Hi folks, following on from my look at Spielberg through the last 5 decades, blogs that can be found on the following links 2010s 2000s 1990s 1980s 1970s I decided to have a light-hearted look at his films and launch the first and no doubt last annual award ceremony, imaginatively titled “The Spielbergs”.
First up was the Spielberg World Cup where I asked the good people of Twitter to vote in the first round, which consisted of 8 groups of 4 with the top 2 progressing to the Quarter finals, for which the top 2 from 4 groups progressed to the semi-finals and the top 2 from each group produced a final 4 for a climactic battle. Each round was randomly drawn by my 7-year-old daughter so there was no danger of letting my own favourites gaining any advantage. Please note as creater of these polls I was not eligible to vote
Group 1 –
Close Encounters 46% Saving Private Ryan 33% Catch Me If You Can 17% Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - 4% 142 votes cast
Catch Me If You Can was an early casualty if drawn in a different group it may well have progressed. The fact it got 17% in such company was a testimony to its appeal. The top 2 were always going to progress here, Crystal Skull was merely making up the numbers.
Group 2 –
E.T - 72% Minority Report - 17% Bridge of Spies - 7% The Post - 4% 208 votes cast
A clear favourite going into this one as the result showed. These are 4 exceptional films but I think a lack of familiarity with Bridge of Spies and The Post saw them score lowly. When the draw was made I thought this would be a tight group……..I was wrong
Group 3 –
Jaws - 69% Hook - 13% Munich - 10% The Lost World - 8% 162 votes cast
Duel - 36% The Terminal - 32% The Color Purple - 23% Amistad - 9% 174 votes cast
Sorry to see Amistad doing so poorly. Very underrated. @TheLoneWolf68
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - 54% War of the Worlds - 22% The Adventures of Tintin - 19% Always - 5% 170 votes cast
It was all action and adventure in Group 5. It could be argued that Temple of Doom got a lucky draw here but over 50% of the vote can’t be wrong. Good showing for Tintin here I feel.
Group 6 –
Jurassic Park - 87% War Horse - 6% The BFG - 5% Sugarland Express - 2% 149 votes cast
The biggest first-round margin of victory was hardly a surprise. A great battle for 2nd place though.
Group 7 –
Raiders of the Lost Ark - 66% Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 27% Empire of the Sun - 6% 1941 - 1% 166 votes cast
Tough draw for Empire here, it surely would have done better in a different group. The battle of the Jones’s would be an indicator of how the tournament would progress. Also worth acknowledging the one person who voted for 1941, good for you, whoever you are 🙂
People need to give Empire some love!, it’s one of his best! @smurfman75
Group 8 –
Schindler's List - 64% Ready Player One - 18% Lincoln - 10% A.I - 8% 148 votes cast
Whereas Schindler’s List’s progression to the quarter-finals was always likely, Ready Player One’s 2nd place ahead of Lincoln was perhaps the surprise of the first round.
Group 1 –
Raiders of the Lost Ark - 53% E.T - 38% War of the Worlds - 6% Ready Player One - 3% 104 votes cast
The top 2 were never really in doubt from the get-go but what might be a surprise to some is how far ahead of E.T Raiders was.
Ready Player One is Spielberg’s worst film!, and he hasn’t had many. @smurfman75
Group 2 –
Jaws - 57% Schindlers List - 23% Saving Private Ryan - 18% Duel - 2% 115 votes cast
This is the dictionary definition of the “Group of Death”. Blame the 7-year-old, not me. Saving Private Ryan is the most high-profile exit of the quarterfinals and surely would have progressed in less prestigious company. Even Duel would have fancied its chances of at least as second place in the next group.
This is why polls are inherently fraught with unintentional bias. You really cannot compare any film with Schindler’s List. @CinemaPhileTX
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 67% Hook - 13% War Horse - 11% The Terminal - 9% 97 votes cast
Hook will have annoyed some Spielberg aficionados making it to the semi-finals ahead of films such as Saving Private Ryan, but to coin a famous sporting cliche, you can only beat what is in front of you.
