Oscar Directors: Spielberg, Steven–Background, Career, Awards, Filmography

October 12, 2020

Career Summation

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Steven Allan Spielberg (born December 18, 1946) , the American film director, producer, and screenwriter, is considered one of the founding pioneers of the New Hollywood and one of the most popular directors and producers in film history.

Spielberg started in Hollywood directing television and several minor theatrical releases. He became a household name as the director of Jaws (1975), which was critically and commercially successful and is considered the first summer blockbuster.

His subsequent releases focused typically on science fiction/adventure films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and its later sequels as part of the Indiana Jones franchise, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Jurassic Park (1993), which became archetypes of modern Hollywood escapist filmmaking.

Spielberg transitioned into addressing serious issues in his later work with The Color Purple (1985), Empire of the Sun (1987), Schindler’s List (1993), Amistad (1997), and Saving Private Ryan (1998). He has largely adhered to this practice during the 21st century, with Munich (2005), Lincoln (2012), Bridge of Spies (2015), and The Post (2017), although additional films since then include A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001), Minority Report (2002), his 2005 adaptation of War of the Worlds, and Ready Player One (2018).

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

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 films are also among the highest-grossing films, while his total work makes him the highest-grossing film director in history. His net worth is estimated to be more than $3 billion.[1]

Spielberg was born on December 18, 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His mother, Leah (née Posner, later Adler; January 12, 1920 – February 21, 2017), was a restaurateur and concert pianist, and his father, Arnold Spielberg (February 6, 1917 – August 25, 2020), was an electrical engineer involved in the development of computers. His family was Orthodox Jewish. Spielberg’s paternal grandparents were Jews from Ukraine, immigrants who settled in Cincinnati in the 1900s; his grandmother was from Sudylkiv, while his grandfather was from Kamianets-Podilskyi.

In 1950, his family moved to Haddon Township, New Jersey, when his father took a job with RCA. Three years later, the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Spielberg attended Hebrew school from 1953 to 1957, in classes taught by Rabbi Albert L. Lewis.

As a child, Spielberg faced difficulty reconciling being an Orthodox Jew with the perception of him by other children he played with. “It isn’t something I enjoy admitting,” he once said, “but when I was seven, eight, nine years old, God forgive me, I was embarrassed because we were Orthodox Jews. I was embarrassed by the outward perception of my parents’ Jewish practices. I was never really ashamed to be Jewish, but I was uneasy at times.” Spielberg also said he suffered from acts of anti-Semitic prejudice and bullying: “In high school, I got smacked and kicked around. Two bloody noses. It was horrible.”

At age 12, he made his first home movie: a train wreck involving his toy Lionel trains. Throughout his early teens, and after entering high school, Spielberg continued to make amateur, 8 mm, “adventure” films.

In 1958, he became a Boy Scout and fulfilled a requirement for the photography merit badge by making a nine-minute, 8 mm film entitled The Last Gunfight. Years later, Spielberg: “My dad’s still-camera was broken, so I asked the scoutmaster if I could tell a story with my father’s movie camera. He said yes, and I got an idea to do a Western. I made it and got my merit badge. That was how it all started.”

At age 13, while living in Phoenix, Spielberg won a prize for a 40-minute, war film he titled Escape to Nowhere, using a cast of other high school friends. That motivated him to make 15 more amateur, 8 mm films.

Some of the films he cited as early influences include the Godzilla kaiju film King of the Monsters (1956), which he called “the most masterful of all the dinosaur movies because it made you believe it was really happening”, as well as titles such as Captains Courageous (1937), Pinocchio (1940), and particularly Lawrence of Arabia (1962), which he cited as “the film that set me on my journey”.

In 1963, at age 16, Spielberg wrote and directed his first independent film, a 140-minute science fiction adventure called Firelight, which would later inspire Close Encounters. The film was made for $500, most of which came from his father, and was shown in a local cinema for one evening, which earned back its cost.

After attending Arcadia High School in Phoenix for three years, his family later moved to Saratoga, California where he attended and graduated from Saratoga High School in 1965. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout. His parents divorced while he was still in school, and, soon after, he graduated. Spielberg moved to Los Angeles, staying initially with his father. His long-term goal was to become a film director. His three sisters and mother remained in Saratoga. In Los Angeles, he applied to the University of Southern California’s film school but was turned down because of his “C” grade average. He then applied and was admitted to California State University, Long Beach where he became a brother of Theta Chi Fraternity.

While still a student, he was offered a small, unpaid, intern job at Universal Studios with the editing department.[38][39] He was later given the opportunity to make a short film for theatrical release, the 26-minute, 35 mm Amblin’, which he wrote and directed. Studio vice president Sidney Sheinberg was impressed by the film, which had won a number of awards, and offered Spielberg a seven-year directing contract. It made him the youngest director ever to be signed for a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio.[21]:548 He subsequently dropped out of college to begin professionally directing TV productions with Universal.[40][41] Spielberg later returned to California State University, Long Beach and completed his BA degree in Film and Electronic Arts in 2002.[42]

Career
1970s
His first professional TV job came when he was hired to direct one of the segments for the 1969 pilot episode of Night Gallery, written by Rod Serling and starring Joan Crawford. Crawford, however, was “speechless, and then horrified” at the thought of a newcomer, only 21, directing her, one of Hollywood’s leading stars. “Why was this happening to me?” she asked the producer.

Her attitude changed after they began working on her scenes: When I began to work with Steven, I understood everything. It was immediately obvious to me, and probably everyone else, that here was a young genius. I thought maybe more experience was important, but then I thought of all of those experienced directors who didn’t have Steven’s intuitive inspiration and who just kept repeating the same old routine performances. That was called “experience.” I knew then that Steven Spielberg had a brilliant future ahead of him. Hollywood doesn’t always recognize talent, but Steven’s was not going to be overlooked. I told him so in a note I wrote him. I wrote to Rod Serling, too. I was so grateful that he had approved Steven as the director. I told him he had been totally right.

She and Spielberg were reportedly close friends until her death. The episode is unusual in his body of work, in that the camerawork is more highly stylized than his later, more “mature” films. After this, and an episode of Marcus Welby, M.D., Spielberg got his first feature-length assignment: an episode of The Name of the Game called “L.A. 2017”. This futuristic science fiction episode impressed Universal Studios and they signed him to a short contract. He did another segment on Night Gallery and did some work for shows such as Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law and The Psychiatrist, before landing the first series episode of Columbo (previous episodes were actually TV films).

Based on the strength of his work, Universal signed Spielberg to do four TV films. The first was a Richard Matheson adaptation called Duel. The film is about a psychotic Peterbilt 281 tanker truck driver who chases the terrified driver (Dennis Weaver) of a small Plymouth Valiant and tries to run him off the road. Special praise of this film by the influential British critic Dilys Powell was highly significant to Spielberg’s career. Another TV film (Something Evil) was made and released to capitalize on the popularity of The Exorcist, then a major best-selling book which had not yet been released as a film. He fulfilled his contract by directing the TV film-length pilot of a show called Savage, starring Martin Landau.

Spielberg’s debut full-length feature film was The Sugarland Express, about a married couple who are chased by police as the couple tries to regain custody of their baby. Spielberg’s cinematography for the police chase was praised by reviewers, and HR stated that “a major new director is on the horizon.” However, the film fared poorly at the box office and received a limited release.

Studio producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown offered Spielberg Jaws, a thriller-horror film based on the Peter Benchley novel about an enormous killer shark. Spielberg has often referred to the gruelling shoot as his professional crucible. Despite the film’s ultimate, enormous success, it was nearly shut down due to delays and budget over-runs. But Spielberg persevered and finished the film. It was an enormous hit, winning three Academy Awards (for editing, original score and sound) and grossing more than $470 million worldwide at the box office. It also set the domestic record for box office gross, leading to what the press described as “Jawsmania.” Jaws made Spielberg a household name and one of America’s youngest multi-millionaires, allowing him a great autonomy for his future projects. It was nominated for Best Picture and featured Spielberg’s first of 3 collaborations with actor Richard Dreyfuss.

