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Eric Atreides

THE STEVEN SPIELBERG COUNTDOWN | List complete! How did your fave do????

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Well, it's about that time to start up this little shindig celebrating the greatest, most important filmmaker in the history of modern cinema. From a battle with a truck to a battle against Nixon, I hope you're all ready for this little adventure as much as I am. Unfortunately I can't work on it right away, as I still have to head to my shift for most of the day. But I will be back tonight and I'm ready to reveal just how good (or bad) your faves did. But first, some interesting statistics.

 

-34 people sent in a list. We were almost set to have 32 lists by sheer coincidence, but two late entries managed to shake things up a bit.

 

-9 people had Spielberg's entire filmography on their list.

 

-Only three movies did not appear on anyone's top 10 lists. This means that just about every list had at least some passionate support behind it, with some lists being lower simply due to appearing on fewer lists in some instances.

 

-Two ties, one of them being a three-way tie, are on this list. For the tiebreaker, I based it on which movie appeared on more lists. However, one instance had two movies getting the same amount of votes and lists. So for that case, because one of them had a top 10 vote, and the other one didn't, I gave the one with the top 10 an advantage. Hopefully that's not too confusing.

 

-At least one movie from every decade appeared in the top 10.

 

-"This movie I hate ranked higher than a movie I like? I lost all respect for this list!" Yes, believe it or not, the general consensus of the forums will not automatically fit your tastes and sensibilities. Please try to be respectful and courteous during the duration of this countdown, both to myself and to fellow BOT members. You don't have to agree with this, but you can act like a gentleman.

 

-If you are going to complain about something, and you didn't submit a list, just know that it's on you. Much like with government elections, you can't complain about something if you didn't participate in the first place.

 

Hope you guys are excited for this list. Because I sure am!

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#32

1941 (1979)

21 pts, 12 lists

 

"You ain't gettin' shit out of me. I've been constipated all week and there ain't a damn thing you can do about it!

 

1941_movie.jpg

 

 

Top 5 placements: 1

Top 15 placements: 1

Box Office: 31.7M DOM, 92.4M WW

Rotten Tomatoes: 42%

Metacritic: 34

Awards: 3 Academy Award nominations

 

Critic Review: "Billed as a comedy spectacle, Steven Spielberg’s 1941 is long on spectacle, but short on comedy. The Universal-Columbia Pictures co-production is an exceedingly entertaining, fast-moving revision of 1940s war hysteria in Los Angeles spawned by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and boasts Hollywood’s finest miniature and special effects work seen to date."

 

BOT User Review: "This film gets hated on too much. It was a glorious misfire, but I found it to be a load of fun for how absurd and over-the-top it was. John Belushi steals this movie and runs away with it. Wendie Jo Sperber took whatever Belushi left behind. The special effects are amazing. And Dianne Kay is cute as hell.

 

Yes, this film has weaknesses - plenty of them (I'm looking squarely at you, Bobby Di Cicco) - but I still enjoy it nonetheless. And while it's definitely a Spielberg movie, at times it almost feels like he's channeling John Landis at times. In a good way." - @TServo2049

 

Its Legacy: Was considered Spielberg’s first financial flop, though it was far from the case. Made Spielberg more humble, as the critical reception of Jaws and Close Encounters reportedly made him more arrogant. Was one of the first major productions for Robert Zemeckis. Earned cult status upon the release of the extended cut and cable airings. Gave John Candy a paycheck.

 

Commentary: To the surprise of no one, the black sheep of the Spielberg canon finds itself in the rear. In fact, while still last, if it wasn’t for @Ahsoka and her top 5 placement, it would have been a distant last place. Fresh off the critical and commercial 1-2 punch of Jaws and Close Encounters, 1941 was criticized for its length, comedy, and editing, and was a disappointment at the box office, with rumors circulating over it being a major box office bomb. It was not the case, and both Universal and Columbia saw little financial woes from the title. But even still, this screwball comedy failed to entice and engage many, and Spielberg has never really tried to make a screwball comedy film like this again. 

 

However, that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. The massive ensemble clearly has its talents, and the massive scope and out-of-control wackiness has garnered fans. And there is something admirable about a movie that throws everything but the kitchen sink. And for Spielberg, this served as an important lesson. Not everything he touches turns to gold, and that he is human as well. He can’t make a masterpiece every time, and he sometimes has to curb back on his ideas so as to make his projects work better.

 

1941 may be considered a failure. But even failures have value.

 

 

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#31

Always (1989)

21 pts, 13 lists

"It's not the dress... it's the way you see me."

