August 20, 2012 at 2:32 am #67291
Steven Spielberg, when introduced to kids, is always said to be the greatest living film director. A few years later, kids learn of his two alleged masterpieces: Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. Growing up, all kids know that these two films represent something else. Something of a higher quality. They may never see these movies, but they know they’re there.
For a long time, I was under the impression that everybody loved most of Spielberg’s work (what director can have a 10/10 batting average?). But later of course, I found out it wasn’t like this. Some people despise Spielberg with every fiber of their being. Too “sappy”, too “emotional”, too “sentimental”, are words that come to mind when one thinks of Spielberg haters. Some say he’s been out of touch with quality for a long time.
But the greatest shock of all came when I actually heard Jeff Wells of Hollywood-Elsewhere on his weekly podcast with Sasha Stone say, unequivicaly that he had “great respect” for Schindler’s List BUT that there were 3 things wrong with that movie: 1) the girl in the red coat scene; 2) the scene where Liam Neeson cries at the end; 3) [Sorry can’t remember this one, I will edit later]
How could this be? I’d always believes Schindler’s List to be considered a masterpiece by everyone (and I mean everyone), me included. And then, another loud minority (maybe even majority?) has risen up against Saving Private Ryan! Another movie which I believed was considered a masterpiece by everyone. What is this new Spielberg hate?
As for Oscars, Spielberg has received 6 noms for best director: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and Munich.
8 of his movie have been nominated for Best Picture: Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., The Color Purple, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich and War Horse.
So what do you GoldDerbyites think? Has Spielberg lost his touch? Has he ever been great at all? What’s your opinion of Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan? Is he being (un)fairly hated now? What are you thoughts on his post-Schindler’s List career?August 20, 2012 at 5:30 am #67293
I like a lot of his films, but no one can do well under the “greatest filmmaker alive” title like he’s been given by various people and groups. I thought War Horse was horrible, and some of his prestige pics (like Amistad) are difficult watches. Spielberg and Nolan share some similarities, one of them being that they are quick to do close-ups on “innocents” faces as if to remind the audience that what’s happening on screen – be it the Holocaust or a bridge being blown up – truly are horrific events (uuum, we get it and we don’t need the booming music to remind us either).
Nevertheless, my favorites by him outweigh the negative feelings for others, with Close Encounters of the Third Kind being his very best.August 20, 2012 at 7:31 am #67294
Spielberg is amazing. His list of great films is unmatched by any living director.
His problem is now that every project that he has is hyped from the moment the project is announced as a guaranteed Best Picture winner. No one can live up to that hype, even if the film is great. Case in point, “Lincoln” is the favourite to win Best Picture this year even though no one has seen anything from it.August 20, 2012 at 8:01 am #67295
Spielberg is amazing. His list of great films is unmatched by any living director.
Last I checked (just off of memory), Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda, Pedro Almodóvar, Abbas Kiarostami and, yes, Clint Eastwood are still alive (and I’d put Spielberg further back than many others after these five, which isn’t definitive).August 20, 2012 at 8:23 am #67296
I think he is a great director, has several classic films, and is one of the best American directors (or at least one of the best living American directors who focuses on commercial films). With that said, he has made several missteps over the past decade. I found Saving Private Ryan underwhelming (but still great) and then everything after that has been mostly a misfire (save Munich, which was not great but at least very interesting and Minority Report, which actually may be his finest modern film). AI, War of the Worlds, The Terminal, Catch Me If You Can, Indiana Jones 4, and especially War Horse all underwhelmed me.August 20, 2012 at 8:24 am #67297
With that said, I have high hopes for Lincoln!August 20, 2012 at 8:48 am #67298
Count me as someone who doesn’t consider Spielberg to be any more than at best a “good” director.
To me, his two standout films are Always and Catch Me If You Can, the only two that broke through his veneer of refraining to get personal in a true sense and reveal much about himself.
ET and Close Encounters are fine, if limited achievements. Munich is the other one of his recent films that, though flawed, has merit.
I look forward to Lincoln with something resembling dread, almost as much as Les Miserables.
I know no basis for the statement that Spielberg is “always” considered our greatest living director. If you check the resent Sight and Sound critics poll, my guess is that you’d find 50 living directors minimum whose films received more votes than his. I wouldn’t consider him in the top 200, though again I think he overall has been a good director, whatever that means.August 20, 2012 at 9:07 am #67299
Not a very reputable group, but EW’s “staff” said Spielberg was the best living director this past February:
…and, again not voted by an esteemed group (if any), but the IMDb editors named him the best director of the last 20 years:
There are probably other lists like this out there (these were ones I remembered). If I was talking to casual film fans, Spielberg’s a quick name.August 20, 2012 at 9:12 am #67300
There’s no question that Spielberg is the most popular living director, and that any poll would show him the winner.
My problem was with the assertion that he “always” is considered this.
I doubt that be thinks he’s the greatest living director.August 20, 2012 at 9:15 am #67301
Spielberg is not the “greatest living director,” but he’s pretty damn good. You only have to glance at his filmography to know this. And anyone who argues otherwise is full of it.August 20, 2012 at 9:23 am #67302
For anyone confused, The Wounded Man is Pucifer/Poubelle etc
I think Spielberg’s filmography is wildly uneven. I don’t think it makes him a “damn good” director to the extent that “damn” makes him better than “good.”
I judge my reaction to a director’s worth by how interested I am in seeing a movie of his that I have previously not seen. I’d put Spielberg way down on that list for me, partly because so many of his films are mediocre, and partly because they almost never surprise me.
I do think though that at the end of the day Munich is better than Brokeback Mountain.August 20, 2012 at 9:40 am #67303
The “uneven” part is true, but the weird thing is that his films really separate/as if we’re looking at a schizophrenic director. The blockbuster pieces (the alien/dinosaur/animal/futuristic/Indiana Jones movies) are usually miles apart from his dramas (his war/period films). Films like The Terminal, Always, and The Sugarland Express do stick out like sore thumbs.August 20, 2012 at 9:51 am #67304
My problems with Spielberg are two-fold:
1) He is the director who has most initiated and then popularized the blogbuster/sequel mentality that severely damaged American studio film.
2) His difficulty to transcend his childhood experiences, with a point of view that seems stuck in suburban Phoenix when he was 12 year old boy. Then in turn when this proved so popular, that sort of attitude has become the mantra of studio decision makers. His success has made movies far less adult-oriented.
It’s why I prefer Always (a propoundly personal work about losing a spouse, made just after he divorced Amy Irving after she left him for Bruno Barreto, whose most famous film ironically had the same plot as Always) and Catch Me If You Can (about an early 20s hotshot getting way ahead of himself based on cocky self-confidence, which pretty much describes him as he started his career). Both those revealed something about him. Most of the rest of his films reveal that he saw a lot of movies as a kid, except those when he gets serious, most of which are overwrought and frequently hit for me sour notes (Schindler’s List, Amistad, War Horse).August 20, 2012 at 10:13 am #67305
No love for ‘Jaws?’
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.