Rejecting offers to direct Jaws 2, King Kong and Superman, Spielberg and actor Richard Dreyfuss re-convened to work on a film about UFOs, which became Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). One of the rare films both written and directed by Spielberg, Close Encounters was a critical and box office hit, giving Spielberg his first Best Director nomination from the Academy as well as earning six other Academy Awards nominations. It won Oscars in two categories (Cinematography, Vilmos Zsigmond, and a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing, Frank E. Warner). This second blockbuster helped to secure Spielberg’s rise.

His next film, 1941, a big-budgeted World War II farce, was not nearly as successful and though it grossed over $92.4 million worldwide (and did make a small profit for co-producing studios Columbia and Universal) it was seen as a disappointment, mainly with the critics.

Spielberg then revisited his Close Encounters project and, with financial backing from Columbia Pictures, released Close Encounters: The Special Edition in 1980. For this, Spielberg fixed some of the flaws he thought impeded the original 1977 version of the film and also, at the behest of Columbia, and as a condition of Spielberg revising the film, shot additional footage showing the audience the interior of the mothership seen at the end of the film (a decision Spielberg would later regret as he felt the interior of the mothership should have remained a mystery). Nevertheless, the re-release was a moderate success, while the 2001 DVD release of the film restored the original ending.

Spielberg teamed with Star Wars creator and friend George Lucas on an action adventure film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first of the Indiana Jones films. The archaeologist and adventurer hero Indiana Jones was played by Harrison Ford (whom Lucas had previously cast in his Star Wars films as Han Solo). The film was considered an homage to the cliffhanger serials of the Golden Age of Hollywood. It became the biggest film at the box office in 1981, and the recipient of numerous Oscar nominations including Best Director (Spielberg’s second nomination) and Best Picture (the second Spielberg film to be nominated for Best Picture). Raiders is still considered a landmark example of the action-adventure genre. The film also led to Ford’s casting in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.[47]

A year later, Spielberg returned to the science fiction genre with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. It was the story of a young boy and the alien he befriends, who was accidentally left behind by his companions and is attempting to return home. E.T. went on to become the top-grossing film of all time. It was also nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, winning 4 of them.[48] Between 1982 and 1985, Spielberg produced three high-grossing films: Poltergeist (for which he also co-wrote the screenplay), a big-screen adaptation of The Twilight Zone (for which he directed the segment “Kick The Can”),[49] and The Goonies (Spielberg, executive producer, also wrote the story on which the screenplay was based).[50] Spielberg appeared in a cameo on Cyndi Lauper’s music video for the movie’s theme song, “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough”.[51]

Spielberg and Chandran Rutnam on a location in Sri Lanka during the filming of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
His next directorial feature was the Raiders prequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Teaming up once again with Lucas and Ford, the film was plagued with uncertainty for the material and script. This film and the Spielberg-produced Gremlins led to the creation of the PG-13 rating due to the high level of violence in films targeted at younger audiences. In spite of this, Temple of Doom is rated PG by the MPAA, even though it is often considered the darkest and, possibly, most violent of the Indiana Jones films.[citation needed] Nonetheless, the film was still a huge blockbuster hit in 1984. It was on this project that Spielberg also met his future wife, actress Kate Capshaw.[52]

In 1985, Spielberg released The Color Purple, an adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, about a generation of empowered African-American women during depression-era America. Starring Whoopi Goldberg and future talk-show superstar Oprah Winfrey, the film was a box office smash and critics hailed Spielberg’s successful foray into the dramatic genre. Roger Ebert proclaimed it the best film of the year and later entered it into his Great Films archive. The film received eleven Academy Award nominations, including two for Goldberg and Winfrey. However, Spielberg did not get a Best Director nomination.

In 1987, as China began opening to Western capital investment, Spielberg shot the first American film in Shanghai since the 1930s, an adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun, starring John Malkovich and a young Christian Bale. The film garnered much praise from critics and was nominated for several Oscars, but did not yield substantial box office revenues. Reviewer Andrew Sarris called it the best film of the year and later included it among the best films of the decade.[53] Spielberg was also a co-producer of the 1987 film *batteries not included.

After two forays into more serious dramatic films, Spielberg then directed the third Indiana Jones film, 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Once again teaming up with Lucas and Ford, Spielberg also cast actor Sean Connery in a supporting role as Indy’s father. The film earned generally positive reviews and was another box office success, becoming the highest-grossing film worldwide that year; its total box office receipts even topped those of Tim Burton’s much-anticipated film Batman, which had been the bigger hit domestically. Also in 1989, he re-united with actor Richard Dreyfuss for the romantic comedy-drama Always, about a daredevil pilot who extinguishes forest fires. Spielberg’s first romantic film, Always was only a moderate success and had mixed reviews.

1990s

Spielberg in March 1990
In 1991, Spielberg directed Hook, about a middle-aged Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams, who returns to Neverland. Despite innumerable rewrites and creative changes coupled with mixed reviews, the film proved popular with audiences, making over $300 million worldwide (from a $70 million budget).

In 1993, Spielberg returned to the adventure genre with the film version of Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park, about a theme park with genetically engineered dinosaurs. With revolutionary special effects provided by friend George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic company, the film would eventually become the highest-grossing film of all time (at the worldwide box office) with $914.7 million. This would be the third time that one of Spielberg’s films became the highest-grossing film ever.

Spielberg’s next film, Schindler’s List, was based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a man who risked his life to save 1,100 Jews from the Holocaust.[54] Schindler’s List earned Spielberg his first Academy Award for Best Director (it also won Best Picture). With the film a huge success at the box office, Spielberg used the profits to set up the Shoah Foundation, a non-profit organization that archives filmed testimony of Holocaust survivors. In 1997, the American Film Institute listed it among the 10 Greatest American Films ever Made (#9) which moved up to (#8) when the list was remade in 2007.

In 1994, Spielberg took a hiatus from directing to spend more time with his family and build his new studio, DreamWorks,[55] with partners Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. In 1996, he directed the sequel to 1993’s Jurassic Park with The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which generated over $618 million worldwide despite mixed reviews, and was the second biggest film of 1997 behind James Cameron’s Titanic (which topped the original Jurassic Park to become the new recordholder for box office receipts).

Spielberg receiving the Golden Lion by Italian filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo at the 50th Venice International Film Festival, 1993
His next film, Amistad, was based on a true story (like Schindler’s List), specifically about an African slave rebellion. Despite decent reviews from critics, it did not do well at the box office. Spielberg released Amistad under DreamWorks Pictures,[56] which has produced all of his films from Amistad onwards with the exception of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Adventures of Tintin and Ready Player One.[57]

His 1998 theatrical release was the World War II film Saving Private Ryan, about a group of U.S. soldiers led by Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) sent to bring home a paratrooper whose three older brothers were killed in the same twenty-four hours, June 5–6, of the Normandy landing. The film was a huge box office success, grossing over $481 million worldwide and was the biggest film of the year at the North American box office (worldwide it made second place after Michael Bay’s Armageddon). Spielberg won his second Academy Award for his direction. The film’s graphic, realistic depiction of combat violence influenced later war films such as Black Hawk Down and Enemy at the Gates. The film was also the first major hit for DreamWorks, which co-produced the film with Paramount Pictures (as such, it was Spielberg’s first release from the latter that was not part of the Indiana Jones series). Later, Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced a TV mini-series based on Stephen Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers. The ten-part HBO mini-series follows Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division’s 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The series won a number of awards at the Golden Globes and the Emmys.

2000s
In 2001, Spielberg filmed fellow director and friend Stanley Kubrick’s final project, A.I. Artificial Intelligence which Kubrick was unable to begin during his lifetime. A futuristic film about a humanoid android longing for love, A.I. featured groundbreaking visual effects and a multi-layered, allegorical storyline, adapted by Spielberg himself. Though the film’s reception in the US was relatively muted, it performed better overseas for a worldwide total box office gross of $236 million.