Jurassic Park - 49% Close Encounters of the Third Kind - 28% Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - 15% Minority Report - 8% 123 votes cast
Similar to the first round another strong Jurassic performance, this time in much more esteemed company, Close Encounters in its second tough draw continues to hold its own, whilst Temple of Doom and Minority Report had to settle for making up the numbers here.
Argh! Toughest one. How can anyone choose between temple of doom and close encounters? @patrickdeudon
Close Encounters every time…For me of course – Rob @thebeardedtrio
At this stage of the competition I had in my mind the 4 films that would progress to the final, regardless of the draw, I was wrong and quite shocked if honest.
E.T - 31% Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 30% Schindler's List - 21% Close Encounters of the Third Kind - 18% 311 votes cast
You could argue that Indiana Jones has a larger fanbase than Schindler’s List but with over 300 votes cast, you would have thought that Schindler’s, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest pieces of modern cinema would have pulled through. At this stage, though we really are splitting hairs, as all 4 are wondrous pieces of filmmaking
That was tough between close encounters and last crusade but I have to give it to last crusade. By far the best Indy movie and even though I love close encounters… Connery+Ford=gold. @RoadRaider3
How can you separate these…its the Sophies Choice of the movie world @filmbuffbaker
Look forward to the second group. If Jaws, Jurassic Park and Raiders are in the final, there’s no way I can choose. May have to close my eyes and just blind tap. @BoxOfficeBeyond
Jaws - 41% Raiders of the Lost Ark - 29% Jurassic Park - 25% Hook - 5% 367 votes cast
The battle of the franchises saw Jurassic Park fall at the last hurdle. Jaw’s margin of victory coupled with a potential split vote for Indiana Jones fans in the final, surely meant that Jaws went into the final as the clear favourite. Hook’s fun ride to the semi’s predictably ended there.
Where did you get the nerve to ask such impossible questions???@OakAyling
Raiders-not only his best, but THE best. In. Tha. World. @BossyToo
Raiders of the Lost Ark - 35% Jaws - 32% E.T - 22% Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - 11% 313 votes cast
So the winner is…….Raiders of the Lost Ark. The final four demonstrated what I have always suspected that Spielberg fans have tremendous taste. The split vote didn’t happen and Raiders just pipped Jaws to the grand prize.
Arrrghh!!! This is so hard. Jaws….No! Raiders….No….Yes…No…Arrghhh! Voted for Jaws in the end. It gets my vote, just. Don’t put me through that again. I feel like I’ve cheated on the other three now. – Rob @thebeardedtrio
My decision for ‘Raiders’ is in part totally subjective (in the mid 1980s, I made a Super8 short film with a couple of friends and was having the time of my life). The other part is the brilliant cast & perfect Spielberg mix made of adventure, action, suspense, awe and humor. @SpielbergChron
Following on from the World Cup which crowned everyone’s favourite Archaeology teacher’s first screen adventure as the Greatest Spielberg Film, I decided to run a few more polls to answer the questions about Spielberg films that quite frankly nobody had ever contemplated or felt the need to ask.
Twitter limits every poll to 4 options, which means that I had to leave some strong contenders out of some of the categories, some of them even caused me to have sleepless nights as names popped into my head that I hadn’t even considered. This was never more apparent than in this first category
Best supporting actor in a Spielberg film
Robert Shaw Jaws 58%
Sean Connery Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 19%
Christopher Walken Catch Me If You Can 17%
Tommy Lee Jones Lincoln 6%
Robert Shaw’s cantankerous old sea dog has always been a Spielberg favourite. On reflection, the four men above would have been all worthy winners, but just take a look at some of the outstanding men I left out/forgot about before the poll was launched. Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies, Anthony Hopkins Amistad, Robert MacNaughton E.T, Jeff Goldblum Jurassic Park, and perhaps the most glaring oversight Ralph Fiennes in Schindlers List.
