Steven Spielberg

Directors: Steven Spielberg

Steven SpielbergBIOGRAPHY (from Wikipedia)

Steven Allan Spielberg is an American filmmaker, considered one of the founding pioneers of the New Hollywood era and one of the most popular directors in film history. Spielberg started in Hollywood directing television and several minor theatrical releases. He became a household name as the director of Jaws, which was critically and commercially successful and is considered the first summer blockbuster. His subsequent releases focused typically on science fiction and adventure films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park, which became archetypes of modern Hollywood escapist filmmaking. The director later transitioned into addressing more serious issues in his work with films including The Color Purple, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and Lincoln.

He co-founded Amblin Entertainment and DreamWorks Studios, where he has served as a producer or executive producer for several successful film franchises including the Gremlins, Back to the Future, Men in Black, and the Transformers series. He later transitioned into producing several video games.

Most of Spielberg’s films deal with ordinary characters searching for or coming in contact with extraordinary beings or finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances. A strong consistent theme in his family-friendly work is a childlike sense of wonder and faith, with these theme portrayed through the use of low height camera tracking shots, which have become one of his directing trademarks.

The most persistent theme throughout his films is tension in parent-child relationships. This is arguably the most autobiographical aspect of his films, since Spielberg himself was affected by his parents’ divorce as a child and by the absence of his father. Most of his films are generally optimistic in nature, and while some critics accuse his films of being overly sentimental, the director feels it is fine as long as it is disguised.

Spielberg is one of the American film industry’s most critically successful filmmakers, with praise for his directing talent and versatility, and he has won the Academy Award for Best Director twice. Some of his movies are also among the highest-grossing films ever made, while his total work makes him the highest-grossing film director in history.

 


DIRECTOGRAPHY

1971 – Duel (TV Movie)
1972 – Something Evil (TV Movie)
1973 – Savage (TV Movie)
1974 – The Sugarland Express 
1975 – Jaws 
1977 – Close Encounters of the Third Kind
1979 – 1941 
1981 – Raiders of the Lost Ark 
1982 – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 
1983 – Twilight Zone (Segment: “Kick the Can”)
1984 – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
1985 – The Color Purple
1987 – Empire of the Sun 
1989 – Always
1989 – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
1991 – Hook
1993 – Jurassic Park 
1993 – Schindler’s List
1997 – The Lost World: Jurassic Park
1997 – Amistad
1998 – Saving Private Ryan
2001 – A.I. Artificial Intelligence 
2002 – Minority Report 
2002 – Catch Me If You Can
2004 – The Terminal 
2005 – War of the Worlds 
2005 – Munich
2008 – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 
2011 – The Adventures of Tintin
2011 – War Horse
2012 – Lincoln 
2015 – Bridge of Spies 
2016 – The BFG 
2017 – The Post 
2018 – Ready Player One 
2020 – West Side Story

 