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Top 15 placements: 1

Box Office: 43.9M DOM, 74.1M WW

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%

Metacritic: 50

Awards: Saturn Award nomination for Best Fantasy Film

 

Critic Review: "It's the film in which an entertainer at last becomes an artist, dealing with manifestly personal, painful emotions and casting them in a form that gives them philosophical perspective and universal affect. It's Spielberg's finest achievement, a film that will look better and better with the passage of time." - Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

BOT User Review: N/A

 

Its Legacy: Rekindled interest in ghost romance stories, with Ghost releasing one year later to become the biggest box office hit of 1990. Was the last film of Audrey Hepburn’s career. Gave John Goodman a paycheck.

 

Commentary: A remake of the 1943 classic A Guy Named Joe, one of the many films that inspired Spielberg to become a director in the first place, Always is one of, if not the most overlooked title nowadays in the Spielberg canon. It was a modest success at the box office and had average reviews when it came out. And since then, Always fails to get much, if any recognition or discussion in the current film discourse, with the only real mentioning of the film being that it uses sentimentality, a hallmark of Spielberg, at its absolute worst.

 

But even still, the film certainly has its positive attributes. Its cast is a strong one, and the themes of grief and moving on are still poignant and relevant even today. And while it may not be wholly successful, this was one of three transitional pieces for Spielberg, the other two being The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun, away from escapist summer blockbusters and more on dramatic works, which would lead to the likes of Schindler’s List, Amistad, and Lincoln. It was second-to-last, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

 

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#30

The Sugarland Express

38 pts, 15 lists

"Well shit, our car's stole"

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Top 10 placements: 1

Top 15 placements: 3

Box Office: 7.5M DOM/WW

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Metacritic: 65

Awards: Best Screenplay at 1974 Cannes Film Festival

 

Critic Review: "The movie has a casual craziness that seems especially native" - Nora Sayre, New York Times

BOT User Review: N/A

 

Its Legacy: Was the first worldwide theatrical release for Spielberg. Was the first collaboration between Spielberg and composer John Williams. Was one of several titles Spielberg did with Universal Pictures. Gave Goldie Hawn a paycheck.

 

Commentary: Like I said with Always, Sugarland Express is another one of the most obscure titles nowadays in the Spielberg canon. However, what makes this one turn heads was how it represents the beginning of the filmmaker’s domination. This true story Bonnie and Clyde tale was the first Spielberg title to see a worldwide theatrical release. Crazy to think that those first few 1974 viewers would see the beginnings of one of the most important filmmakers of all time. The film combined a compelling custody battle with fun action, resulting in an engaging story with little fat and has plenty of distinct styles that Spielberg would become famous for.

 

It’s a bit of an obscurity nowadays. Jaws and ET are the things modern audiences associate with Spielberg. But there’s enough qualities and action here to help keep people entertained, even if it is on the lower end of this countdown.

 

 

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#29

Hook

51 pts, 21 lists

"To live... to live would be an awfully big adventure."

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Top 5 placements: 1

Top 10 placements: 2

Top 15 placements: 2

Box Office: 119.6M DOM, 300.8M WW

Rotten Tomatoes: 29%

Metacritic: 52

Awards: 5 Academy Award nominations, 1 Golden Globe nomination, 1 Grammy nomination, 1 Golden Raspberry nomination

 

Critic Review: "Spielberg and Co. have finally made their Disney movie -- or better yet, their film version of a theme park at Disneyland. It's sort of like "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "It's a Small World" rolled into one. It's a helluva contraption, and certainly one to be marveled at. It gives good ride." - Hal Hinson, The Washington Post

BOT User Review: "Classic. In spite of its flaws, it has a real sense of adventure and fun." - @Fancyarcher

 

Its Legacy: A hit for Robin Williams, fresh off both Good Morning, Vietnam and Dead Poets Society, solidifying him as one of the biggest movie stars in the 90s. Was the highest-grossing pirate movie ever made, until the release of Pirates of the Caribbean. Gave Bob Hoskins a paycheck.

 

Commentary: Hook was an interesting passion project for Spielberg that didn’t quite pay off for him. The man always had a love for Peter Pan, feeling a strong connection to the timeless character since he was a little boy. In fact, a scene from E.T. where Elliot’s mother Mary reads Peter Pan & Wendy to Gertie is based on Spielberg’s own childhood experiences having his mom read the book to him as a bedtime story.

 

And for a while, he was developing a traditional Peter Pan story with Disney in the 80s starring Michael Jackson. This means that Spielberg could have made the first Disney live-action remake. But soon, the plans moved to Tristar and the plot was changed to a film that focused on the idea of Peter Pan growing up. In a way, it was Spielberg realizing his own age, as a work-driven father, and how he himself left the innocence and joys of childhood fun and fancy free away. Boomers, am I right?