This could be close.. and in this short of race, there’s no shilver medal for finishing shecond..!@_ThatFilmGeek_
Best supporting actress in a Spielberg film
Drew Barrymore E.T 41%
Teri Garr Close Encounters of the Third Kind 25%
Samantha Morton Minority Report 19%
Margaret Avery The Color Purple 15%
In E.T Drew Barrymore gives the impression that she doesn’t even realise she is in a film. The story is happening around her the childlike wonder she displays is reflected in the emotion that the audience goes through. Teri Garr is possibly the standout performance in Close Encounters as the doubting Thomas figure who is presumably left to explain all of this to the three children. Its great to see both Samantha Morton and Margaret Avery score reasonable percentages in two breathtaking performances.
Not the four performances I would’ve chosen to represent this category, I don’t think. But from this group I guess it’s got to be Garr. Drew comes close, though. Great performance at that age. @853_OKG
Whilst we are looking at acting performances, let’s see what you voted as best lead performances
Best Performance by a Leading Actress
Whoopi Goldberg The Color Purple 48%
Meryl Streep The Post 24%
Goldie Hawn The Sugarland Express 14%
Holly Hunter Always 14%
All 4 of these women would have been a worthy winner here but what a delightful surprise to see Whoopi Goldberg’s astonishing debut get the lion’s share of the vote in this category. As for the “overrated” Meryl, she can do no wrong in my eyes, Goldie Hawn “Aw shucks” her way through Sugarland Express and Holly Hunter is beyond adorable and by quite some distance the best thing about Always.
Best Performance by a Leading Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln 52%
Richard Dreyfuss Close Encounters of the Third Kind 36%
Tom Hanks Saving Private Ryan 12%
Eric Bana Munich 0% 😦
When putting these polls together I anticipated that Day-Lewis would win regardless of who I put him up against and I was proved correct with his powerhouse performance as America’s 16th president. Dreyfuss treads the line between excitable and maniacal in Close Encounters, whereas Hanks probably gives the most human performance out of the nominees. Spare a thought for Eric Bana who didn’t receive a single vote which is massively unfair as he is the very heart and soul of Munich, one Spielberg film that requires further reflection. Also just outside the top 4 were the likes of Liam Neeson in Schindler’s List, Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds, Hanks for The Terminal and even Henry Thomas for E.T, but more about him next.
Best performance by a child in a Spielberg film
Henry Thomas E.T 51%
Christian Bale Empire of the Sun 38%
Dakota Fanning War of the Worlds 8%
Ruby Barnhill The BFG 3%
The best child performance in a Spielberg film is Haley Joel Osment (A.I.), but out of the four you chose to highlight, I’d go with Henry Thomas. Gus HR @ViverdeCinema
Out of all the categories I ran, I had more comments over who I had left out than any other category. The opinion from @ViverdeCinema was just many who claimed the Haley Joel Osment should have been on this list. I could have also quite easily had had Drew Barrymore and Robert MacNaughton from E.T, Jonathan Ke Quan from Temple of Doom, Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello from Jurassic Park, or how about Carey Guffey who played Barry in Close Encounters. Spielberg’s ability to bring out very believable performances from youngsters is all too apparent. Out of the 4 I did go for, Henry Thomas is the standout. His performance, in my opinion, is right up there with the very best from any actor in a Spielberg film.
Ok, lets now take a look at the bad guys.
Best non-human villain
“Bruce” the Shark from Jaws 39%
T-Rex from Jurassic Park 23%
Velociraptor from Jurassic Park 19%
The Truck from Duel 19%
One of the more closely fought contests, with “Bruce” proving once and for all that things that don’t work quite as they should are actually terrifying. The iconic T-Rex turns in some ways, from monster to hero by the end of Jurassic Park but she wouldn’t thank you for saying that. The sinister Raptors probably scored less than the T-Rex because nobody likes clever clogs. As for the truck, well it can rest in the knowledge that without it there probably wouldn’t have been any of the others and I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog (stop cheering at the back).