Spielberg and actor Tom Cruise collaborated for the first time for the futuristic neo-noir Minority Report, based upon the science fiction short story written by Philip K. Dick about a Washington D.C. police captain in the year 2054 who has been foreseen to murder a man he has not yet met. The film received strong reviews with the review tallying website Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 92% approval rating, reporting that 206 out of the 225 reviews they tallied were positive.[58] The film earned over $358 million worldwide. Roger Ebert, who named it the best film of 2002, praised its breathtaking vision of the future as well as for the way Spielberg blended CGI with live-action.[59]

Spielberg’s 2002 film Catch Me If You Can is about the daring adventures of a youthful con artist (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). It earned Christopher Walken an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film is known for John Williams’s score and its unique title sequence. It was a hit both commercially[60] and critically.[61]

Spielberg collaborated again with Tom Hanks along with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stanley Tucci in 2004’s The Terminal, a warmhearted comedy about a man of Eastern European descent who is stranded in an airport. It received mixed reviews but performed relatively well at the box office. In 2005, Empire magazine ranked Spielberg number one on a list of the greatest film directors of all time.

Also in 2005, Spielberg directed a modern adaptation of War of the Worlds (a co-production of Paramount and DreamWorks), based on the H. G. Wells book of the same name (Spielberg had been a huge fan of the book and the original 1953 film). It starred Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, and, as with past Spielberg films, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) provided the visual effects. Unlike E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which depicted friendly alien visitors, War of the Worlds featured violent invaders. The film was another huge box office smash, grossing over $591 million worldwide.

Spielberg’s film Munich, about the events following the 1972 Munich Massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games, was his second film essaying Jewish relations in the world (the first being Schindler’s List). The film is based on Vengeance, a book by Canadian journalist George Jonas. It was previously adapted into the 1986 made-for-TV film Sword of Gideon. The film received strong critical praise, but underperformed at the U.S. and world box-office; it remains one of Spielberg’s most controversial films to date.[62] Munich received five Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture, Film Editing, Original Music Score (by John Williams), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director for Spielberg. It was Spielberg’s sixth Best Director nomination and fifth Best Picture nomination.

In June 2006, Steven Spielberg announced he would direct a scientifically accurate film about “a group of explorers who travel through a worm hole and into another dimension”,[63] from a treatment by Kip Thorne and producer Lynda Obst.[64] In January 2007, screenwriter Jonathan Nolan met with them to discuss adapting Obst and Thorne’s treatment into a narrative screenplay. The screenwriter suggested the addition of a “time element” to the treatment’s basic idea, which was welcomed by Obst and Thorne.[64] In March of that year, Paramount hired Nolan, as well as scientists from Caltech, forming a workshop to adapt the treatment under the title Interstellar.[65] The following July, Kip Thorne said there was a push by people for him to portray himself in the film.[66] Spielberg later abandoned Interstellar, which was eventually directed by Christopher Nolan.[67]

Spielberg directed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which wrapped filming in October 2007 and was released on May 22, 2008.[68][69] This was his first film not to be released by DreamWorks since 1997. The film received generally positive reviews from critics,[70] and was financially successful, grossing $786 million worldwide.

2010s

Spielberg at his masterclass at the Cinémathèque Française in January 2012
In early 2009, Spielberg shot the first film in a planned trilogy of motion capture films based on The Adventures of Tintin, written by Belgian artist Hergé,[71] with Peter Jackson. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, was not released until October 2011, due to the complexity of the computer animation involved. The world premiere took place on October 22, 2011 in Brussels, Belgium.[72] The film was released in North American theaters on December 21, 2011, in Digital 3D and IMAX.[73] It received generally positive reviews from critics,[74] and grossed over $373 million worldwide.[75] The Adventures of Tintin won the award for Best Animated Feature Film at the Golden Globe Awards that year.[76] It is the first non-Pixar film to win the award since the category was first introduced.[77][78] Jackson has been announced to direct the second film.[79]

Spielberg followed with War Horse, shot in England in the summer of 2010.[80] It was released just four days after The Adventures of Tintin, on December 25, 2011. The film, based on the novel of the same name written by Michael Morpurgo and published in 1982, follows the long friendship between a British boy and his horse Joey before and during World War I – the novel was also adapted into a hit play in London which is still running there, as well as on Broadway. Distributed by Walt Disney Studios, with whom DreamWorks made a distribution deal in 2009, War Horse was the first of four consecutive Spielberg films released by Disney. War Horse received generally positive reviews from critics,[81] and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.[82]

Spielberg next directed the historical drama film Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln.[83] Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s bestseller Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, the film covered the final four months of Lincoln’s life. Written by Tony Kushner, the film was shot in Richmond, Virginia, in late 2011,[84] and was released in the United States in November 2012.[85][86] Upon release, Lincoln received widespread critical acclaim,[87] and was nominated for twelve Academy Awards (the most of any film that year) including Best Picture and Best Director for Spielberg.[88] It won the award for Best Production Design and Day-Lewis won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Lincoln, becoming the first three-time winner in that category as well as the first to win for a performance directed by Spielberg.

It was announced on May 2, 2013, that Spielberg would direct the film about the story of U.S. sniper Chris Kyle, titled American Sniper.[89] However, on August 5, 2013, it was announced that Spielberg had decided not to direct the film, which was instead directed by Clint Eastwood.[90]

Spielberg promoting Ready Player One (2018) in Japan
Spielberg directed 2015’s Bridge of Spies, a Cold War thriller based on the 1960 U-2 incident, and focusing on James B. Donovan’s negotiations with the Soviets for the release of pilot Gary Powers after his aircraft was shot down over Soviet territory. The film starred Tom Hanks as Donovan, as well as Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, and Alan Alda, with a script by the Coen brothers.[91] The film was shot from September to December 2014 on location in New York City, Berlin and Wroclaw, Poland (which doubled for East Berlin), and was released on October 16, 2015.[92][93] Bridge of Spies received positive reviews from critics, and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture; Rylance won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, becoming the second actor to win for a performance directed by Spielberg.

Spielberg’s The BFG is an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s celebrated children’s story, starring newcomer Ruby Barnhill, and Rylance as the titular Big Friendly Giant. DreamWorks bought the rights in 2010, originally intending John Madden to direct.[94] The film was the last to be written by E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison before she died. It was co-produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures, marking the first Disney-branded film to be directed by Spielberg. The BFG premiered out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival[95] on May 14, 2016[96] and received a wide release in the US on July 1, 2016.[91]

Spielberg directed Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in The Post, an account of The Washington Post’s printing of the Pentagon Papers.[97] Production began in New York on May 30, 2017.[98] The film began a limited release on December 22, 2017, with a wide release following on January 12, 2018.[99]

Spielberg directed the film adaptation of the popular sci-fi novel Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. The film stars Tye Sheridan,[100] Olivia Cooke,[101] Ben Mendelsohn, Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance.[102] It began production in London in July 2016,[103] a year before The Post, which was filmed, edited and released during the lengthy, effects-heavy post-production period for Ready Player One. Ready Player One was originally slated to be released on December 15, 2017[104] by Warner Bros.,[105] but was pushed back to March 29, 2018, to avoid competition with Star Wars: The Last Jedi.[106] It had its world premiere at the South by Southwest film festival, on March 11, 2018.[107]

Spielberg is directing West Side Story, a new film adaptation of the classic musical.[108] Tony Kushner stated in July 2017 that he was adapting the show’s book for Spielberg, though the musical score would remain unchanged, as would the late 1950s setting.[109] The film is set to be released by Disney on December 18, 2020.[110]

Upcoming projects
During an interview with The Tech in 2015, Spielberg described how he chooses the film projects he would work on:

[Sometimes], a story speaks to me, even if it doesn’t speak to any of my collaborators or any of my partners, who look at me and scratch their heads and say, ‘Gee, are you sure you wanna get into that trench for a year and a half?’ I love people challenging me that way because it’s a real test about my own convictions and [whether] I can be the standing man of my own life and take a stand on a subject that may not be popular, but that I would be proud to add to the body of my work. That’s pretty much the litmus test that gets me to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll direct that one.'[111]

