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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Furiosa Movie

Warner Bros. Pictures will shake up the theatrical distribution model next year by releasing every single one of their movies simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. However, for those expecting the studio to keep that model going in years to come, they seem to have rebuked that speculation by setting 2023 global theatrical release dates for the Mad Max prequel Furiosa, the Looney Tunes-inspired live-action/animated hybrid Coyote vs. Acme, and the big screen version of the Tony Award-winning musical adaptation of The Color Purple. Read More »


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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Jaws shark

“Bruce,” the mechanical shark which gave a young Steven Spielberg and his crew so many problems on the set of 1975’s Jaws, has found a new home.

The only surviving model of the Jaws shark was acquired by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences four years ago and fully restored to its former glory last year, and now the Academy has released a video showcasing Bruce’s transportation and installation at the soon-to-open Academy Museum in Los Angeles. The shark is so big that it wouldn’t fit in the building’s elevators, so a crew had to remove windows and use a crane to lift it into the building. Check out the video below.

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oslo movie

Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott, both of whom appear in HBO’s adaptation of His Dark Materials, are reuniting for another HBO project: Oslo. Based on the stage play by J.T. Rogers, who will also pen the script, the film chronicles the real-life secret back-channel talks that lead to the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. Bartlett Sher will direct the film while Steven Spielberg will serve as one of the executive producers.

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21st century spielberg bridge of spies the post

(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: Bridge of Spies and The Post.)

The Spielbergian hero is someone who not only does the right thing, but goes above and beyond. Someone who risks it all – life, limb, and reputation – for the greater good. And not some wispy, intangible greater good, either – oh, no. It’s not the belief in a better world; it’s the belief that the world we already have is as good as it’s going to get, if only we allow it. Spielbergian America is a place where the power is in the hands of the people, and all the people need do to make the country live up to its lofty goals is to fight for what’s right, no matter how daunting the fight may be. Two of Steven Spielberg‘s 21st-century films personify this perfectly, and, coincidentally enough, both star Tom HanksBridge of Spies and The Post.

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indiana jones 5 script

It’s hard to imagine an Indiana Jones movie without Steven Spielberg at the helm, but that’s what we’re going to get with Indiana Jones 5, which will be directed and written by Logan‘s James Mangold. The film went through several drafts and screenwriters before initial screenwriter David Koepp finally exited the project alongside Spielberg. And the delays on the film can be attributed to the disagreements Spielberg, Ford, and Disney had over that constantly-changing script.

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Jurassic World Animated Series Advice

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, a new animated series set in the Jurassic world, is arriving on Netflix this week. And while it may be a cartoon, Steven Spielberg, the grandaddy of the Jurassic franchise, had some advice for the creators: don’t make a kids’ show. Spielberg stressed that the series needed to feel just like the Jurassic movies, which aren’t exactly geared at small children.

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As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a Goonie. 

To me, being a Goonie was better than being President of the United States. Even before I first wandered into the theater for an after-school job, I knew I wanted to be a part of them. It was there I belonged. To me, it meant being somebody in a neighborhood full of nobodies. They weren’t like anyone else. They did whatever they wanted in the Goon Docks. They’d double-park their bicycles in front of Lower Columbia Bowl and nobody ever gave them a ticket. In the summer when they played video games all night, nobody ever called their parents.

It was a glorious time. Goonies were all over the place. It was before The Avengers and before Kylo Ren decided to take on a Sith Lord. It was when I met the world. Saturday night was for second run matinees, but Friday night at the theater was always for the first run showings.

It was easy for all of us to disappear in these films. My childhood home may as well have been listed in Spielberg’s name, my VHS tapes displaying his extensive filmography. My movie memorabilia collection was vast. I never didn’t enjoy a theatrical experience. I didn’t have to pay taxes yet. My birth certificate and Social Security Number were all you’d need to know I was alive. I was young. They were simpler times.

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21st century spielberg podcast lincoln

(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: War Horse and Lincoln.)

War is hell. Any sane individual knows this and knows that the old romanticized notions of glory on the battlefield are little more than fantasy. But that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from returning, again and again, to depicting big, loud, action-packed battles on the screen. Whenever reviewing a war movie, Roger Ebert was fond of pulling out a quote attributed to Francois Truffaut, that it was impossible to make an anti-war film because movies made war inherently entertaining. The real quote, as close as I can tell from my own research, comes from a 1973 interview Truffaut gave with Ebert’s colleague Gene Siskel, in which the legendary French filmmaker said: “I find that violence is very ambiguous in movies. For example, some films claim to be antiwar, but I don’t think I’ve really seen an anti-war film. Every film about war ends up being pro-war.” 

Steven Spielberg is no stranger to war movies. From Saving Private Ryan to the Band of Brothers miniseries, and beyond, Spielberg has portrayed war and all its horrors, but even when portraying the harrowing battles of Ryan, the truth of the Truffaut quote sneaks in: sure, war is hell, but it’s also pretty entertaining in the hands of a master filmmaker. The real way to hammer home the horrors of war isn’t so much to portray extended battle sequences. Instead, the secret is to move beyond the bullets and the blood and find the humanity lurking beneath; humanity in danger of being snuffed out like a candle in a cold wind. And with War Horse and Lincoln, two films focused on World War I and The American Civil War, respectively, Spielberg did just that.

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