Most despicable Human villain
Amon Goeth Schindler’s List 88%
Captain Hook Hook 6%
Sorrento Ready Player One 3%
Mola Ram Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 3%
The biggest “winner” in any category voted on, as its widely regarded as one of the biggest bastards in history was realistically portrayed in Schindler’s List. Fiennes depiction of pure evil was so accurate that when survivor Mila Pfefferberg was introduced to Ralph Fiennes on the set, she began shaking uncontrollably, as he reminded her too much of the real Amon Goeth.
After that bunch of evildoers, I wanted to take a more light-hearted look at some of Spielberg’s characters.
Most slappable character in a Spielberg film
Mac Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 56%
Willie Scott Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 32%
Clovis The Sugarland Express 8%
Hollis P Wood 1941 4%
Ok firstly in the case of 2 of these I am not criticising the performance, as I think Kate Capshaw is fantastic in Temple of Doom, also William Atherton in Sugarland gives an early precursor to future whiny slimeballs that we see in Ghostbusters and Die Hard, just that their characters are so frustrating as in need of a good wedgie. Ray Winstone plays the same character in EVERYTHING and the last thing Indiana Jones is a cockney gangster who one-half suspects is going to break the fourth wall and give me the latest odds on whether Indy is likely to get out of his next tight spot. As for Slim Pickens in 1941, well to say he is the loudest and most annoying person in 1941 pretty much says it all about what I think of him in that film.
Hollis P Wood? Slim Pickens? Slappable? NO! He’s one of my favorite characters in 1941. @theburbsman
If we want to slap the four above which of the following females makes us want to punch the air with their stunning exploits
Most kickass female character in a Spielberg film
Marion Raiders of the Lost Ark 60%
Dr. Sattler Jurassic Park 20%
Art3mis Ready Player One 10%
Sarah Harding The Lost World 4%
Marion from Raiders has long been a fans favourite but I am still surprised how large her winning margin was against Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park who for my money is the ultimate Spielberg action hero, smart, witty with an edge of vulnerability that prevents her from requiring a cape.
No contest. Marion. Hands down. @kkcorby14
I’m now going to take a look at the moments that make Spielberg, well, Spielberg, starting with scenes that shook us to our core.
Most harrowing scene in a Spielberg film
Liquidation of Ghetto Schindler’s List 48%
Omaha Beach Saving Private Ryan 39%
Monica abandons David A.I 13%
Below the deck Amistad 0%
A close run thing here between the two World War Two epics. The thing with all four of the scenes listed above, the viewer wishes to turn away from the screen but we can’t. On Omaha Beach we feel that we are in amongst the battle, ducking to avoid the bullets and shrapnel heading our way. The liquidation of the Ghetto is a different type of desperation, we want to help, we want to know why the cameraman isn’t stopping to help, can’t they see what is happening, why are they filming this? Monica abandoning David perhaps hits home more to parents, especially those who have dropped a screaming child off at nursery, but in this film, there is no glass of milk and a Spot the Dog story to pacify David, and we know Monica is not coming back 4 hours later to collect. As for Amistad receiving 0%, well it’s possibly the most brutal scene of the lot but the least relatable hence the zero votes.
So the flip side to the most harrowing, what is the most wondrous scene.
Most Wondrous Scene in a Spielberg film
Mothership lands Close Encounters 34%
Opening scene Raiders of the Lost Ark 31%
T-Rex attack Jurassic Park 20%
Alex Kittner beach scene Jaws 15%
So with this one, I was looking for the scene that best epitomizes Spielberg and his films and as you can see it was a very close contest. For me, the last 30 minutes of Close Encounters is the finest piece of Cinema ever put together, whereas the opening of Raiders is possibly the finest opening to any film. The T-Rex attack has Spielberg at his most terrifying and the Alex Kittner scene in Jaws is the dictionary definition of the slow build, littered with red herrings and exquisite camera work.
