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The AICN Staff pick their favorite Spielberg movies!



Wheels here with a new reoccurring feature for the site,
So, READY PLAYER ONE has hit theaters and it garnered positive reviews and led Steven Spielberg to his biggest box office opening in a decade. Everyone here at AICN enjoyed the sweetly nostalgic ode to pop culture. We noticed though that Spielberg was humble enough to not include any references to his own work in the film (give or take a T-Rex). I personally thought that was a shame as he is arguably our greatest living filmmaker and a creative voice that has had made massive contributions to not just geek culture but to culture in general. So, we all here at the AICN bullpen got together and I posed a simple but challenging question to the staff...
"What is your favorite Spielberg film?"
These are the answers to that question. I present to you the first installment of:
                    I LOVE THAT ONE! 
                     AICN Pick Their Favorites vol.1:
                                                Steven Spielberg
First up is my favorite sock puppet and all-around workhorse of the site, Precious Roy!
My favorite Spielberg film is actually probably RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, but JURASSIC PARK is, for me, the best story he's ever told. I was late to the party for JURASSIC PARK -- I believe I saw it a good six weeks after it came out after pretty much everyone had gushed and gushed about it. And I just went in expecting something along the lines of INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE: fun, with great heart, but nothing profound to say about the human condition. (Okay, I realize that will raise some rancor with an Indy fan or two out there; sorry. I love the bit about the father and son learning to let go of their grievances and dreams to save each other, but it was a mild point, comparatively speaking.) I walked out of JURASSIC PARK with my faith in movies as a medium, and Spielberg as an auteur, restored.
I could go on and on about it: the thematics and the subtext, the incredible CGI and practical effects of Stan Winston, the cinematography, the John Williams score, the acting... the acting with KIDS... the way it develops characters even when it means to end them early... the way it took a fairly good novel and made it infinitely better. Kinder. And more vivid. It is a near-perfect film.
And not even a slew of crappy sequels has damaged my love for the original. I quote JURASSIC PARK all the time; I quoted it almost every year during my Bachelor of Arts degree. In particular, one of my favorite quotes is Ian Malcolm rebuffing John Hammond: "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they COULD that they didn't stop to think if they SHOULD." It's the core argument of FRANKENSTEIN repurposed, as thousands of other books and films have done... but honestly, when has it ever been done as well?
Spielberg got that argument, and it's often the question critics put to the film industry when a studio chooses a path that they know to be lucrative and exciting over a path that shows respect for and builds trust in an audience. Spielberg spared no expense in making this film, sure, but he also put the love of a parent into JURASSIC PARK and created something that deserves to live and grow, even if most of the offspring it has produced are unworthy of the original.
Next up is our site's own 'Cult of Personality' Big Eyes!
HOOK, HOOK, where’s the HOOK, HOOK?
 I choose HOOK as my favorite Spielberg flick. I would have to put A.I., as a second, but I still wonder what Kubrick’s version of that would have been like. HOOK had this great concept of what if Peter Pan left Neverland and grew up? It’s a story about how people get lost in their lives and forget what it’s like being a wide-eyed child, even Peter Pan himself, and reclaiming that joy and freedom of life we once knew before responsibilities start to fog up the picture. HOOK also gave us Rufio, Rufio was the man to a 90s kid! More recently, Dante Basco (Rufio) voiced Zuko in the amazing animated TV series AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER.
HOOK also had Robin Williams as Peter Pan in, what is in my opinion, one of his more enjoyable roles. He did well to portray Pan as a workaholic adult, who has become so distant from his true self, it was as though he was pretending to be something he wasn’t. After the right push, and properly getting his memory jogged, Pan became himself again, which was very moving.
This movie did get pretty cheesy at times but in all of the right ways. I enjoyed the film very much as a child, and I can still enjoy and laugh with it as an adult, even though I have a very different understanding of what is going on in the film in maturity. If you haven’t seen it recently, you should give it a watch. <3
HOOK huh?... but yet you hated PADDINGTON. Anyway before my blood pressure shoots up and I start looking for a copy of HOOK to burn, let me introduce our next participant: reporter and longtime friend of AICN - Cody Jarrett!
AICN's classic O.G. and possibly your neighbor, Cody Jarrett, here throwing my chips in on this Spielberg roulette game we have going!
Choosing a favorite Steven Speilberg movie is not an easy undertaking indeed.
