In this week’s recommendations we will be celebrating one of the world’s best directors and filmmakers; Steven Spielberg. Spielberg is the most commercially successful director of all time, and is one of the most acclaimed directors as well, having won 3 Academy Awards, a Kennedy Centre honor, a Cecil B. DeMille award, and an AFI Lifetime Achievement award, amongst others.
So, without further ado, here are this week’s Spielberg-themed recommendations:
- Jaws (1975)
Jaws is a thriller movie that is based on the 1974 book of the same name by Peter Benchley. Jaws has a number of prestigious accolades; it was the movie that launched Steven Spielberg’s career and it is widely considered the first ever ‘Summer Blockbuster’. Jaws won several awards, including 3 Academy Awards. Spielberg later admitted that he felt bitter that he was not nominated for Best Director for Jaws.
Jaws was heavily inspired by the movies of Alfred Hitchcock, specifically, the suspenseful manner in which Spielberg films the titular shark, affectionately called ‘Bruce’. Hitchcock was notorious for building suspense and not letting his audience see the villain of his movies fully; Spielberg took inspiration from that technique when filming the mechanical ‘Bruce’ become difficult, and so we have the suspense-filled thriller movie where you hardly see ‘Bruce’, but effectively chilling camera work accompanied by an equally chilling soundtrack.
Jaws is now one of many Steven Spielberg movies that has been selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry, recognizing it as a landmark horror movie and the first ‘summer movie’.
2. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, or E.T. (1982)
E.T. is a coming-of-age sci-fi movie about a young boy who finds and tries to help, a lost alien return home. E.T. surpassed Star Wars (1977) as the highest-grossing movie of all time (at that time) and held that record for 11 years. It was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and won 4 of those nominations. E.T. like Jaws was also inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, for being culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.
The character of E.T. was loosely inspired by Steven Spielberg’s childhood imaginary friend, whom he used as a coping mechanism during rough patches in his parent’s married life, and subsequent divorce. E.T. was also the beginning of actress Drew Barrymore’s career at just age 6. E.T. is a movie that is prominent in most of our childhoods. It signifies true friendship, hope, and belief in the good in the world.
3. Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park is a sci-fi action movie based on the 1990 novel of the same name. It is the second of Spielberg’s movies to be the highest-grossing movie of all time, beating out E.T. and it held that record until it was beaten out by Titanic (1997). The movie won more than 20 awards, including 3 Academy Awards for its technological advancements in visual effects and sound design. It is also another of Steven Spielberg’s movies to be chosen by the Library of Congress to be inducted into the National Film Registry for it being culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.
Spielberg and Universal Studios bought the film rights for Jurassic Park before the book was published. They also decided to hire the author of the novel to rewrite it for the screen for an extra fee. Jurassic Park has gone on to create a franchise of 6 movies, some animated TV shows, and numerous video games.
4. Schindler’s List (1993)
Schindler’s List is an epic historical drama that is based on the life of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who is credited with saving the lives of over a thousand Jewish people throughout World War 2. Spielberg passed on directing this movie several times before accepting as he was unsure if he was ready to direct a movie with such a serious subject matter. He also decided to film in black and white, and shoot in a documentary style to create a ‘timeless’ feel, which paired well with the main theme performed by violinist Itzhak Perlman.
Schindler’s List is the first of Steven Spielberg’s movies to win an Academy Award for Directing and Best Picture. Overall the movie won 7 Academy Awards and it is the fourth of Spielberg’s movies to be inducted into the National Film Registry for cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance.
Schindler’s List is a profound look into what this period in history was like and how it affected people, not just Jewish people, but the German people too. It is a heart-warming story of a man committed to his beliefs as a Nazi Party member, but seeing the damage and the wrongness of his party’s actions that he puts his own life at risk to do the right thing for the Jewish people.
5. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Catch Me If You Can is a biographical crime comedy-drama movie based on the life of Frank Abagnale. This story is as far-fetched as anyone could imagine, and the idea that it is based on true events makes it even harder to believe, which is one of the charming aspects of this movie. Although Catch Me If You Can was only nominated for 2 Academy Awards, not critically successful by Spielberg standards, it was incredibly commercially successful and is one of my personal favorite Steven Spielberg movies.
6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Saving Private Ryan is an epic war drama set during World War 2 at the Battle of Normandy. It is known for its graphic and realistic depictions of war and battle and is said to have had veterans crying and leaving theatres after seeing it. It has been cited as being influential in the war and action film genres, due to its use of saturated colors, hand-held cameras, and tight angles. It has also been credited with renewing interest in World War 2 media, in particular, the World War 2-themed first-person shooter video games of the 2000s.
It was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 5. It lost out on the Best Picture win to Shakespeare In Love (1998), which was seen as a huge controversy and left many Academy members and fans incredibly upset. Saving Private Ryan is yet another of Steven Spielberg’s works that have been inducted into the National Film Registry for its cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance.