Steven Spielberg is to America what Paul McCartney is to Britain. Both are legendary entertainers, producing a body of work that equally evokes and emotes, generating copious amounts of cash as a result of their crowd-pleasing efficiency. Both men are now part of the establishment, more fondly remembered for what they have done rather than what they are doing.
This week Spielberg was nominated for his sixth Best Achievement in Directing Oscar on Lincoln, an award he won twice previously. Spielberg’s Lincoln may have disappointed international audiences in large part because it neglected to incorporate elements of the president’s irrefutable vampire hunting past, but in the US, Lincoln has been a big hit. Hailed as a film that does justice to a most revered political icon, Lincoln will most probably get Spielberg an Oscar hattrick.
Spielberg has made some excellent movies, many of which came before he ever picked up an Oscar. His were movies that defined a generation, some of whom are now successful filmmakers themselves. Whereas Spielberg is now an old guy that makes films that play to the Academy, his early movies were blockbusting spectacles, impressive for their visual effects as they were for great characters and manipulative sentiment. (The latter features most prominently in his latest work, too.)
The video below is a brilliant reminder of how Spielberg’s, arguably, greatest directorial work, Jaws, was ignored by the Academy in 1976. It features Spielberg at his youngest and arrogant best, eagerly awaiting the Oscar nominations, cocksure of his entitlement but annoyed at having been overlooked. It’s a reoccurring theme that plagued the first half of his career, an era in which he forged his best work. Somebody needs to upload his reaction last Thursday at being nominated for Lincoln to do a proper compare and contrast piece.