The first film that comes to mind is SCHINDLER'S LIST, so yeah that's my favorite of all time. A vast number of other films I love are directed by Steven Spielberg but SCHINDLER'S LIST stands out as the most important culturally and historically to talk about. 
From the beginning of this three-hour-plus tale until the end you cannot take your eyes off the screen. The entire movie is in black and white with one moment of red tinting, adding to the feel and setting the time frame of the movie, German-occupied Poland. Showing the gradual loss of sanity for a capitalistic man using forced labor to gain wealth but eventually, he finds his humanity and hopes to find forgiveness.  
Winning 7 Oscars, SCHINDLER'S LIST is well known throughout the world. I watch the movie a few times a year to remember and never forget the brutality of war. The feelings this movie produce are profound and real we {the audieence} are taken to a time in history that can never be forgotten.
This is life and "life always finds a way" to quote another Spielberg favorite.  The strength and versatility of the human spirit to survive at all cost preserving a place in the future, and survival of an entire people is most important, you cannot erase life or the truth. Humans always find a way to survive and lies are always eventually revealed. Spielberg uses his craft to tell a tale that most don't want to remember, however, can't turn away from watching the historical recreation of humanity's greatest crimes placed before them on screen and the unlikely heroes that this vulgar ugliness produces. Amazing, this film leaves me breathless each and every damn time. Painfully brilliant, oh and then there's John William's music and the writing, as well as cinematography, is to die for. Why is this my favorite... Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it, hopefully, this film will forever be a reminder of this unsettling and horrifically important part in our world's history. 
(Cody isn't a social media guy but we like him anyway) 
Up next is the head of our little misfit family, AICN's E.I.C, Dannie Knowles aka Pekosa Peligrosa!

My favorite Spielberg picture was one I seriously debated, I absolutely adore EMPIRE OF THE SUN, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, THE COLOR PURPLE and SCHINDLER'S LIST as well as many other of his films.  However, if I had to pick a single film of Spielberg's that truly is a part of my fan-girl soul, it would have to be 1982's  E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL. I was born in May of 1981, E.T. came out on June 11th of 1982, this means I can not remember a time without E.T. as well as it being the last film my family saw all together before my Mother divorced Father Geek and took me to rural North Texas. I was showered with E.T. toys and memorabilia and still have a mighty collection. Beyond my family bonding and successful childhood bribery, no one can deny the historical magnitude and eloquence of this film. Here are some quick points to defend my pick.
#1. In 1983 it won 4 Oscar's for Best Sound, Best Effects/Visual Effects, Best Effects/Sound Effects, and Best Music/Original Score. E.T. was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing at the Oscar Academy Awards. Pretty darn good for a children's Sci-Fi film in total E.T. would walk away garnering 47 wins and 34 Nominations at various festivals and awards shows.
#2. E.T. was made for about $10,500,000 and made $11,835,389 on its opening weekend release here in the good ole U.S. of A, overall here domestically it ended up grossing $435,110,554. E.T. made cumulatively worldwide a total of $792,910,554 as of 2002. That is quite a bit of cash made by an ugly but loveable alien! 
#3. John Williams ... That is all...
#4. This film still makes me cry, and I have seen it a billion times. E.T. has heart and is heartbreaking. It touches the spirits of children and adults of all ages and gave us hope that there could be friendly alien beings in existence. Also, it illustrated logically and sadly realistically how many modern world governments would react. Also, drunk E.T. and underage Elliott (Henry Thomas) was hysterically hilarious. Every second of E.T. and Gertie (Drew Barrymore) were absolutely adorable and I still say it is her best performance on screen.  
E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL is a timeless modern classic and will always be loved globally. Definitely one of Spielberg's best. "Beee Gooood" and "I'll be right here."
Following up the cute and cuddliness of E.T. (and Dannie), we have our resident horror buff, Freddy Beans!
Easy... JAWS.
Way before I became a horror movie obsessed addict there was only really one director that consistently grabbed me and that was Steven Spielberg.  Without fail he’d film something unique and visionary every time out.  Go look through his entire library it is simply one to emulate for any up and coming director.  He’s made personal films, gigantic visual special effects spectaculars, dramas, comedies, and even a couple of horror films.  The man could simply do no wrong in the 80’s.  That’s also the time I started renting movies.  **Spoiler alert** Back in the day you couldn’t just watch a film on your laptop.  Nope, you had to go to a rental store roughly a year after a movie played in theaters and then hope it was available.  If it wasn’t you didn’t just leave empty handed, you simply found another random movie to supplant your first choice.  ** This left many of my era watching the same movies over and over again until every scene was etched in our memories.  One movie on constant replay for this guy as a kid that I never seem to bore of is “Jaws.” 