Spielberg was scheduled to film his long-planned adaptation of David Kertzer’s The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara in early 2017, for release at the end of that year,[112] but production has been postponed. The book follows the true story of a young Jewish boy in 1858 Italy who was secretly baptized by a family servant and then kidnapped from his family by the Papal States, where he was raised and trained as a priest, causing international outrage and becoming a media sensation. It was first announced in 2014, with Tony Kushner adapting the book for the screen.[113] Mark Rylance, in his fourth consecutive collaboration with Spielberg, was announced to star in the role of Pope Pius IX. Oscar Isaac was set to star as Mortara’s father, but eventually dropped out.[114] Spielberg had difficulty casting the title role, though he saw more than 2000 kids.[115]

Spielberg is attached to direct an adaptation of American photojournalist Lynsey Addario’s memoir It’s What I Do. Jennifer Lawrence is attached to star in the lead role.[116]

In April 2018, it was announced that Spielberg would direct a film adaptation of the Blackhawk comic book series. Warner Bros. Pictures will distribute the film, with David Koepp writing the script.[117] During an interview in 1981 to promote Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg likened that film to the Blackhawk series.[118]

Projects on hold
In 2009, Spielberg reportedly tried to obtain the screen rights to make a film based on Microsoft’s Halo series.[119] In September 2008, Steven Spielberg bought film rights for John Wyndham’s novel Chocky and is interested in directing it. He is also interested in making an adaptation of A Steady Rain,[120] Pirate Latitudes,[121] The 39 Clues,[122] and a remake of When Worlds Collide.

In May 2009, Steven Spielberg bought the rights to the life story of Martin Luther King, Jr. Spielberg will be involved not only as producer but also as a director.[123] However, the purchase was made from the King estate, led by son Dexter, while the two other surviving children, the Reverend Bernice and Martin III, immediately threatened to sue, not having given their approvals to the project.[124]

Production credits
In 1975, he ventured into producing by creating Amblin Productions, with a four-picture agreement with Universal Pictures. It will later go on to become Amblin Entertainment.[125]

Since the mid-1980s, Spielberg has increased his role as a film producer. He headed up the production team for several cartoons, including the Warner Bros. hits Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Toonsylvania, and Freakazoid!, for which he collaborated with Jean MacCurdy and Tom Ruegger. Due to his work on these series, in the official titles, most of them say, “Steven Spielberg presents” as well as making numerous cameos on the shows. Spielberg also produced the Don Bluth animated features, An American Tail and The Land Before Time, which were released by Universal Studios. He also served as one of the executive producers of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and its three related shorts (Tummy Trouble, Roller Coaster Rabbit, Trail Mix-Up), which were all released by Disney, under both the Walt Disney Pictures and the Touchstone Pictures banners. He was furthermore, for a short time, the executive producer of the long-running medical drama ER. In 1989, he brought the concept of The Dig to LucasArts. He contributed to the project from that time until 1995 when the game was released. He also collaborated with software publishers Knowledge Adventure on the multimedia game Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair, which was released in 1996. Spielberg appears, as himself, in the game to direct the player. The Spielberg name provided branding for a Lego Moviemaker kit, the proceeds of which went to the Starbright Foundation.

Spielberg speaking at the Pentagon on August 11, 1999 after receiving the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service from Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
In 1993, Spielberg acted as executive producer for the highly anticipated television series seaQuest DSV; a science fiction series set “in the near future” starring Roy Scheider (who Spielberg had directed in Jaws) and Jonathan Brandis that aired on NBC. While the first season was moderately successful, the second season did less well. Spielberg’s name no longer appeared in the third season and the show was cancelled midway through it.

Spielberg served as an uncredited executive producer on The Haunting, The Prince of Egypt, Just Like Heaven,[126] Shrek, Road to Perdition,[127] and Evolution. He served as an executive producer for the 1997 film Men in Black, and its sequels, Men in Black II, Men in Black III, and Men in Black: International. In 2005, he served as a producer of Memoirs of a Geisha, an adaptation of the novel by Arthur Golden, a film to which he was previously attached as director. In 2006, Spielberg co-executive produced with famed filmmaker Robert Zemeckis a CGI children’s film called Monster House, marking their eighth collaboration since 1990’s Back to the Future Part III. He also teamed with Clint Eastwood for the first time in their careers, co-producing Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima with Robert Lorenz and Eastwood himself. He earned his twelfth Academy Award nomination for the latter film as it was nominated for Best Picture. Spielberg served as executive producer for Disturbia and the Transformers live action film series with Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner. The films, including sequels Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Transformers: Age of Extinction, and Transformers: The Last Knight were directed by Michael Bay and written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. In 2011, he produced the J. J. Abrams science fiction thriller film Super 8 for Paramount Pictures.[128]

Other major television series Spielberg produced were Band of Brothers, Taken and The Pacific. He was an executive producer on the critically acclaimed 2005 TV miniseries Into the West which won two Emmy awards, including one for Geoff Zanelli’s score. For his 2010 miniseries The Pacific he teamed up once again with co-producer Tom Hanks, with Gary Goetzman also co-producing’. The miniseries is believed to have cost $250 million and is a 10-part war miniseries centered on the battles in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Writer Bruce McKenna, who penned several installments of (Band of Brothers), was the head writer.

In 2007, Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett co-produced On the Lot a short-lived TV reality show about filmmaking. Despite this, he never gave up working on television. He currently serves as one of the executive producers on United States of Tara, a show created by Academy Award winner Diablo Cody which they developed together (Spielberg is uncredited as creator).

In 2011, Spielberg launched Falling Skies, a science fiction television series, on the TNT network. He developed the series with Robert Rodat and is credited as an executive producer. Spielberg is also producing the Fox TV series Terra Nova. Terra Nova begins in the year 2149 when all life on the planet Earth is threatened with extinction resulting in scientists opening a door that allows people to travel back 85 million years to prehistoric times.[129][130] Spielberg also produced The River,[131] Smash,[132] Under the Dome,[133] Extant,[134] The Whispers,[135] a TV adaptation of Minority Report,[136] and Bull.[137] However, following sexual misconduct allegations against Michael Weatherly, Amblin stopped producing the series, and Spielberg no longer served as an executive producer.[138]

In 2008, Spielberg and DreamWorks acquired the rights to produce a live-action film adaptation of the original Ghost in the Shell manga. Avi Arad and Steven Paul produced, Rupert Sanders directed, and Scarlett Johansson stars in the lead role of the film, which was released in 2017.[139][140][141]

In January 2013, HBO confirmed that it was developing a third World War II miniseries based on the book Masters of the Air by Donald L. Miller with Spielberg and Tom Hanks to follow Band of Brothers and The Pacific.[142] Few details have emerged about the project since, but NME reported in March 2017 that production was progressing under the working title The Mighty Eighth.[143]

In March 2013, Spielberg announced that he was “developing a Stanley Kubrick screenplay for a miniseries, not for a motion picture, about the life of Napoleon.”[144] In May 2016, it was announced that Cary Fukunaga is in talks to direct the miniseries for HBO, from a script by David Lenland based on extensive research materials accumulated by Kubrick over many years.[145]

Spielberg had planned to shoot a $200 million adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson’s novel Robopocalypse, adapted for the screen by Drew Goddard.[146] The novel follows a global human war against a robot uprising about 15–20 years in the future.[147] Like Lincoln, it was to be released by Disney in the United States and Fox overseas.[148] It was set for release on April 25, 2014,[149] with Anne Hathaway and Chris Hemsworth set to star,[150] but Spielberg postponed production indefinitely in January 2013, just before it was to begin.[151] In March 2018, it was announced that the film will now be directed by Michael Bay.[152]

