21st Century Spielberg Ranked From Worst to Best

21st Century Spielberg Ranked

Now that the 21st Century Spielberg column/podcast has come to a close (at least until West Side Story arrives in December 2021), it’s time to look back at Steven Spielberg‘s films from the 2000s and 2010s and see how they all stack up. Overall, the 21st century has produced some of Spielberg’s most interesting, challenging, and rewarding work – but not all of it worked.

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ready player two movie

The inevitable has happened: A Ready Player Two movie is in the works. The sequel novel recently arrive nine years after Ernest Cline‘s original pop culture-obsessed sci-fi novel Ready Player One, but appears to be fast-tracked to the screen after Steven Spielberg‘s adaptation of the book became a box office hit in 2018.

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21st century spielberg the bfg ready player one

(Welcome to 21st Century Spielberg, an ongoing column and podcast that examines the challenging, sometimes misunderstood 21st-century filmography of one of our greatest living filmmakers, Steven Spielberg. In this edition: The BFG and Ready Player One.)

What do you think of when you think of a Steven Spielberg movie? There are a variety of answers, but “blockbuster” tends to be at the top of the list. After all, it was Spielberg’s Jaws that gave birth to the idea of the summer blockbuster, and ever since then, he’s been riding that high. Steven Spielberg is a man who makes big movies. Big spectacles. Big special effects. Big emotions. Everything is bigbigbig. And yet, in the 21st century, Spielberg adapted. He entered the new century riding high off of finally scoring multiple Oscars for titles like Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. 

After decades of being thought of as nothing more than a creator of harmless pop entertainment who made oodles of money, it could no longer be denied that Steven Spielberg was a real artist. And he parlayed that into the films he would make in the 2000s. He kicked things off with the special-effects heavy A.I. and Minority Report, but after that, he would begin turning out smaller things. Well, smaller for Spielberg, at least. He was crafting historical dramas and character-driven stories. He was showing us all that he had more on his mind than T-Rexes and killer sharks.

Now and again he would return to his roots, bringing back Indiana Jones for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and finally making the Tin Tin movie he had been dreaming about for years. But mostly, Spielberg seemed content to try new things. And then something happened. He got that old itch to entertain. To summon up a spectacle. To fire up as much digital effects trickery as he could manage and forge entire digital worlds where nothing is real. It was nothing he couldn’t handle, right? Steven Spielberg is a filmmaker who knows all about technological advances in movies just as he knows all about crafting big, loud, popcorn entertainment. In other words, he knows how to give the audience what they want. As Robert Kolker wrote in A Cinema of Loneliness, “The frequency, success, and influence of [Spielberg’s] films over three decades have made them a kind of encyclopedia of desire, a locus of representations into which audiences wished to be called.”

With effects-heavy titles The BFG and Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg was coming home. He was returning to his roots. He was giving the audience what they wanted. What could go wrong?

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A.I. and Minority Report

(Welcome to 21st Century Spielberg, an ongoing column and podcast that examines the challenging, sometimes misunderstood 21st century filmography of one of our greatest living filmmakers, Steven Spielberg. First up: A.I. and Minority Report.)

“What if Peter Pan grew up?” pondered the tagline of Steven Spielberg’s 1991 fantasy Hook. It was an intriguing premise: what would happen if the perpetual child – the boy who refused to get older – embraced the cold, stark, finite nature of adulthood? Of course, the compelling concept of this tagline is all but forgotten in the runtime of Hook, where the adult Peter Pan quickly reverts to childhood in order to save the day. Still, what a notion!

Sometimes, life imitates art. In the 21st century, Steven Spielberg, the perpetual child – the pop culture impresario who found a way to turn childhood and nostalgia into a lucrative, highly entertaining art form – did something remarkable.

In the 21st century, Steven Spielberg grew up.

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Avengers Endgame Hulk clip

This weekend, the 45th Saturn Awards honored the best in fantasy, sci-fi, and horror motion pictures, television shows and more. Held at the historic Avalon Theater in Hollywood and streamed online on eight different platforms, the awards show was hosted by Aisha Tyler and featured appearances by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. But no one had a bigger presence than Avengers: Endgame, which walked away with six total awards, including Best Comic-to-Motion Picture Release and Best Actor in a Film for Robert Downey Jr. Otherwise, the awards were spread out pretty evenly throughout the evening.

Get the full list of 2019 Saturn Award winners below. Read More »

Avengers Infinity War - Thanos

It’s been a great year for Marvel on the awards circuit. Not only is Black Panther a bonafide Academy Awards nominee for Best Picture, but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has been cleaning up on the animated front and Avengers: Infinity War has been getting some love on the technical side of things. Now two of the Marvel projects are being honored for their achievements in visual effects.

The 17th annual Visual Effects Society Awards were handed out this week, and Avengers: Infinity War and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse walked away with four awards each. But they weren’t the only blockbuster winners of the night. Get the full rundown of the 2019 Visual Effects Society Awards winners below. Read More »

Ready Player One Visual Effects

Regardless of whether you ended up enjoying the pop culture extravaganza that was Ready Player One, it’s hard to deny that the visual effects used to bring the digital world of The OASIS to life were quite the visual spectacle. It’s all thanks to the wizards at Industrial Light and Magic, and the special effects house has released a breakdown showing the layers of the animation we saw on the big screen. It’s rather mind-blowing, especially when it comes to The Shining sequence. Read More »

Ready Player One Video Essay

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, video essay focuses on how Ready Player One replicates some of the more seedy and unpleasant sides of gamer culture but seems to reward them in the end. Plus, find out about the differences between the original articles (and eventual novel) and film adaptation of Fear and Loathing and Las Vegas, and watch a supercut of clips from FOX TV shows making fun of the FOX network. Read More »

ready player one sequels

Ready Player One was a hit, so could sequels be inevitable? It’s certainly possible, especially now that co-star Olivia Cooke has revealed she’s contracted for more films. Are you ready to return to the OASIS and be bombarded with even more pop culture references and CGI?   Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Jaws

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, find out how realistic the shark attacks we’ve seen in movies like Jaws over the years actually are. Plus, check out one of the most extensive lists of Ready Player One Easter eggs now that the movie is out on home video, and check out a discussion with Eighth Grade director Bo Burnham and young star Elsie Fisher. Read More »