 

But despite an incredible cast and an intriguing premise, Hook didn’t go over well. It was nowhere near the financial hit people expected, it was slammed by critics, and Spielberg himself has expressed his disappointment towards the final product. And while most reactions to the movie, at least going by the mediocre placements, aren’t that better, it certainly has at least some appreciation by people. One user put it in their top 5, while two other users placed it in their top 10. That passion doesn’t come from nothing, and it does help there’s a strong, solid cast and incredible production value to back things up.

 

 

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Feel that's enough for tonight. Sadly I'm working super late tomorrow, so I probably won't get any new entries then. But I do promise to get stuff up on Wednesday. For now, please feel free to argue amongst yourselves about how the list is going so far. Also, give me likes.

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51 minutes ago, Plain Old Tele said:

HOOK should be lower but of course the other titles haven’t been seen by enough people. 

Oh Tele...

 

Hook was like fourth from the bottom on the list, in spite of Eric still using a complementary comment from me (😑), that I wrote a long time ago. I still quite enjoy it though, there are actually very few Spielberg movies if any, I outright despise. 

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1941 Always and Hook were my bottom 3, so glad to see them in their rightful spots. Sugarland Express on the other hand is heavily underrated, I saw it for the first for this list and was a lot of fun and better than half the films that have yet to show up.

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#28

Amistad

52 pts, 19 lists

"That one wants us to sail them back. That one thinks he can sail all the way back without us."

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Top 10 placements: 2

Top 15 placements: 2

Box Office: 44.2M DOM

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%

Metacritic: 63

Awards: 4 Academy Award nominations, 4 Golden Globe nominations, 1 Critics Choice win for Best Supporting Actor

 

Critic Review: "Spielberg has mounted a courtroom drama to rival the finest Grisham, with a coruscating civil rights debate resonating both within the film and into the present as the audience knows it." - Christopher Hemblade, Empire

BOT User Review: "This was a decent movie with extremely great and horrifying scene in the middle. The Scene showing the Middle Passage is likely the most realistic and horrifying portrayal of the Atlantic slave trade" - @Lordmandeep

 

Its Legacy: Was the second theatrical release for Dreamworks Pictures. Earned heavy criticism for the usage of a white savior narrative. Gave Djimon Honsou a paycheck.

 

Commentary: Amistad is kind of a spiritual successor to Schindler's List. Both were dramatic features from Spielberg focusing on the impoverished and the people in power trying to rid of them, and served as the heavy-hitting alternatives to a Jurassic Park title. However, Amistad isn’t quite as beloved or iconic as the aforementioned film. If anything, it’s considered pretty average amongst all the films focusing on slavery. Historical inaccuracies and white savior issues aside, Amistad still holds up as a well-made feature, especially when it comes to the actors. This was how many non-Stargate viewers were introduced to Djimon Honsou, who is considered the true show stealer of the whole piece, as the leader of the African slaves Joseph Cinque. In fact, Honsou speaks native Mende throughout the film. Add on a young Matthew McConaughey and veteran legends like Anthony Hopkins and Morgan Freeman, and it’s clear what truly makes the film work as well as it does.

 

And it certainly earned passion from some. Two users put the movie in their top 10, which helped give the film a real boost in this countdown and shows there is a strong audience for this, even if it wasn’t as successful as Schindler before it.

 

 

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#27

The Terminal (2004)

52 pts, 23 lists

"Ever feel like you're living in an airport?"

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Top 15 placements: 3

Box Office: 77.9M DOM, 219.1M WW

Rotten Tomatoes: 61%

Metacritic: 55

Awards: N/A

 

Critic Review: "The movie is a delight in many ways: an unabashed romantic comedy and Capraesque fable that takes Spielberg into realms he's rarely traveled before." - Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

BOT User Review: N/A

 

Its Legacy: Gave the story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri a spotlight. One of the first films to use the Spydercam technology. Gave Stanley Tucci a paycheck.

 

Commentary: Intended to be a spiritual successor to Catch Me if You Can as another feel-good story with Tom Hanks, The Terminal was an emotional tale. Taking place in one location, The Terminal has been criticized as a bit too overly sentimental, but it definitely has its charm, helped by the natural charisma of Thomas the Hanks Engine. And with it appearing on a majority of lists, it was certainly seen and liked well enough, although the movie never had much passionate support in terms of placements.

 

 

 
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#26 

The BFG

52 pts, 23 lists

"Your madjester, I am your most humbug servant."