Spielberg will executive produce Cortes, a historical mini-series written by Steven Zaillian about the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire, and Hernán Cortés’s relationship with Aztec ruler Montezuma.[153] The script is based on an earlier one from 1965 by Oscar-winner Dalton Trumbo.[154] Javier Bardem will play the lead role of explorer Hernán Cortés. Spielberg was previously attached to direct the project as a feature film.[155]

Spielberg had originally planned to direct the untitled fifth installment in the Indiana Jones series. The film is set to star Harrison Ford and will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. In 2016, it was announced that it would be written by David Koepp, who has written numerous other films for Spielberg, including the previous Indiana Jones film.[156] It was originally set for release by Disney on July 19, 2019.[157] It was then announced that filming would begin in the UK in April 2019[158] and the film was given a new release date of July 10, 2020.[159] Filming was postponed again in June 2018, when Jonathan Kasdan was announced as the film’s new writer.[160] Soon after, a new release date of July 9, 2021 was announced.[161] In May 2019, it was reported that Dan Fogelman had been hired to write a new script, and that Kasdan’s story, which focused on the Nazi gold train, would not be used.[162] In February 2020, it was reported that, because he wanted to “pass along Indy’s whip to a new generation to bring their perspective to the story”, Spielberg will no longer direct the film, through he will remain involved in the project as a producer.[163]

Onscreen appearances
Spielberg had cameo roles in The Blues Brothers, Gremlins, Vanilla Sky, and Austin Powers in Goldmember, as well as small uncredited cameos in a handful of other films, such as a life-station worker in Jaws. He also made numerous cameo roles in the Warner Bros. cartoons he produced, such as Animaniacs, and even made reference to some of his films. Spielberg voiced himself in the film Paul, and in one episode of Tiny Toon Adventures titled Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian.

In 2017, Spielberg, along with fellow directors Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo del Toro, Paul Greengrass and Lawrence Kasdan were featured in the Netflix documentary series Five Came Back, which discussed the contributions of film directors Frank Capra, John Ford, John Huston, George Stevens and William Wyler towards recording the events of World War II. Spielberg also served as an executive producer on the series.[164]

Involvement in video games
Apart from being an ardent gamer Spielberg has had a long history of involvement in video games.[165] He has been giving thanks to his games of his division DreamWorks Interactive as Someone’s in the Kitchen with script written by Animaniacs’ Paul Rugg, Goosebumps: Escape from HorrorLand, The Neverhood (all in 1996), Skullmonkeys, Dilbert’s Desktop Games, Goosebumps: Attack of the Mutant (all 1997), Boombots (1999), T’ai Fu: Wrath of the Tiger (1999), and Clive Barker’s Undying (2001). In 2005, the director signed with Electronic Arts to collaborate on three games including an action game and an award-winning puzzle game for the Wii called Boom Blox (and its 2009 sequel: Boom Blox Bash Party).[166] Previously, he was involved in creating the scenario for the adventure game The Dig.[167] In 1996, Spielberg worked on and shot original footage for a movie-making simulation game called Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair. He is the creator of the Medal of Honor series by Electronic Arts.[168] He is credited in the special thanks section of the 1998 video game Trespasser.[169] In 2013, Spielberg has announced he is collaborating with 343 Industries for a live-action TV show of Halo.[170]

Themes

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Spielberg’s films often deal with several recurring themes. Most of his films deal with ordinary characters searching for or coming in contact with extraordinary beings or finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances. In an AFI interview in August 2000, Spielberg commented on his interest in the possibility of extraterrestrial life and how it has influenced some of his films. Spielberg described himself as feeling like an alien during childhood,[8] and his interest came from his father, a science fiction fan, and his opinion that aliens would not travel light years for conquest, but instead curiosity and sharing of knowledge.[171]

A strong consistent theme in his family-friendly work is a childlike sense of wonder and faith, as attested by works such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Hook, A.I. Artificial Intelligence and The BFG. According to Warren Buckland,[172] these themes are portrayed through the use of low height camera tracking shots, which have become one of Spielberg’s directing trademarks. In the cases when his films include children (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Empire of the Sun, Jurassic Park, etc.), this type of shot is more apparent, but it is also used in films like Munich, Saving Private Ryan, The Terminal, Minority Report, and Amistad. Each of his films feature this shot utilized by the director, and the water scenes in Jaws are filmed from the low-angle perspective of someone swimming. Another child oriented theme in Spielberg’s films is that of loss of innocence and coming-of-age. In Empire of the Sun, Jim, a well-groomed and spoiled English youth, loses his innocence as he suffers through World War II China. Similarly, in Catch Me If You Can, Frank naively and foolishly believes that he can reclaim his shattered family if he accumulates enough money to support them.

The most persistent theme throughout his films is tension in parent-child relationships. Parents (often fathers) are reluctant, absent or ignorant. Peter Banning in Hook starts off in the beginning of the film as a reluctant married-to-his-work parent who through the course of the film regains the respect of his children. The absence of Elliott’s father in E.T. is the most famous example of this theme. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, it is revealed that Indy has always had a very strained relationship with his father, who is a professor of medieval literature, as his father always seemed more interested in his work, specifically in his studies of the Holy Grail, than in his own son, although his father does not seem to realize or understand the negative effect that his aloof nature had on Indy (he even believes he was a good father in the sense that he taught his son “self reliance,” which is not how Indy saw it). Even Oskar Schindler, from Schindler’s List, is reluctant to have a child with his wife. In The Color Purple, the main character, Celie, has been impregnated by her father multiple times. Munich depicts Avner as a man away from his wife and newborn daughter. There are exceptions; Brody in Jaws is a committed family man, while John Anderton in Minority Report is a shattered man after the disappearance of his son. This theme is arguably the most autobiographical aspect of Spielberg’s films, since Spielberg himself was affected by his parents’ divorce as a child and by the absence of his father. Furthermore, to this theme, protagonists in his films often come from families with divorced parents, including E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (protagonist Elliot’s mother is divorced) and Catch Me If You Can (Frank Abagnale’s mother and father split early on in the film). Little known also is Tim in Jurassic Park (early in the film, another secondary character mentions Tim and Lex’s parents’ divorce). The family often shown divided is often resolved in the ending as well. Following this theme of reluctant fathers and father figures, Tim looks to Dr. Alan Grant as a father figure. Initially, Dr. Grant is reluctant to return those paternal feelings to Tim. However, by the end of the film, he has changed, and the kids even fall asleep with their heads on his shoulders.

Most of his films are generally optimistic in nature. Though some critics accuse his films of being a little overly sentimental, Spielberg feels it is fine as long as it is disguised.[citation needed] He is still a highly praised director as well as being credited as one of the most influential directors of all time. The influence comes from directors Frank Capra and John Ford.[173]

Personal life
Marriages and children
Spielberg met actress Amy Irving in 1976 at the suggestion of director Brian De Palma, who knew he was looking for an actress to play in Close Encounters. After meeting her, Spielberg told his co-producer Julia Phillips, “I met a real heartbreaker last night.”[8]:293 Although she was too young for the role, she and Spielberg began dating and she eventually moved into what she described as his “bachelor funky” house.[8]:294 They lived together for four years, but the stresses of their professional careers took a toll on their relationship. Irving wanted to be certain that whatever success she attained as an actress would be her own: “I don’t want to be known as Steven’s girlfriend,” she said, and chose not to be in any of his films during those years.[8]:295 As a result, they broke up in 1979, but remained close friends. Then in 1984 they renewed their romance, and in November 1985 they married, after the birth of their son, Max Samuel. But after 3 1/2 years of marriage, many of the same competing stresses of their careers caused them to divorce in 1989. They agreed to maintain homes near each other to facilitate the shared custody and parenting of their son.[8]:403 Their divorce was recorded as the third most costly celebrity divorce in history.[174]

Spielberg subsequently developed a relationship with actress Kate Capshaw, whom he met when he cast her in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. They married on October 12, 1991. Capshaw is a convert to Judaism.[175][176] They currently move among their four homes in Pacific Palisades, California; Quelle Farm, Georgica Pond in East Hampton, New York;[177] New York City; and Naples, Florida.