PosterMovieYearCommentsRatingReviewer
Duel 1971 Spielberg's debut is so self assured you would think he was an old pro as he delivers a murder weapon in the shape of a 40 ton truck! A fantastic thrill ride that hasn't aged a day. 4 Gordon
Jaws 1975 The shark may look a bit cheap these days, but with jump scares aplenty, an action-packed final showdown and John Williams’ masterful score, this film still has the ability to jangle your nerves. A genuine classic. 4.5 Mat
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977 A really intriguing film, good effects for the time and the slow build up to the final encounter is atmospheric and encapsulating. I heartily recommend this Spielberg classic. 4 Simon
Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 Raiders turns a university Professor of Archaeology into an action hero and cemented Harrison Ford as one of the biggest stars of the 80s. A great tale of good and evil with comedy and action in equal measure. 4 Gordon
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982 The seminal family movie, thoroughly engaging with a great story, good effects and a weep-fest at the end. What more could you want? 4 Simon
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984 Whilst it contains some of the most exciting action sequences of the series, an over-reliance on gross-out scenes and the grim, Occult-themed story make this the worst of the 80s Indy films. 3 Mat
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984 With a forgettable script, forced comedy and poor action sequences, this is almost a complete no show by today’s standards. If it wasn’t for the great mine cart scene I think Indy may have been saying goodnight after just two films. 2.5 Gordon
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989 It may not be much different to its predecessors in terms of story, but the addition of Sean Connery as Indy's dad brings a new dynamic to the main characters and more humour, making this my favourite of the series. 4.5 Mat
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989 With an engaging story and a great cast, Last Crusade gets the humour just right and closes what we thought was a trilogy pretty perfectly. 4 Gordon
Jurassic Park 1993 The dinosaur effects have aged surprisingly well, and upstage the generally mediocre human actors in most cases. The film blends the feelings of wonder and terror perfectly however, and is one of the best technical achievements in cinematic history. 4 Mat
The Lost World: Jurassic Park 1997 The sense of wonder and tension from the first film is replaced by a bunch of idiotic or despicable characters that you're just waiting to get eaten. A grim, depressing sequel that is marginally redeemed by the climactic T-Rex rampage. 2.5 Mat
Catch Me If You Can 2002 Perhaps not one of Spielberg’s more notable movies, but the lack of expectation helps make this gripping chase story all the more impressive. DiCaprio is fantastic and Hanks plays his part well, but it's the unbelievable true story that makes the film. 4 Mat
Minority Report 2002 One of Tom Cruise's better attempts at Sci Fi and a thrilling ride as we get a great glimpse into a possible future and its moral dilemmas. 4 Gordon
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2008 After an enjoyable opening 20 minutes, it just gets worse and worse with some awful acting, bad CGI and tiresome action sequences, before a dreadful finale. That said, it wasn't as bad as I remembered! 2.5 Mat
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2008 An unnecessary and unworthy follow up suffers from the same issues as Lucas’ return to the Star Wars world. Spielberg relies too much on CGI and tries to turn Shia LaBeouf into James Dean (failing spectacularly). 2 Gordon
The Adventures of Tintin 2011 The animation is excellent, though the characters are somewhat unnerving in their realism. Story-wise it's rather haphazard, but at its best it is reminiscent of the early Indy movies, not least thanks to the John Williams score. 3 Mat
Bridge of Spies 2015 A little too 'Spielbergy' for my liking, but a great performance from Rylance and an interesting and unusual spy story. 3.5 Gordon
The BFG 2016 Steven Spielberg adapts Roald Dahl's beloved story and somehow contrives to make it incredibly dull, with an annoying lead actress and unconvincing CGI characters. Probably proves that the story only works for children. 2 Mat
Ready Player One 2018 A rather childish interpretation of the nostalgia-soaked book appears to be aimed at people too young to get the references and comes off a little dumbed down. I'd have loved it 20 years ago however! 3 Gordon
Ready Player One 2018 The story is even more simplistic than the book and the action sequences are mostly soulless, but despite that you can't help but smile at the onslaught of pop-culture references and thrilling world that Spielberg has brought to the screen. 3.5 Mat

 

For more detailed analysis of some of Spielberg’s work, please check out our Film Club podcast on Duel and our boxset review of the Indiana Jones saga.


The Verdict

  • Duel
  • Jaws
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Jurassic Park
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  • Catch Me If You Can
  • Minority Report
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  • The Adventures of Tintin
  • Bridge of Spies
  • The BFG
  • Ready Player One
3.5

Summary

If you focus purely on his 70s thrillers and the family adventure movies and factual dramas of the 80s and 90s then it’s hard to disagree that Spielberg is one of the greatest directors of all time. His 21st Century output has been a little hit and miss in comparison, but it’s still fair to say that any film he is attached to is virtually guaranteed box office success. So while you could question Spielberg’s legendary status from a critical standpoint, there is no argument that he is the most successful person to ever sit in the director’s chair.
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DIRECTORS LEAGUE

This page will be updated as we watch more Steven Spielberg films and therefore his overall rating will change over time. You can see where Spielberg sits in the Directors League here.

 

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