Spielberg has won two competitive Oscars – for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan – as well as an honorary Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1987 for his body of work, a prize some thought was awarded prematurely given that the director shows no signs of slowing down. Indeed, there looks to be a gap of just several months between the release of his two most recent films, The Post and Ready Player One: now aged 72, here is a creative talent continually emboldened and energised by the work.
Among Spielberg’s Oscar contenders, which so many of his films have been, Schindler’s List surely stands apart in its unsparing depiction of the Holocaust, alongside the beneficence of the businessman Oskar Schindler, whose quiet determination saved 1100 Jews from extermination during World War Two. The film brought Spielberg the first of his competitive trophies and prompted an enduringly poignant acceptance speech. As his overjoyed mum wept in the audience, Spielberg spoke of “wishing and hoping for Oskar Schindlers in all our lives”, and finished his remarks by honouring “the six million who can’t be watching among the one billion watching this telecast tonight” – a moving way of honouring the unimaginable numbers of the Jewish dead. When, minutes later, the film itself won Best Picture, Spielberg quipped, “This is the best drink of water after the longest drought in my life.”