There are seven children in the Spielberg-Capshaw family:

Jessica Capshaw (born August 9, 1976) – daughter from Kate Capshaw’s previous marriage to Robert Capshaw
Max Samuel Spielberg (born June 13, 1985) – son from Spielberg’s previous marriage to actress Amy Irving
Theo Spielberg (born August 21, 1988) – son adopted by Capshaw before her marriage to Spielberg, who later also adopted him[178]
Sasha Rebecca Spielberg (born May 14, 1990, Los Angeles)
Sawyer Avery Spielberg (born March 10, 1992, Los Angeles)[179]
Mikaela George (born February 28, 1996) – adopted with Kate Capshaw
Destry Allyn Spielberg (born December 1, 1996)
Religion
Spielberg grew up in a Jewish household and had a bar mitzvah ceremony in Phoenix when he turned 13.[180] He grew away from Judaism during his high-school years, after his family moved to various cities and found themselves the only Jews in their new neighborhoods.[181]:29 Before those years, his family was involved in the synagogue and had many Jewish friends and nearby relatives.

He remembers his grandparents telling him about their life in Russia, where they were subjected to religious persecution, causing them to eventually flee to the United States. He was made aware of the Holocaust by his parents, who he says “talked about it all the time, and so it was always on my mind.”[181]:30 His father had lost between sixteen and twenty relatives during the Holocaust.[8]:21

Spielberg “rediscovered the honor of being a Jew,” he says, before he made Schindler’s List, when he married Kate Capshaw.[181]:25 Until then, having become a filmmaker, he only felt his connection to Judaism when he visited his parents. He says he made the film partly to create “something that would confirm my Judaism to my family and myself.”[182]

Kate is Protestant and she insisted on converting to Judaism. She spent a year studying, did the “mikveh,” the whole thing. She chose to do a full conversion before we were married in 1991, and she married me after becoming a Jew. I think that, more than anything else, brought me back to Judaism.[181]:25

He credits her with fueling his family’s current level of observance and for keeping the “momentum flowing” in their lives, as they now observe Jewish holidays, light candles on Friday nights, and give their children bar and bat mitzvahs.[181]:26 “This shiksa goddess has made me a better Jew than my own parents.”[181]:27

Producing Schindler’s List in 1993 also renewed his faith, Spielberg says, but “it really was the fact that my wife took a profound interest in Judaism.”[181]:25 He waited ten years after being given the story in 1982 to make the film, as he did not yet feel “mature” enough.[181]:32 He first wanted to have a family, “to figure out what my place was in the world… . When my first son, [Max] was born, it greatly affected me… . A spirit began to ignite in me, and I became a Jewish dad…”[8]:21

He said that making the film became a “natural experience” for him, adding, “I had to tell the story. I’ve lived on its outer edges.”[8] The film, writes biographer Joseph McBride, thereby became the “culmination” of Spielberg’s long personal struggle with his Jewish identity.[183]:18 Some claim the film has made Spielberg “the one true heir to the great Jewish moguls who created Hollywood,” most of whom had actively avoided depicting Jews or the Holocaust in their films.[182]

Interestingly, “Spiel” means “play” in Yiddish.[184]

Wealth
Forbes magazine places Spielberg’s personal net worth at $3.7 billion.[1] It was revealed in 2009 during the Madoff Ponzi scheme investigation that Spielberg and Capshaw were among the investors defrauded by Bernie Madoff.

Yachting
In 2013, Spielberg purchased the 282-foot (86 m) mega-yacht Seven Seas for US$182 million. He has since put it up for sale and in the meantime has made it available for charter. At US$1.2 million per month, it is one of the most expensive charters on the market. He has ordered a new 300-foot (91 m) yacht costing a reported US$250 million.[185]

Recognition
In 2002, Spielberg was one of eight flagbearers who carried the Olympic Flag into Rice-Eccles Stadium at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. In 2006, Premiere listed him as the most powerful and influential figure in the motion picture industry. Time listed him as one of the 100 Most Important People of the Century. At the end of the 20th century, Life named him the most influential person of his generation.[186] In 2009, Boston University presented him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.[187]

According to Forbes’ Most Influential Celebrities 2014 list, Spielberg was listed as the most influential celebrity in America. The annual list is conducted by E-Poll Market Research and it gave more than 6,600 celebrities on 46 different personality attributes a score representing “how that person is perceived as influencing the public, their peers, or both.” Spielberg received a score of 47, meaning 47% of the US believes he is influential. Gerry Philpott, president of E-Poll Market Research, supported Spielberg’s score by stating, “If anyone doubts that Steven Spielberg has greatly influenced the public, think about how many will think for a second before going into the water this summer.”[188][189][190]

Politics
Spielberg has usually supported U.S. Democratic Party candidates. He has donated over $800,000 to the Democratic party and its nominees. He has been a close friend of former President Bill Clinton and worked with the President for the USA Millennium celebrations. He directed an 18-minute film for the project, scored by John Williams and entitled The American Journey. It was shown at America’s Millennium Gala on December 31, 1999, in the National Mall at the Reflecting Pool at the base of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.[191]

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen escorts Spielberg through a military honor cordon into the Pentagon
Spielberg resigned as a member of the national advisory board of the Boy Scouts of America in 2001 because of his disapproval of the organization’s anti-homosexuality stance.[192][193] In 2007, the Arab League voted to boycott Spielberg’s movies after he donated $1 million for relief efforts in Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War.[194][195] On February 20, 2007, Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen invited Democrats to a fundraiser for Barack Obama.[196] In February 2008, Spielberg pulled out of his role as advisor to the 2008 Summer Olympics in response to the Chinese government’s inaction over the War in Darfur.[197] Spielberg said in a statement that “I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual.” It also said that “Sudan’s government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these on-going crimes, but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more..”[198] The International Olympic Committee respected Spielberg’s decision, but IOC president Jacques Rogge admitted in an interview that “[Spielberg] certainly would have brought a lot to the opening ceremony in terms of creativity.”[199] Spielberg’s statement drew criticism from Chinese officials and state-run media calling his criticism “unfair”.[200] In September 2008, Spielberg and his wife offered their support to same-sex marriage by issuing a statement following their donation of $100,000 to the “No on Proposition 8” campaign fund, a figure equal to the amount of money Brad Pitt donated to the same campaign less than a week prior.[201]

Spielberg supported Hillary Clinton for President of the United States in the 2016 election. He donated US$1 million to Priorities USA, a pro-Clinton Super PAC.[202]

In 2018, Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw donated $500,000 to the March for Our Lives student demonstration in favor of gun control in the United States.[203]

Hobbies
A collector of film memorabilia, Spielberg purchased a balsa Rosebud sled from Citizen Kane (1941) in 1982.[204] He bought Orson Welles’s own directorial copy of the script for the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds (1938) in 1994.[205] Spielberg has purchased Academy Award statuettes being sold on the open market and donated them to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, to prevent their further commercial exploitation. His donations include the Oscars that Bette Davis received for Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938), and Clark Gable’s Oscar for It Happened One Night (1934).[206]

Spielberg is a major collector of the work of American illustrator and painter Norman Rockwell. A collection of 57 Rockwell paintings and drawings owned by Spielberg and fellow Rockwell collector and film director George Lucas were displayed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum July 2, 2010 – January 2, 2011, in an exhibition titled Telling Stories.[207]

Spielberg is an avid film buff and, when not shooting a picture, he will watch many films in a single weekend.[208] He sees almost every major summer blockbuster in theaters if not preoccupied and enjoys most of them.[209]

Since playing Pong while filming Jaws in 1974, Spielberg has been an avid video gamer. Spielberg played many of LucasArts adventure games, including the first Monkey Island games.[210][211] He owns a Wii, a PlayStation 3, a PSP, and an Xbox 360, and enjoys playing first-person shooters such as the Medal of Honor series and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. He has also criticized the use of cutscenes in games, calling them intrusive, and feels making story flow naturally into the gameplay is a challenge for future game developers.[212]

