Steven Allan Spielberg was born December 18, 1946, in the great state of Ohio. Before becoming one of our most beloved directors, Spielberg attended Long Beach State University, and made his first short film, Amblin‘, while working as an intern at Universal Studios (the title of which used when naming his production company, Amblin Entertainment). His first television job came when he was chosen to direct one of the segments for the 1969 pilot episode of Night Gallery. He would go on to direct a few TV films, including Duel (1971), a film about a truck driver that goes crazy and runs people off the road. Spielberg’s debut feature film was The Sugarland Express (1974).
Spielberg was then tasked with making Jaws (1975), a thriller-horror film about a killer shark based on the novel by Peter Benchley. The film became an enormous hit, setting the domestic box office record at the time, and raked in three Academy Awards. Spielberg would re-team with Jaws star Richard Dreyfuss to make Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), which once again brought the young auteur critical praise, outstanding box office results, and a slew of Academy Award nominations for his film, including his first nom for Best Director.
The train of success would continue into the 80s when Spielberg worked with his friend George Lucas on an action adventure film titled Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and introduced the world to one of the great film characters of all time, Indiana Jones. Raiders was the highest grossing film of the year, and brought Spielberg his second Oscar nomination for Best Director. The following year, Spielberg made a very personal favorite of mine, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (1982). E.T. would become the highest grossing film of all time, and was nominated for nine Oscars, including Spielberg’s third for Director.
He would produce films like Poltergeist, The Twilight Zone, The Goonies, and Gremlins over the next few years, and returned to Indiana Jones to direct the sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984; the film led to the creation of the PG-13 rating). In 1985, he adapted Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple, another box office success that would garner eleven Academy Award nominations, though none for Spielberg himself. He finished the 80s off with Empire of the Sun (1987), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Always (1989).
1993 would be Spielberg’s finest year, as he not only delivered a highly entertaining summer blockbuster adventure in Jurassic Park, but also his most deeply personal film: his masterpiece, Schindler’s List. The former would once again set all-time box office records, while the latter won Spielberg his first Best Director Academy Award, and went on to win seven Oscars including Best Picture.
He created DreamWorks studios with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, and went on to direct films like The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), Amistad (1997), and Saving Private Ryan (1998), for which he earned his second Oscar for Best Director. He finished his good friend Stanley Kubrick’s final film, A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) after Kubrick’s death, and then stayed in the sci-fi genre to film (the under-appreciated) Minority Report (2002), starring Tom Cruise. In 2005, Spielberg filmed Munich, based on the tragic events that took place at the 1972 Summer Olympic games. Munich would earn five Oscar noms, including Best Picture and Director (the sixth for Spielberg).
Last year, Spielberg filmed The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse, the former winning the Best Animated Feature award from The Golden Globes, the latter receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Spielberg’s most recent effort is Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role. The film is currently playing in theatres and is already starting to receive awards. Lincoln is the most nominated Spielberg film ever at the Golden Globes (seven noms), SAG (four noms), and Critics’ Choice (thirteen noms). Many (including myself) consider it the front-runner to win Best Picture, and bring Spielberg a third Best Director Oscar.
Steven Spielberg’s next film is Robopocalypse, described as a “sci-fi story set in the aftermath of a robot uprising,” and is scheduled for a 2014 release.
My Circuit 3 for Steven Spielberg:
- Schindler’s List (1993)
- Jaws (1975)
- E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
What are your three favorite/best Spielberg films? You can view his entire filmography here.