JAWS also happens to be my favorite horror film of all time, with an honorable mention to John Carpenters THE THING.  If I’m to be honest it’s not even close and this is from a director not known for horror.  No film ate at my insides to the level that Bruce eating those Amity Island tourists did.  Like most, after viewing “Jaws” it took a lot to get me to swim in any body of water for some time after first viewing.  Yes, I know sharks aren’t freshwater animals.  That’s not the point.  A child’s imagination doesn’t care for such logic in times of panic. And slight panic was induced anytime my toes were near water.   All I knew was that swimming in my parents pool became much more challenging after watching the masterpiece that is “Jaws.”  I still absently seek that dorsal fin anytime I swim, though now I knowingly chuckle to myself at just how pathetic that is.
Really JAWS is two different films.  The first half of the film introduces us to the shark and the people in town affected by his abrupt interruptions.   The 2nd half is an adventure film with three great actors bonding and fighting the great white on its terrain and realizing they do indeed need a bigger boat.  The entire film kept me in my seat from beginning to end.  I don’t think I’d seen a death on screen as affecting as Alex Kitner’s mangled raft and his mother searching the horizon for any sign of her son. Then later it is surpassed in the same film with Quint stuck in the jaws of the great white  The way he’s violently attacked and fought back until the shark pulls him under is a visual that has stuck with me forever.  The first horror movie I let my kids watch was “Jaws” and they were both affected by it in much the same way I was on first viewing.  I will continue to watch this film every year as it’s a treasure of the big screen to me.  I know I’m not the first nor last person that loves JAWS, there’s a reason there are multiple documentaries on the making of it alone.  It’s beloved by many and rightfully so.  JAWS is a movie made in 1975 that hasn’t lost any of its strength here in 2018. To close this creepy love letter, I absolutely have to thank Steven for opening a little kids imagination and showing him that everyone has dark corners in their mind.
...And finally, we come to me, Wheels! What is my favorite Spielberg movie? it's one "The Beard" himself hates and I couldn't disagree with him more...
"Anything goes!"
That is the first line of English dialogue spoken in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM and I can not think of a line that sums up what you are about to see any better when you sit down to watch this one. This middle chapter of the Indiana Jones saga takes us back to an earlier time in Dr. Jones's career when "fortune and glory" meant more to him than preserving history and really anything goes in this wild ride of a movie that is my favorite of Steven's filmography.
This is the rare prequel done well. It doesn't spend all its time trying to draw connections to the previous film. It simply exists as another adventure from Indy's life and hints at even further adventures that occurred before we meet up with him at that nightclub in Shanghai. It makes Indy's world feel rich and lived in like there are countless stories waiting to be told about this character and the people in his life. This is a film that now feels so fresh because it doesn't spoon feed you every detail. It lets your imagination fill in the gaps and that's always more rewarding than being shown everything. 
It's a film where it feels like anything does go. It gracefully moves from adventure to comedy before pivoting into horror and then back to a rollicking adventure all without ever feeling forced. This is Spielberg at the height of his directing prowess and using that to make a pulpy, gory, and (most importantly) fun adventure film. It is mind-blowing to me that Spielberg considers this one of his worst films. Supposedly, he was right in the middle of creating the film during a hard time in his personal life and that's what led to the darker thematic elements but there is a real glee to the practical effects work and the set pieces. It's easy to imagine Spielberg grinning and laughing as they filmed the infamous heart-ripping scene, the scene at the palace dinner, the mine car chase, or the campfire poker argument between Indy and his sidekick, Short Round. INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM is simply a lot of fun, whether you are an adventure fan, a gorehound, a comedy lover, or like me (all of the above) than this one is for you.
And let's be honest, Indiana Jones on the rope bridge might be the single most badass image in the entire series.
I adore Spielberg but he's wrong about this one. The movie is great.
There you have it, the first installment of I LOVE THAT ONE! 
What did you guys think? Sad that no one picked MUNICH? Which film personality should we do next? What is YOUR favorite Spielberg joint? 
Let us know!
Wheels out!


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