-notch
formula in every way, and in many ways a film that propelled the
formula into countless imitators. I think Spielberg may have made
more definitive or personal films after this, but to me Jaws stands
as one of his very greatest achievements and it remains as relevant
(and engrossing) today as it did in 1975.
War of the Worlds (2005)
adaptation of HG Welles classic novel, War of the Worlds, is a
film that will very likely be under appreciated. Through Spielberg's
vision, the film becomes more a story of human-beings and most
of all a film of family. Spielberg is working with an enormous
budget and with it he creates some dazzling visuals effects, and
technical mastery. Yet no matter what the budget or ambition of
the film, Spielberg is always about capturing the emotional core
of the family. Being a big star (and tabloid machine) Tom Cruise
often gets overlooked as a great actor. I think he gives an outstanding
performance here and the emotional center of the film really relies
on him to be convincing.
Empire of the Sun (1987)
1987 film has the grand sweep of Cecil B. DeMille or David Lean
(who was originally attached to direct) with all his signature
emotional and 80s visual touches. This coming of age tale essentially
blends two elements that defined Spielberg's career - the childlike
wonder fantasies and the mature and somber themes. This film beautifully
captures both the surreal and the harsh worlds of Spielberg's
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
influence from the classic American filmmakers he admired are
more evident then every here but Saving Private Ryan is a film
achievement to embrace. Spielberg flawlessly blends intense action
with intimate drama, humor and sentimental period detail. Though
not Spielberg's most original film, it is an incredibly respectful
work and feels personal and stands memorable.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
me, this "Anthing Goes" followup to the beloved 1981
film is a slightly better paced and overall more entertaining
film. Temple of Doom stands as the best of the series embodying
all the adventure, humor, horror and excitement that make this
such a lasting franchise.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
masterful buildup and storytelling skills are on full display
here in this pure spectacle of Hollywood filmmaking. Vilmos Zsigmond's
cinematography is perfection and the films final act is simply
West Side Story (2021)
is Spielberg's first official musical - yet in so many ways the
material seems such a fit for the master (look no further then
the Busby Berkeley inspired opening in Temple of Doom) and he
delivers a respectful, and refreshing adaptation for a new generation.
This is so well made and is made like a throwback but also feels
so right for today!.
Jurrasic Park (1993)
Park is a landmark film, like a King Kong for the digital age.
Spielberg brings to this his great sense of pace and spectacle,
making this an instant family adventure classic film that will
long be loved by American audiences.
War Horse (2011)
plenty of Spielberg type moments within this film and his influence
from John Ford is as evident as ever. However, War Horse is a
film unlike anything Spielberg has ever done before, as here the
narrative drive is less on plot, instead it is an episodic structure
which uses a non-human protagonist as a reflection of a larger
human epic scale. This is one of Spielberg's most reflective films,
Schindler's List (1993)
Spielberg's most acclaimed film, Schindler's List has (for me)
not had the impact on repeat viewings. That said, it is a remarkable
achievement. Spielberg does an incredible job of keeping you engaged
for over 3 hours and serious credit is due to Janusz Kaminski's
rich black and white photography. The film is sad but does have
a righteous purpose that leaves it inspiring.
not as purely entertaining as many of Spielberg's films Munich
is one of his most interesting works and a narrative departure
for him as well. The film pace and craftsmanship is top notch.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
collaboration with George Lucas results in the start of one of
the most beloved franchises in movie history. The opening adventure
scene is thrilling and a landmark 1980s film moment.
of this films credit is in the incredible performance of Daniel
Day Lewis but Spielberg does a beautiful job with the atmosphere
and sense of period here. Biography films don't always work for
me but I really admire what Spielberg, Day-Lewis and the entire
crew/cast achieved here.
Ready Player One (2004)
One is filled with the grand set pieces and visual you'd expect
from Spielberg. It also offers plenty of film homages and culture
references. This film is fun escapism and yet also seems to offer
some personal touches for its filmmaker and its here that the
film really pulls you into its ride.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
keeps this very loose true story light in tone and a charming
lead performance from Leonardo DiCaprio make it feel like a lot
less then its nearly two and half hour running time.
Minority Report (2002)
viewings have been kinder then I remember this sci-fi thriller
to be on initial, mostly in part to Spielberg's visuals which
resemble some vast cinematic influences (as wide ranging as Blade
Runner and Ingmar Bergman's Persona). The opening portion is undeniably
is Spielberg paying tribute to classic screwball comedy. Its known
for being a massive bomb (both commercially and critically) but
I think there is some underrated appeal here mostly for the way
the film embraces its over the top tone.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Lost World is an underappreciated followup to his landmark film.
While it certainly has its fair share of sequel in-jokes this
film does offer some darker themes, and as a sequel, has the freedom
to bring out a bit more soul in its digital dinosaurs then the
The Post (2017)
shows a lot of respect for an era when newspapers stood for something
and he gives the star presence of his lead performances (Meryl
Streep and Tom Hanks). Its not as bold or loud as the directors
trademark films, but The Post is a worthy film that offers some
honest and powerful messages about an industry that has lost touch
with the public.
films first half is far more appealing mostly in the way it finds
humor and credit to the period details but this film lacks subtly
as it moves along and grows more somber. Still a very solid film
from a master filmmaker.
The Terminal (2004)
A modern ode
to some of the silent comedies Spielberg admire, The Terminal
is not a great film but it charming and lighthearted enough.
for its well intended and seemingly deeply personal details. This
is a film I really want to admire even if it does miss the mark
in some areas.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
is a legendary franchise but this one just feels a bit to forced,
soulless, and one-note for me. Still an entertaining entry in
a beloved franchise.
surprising disappointment in that it lacks the sense of adventure
and entertainment you'd expect from both a Spielberg film and
a Peter Pan story.
The Color Puple (1985)
film is highly acclaimed and features some great visuals but to
me its resembles Spielberg at his worst or most forceful. There
are some fine performances to be found here but the material requires
a lighter touch then what we get.
The BFG (2016)
of visual extravagance on display here but this lacks engrossing
storytelling or sympathy.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
installment definitely plays on the nostalgia of the franchise
and it begins with a setup that relies heavily on the iconic persona
of Indiana Jones (the first image of him is his back turned reaching
down to get his famous hat). The series has lost much of its charm
mostly because Ford has as well. The plot here is rather uninteresting
as they bring a science-fiction element into the mix.
DID NOT SEE YET:
Bridge of Spies (2005)
Adventures of Tintin (2011)
The Sugarland Express (1974)