Back in the summer I called the upcoming Oscar season, in all likelihood, “The Year of The Beard.” More than any other year I can recall, 2011 seems to be slathered with the presence and influence of director Steven Spielberg. His esteemed canon is revered in Greg Mottola’s “Paul.” It’s outright held aloft for reverential worship in “Super 8.” Meanwhile, he’s visible as executive producer on two summer blockbusters, Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys & Aliens” and Michael Bay’s mammoth “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” He pops up in television via participating in shows like “Falling Skies” and “Terra Nova.”
Oh yeah…and he has two films coming out in December: the World War I drama “War Horse” and the animated Peter Jackson collaboration “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.” It’s fair to say the guy is pretty much in your face this season.
The question is, will that feed a long, significant march to Oscar night? “War Horse” certainly seems to tick off plenty of Academy boxes. And I’m of the mind that, even though it seems too easy to call it thus, the film will be our big player this year. Anything can happen, naturally. The film could be a turd. But it’s only assisted by the fact that, early in the season yet, nothing has a stranglehold on things.
Well, Spielberg will get an added boost from the Producers Guild of America (PGA) in all of this. The organization has chosen him as the recipient of this year’s David O. Selznick Award, and with his prolific stature as of late, it seems like the perfect call to me. And on cue, that word pops up in today’s press release.
“As one of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, Steven’s continued genius, imagination and fearlessness in the world of feature film entertainment is unmatched in this industry,” Producers Guild Awards co-chairs Paula Wagner and Michael Manheim state therein. “Steven has produced some of the most iconic films in the history of cinema and we have no doubt he will continue to bring thrilling adventures, emotionally moving storylines, thought provoking characters and cult classics to audiences across the globe. We’re extremely proud to recognize Steven’s contributions to the producing craft as well as the entire film industry with the David O. Selznick honor.”
In the release, Spielberg took the expected opportunity to pay tribute to the award’s namesake. “David O. Selznick is a true legend in the producing field,” he says, “and I am tremendously honored to be associated with his name and to join the company of so many distinguished filmmakers who have received this accolade. I am extremely grateful to the Producers Guild.”
Also worth pointing out is that this year is the 30th anniversary of perhaps the most Spielberg=y Spielberg film of all, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Meanwhile, there has also been a big influx in Spielberg cinema making its way to Blu-ray. We got “Minority Report” last year, “The Color Purple” and “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” earlier this year, and the “Jurassic Park” trilogy is on its way. “Jaws” won’t be far behind.
Last year’s recipient was the similarly prolific Scott Rudin, who had the one-two punch of “The Social Network” and “True Grit” on the awards circuit. Will Spielberg find better luck in the Best Picture category than Rudin did last year? Time will tell.