It’s the Kitner scene, the way he draws u in to different characters who u believe will be the sharks next victim is brilliant!. The zoom in shot on Brody, splashing of water, and the final death of Alex who so happened to be wearing red which stood out but no one noticed @smurfman75
If those scenes were breathtaking, I wanted to know if there was one particular image that stood out as the most iconic in a Spielberg film.
Most iconic image in a Spielberg film
E.T and Elliot fly past the moon E.T 75%
The orange doorway Close Encounters of the Third Kind 10%
The girl in the red coat Schindler’s List 8%
The glasses of water Jurassic Park 7%
All four images are instantly recognisable and emotive for very different reasons. Nothing captures that feeling of childlike wonder and amazement, however, than E.T and Elliot flying past the moon, it’s debatable whether there is a more iconic image in the history of cinema.
I’m now going to take a look at some of the very familiar faces who have appeared in Spielberg films who have either gone on to bigger and better things or already had achieved monumental things before appearing in a Spielberg film.
Best before they were famous performance in a Spielberg film
Oprah Winfrey The Color Purple 54%
Samuel L Jackson Jurassic Park 33%
Benedict Cumberbatch War Horse 11%
Ben Stiller Empire of the Sun 2%
Samuel L Jackson was a successful actor before Jurassic Park having starred in Menace to Society, Coming to America and Goodfellas but this pre- Pulp Fiction starrer as the chain-smoking technician Arnold was the first time he really put a stamp on a film. It’s sometimes easy to forget how good a performance Oprah gives in the Color Purple. Here the majority of you seem to agree.
I love Cumberbatch in that film but I gotta go with Oprah. @kkcorby14
Best after they were famous performance in a Spielberg film
Richard Attenborough Jurassic Park 51%
Francois Truffaut Close Encounters 32%
Audrey Hepburn Always 15%
Michael Lonsdale Munich 2%
Big winner here for Richard Attenborough who played the often misinterpreted genius, John Hammond. Spielberg spoke about his nervousness of working with one of his heroes in Truffaut in Close Encounters but Truffaut is the audiences representative in this film with his sense of wide-eyed wonder and excitement. The stunt casting of Audrey Hepburn pays off with a charming little cameo in Always and ex-Bond villain Michael Lonsdale add a certain gravitas to Munich
Can’t measure with existing technology how fabulous Truffaut was for CE3K. His demeanor, his sense of wonder … so essential! ~P @Sibling_Cinema
Next up I want to take a look at his possibly misunderstood or lesser known films
Most derided Spielberg film which is actually pretty good and deserves a second chance.
A.I Artificial Intelligence 40%
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 15%
There was actually quite a lot of love shown to each of these films, they all obviously have fans, but they do also have a number of critics. There is no doubt in my mind that A.I is a stunning piece of work and should be respected by a much wider audience. Hook is a lot of fun and is great family entertainment, Crystal Skull is seen by many as the biggest disappointment in Spielberg’s career but that could be down to expectation more than anything else. As for 1941, well 11% are willing to stick up for it………good for you 🙂
if anyone says AI is bad, they have zero knowledge of filmmaking. AI is immortal! @CinemaPhileTX
Hook, A.I. Crystal Skull all could easily be deserving of this vote. But A.I. is a truly incredible movie that is criminally underrated. It gets my vote. @853_OKG
Best Spielberg film that nobody has seen but really should
The Terminal 26%
The Sugarland Express 19%
Another close run contest this one. I am very fond of all of these movies and they should all be seen by a wider audience as each one tells a very different story of Spielberg’s career at the particular point of which they were made. In my opinion, The Terminal, in particular, is a charming film that was a rare lighter effort from Spielberg in a post Millenium decade where he was at his darkest
I voted Always. Saw it years ago when it first came out but had forgotten much about it. Rewatched on the recommendation of a friend and it was lovely and heartwarming. Holly Hunter was terrific. @kkcorby14
All are great films but Amistad is also important. A message that resounds especially today. @aillsley3
I’m now going to take a look at the sounds that we remember from Spielberg films by giving out awards for the best one-liner and the best music score
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat” Jaws 62%
“Life uh finds a way” Jurassic Park 23%
“She talks in her sleep” IJ and the Last Crusade 15%
“Would it help?” Bridge of Spies 0%
The often misquoted “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” was always going to win this one and to be fair why the hell not, it’s almost as iconic as the film itself. Ian Malcolm’s realisation in Jurassic Park is the culmination of one of the finest scripted scenes in a Spielberg film. Connery’s piece of perfect improvisation is possibly my favourite line ever and as for the 0% Bridge of Spies quote, well hopefully longevity will see this line immortalised in time to come.