Stalking
In 2001, Spielberg was stalked by conspiracy theorist and former social worker Diana Napolis. She accused him, along with actress Jennifer Love Hewitt, of controlling her thoughts through “cybertronic” technology and being part of a satanic conspiracy against her. Napolis was committed to a mental institution before pleading guilty to stalking, and released on probation with a condition that she have no contact with either Spielberg or Hewitt.[213][214][215]

Jonathan Norman was arrested after making two attempts to enter Spielberg’s Pacific Palisades home in June and July 1997. Norman was jailed for 25 years in California. Spielberg told the court: “Had Jonathan Norman actually confronted me, I genuinely, in my heart of hearts, believe that I would have been raped or killed.”[216][217]

Filmography
Main article: Steven Spielberg filmography
As director
Year Title Distributor
1968 Amblin’ (short film) Filmways
1971 Duel Universal Pictures / CIC
1974 The Sugarland Express Universal Pictures
1975 Jaws
1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind Columbia Pictures
1979 1941 Universal Pictures / Columbia Pictures
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Paramount Pictures
1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Universal Pictures
1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie (one segment) Warner Bros.
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Paramount Pictures
1985 The Color Purple Warner Bros.
1987 Empire of the Sun
1989 Always Universal Pictures / United Artists
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Paramount Pictures
1991 Hook TriStar Pictures
1993 Jurassic Park Universal Pictures
Schindler’s List
1997 The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Amistad DreamWorks Pictures
1998 Saving Private Ryan DreamWorks Pictures / Paramount Pictures
2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence Warner Bros. / DreamWorks Pictures
2002 Minority Report 20th Century Fox / DreamWorks Pictures
Catch Me If You Can DreamWorks Pictures
2004 The Terminal
2005 War of the Worlds Paramount Pictures / DreamWorks Pictures
Munich Universal Pictures / DreamWorks Pictures
2008 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Paramount Pictures
2011 The Adventures of Tintin Paramount Pictures / Columbia Pictures
War Horse Walt Disney Studios
2012 Lincoln Walt Disney Studios / 20th Century Fox
2015 Bridge of Spies
2016 The BFG Walt Disney Studios
2017 The Post 20th Century Fox
2018 Ready Player One Warner Bros.
2021 West Side Story 20th Century Studios
Awards and honors
See also: List of awards and nominations received by Steven Spielberg

Spielberg receiving a public service award presented by United States Secretary of Defense William Cohen, 1999

Spielberg’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Footprints and handprints of Spielberg in front of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Former President Clinton with Spielberg as he accepts the 2009 Liberty Award in Philadelphia
Spielberg has won three Academy Awards. He has been nominated for seven Academy Awards for the category of Best Director, winning two of them (Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan), and 11[218] of the films he directed were up for the Best Picture Oscar (Schindler’s List won). In 1987, he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his work as a creative producer.

Drawing from his own experiences in Scouting, Spielberg helped the Boy Scouts of America develop a merit badge in cinematography in order to help promote filmmaking as a marketable skill. The badge was launched at the 1989 National Scout Jamboree, which Spielberg attended, and where he personally counseled many boys in their work on requirements.[219] That same year, 1989, saw the release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The opening scene shows a teenage Indiana Jones in scout uniform bearing the rank of a Life Scout. Spielberg stated he made Indiana Jones a Boy Scout in honor of his experience in Scouting. For his career accomplishments, service to others, and dedication to a new merit badge Spielberg was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.[220]

Steven Spielberg received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1995.

In 1998, he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit with Ribbon of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Award was presented to him by President Roman Herzog in recognition of his film Schindler’s List and his Shoa-Foundation.[221]

In 1999, Spielberg received an honorary degree from Brown University. Spielberg was also awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service by Secretary of Defense William Cohen at the Pentagon on August 11, 1999; Cohen presented the award in recognition of Spielberg’s film Saving Private Ryan.

In 2001, he was appointed as an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the entertainment industry of the United Kingdom.[222]

In 2004, he was admitted as knight of the Légion d’honneur by president Jacques Chirac.[223] On July 15, 2006, Spielberg was also awarded the Gold Hugo Lifetime Achievement Award at the Summer Gala of the Chicago International Film Festival,[224] and also was awarded a Kennedy Center honour on December 3. The tribute to Spielberg featured a short, filmed biography narrated by Liam Neeson and included thank-yous from World War II veterans for Saving Private Ryan, as well as a performance of the finale to Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, conducted by John Williams (Spielberg’s frequent composer).[225]

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Spielberg in 2005, the first year it considered non-literary contributors.[226][227] In November 2007, he was chosen for a Lifetime Achievement Award to be presented at the sixth annual Visual Effects Society Awards in February 2009. He was set to be honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the January 2008 Golden Globes; however, due to the new, watered-down format of the ceremony resulting from conflicts in the 2007–08 writers strike, the HFPA postponed his honor to the 2009 ceremony.[228][229] In 2008, Spielberg was awarded the Légion d’honneur.[230]

In June 2008, Spielberg received Arizona State University’s Hugh Downs Award for Communication Excellence.[231]

Spielberg received an honorary degree at Boston University’s 136th Annual Commencement on May 17, 2009. In October 2009 Steven Spielberg received the Philadelphia Liberty Medal; presenting him with the medal was former US president and Liberty Medal recipient Bill Clinton. Special guests included Whoopi Goldberg, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

In July 2011, Spielberg was awarded the Inkpot Award.[232]

On October 22, 2011 he was admitted as a Commander of the Belgian Order of the Crown. He was given the badge on a red neck ribbon by the Belgian Federal Minister of Finance Didier Reynders. The Commander is the third highest rank of the Order of the Crown. He was the president of the jury for the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[233]

On November 19, 2013, Spielberg was honored by the National Archives and Records Administration with its Records of Achievement Award. Spielberg was given two facsimiles of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, one passed but not ratified in 1861, as well as a facsimile of the actual 1865 amendment signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. The amendment and the process of passing it were the subject of his film Lincoln.[234]

On November 24, 2015, Spielberg was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House.[235]

On May 26, 2016, Spielberg was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts by Harvard University.

In July 2016, Spielberg was awarded a gold Blue Peter badge on the BBC children’s television programme Blue Peter.[236]

Awards received by Spielberg films
Year Film Academy Awards BAFTA Awards Golden Globe Awards
Nominations Wins Nominations Wins Nominations Wins
1975 Jaws 4 3 7 1 4 1
1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind 9 2 9 1 4
1979 1941 3 5
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark 9 5 7 1 1
1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 9 4 12 1 5 2
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 2 1 4 1
1985 The Color Purple 11 1 5 1
1987 Empire of the Sun 6 6 3 2
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 3 1 3 1
1991 Hook 5 1
1993 Jurassic Park 3 3 3 2
Schindler’s List 12 7 13 7 6 3
1997 The Lost World: Jurassic Park 1
Amistad 4 4
1998 Saving Private Ryan 11 5 10 2 5 2
2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence 2 1 3
2002 Minority Report 1 1
Catch Me If You Can 2 4 1 1
2005 War of the Worlds 3
Munich 5 2
2008 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 1
2011 The Adventures of Tintin 1 2 1 1
War Horse 6 5 2
2012 Lincoln 12 2 10 1 7 1
2015 Bridge of Spies 6 1 9 1 1
2016 The BFG 1
2017 The Post 2 6
2018 Ready Player One 1 1
Total 133 34 110 22 66 11
Directed Academy Award Performances
Spielberg has directed fourteen Oscar winning and nominated performances.

