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. Spielberg always goes for the bold and
impacting emotion of scenes and as such he tends to be very forceful
at times. The emotional impact is certainly effective, but if
there is a flaw it is that this boarders on being overbearing
(this to me is the greatest flaw of a film like The Color Purple-
a film who's material probably required a less melodramatic touch).
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
Stanley Kubrick 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
War Horse (2011)
plenty of Steven 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, alongside A.I..
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
me, this 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.
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 the will
long be loved by American audiences.
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.
Schindler's List (1993)
Spielberg's most acclaimed film, Schindler's List has (for me)
not had the impact on repeat viewings. 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
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 topnotch.
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.
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 brings out a bit more soul
in its digital dinosaurs then the 1993 film.
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.
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.
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 Persona). The opening portion is undeniably engaging.
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.
for its well intended and seemingly deeply personal details but
this film misses the mark in most areas. This is a film I really
want to admire.
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.
The BFG (2016)
of visual extravagance on display here but this lacks engrossing
storytelling or sympathy.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
one just feels a bit to forced, soulless, and one-note for me.
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 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
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)