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Steven Spielberg’s Favorite Movies: 22 Films the Director Wants You to See

Ahead of Oscar frontrunner "The Fabelmans," IndieWire looks back at the movies Spielberg himself considers favorites — from classics, such as "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Citizen Kane," to newer fare, including "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Steven Spielberg's Favorite Movies

(Clockwise from bottom left): “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Citizen Kane,” Steven Spielberg at the Toronto International Film Festival, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Godfather”

Getty Images/Courtesy Everett Collection

The highest grossing director of all time, Steven Spielberg is once again dominating Oscars season.

Known for “Jurassic Park,” “Indiana Jones,” “Jaws,” the recent “West Side Story,” and more favorites, the beloved American filmmaker premiered his semi-autobiographical “The Fabelmans” in theaters on November 11. It tells the story of how Spielberg came to be Spielberg, chiefly through the lens of his parents’ traumatic divorce. Boasting a cast that includes not just Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as Spielberg’s mom and dad, but also David Lynch in a rare acting opportunity, “The Fabelmans” has been described by IndieWire’s David Ehrlich as an epic rendering of “the breakup that launched a million blockbusters.

The box office titan is just as accomplished in the awards circuit, having clinched three Academy Award wins — two for Best Director and one for 1993 Best Picture “Saving Private Ryan” — and 19 more nominations over the course of his career. Spielberg’s latest likely leads the Oscars race, and though Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light” celebrates the art of the motion picture in a similar vein (an overlap that could have stunted Spielberg’s perceived advantage with Academy voters), critics have disproportionately praised “The Fabelmans” as a must-see for cinephiles.

Following the contemplative mood of two-ish years in COVID-19 lockdown, the 2022 fall film season is chockfull of projects meditating on the role — and, in the case of “TÁR,” responsibility — of artists. How these sorts of visionaries influence each other’s lives and works offers an endless source of fascination for fans. Like Quentin Tarantino after him (who, by the way, cites “Jaws” and “West Side Story” among his favorite films), Spielberg’s filmography is a treasure trove of tributes to and subversions of the great directors of the past.

The self-taught Spielberg recently told NPR, “My film school was really the cultural heritage of Hollywood and international filmmaking, because there’s no better teacher than Lubitsch or Hitchcock or Kurosawa or Kubrick or Ford or William Wyler or Billy Wilder or Clarence Brown. I mean, Val Lewton. I mean, those are my teachers.”

Listed in no particular order — with a special emphasis on the black-and-white classics the filmmaker told AFI no one sees enough — here are 22 of Steven Spielberg’s favorite movies.

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