Jaws main theme 37%
Welcome to Jurassic Park 29%
The Raiders March 24%
E.T Flying theme 10%
I have to be honest I would be lost without the music of John Williams in my life. I listen to it daily, it has got me through some tough times, I feel it is a privilege that I am able to hear such wondrous music. It truly is a part of the cinematic experience. I want all readers to imagine for a moment what Elliot and E.T flying past the moon would be like without the music. Williams’s music has almost at times become a character in some of the movies, never more so than when his two-note motif in Jaws still to this day can send a shiver up the spine of all potential ocean paddlers, more than a malfunctioning rubber shark could ever want to.
I’d say Jaws. For me personally, I was familiar with the idea of a dorsal fin above the water accompanied by “daa dum” long before I had seen Jaws and even before I knew who John Williams was! I’d know a lot of other people who’d say the same thing. @JWilliams_Fan
Personally, Jurassic Park’s main theme gives the chills everytime. Raiders theme means pure adventure, but Jaws is the most iconic simply due to how pervasive it has been. People that haven’t even seen Jaws know it. It’s been used in endless parodies etc. @BoxOfficeBeyond
My final category involves a group of people who most people who have read this far will know the name but maybe not the face.
Spielberg’s unsung hero
Michael Kahn Editor 39%
Kathleen Kennedy Producer 22%
Janusz Kaminski Cinematography 22%
Kate Capshaw Wife 17%
All 4 of the above have played an integral part in the career of Steven Spielberg. He would possibly be half the filmmaker without one or more of them offering guidance and support. I salute them all.
Kahn is the man. Being an editor it is a very hard job to make the edit invisible. That is the brilliance of a film editor. Michael Kahn has done that for decades with Spielberg. @theburbsman
A tough one, but I have to go with Michael Kahn. The work of editors is often discussed/critiqued in reviews, but the editors themselves often go unmentioned. In a way, they’re like sculptors. What they do is nothing short of amazing and Kahn certainly has his mark on that. @GoNerdYourself
So there we go that is it for my Spielberg blogs, for now at least. I hope you have all enjoyed reading them. I have certainly enjoyed writing them, especially the research side of it.
As with all good award ceremonies and quite frankly some bad ones, I have some thank yous. I want to thank in particular the following people who have retweeted and promoted my blogs over the past year, and have also on occasion helped me with certain detail. They are Paul Bullock @apaulbullock, The guys at the Bearded Trio @thebeardedtrio , the Spielberg Chronicles @SpielbergChron and all the following who have contributed in some way.
If you like to follow people on Twitter who have intelligent, humourous and occasionally excitable conversations about film, you could do a lot worse than to give the following fine people a follow Darren Murphy @smurfman75 , KK @kkcorby14 , Marc Uren @uren_marc , That Film Geek @_ThatFilmGeek_ , EasyRidingRagingPodcast @ERRPodcast , The CinemaPhile @CinemaPhileTX, Music By John Williams @JWilliams_Fan, Stephen Haller @theburbsman, Jim Rockford @853_OKG, Go Nerd Yourself @GoNerdYourself, A Film Club @afilmclub Amblin Road @AmblinRoad.
Thanks mainly go to anyone who has taken the time to have a read of these blogs, you’re all excellent people, and also thank you to Mr Spielberg for continuing to produce pieces of cinema that just put a smile upon my face. Here’s to many more over the coming years.