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Top 10 placements: 1

Top 15 placements: 3

Box Office: 55.4M DOM, 195.2M WW

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

Metacritic: 66

Awards: 2 Satelitte Award nominations, 1 Annie Award nomination

 

Critic Review: "Despite the compromises that typically attend a studio-made family entertainment — especially one that has been adapted, however lovingly, from a sharper, edgier piece of source material — The BFG also possesses a rich and unmistakably Spielbergian understanding of the loneliness of childhood, and of the enduring consolations that friendship and imagination can offer. Not unlike its title character, the movie can be cloddish and clumsy, but it is also a thing of wily cleverness and lithe, surprising grace." - Justin Chang, The Los Angeles Times

BOT User Review: Did not expect it, but this cast a spell on me right from the start - as confidently directed as a Spielberg movie possibly could be, unassumingly gorgeous and with immediately engaging, soulful performances by Rylance and Ruby Barnhill. While it's a big-budget spectacle, what really gets me is just how patient and peaceful it is - there's zero restlessness to it, no rush to get anywhere, absolutely no need to impress, the effects are everywhere but they never threaten to overwhelm anything else. I've already seen people call it boring or say something to the effect that "there isn't much of a movie/story here", but I was practically thrilled that Spielberg and Mathison were content with basically making this a sweet hangout movie." - @Jake Gittes

 

Its Legacy: One of the few money losers in Spielberg’s filmography. Helped turn Mark Rylance into a household name. Gave Bill Hader a paycheck.

 

Commentary: I watched The BFG with some friends a couple weeks ago, and it was an odd little feature to put it mildly. In a way, The BFG is the antithesis of other $140 million titles. There’s no real action to speak of, the stakes are incredibly low, and the story and tone is pretty juvenile and storybook, even for a kids movie. In a way, it’s kind of fascinating that Spielberg got all this money for what is basically a cute little hangout piece. And I’m not sure many audiences and especially Disney execs were happy about this decision.

 

And while there was only one top 10 placement here, there is still plenty to like here, especially with the giants themselves. There’s something so earnest about the whole piece and the way BFG and Ruby Barnhill’s Sophie work off one another that is fun to watch, and the comedic talents of both Jemaine Clement and Bill Hader as the evil giants go a long way. And there were enough points here to put it above some of the other titles, so I guess it counts for something.

 

Also this has farting dogs.

 

 

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#25

War Horse

55 pts, 22 lists

"We'll be alright Joey. We're the lucky ones, you and me. Lucky since the day I met you."

220px-War-horse-poster.jpg

 

Top 15 placements: 6

Box Office: 79.9M DOM, 177.6M WW

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

Metacritic: 72

Awards: 6 Academy Award nominations, 5 BAFTA nominations, 2 Golden Globe nominations, Top Ten Film in National Board of Review

 

Critic Review: "Spielberg has been ridiculed for shooting his actors from below against impossibly Spielbergian skies and a denouement that lays the love on copiously. But there's nothing simpleminded about how he uses movie magic, as a spell to dispel nihilism, to save us from the worst of ourselves by summoning up the best." - David Edelstein, Vulture

BOT User Review: "I enjoyed this. It's embraces old-fashioned cinema, and makes no apologies for it. It is definitely sentimental and emotional, but I never felt it crossed the line to cheesiness. The score was really well done......one of those scores that keeps you invested in the movie throughout even if you don't notice it on a continuous basis." - @mattmav45

 

Its Legacy: Became one of the highest-grossing World War I movies ever. Was one of several Dreamworks/Touchstone collaborations. Spawned a Broadway show. Had a lot of horses cast. Gave David Thewlis a paycheck.

 

Commentary: Here’s an interesting tidbit: Always, The Terminal, and this are the only movies on this countdown to not get any top 10 votes. It's understandable why the former two didn't but this was a bit of a surprise. The film saw decent reviews and okay box office, as well as several major award nominations. If The BFG can get a top 10 vote, surely War Horse could. But that’s not a slam towards the movie. Tackling the horrors of World War I through the eyes of an equine, War Horse combines the sentimentality over the friendship between a boy and his horse along with SPR-style war sequences. And with six Oscar nominations, it’s clear there's respect out there for the title, even if it wasn’t given major passionate love here from our BOT members.

 

 

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Think that's a good wrap-up for tonight. My shift ends at 11 PM tomorrow, so I can't do anything tomorrow. But I will get stuff up on both Friday and Saturday, so hopefully you'll enjoy what I have to write up in those next few days. Hope you enjoy what I've written up so far!

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