Year Performer Film Result
Academy Award for Best Actor
1993 Liam Neeson Schindler’s List Nominated
1998 Tom Hanks Saving Private Ryan Nominated
2012 Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln Won
Academy Award for Best Actress
1986 Whoopi Goldberg The Color Purple Nominated
2017 Meryl Streep The Post Nominated
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1993 Ralph Fiennes Schindler’s List Nominated
1997 Anthony Hopkins Amistad Nominated
2002 Christopher Walken Catch Me If You Can Nominated
2012 Tommy Lee Jones Lincoln Nominated
2015 Mark Rylance Bridge of Spies Won
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1977 Melinda Dillon Close Encounters of the Third Kind Nominated
1986 Margaret Avery The Color Purple Nominated
Oprah Winfrey Nominated
2012 Sally Field Lincoln Nominated
Praise and criticism
In 2005, Steven Spielberg was rated the greatest film director of all time by Empire magazine.[237] In 1997, a Wall Street sell-side analyst said, “There are only two brand names in the business: Disney and Spielberg”.[238]
After watching the unconventional, off-center camera techniques of Jaws, Alfred Hitchcock praised “young Spielberg,” for thinking outside of the visual dynamics of the theater, saying “He’s the first one of us who doesn’t see the proscenium arch”.[8][239]
Some of Spielberg’s admirers include Robert Aldrich,[240] Ingmar Bergman,[241] Werner Herzog,[242] Stanley Kubrick,[243] David Lean,[244] Sidney Lumet,[245] Roman Polanski,[246] Martin Scorsese,[247] François Truffaut,[248] David Lynch[249] and Zhang Yimou.[250]
Spielberg’s movies have also influenced many directors that followed, including Adam Green, J. J. Abrams,[251] Paul Thomas Anderson,[252] Neill Blomkamp,[253] James Cameron,[254] Guillermo del Toro,[255] Roland Emmerich,[256] David Fincher, Peter Jackson,[257] Kal Ng,[258] Robert Rodriguez,[259] John Sayles,[260] Ridley Scott,[261] John Singleton,[262] Kevin Smith,[263] Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino,[264] and Gareth Edwards.[265] In 2016, Jeffrey Katzenberg said of Spielberg: “You can take James Cameron, Chris Nolan or Martin Scorsese – all brilliant and in many ways his peers, but look at quality and consistency, and no one compares.”[266]
British film critic Tom Shone has said of Spielberg, “If you have to point to any one director of the last twenty-five years in whose work the medium of film was most fully itself – where we found out what it does best when left to its own devices, it has to be that guy.”[267] Jess Cagle, the managing editor of Entertainment Weekly, called Spielberg “…arguably (well, who would argue?) the greatest filmmaker in history.”[268]
Spielberg’s critics complain that his films are overly sentimental and tritely moralistic.[269][270][271] In his book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind summarized the views of Spielberg’s detractors, accusing the director of “infantilizing the audience, reconstituting the spectator as child, then overwhelming him and her with sound and spectacle, obliterating irony, aesthetic self-consciousness, and critical reflection.”[272]
Critics of mainstream film such as Ray Carney and American artist and actor Crispin Glover (who starred in the Spielberg-produced Back to the Future and who sued Spielberg for using his likeness in Back to the Future Part II)[273] claim that Spielberg’s films lack depth and do not take risks.[274][275]
French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard stated that he holds Spielberg partly responsible for the lack of artistic merit in mainstream cinema and accused Spielberg of using his film Schindler’s List to make a profit off tragedy while Schindler’s wife, Emilie Schindler, lived in poverty in Argentina.[276] In defense of Spielberg, critic Roger Ebert said “Has Godard or any other director living or dead done more than Spielberg, with his Holocaust Project, to honor and preserve the memories of the survivors?”[277] Author Thomas Keneally has also disputed claims that Emilie Schindler was never paid for her contributions to the film, “not least because I had recently sent Emilie a check myself.”[278]
Film critic Pauline Kael, who had championed Spielberg’s films in the 1970s, expressed disappointment in his later development, stating that “he’s become, I think, a very bad director…. And I’m a little ashamed for him, because I loved his early work…. [H]e turned to virtuous movies. And he’s become so uninteresting now…. I think that he had it in him to become more of a fluid, far-out director. But, instead, he’s become a melodramatist.”[279]
Imre Kertész, Hungarian Jewish author, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, criticized Spielberg’s depiction of the Holocaust in Schindler’s List as kitsch, saying “I regard as kitsch any representation of the Holocaust that is incapable of understanding or unwilling to understand the organic connection between our own deformed mode of life and the very possibility of the Holocaust.”[280] Veteran documentary filmmaker and professor Claude Lanzmann also labeled Schindler’s List “pernicious in its impact and influence” and “very sentimental”.[281]
Stephen Rowley wrote an extensive essay about Spielberg and his career in Senses of Cinema. In it, he discussed Spielberg’s strengths as a filmmaker, saying “there is a welcome complexity of tone and approach in these later films that defies the lazy stereotypes often bandied about his films” and that “Spielberg continues to take risks, with his body of work continuing to grow more impressive and ambitious”, concluding that he has only received “limited, begrudging recognition” from critics.[271]
Shia LaBeouf, who worked with Spielberg on a number of films including Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and various DreamWorks productions (such as the Transformers film series), described his experiences working with the director in a wide-ranging interview with Variety in 2016. He stated, “I grew up with this idea, [that] if you got to Spielberg, that’s where it is – I’m not talking about fame, and I’m not talking about money. You get there, and you realize you’re not meeting the Spielberg you dream of. You’re meeting a different Spielberg, who is in a different stage in his career. He’s less a director than he is a fucking company.” He went on to discuss his on-set actor/director relationship with Spielberg, as well as the films they made together, “Spielberg’s sets are very different – everything has been so meticulously planned. You got to get this line out in 37 seconds. You do that for five years, you start to feel like not knowing what you’re doing for a living.” He concluded his point by stating: “I don’t like the movies that I made with Spielberg. The only movie that I liked that we made together was [the first] Transformers [film].” Later in the interview, LaBeouf recited and criticised the advice given to him by Spielberg following the mixed reaction to both Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and LaBeouf’s performance in the film. He claims Spielberg told him not to read about himself in the media, but LaBeouf felt irritated by what he perceived to be non-advice and a lack of understanding, saying “There’s no way to not do that. For me to not read that means I need to not take part in society. The generation previous to mine didn’t have the immediate response [of the internet]. If you were Mark Hamill [in Star Wars], you could lie to yourself. You could find the pockets of joy, and turn a blind eye to the shit over there.”[282]
Other
In 1999, Spielberg, then a co-owner of DreamWorks, was involved in a heated debate in which the studio proposed building on wetlands near Los Angeles, though development was later dropped for economic reasons.[283]
In August 2007, Ai Weiwei, artistic consultant for the Beijing Olympic Stadium, known as the “Bird’s Nest”, accused those choreographing the Olympic opening ceremony, including Spielberg, of failing to live up to their responsibility as artists by allowing their work to be used by the Chinese government, which has suppressed human rights in China, including those of Ai’s family, for the purpose of “propaganda”. Ai said, “It’s disgusting. I don’t like anyone who shamelessly abuses their profession, who makes no moral judgment.”[284]
On February 28, 2019, Anne Thompson of IndieWire reported that Spielberg is keen on pushing for rule changes at the Academy Awards (Oscars) regarding films that are distributed theatrically and through streaming, with Thompson sharing an Amblin spokesperson’s quote: “Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation. He’ll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up [at the Academy Board of Governors meeting]. He will see what happens.”[285] This, in addition to his March 2018 criticism of Netflix’s distribution strategy,[286] was then interpreted by others to be Spielberg campaigning against Netflix films being qualified for the Oscars,[287][288] prompting reactions from Ava DuVernay,[289] J. C. Chandor,[290] and Joe Berlinger among others.[291] Jeffrey Katzenberg stated that Spielberg has “actually said nothing” regarding the situation with Netflix, adding that “What happened is a journalist was onto a story about this and had heard a rumor about Steven. They called a spokesperson to get a comment and honestly, just twisted it around. One, Steven didn’t say that, and two, he is not going to the academy in April with some sort of plan. But he has not opined at all, nor has he aligned with some specific thing.”

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